A New Year – what’s in store?

2018 has been and gone and was for me the busiest year I’ve had from a travel perspective. Between business and personal travel I ended up taking 61 flights on 17 airlines, traveling 96,000 miles through 33 different airports. I ended up the year with Delta Gold status and IHG Spire from flights and hotels which I’m looking forward to taking advantage of this year.

Most of the flights were in economy but I strategically used miles to travel in Thai First, Virgin Upper, Qantas and Cathay Business and thanks to Iberia’s promotion travelled up the front with them and BA. It was also interesting to try out Virgin’s and BA’s premium economy offerings across the Atlantic. As soon that will be the new business and business the new first for many business travelers.

While my intention was to travel less in 2019 the next six weeks show no sign of slowing down. A business trip to Tennessee will be followed by a long weekend in Europe spending a night Berlin and a couple in Dublin. I’ve been dying to fly on the Singapore A380 so used 30k United miles for JFK-FRA-TXL with the connection on Lufthansa and 13k Avios back from DUB – JFK with minimal charges.

Then February brings the years first “big trip” finally using the Hong Kong Airlines Error fare between LAX and PVG. I’ll be heading out to LA on the new United Dreamliner in Polaris on the way out and their new premium economy on the way back. The HKA legs will hopefully be on their newest A350s and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to sit in the queens nose once again, if only for an hour between BKK and HKT. The other flights will mainly be on 330s, which are still a nice change from the majority of my 2018 aircraft.

So by the end of February 35k miles and 17 flights will be flown. Further out, a weekend to visit to Boneyard in Tucson is planned and a week in Portugal booked for a very nice 44k SkyMiles in the height of summer.

I always find it nice to have a couple of trips booked in Jan/Feb to start the year off right and have something to look forward to in the New Year. That along with the fact that fares are cheaper and destinations less crowded make it the perfect time to travel. Wherever 2019 takes you enjoy it!!!

The Growth of Airbnb – Don’t forget the miles!!!

Over the past few years Airbnb has grown from strength to strength, never far from the news the company is now a legitimate competitor to both independent hotels and chains. They have changed the market so much that they are now the first thing people think of when they need a place to stay not an after thought.

As the site has grown two things have happened. 1.) it has gradually got more expensive and 2.) Hotels have become cheaper. Meaning nowadays the prices in major cities are pretty closely aligned. So what do you do?

I personally prefer hotels, I collect the points and enjoy the perks that come with them. Airbnb hosts on the other hand seems to have applied the Ryanair model of upselling and anytime I look, the add on charges after the advertised rates seem to be getting higher and higher. I don’t believe $150 cleaning charges for a two night stay in a studio and you shouldn’t either.

Meanwhile the website itself is becoming more and more crammed with “experiences” and is often hard to load and actually find a place to stay. On the flip side if you are travelling in a group it gives you options hotels simply can’t provide which can lead to a much better travel experience. The split payment option is also pretty cool.

Whatever your thoughts are, if you end up booking an Airbnb you should be collecting airmiles for doing so and many people don’t. As with the hotels you can now collect miles with some of the major Airlines for each dollar you spend with Airbnb.

Right now Delta are offering 50% extra miles bonus with all their partners so it’s well worth linking your accounts and taking advantage. Book through deltaairbnb.com. Just please don’t rent the tent in someone’s back garden in Seattle for $150 a night…. even if the cleaning fee is only $50 a stay.

My 5 best deals of 2017 and not a single error fare.

2017 was a good year for me on the travel front racking up around 45,000 miles in the air. Nearly all of it paying cash and involving lots of deal hunting. I really enjoy researching fares and coming up with random routes to get the best value for money. I had quite a bit of success last year and wanted to share my top 5 deals of the year.


Every year I am lucky enough to go on a family holiday to the Algarve in Portugal, but since moving to the US the cost of flights has increased substantially. For the week in July I needed TAP via Lisbon was pricing at about $1,300 Return in economy. Other options included Aerlingus via Dublin but even it was coming in around $1,000.

Then along came Norwegian and their 737 MAX flights from Stewart Airport. I picked up SWF – EDI and DUB – SWF for $99 dollars each the day then went on sale and then used Ryanair flights for the flights in Europe which totaled about $150. All in all the flights came in at under $350 which for July was pretty awesome.

2.) BOS – EWR (LGA) in August

I guess this is more of a stroke of luck but I was booked on a 6am Monday morning United flight from Boston to Newark. This was a basic economy fare that cost just $59. I needed to get to work but when they ask for volunteers to change flights, you have to ask what’s on offer. In this case it was a $500 voucher and a seat with American twenty minutes later. I actually got to work earlier than I would have with United.

3.) EWR-SDQ-EWR-SFO in April

I needed to get to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic for a wedding. Prices were steep at about $600 round trip which I felt was far too high. Playing around on the United website I discovered that by adding an extra leg to the reservation to price would come down.

Being close to Easter we decided to add a leg to San Francisco which in its own right was very high due to the holiday. When all was said and done the fare came to $480. In theory we could have not taken the SFO flight and still saved cash but went ahead and booked the return with American for 12.5K miles as $5.60. Job done.

4.) JFK-LAS-SFO-LAS-JFK in December

Christmas is far and away the most expensive time of the year to travel but this year wanted to be in San Francisco. I booked the return flight on Virgin America via Las Vegas for 12.5K Alaska and $5.60 on the 26th of December. I felt this was a great redemption, but still needed to get there.


Direct flights a few days before Christmas we’re pricing at between $450 and $500 again expensive for a route that is usually half that.

Meanwhile very few people go to Vegas the week before Christmas preferring the week after. Delta had a flight leaving at 8pm on Wednesday to LAS for $200 and a connection to SFO the following lunchtime was $59 with United. Hotels were empty so a king room at the Mandalay Bay was $90. Between the two of us it was a nice saving and a fun one. Who doesn’t enjoy the occasional night in Vegas.

5.) LGA -YUL June

A bachelor party bought me to Montreal in June. I decided to travel first thing on Saturday morning with Air Canada from LGA for $66. As per usual Sunday flights were steep so I started getting creative and decided on the train. A one way ticket on Sunday morning was $70 and it is a beautiful journey, sure it took a day, but the days after bachelor parties don’t tend to be too productive anyway, so why not stare out the window at things like Lake Champlain.

We’re now a week into 2018 and it’s almost time to get going again. My first trip will take me the whole way around the world in about 12 days. That kicks off next week and I am starting to get very excited.

Release your inner #Avgeek and visit the Boeing Factory near Seattle

One of my favourite cities in the World is Seattle. While the weather may be far from perfect the city ticks every other box for me and I love visiting.
However for anyone with even a passing interest in aviation the real action is 25 miles north at Everitt. The future of flight museum gives you a guided tour of the biggest building in the world which is Boeing’s main factory where they currently put together their long haul range. 
Unfortunately cameras are banned inside the factory. Apparently one snap happy visitor dropped his camera from a viewing point onto the wing of a 747 causing a million dollars worth a damage. True or not it was enough for me to place mine in the locker provided. 

After a short video you board a bus and they bring you over to the factory and show you the various production lines. It is really amazing to see the different stages of production and be so close to the planes as they get built. When I visited we got to see the 747, 777 and Dreamliner lines. The tour takes place on elevated platforms so you are looking down on the people working rather than swarming around them which works very well. Once the tour is done you get back on the bus and drive around the tarmac before heading back to the museum.

The museum is interesting in its own right and it seems they change some of exhibits on a regular basis. You can sit it a mock cockpit and get up close to the engines which once again are impressive by their sheer size. Something you don’t really grasp when travelling onboard these planes.

It was also pretty cool to see on of the four dreamlifters while there. At the time I had no idea how rare they were and would have got a better shot.

Finally there are good vantage points to see the runway where they test the new aircraft. This could be particular fun on a busy day. There is also a hotel onsite where there are surely some very interesting aviation chats at the bar into the early hours.

It really is a fascinating place and worth a visit if you have a day to spare when visiting Seattle.

Ryanair the start of it all! 

For those living in Europe Ryanair really opened up the continent to a new type of traveller. All of a sudden it was possible to visit lots of different countries for a fraction of what it cost previously. Sure Charleroi wasn’t Brussels and Girona wasn’t Barcelona but it was close enough for those who didn’t care, and gave those who did care something to write to the newspapers and complain about. 

The first time I remember really taking advantage was with a flight to Edinburgh. I may be wrong but I think at the time Ryanair wasn’t happy with Easyjet for offering Dublin to Edinburgh flights, so they charged something like €5 each way until Easyjet retreated.  At the time I was in university and managed to get about twenty people to book flights for a one night trip. (A feat never repeated, so easily at least) 

So off we went on a Tuesday morning saw Edinburghs sites, ate haggis, drank really cheap beer in the students union, got lost, hit a night club and somehow everybody made it back to the airport the following morning for our 6am flight back. It was a great trip and I’m pretty sure there have been marriages off the back of it. But really it was the start of  relatively unplanned carefree international travel for the price of a train to the outskirts of Dublin. 

From that point peoples attitudes to travel changed. It wasn’t two weeks in Spain once a year anymore (if you were lucky). Now multiple trips were affordable, no matter how many times you found yourself on a bus to Frankfurt Hahn saying never again!!!!

Why am I here?

As long as I can remember I’ve had my head in the skies. Watching the trails planes left behind while wondering where they were heading.

As the years went by I started to ride those trails and have visited numerous countries all over the world, living in a few along the way. Strangely I am always thinking about the next trip before the one I’m on has ended.

I have realized that while on the ground my head is still in the skies as I constantly find myself planning trips, alternative routes and looking for bargains. There have been many adventures with a lot of lessons learnt along the way and there are many more to come. So instead of boring my friends with my travel plans and my points and miles philosophies, I thought I’d write about them. Hope you enjoy!!