Time to maximize with IB, EC, UA, NZ and IHG

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  1. kraven
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    kraven Silver Member

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    Warning: The following trip report has been made by a professional maximizer. Do not attempt to recreate these maximizings!

    Well, due to a cheap return flight by forgetting some fuel on its way I still had a flight back to the US open for use. Unfortunately the departure has to be out of Madrid, so I booked a cheap Avios oneway out of Frankfurt. For me also a reason to visit the Oneworld Schengen Lounge for the first time.

    IB knows their own product and all softdrinks availiable in the lounge are in small handy bottles :D

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    I pre-booked the exit row on my flight, operated by the Looks-like-Ryanair-Iberia-Express. Very effective: They boarded the 320 with three buses. Wow, a lot more inefficient than Lufthansels.

    You think thats the most ineffecient thing on this flight? Check out the tray tables in the exit row. Not only one, but two! I hope this is enough space for the comprehensive service on board!

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  2. kraven
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    kraven Silver Member

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    I never made myself some onboard catering again since my last flight ex Lautzenhausen Air Base in 2007, but it was time for that.

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    Arriving in Madrid, my luggage didn't came off the belt. Oh batman. So I went to the Lost-and-Found and well, some dumbass sent half of the plane's luggage to a belt inside the Non Schengen area! Iberia at it's best...
    I missed the cheap Cercanias train into the city and had to take the expensive Metro. But the advantage was that there was a station directly in front of my hotel.
    Of course I stayed with compliments of the famous IHG Best Rate Guarantee, I even managed to claim a Junior Suite which has Lounge access included. What does it mean? Well, free dinner for me!

    The room itself was very small, even the Club Rooms of the IC Frankfurt are bigger.

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  3. kraven
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    kraven Silver Member

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    I took the Metro to drive into the heart of Madrid but it started raining, so I ended up in the hotel gym and of course in the lounge.
    But, what the hell? There are only canapés here! How should I get my stomach filled with this stuff?

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    The next problem: They only had four beers available. After clearing the buffet 4-5 times, I even managed to get fed up.

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    I went to the Business Center to print out all discount vouchers for the upcoming days and outlets and my travel itineraries and went to bed. As the Madrid Metro starts operating at 6 in the morning, I had to walk about 20 minutes to the Cercanias Station. Spending money for taxis? Why should I support this mafia?

    My program for today: Flying to Orly with Iberia and further on with Openskies to Newark.
    The IB lounge opens their doors at 6 in the morning and it looks like in a third world country. No, it's not the UN giving you food here, it's IB!

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    The spaniards know there batman here as well: Pre-packaged salads and drinks, I believe some hardcore Frugal Frequent Flyers assemble their in-flight meals here :D
     
  4. kraven
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    kraven Silver Member

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    The flight itself was unspectacular. We all know, CDG is hell on earth. But, can it get worse? Yes, it can! O'rly? Yeah, O'rly!

    Flight Connections airside? Non, Monsieur, nous n'avos pas cette connexion.
    Lounge airside? Bitch please, only if you are flying AF!
    Wifi airside? Oui oui, generous 15 minutes!
    Even plenty of seating? Oui oui, but only if there are no AF-slavebombers to their former colonies departing at the same time!

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    I traded my seat back in the plane to the exit row and a SSSS remark and my BAEC First gave me access to the Fast Lane. If not, I had to wait more than one hour at the passport control. Well, we know, the slavebombers...

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    Boarding was quick and the middle seat in the exit row remained empty.
    Openskies introduced their Economy Class again last summer and I ended up in the last original BA 757, the GPEK.

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    I have to say, one can clearly see the age of this plane. The jumpseat came off while departing and the cabin itself looked shabby.

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  5. kraven
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    You get an Ipad for IFE, the movie choice was not so well. But there was some Doctor Who on it.

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    The first meal itself was tasty, despite of the beer. Chicken breast with potato gratin.

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    In this 757-configuration the toilets had been installed near door 3 and I saw the biggest disadvantage of Openskies: Most pax were French farmers on their first flight. Mothers who couldn't manage to close the toilet door because they do not know how turn the light on while in it (Protip: Door latch!) so they had the change their diapers of their babies while standing in the open door is not the thing you really want to see. Praise the lord that the husband of this Frenchwoman managed to find the door latch while going for a one-hour-poop.

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    Shortly before landing, a sandwich with some cookies was served and I landed in Newark on time. Now it was time to wait: The CBP guys had more fun surfing on the Internet while stamping passports. After 1:30hrs of waiting a finally got out of the airport and took the Bus to Manhattan.
    16$ for it was expensive, but the Skype port on the Free Wifi there was open so I saved a lot of money on my cellphone :D

    Of course I stayed again in an IHG property. You know the drill.
    I had been warned that the IC Barclay was old and worn but hey, a hostel was a lot more expensive! Wifi was not included, so I borrowed it from the Starbucks round the corner.

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  6. kraven
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    Time to get some food. There was a Five Guys on the 3rd Avenue, yummy!
    On the next day the jet lag notified itself and I woke up at 5 in the morning. Well, I thought the gym itself is empty at this early hour. Haha, no! Kinky.

    After a small breakfast in a Deli I took the bus to Brooklyn Bridge (Another protip: Take one journey with the bus and the next one with the subway - It counts as a transfer and you will only pay once!) and walked to Brooklyn. Never done that before.
    Next stop: Shopping!

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    Manhattan is only for fat cats and dumb tourists, so I drove to Jersey Gardens. Nice prices here, but not as good as in Wrentham.

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    My BRG-colleague for ne next night arrived while I drove back to Manhattan and we took a small meal at the famous Katz. Overpriced, but tasty.

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    For the next night I had to pay for the hotel night :( Thanks to my old travel agent card, I managed to get a very cheap night at the Fairfield Inn in LI City. Well, a very nice room. Free Wifi, free Breakfast and the gym below your room, what else do you need?

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  7. kraven
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    Unfortunately the train exhibition at the Transport Museum was closed this day, so I took the subway to Coney Island. Pretty worn here.

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    On the next day I took my last ticket on this journey. At first I booked a boring JFK-FRA on SQ as an award ticket on *bomb, but then I saw that UA planned to utilize their 787 on some domestic routes and rebooked it to LGA-ORD-IAH-LHR-FRA.
    But than IAH-LHR changed from the 787 to a boring 764.
    So I decided to phone UA again, why should I fly such a mess like LH or UA for the TATL journey now?

    Me: "I want LGA-ORD-IAH-LAX-FRA now!"
    Agent: "Well, that is a huge backtracking!"
    Me: "So would you kindly look if that is possible and how much more such a routing will cost?"
    Agent (after a few minutes): "That will be... eh... 0 miles and 2.50$ additional fare"
    Me: "DO WANT!"

    ORD-IAH with a nice 737-9, IAH-LAX with the 787 and LAX-LHR with the good NZ2, I like! The award ticket gets slowly worth the price...
    Well, then some batteries burned on the plastic plane and UA changed the 787 flight so a a-lot-more-boring 738.
    Unfortunately it was not the time frame where a rebooking costs 75$, so I thought "**** that batman" and decided to fly with the 737.

    So much for the ticket history.
    The lounge at LGA is landside (FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUU-) and I planned to make a VDB against 200$, but unfortunately the plane was not overbooked in the end.

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    The flight itself was again unspectacular and I took the subway into Chicago. No Interconti for me today, I claimed the Indigo. As a matched Platinum I even got a welcome package with a bottle of water (The tap water in CHI is undrinkable!) and some candy. The room itself was lovely.

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  8. kraven
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    The first Playboy Mansion is just around the corner btw :D But now it's time to explore the city itself...

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    Quite nice here. The view from Sears Tower at night is fantastic.

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  9. kraven
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    On the next morning I drove to the place where many of us had their first flight lessons: Meigs Field. The place itself is not an airport anymore, only the terminal and the tower are still visible.

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    It was now time to get back to the airport. I must say, ORD is not as bad as ORY, but somewhere near it. The guys at the check-in refused to label my luggage as *A priority ("Only for UA Elites!") and the Fast Lane was closed. What the hell, this is one of the largest UA hubs!
    There are not much cheap eateries airside, so I had to go to McCrap for a even crappier burger. We all know the culinary selection in all American Frequent Flyer lounges, I believe 85% of the American carrot production is going to end in these places.
    The 737-900ER which took me to Houston was not a real ER as they closed the rear window exit. But it had Sky Interior which had been quite nice.

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    The catering itself was the usual soft drink round. Of course I did not buy one of these overpriced and unhealthy snack boxes, but somehow I found a bag of carrots in my backpack :D
     
  10. kraven
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    kraven Silver Member

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    My visit at the UA Club has been classified as a act of state and even Uncle Barack came to visit me :D

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    Public transportation in Texas is not as big as in other cities, so I had to rent a car. 15$ per day, what a ripoff here. I drove to Walmart to buy some cheap Whey and Habanero sauce, cheaper than here in Germany!

    The only claimable hotel for this night had been the Candlewood Suites 10mins away from the airport and the guy at the checkin wondered about the cheap room rate of 1ct.

    I had to gett of the hotel at 4 in the morning and again I had to visit the colon cleaners of the TSA. The lounge here opens at 0530 in the morning, time to fill my stomach with some bagels.

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    Now it's time for the 787. Oh wait, it is a 737-800. Even no seat in Y+ availiable, but a free center seat. Better than nothing, even two rows of free soft drinks!

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    I had about 6 hours to spare, so I walked to the famous In'n'Out on Sepulveda Blvd. Of course I could've taken one of the free parking space buses, but the weather was quite nice and it was a short 20mins walk.
    A Double-Double with Animal Fries for breakfast, lovely!

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  11. kraven
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    kraven Silver Member

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    Nothing special on the approach today than the 380, so I walked back to the airport to check if there is the exit row on the NZ flight still availiable.

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  12. kraven
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    Of course I could've buy a seat at the exit in advance, but why should I spend money on such things? Okay, it was full. So I had a ordinary window seat on a full row.
    Time for some alcohol to survive this. Steinlager is good.

    But, NZ managed to surprise, my name was called while sitting in the lounge and I got a new boarding pass with seatblocking. Wow!

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    The lounge is one of the best in North America and the cabin on the NZ plane is one of the stylishest I've ever seen. They even have music playing while sitting on the loo!

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  13. kraven
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    kraven Silver Member

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    Food was okay as well, I had the choice between horse, er, beef and chicken. I took the so-called beef. 7/10 would eat again.

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    For breakfast I just took the fruit plate, I knew there is plenty of food in the *A lounge at Heathrow Airport.

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    The pilot couldn't decide if Gatwick was prettier, but he decided to go down in Heathrow.

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    Now it was time for a hot shower and some fried horse. Yummy.

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  14. kraven
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    Of course Lufthansels had some delay and the 320 was fully packed. There had been even some "food" onboard. Good German cuisine. "Wurstsalat" aka sausage salad. I wait for the day when they are going to serve ground pork rolls, of course with a storage life of more than 12 months like all the other food they serve.

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    So, this was my short Tripmaxizing, thanks for reading!
     
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