Archive | September 2013

Our American Airlines Award Return Flight from Japan Was Canceled and Rebooked!

If you haven’t been following, I’ve been using all these points to plan a nice trip to Tokyo later this year. You can read more about it here. We booked our return flight from Japan on American Airlines in business class using AAdvantage miles. I received an email about a schedule change on our flight from Narita to Chicago. It turned out that flight had been canceled and we had been rebooked. The only catch was we were rebooked with a misconnect. Our new flight from Japan arrived in Los Angeles after our next flight had already taken off! Thanks American Airlines, that’s useful. I called and learned about a few options. There weren’t any ideal flights for us that day. There was another flight out of Haneda (closer to Tokyo than Narita) but it left at 6am instead of 6pm. I really didn’t want to lose an entire afternoon in Tokyo.

My first instinct was to ask if it was possible to switch to a Japan Airlines flight (what I should have booked originally – but I didn’t really know at the time). There were no seats available and I was told it wasn’t possible. Oh well. So I looked on the website and found availability for our original flight but on the following day. We had booked “Business/First MileSAAver” tickets for 50,000 AAdvantage miles each (one way). But there was only “Business/First AAnytime” availability for 100,000 miles one way on the day after we had planned to return. I called back and asked if it was possible to be booked on that flight instead and we were rebooked for one day later for the same cost!

I think having to spend an extra night in Tokyo is a “first world problem” if there ever was one. Especially since based on Mommy Points and Travel Summary’s recent reviews of the Park Hyatt Tokyo, I gave in to peer pressure and booked a room there for 22,000 Ultimate Rewards (transferred to Hyatt Gold Passport Points). It was definitely not a bad problem to have, and I’m glad American Airlines was willing to rebook us on the higher mileage award flight!

Citibank AAdvantage Platinum Select Visa And Select American Express Retention Bonus

I wrote about how I got started in this hobby in one of my early posts here. Turns out my first mini “app-o-rama” was almost one year ago! I had read of people calling to cancel cards and being offered a retention bonus instead. Sometimes that bonus includes a credit for the annual fee, sometimes it includes an additional offer similar to the minimum spend for the first bonus (X miles after $X) and sometimes both! Since the offer could just be a spending bonus, I wanted the option to later cancel the card if I chose to; so I decided to call a couple months early.

I was a little nervous calling, as I haven’t cancelled many credit cards. The goal in calling is to keep the line of credit open – ideally at no cost. Keeping the card open helps your average age of account, as well as lowers your utilization (more credit available = less used even if using the same amount). Sometimes even if there’s no retention bonus offer it is possible to downgrade the card to a fee-free version. The benefits will likely not be as great, but it’s good to keep it open for free.

I researched ahead of time on Flyertalk and found a forum discussing Citibank cards here. I first called about my Citibank AAdvantage Platinum American Express (an Amex issued by Citibank), and when the representative asked what he could help me with I just said I thought my annual fee was coming up soon and potentially wanted to cancel the card – but first wanted to know when the fee was. I didn’t want to flat out say I want to cancel, as I’m paranoid and with my luck I’d get the rep that just cancels it! After telling me when the fee was going to post, the rep asked what my concerns were.

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Country Inn & Suites By Carlson Buckhead Atlanta Hotel Review – Club Carlson Award Stay

I recently completed my first ever Club Carlson stay using Gold Points. We stayed at a Country Inn & Suites in Buckhead near Atlanta, Georgia. Our goal was a cheap award stay close enough to take public transportation (MARTA) to avoid parking fees downtown. I had never stayed at a Country Inn & Suites and wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

With the Club Carlson Visa card it was a great deal though. The card gives you a free last night of a two night or longer award stay. So instead of two nights costing 56,000 points, it was only 28,000 Gold Points.

Upon entering the hotel, there was a nice open lobby, front desk and breakfast area. The front desk had cookies (we’re off to a good start) and offered us a drink and snack. The Visa also gave me Gold status, but that didn’t do much at a sold out hotel.

Lobby

Lobby

The hotel had decent amenities: an outdoor pool, a gym on the second floor overlooking the lobby, a shuttle to the nearby MARTA station and hot breakfast in the morning. We found it fairly convenient for getting downtown. We had the choice of the hotel shuttle (during certain hours), a MARTA bus to the station, or a short walk of a few blocks.

The room itself was nice.

Queen Bed

King Bed

There was a king sized bed, a mini-fridge, safe, and tv.

Safe, tv, fridge and microwave

Safe, tv, fridge and microwave

The bathroom was small but also nice. The shower, however, felt somewhat like a capsule and was not quite made for people taller than 6 feet. There was a little ducking going on.

Bathroom

Bathroom

Having never stayed in a Country Inn & Suites, I was pleasantly surprised. Breakfast was very good, with a nice selection of eggs, sausage, waffles, oatmeal and cereal. And the cookies at the front desk were great!

We had a nice weekend in Atlanta, and even made it to the Georgia Aquarium!

I highly recommend the Georgia Aquarium if you’re in Atlanta. Some of the exhibits are amazing. I’ve been three times and am not an aquarium fanatic or anything – the displays are just incredible.

Georgia Aquarium Whale Shark

Georgia Aquarium Whale Shark

After the aquarium, we walked to the new SkyView Atlanta. It’s a 200 foot Ferris wheel that opened this year. I’m not disappointed we did it, but the views are better from some of the nearby hotels – and this view was even obstructed by them. I wouldn’t really recommend it. But I do recommend Country Inn & Suites if you need an inexpensive option for a quick getaway.