Takeoff To Travel

Hi everyone! The travel bug hit me at the age of eight on my first flight and ever since then I’ve loved planning vacations for my friends and family. I’m a recent college graduate who has a goal to try out new hotel chains and sample the many airline cabins out there. Having been both a city boy and living in the suburbs, I love traveling to all destinations both big and small.

Review: New Years Eve at the Grand Hyatt Taipei

Background: Another long overdue post (oops!) But, I planned to spend New Years 2019 in Taipei, and I knew it may be hard to find a hotel with award availability. Thankfully, approximately 6 months in advance, I saw that there was award availability at the Grand Hyatt Taipei for only 15,000 World of Hyatt points a night as it is a Category 4 hotel! Probably one of the best award redemptions I’ve ever made as cash rates were about $600 USD per night for December 29-January 1st last year. Now in March 2020, Hyatt is introducing peak/off peak award...

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Review: Hilton Sydney Executive Level

Background: I needed to find a hotel to use as a base for my Christmas Stay in Sydney last year. Hilton Honors gives the 5th night free for award stays, and it came out to 132,000 points for my 5 night stay. At normal valuations Hilton points are worth about 1/2 a cent a point, so my 5 night stay turns out to be 660 USD (132 a night). Not bad, especially since cash rates were about 200 USD during my dates. Add the Diamond Status that I have from my Hilton Aspire Credit Card, it was a no...

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Review: Strata Lounge Auckland Airport

Background: I was departing from Auckland Airport’s International Terminal for my Virgin Australia flight to Sydney. I was happy to discover that there was a Priority Pass Lounge for use here. The Strata Lounge at Auckland Airport is the only Priority Pass lounge inside the airport. It’s open from 5am to 1am daily. The Lounge: Just past security, the lounge is located on the 2nd floor next to the Qantas Lounge. The lounge is pretty spacious and has nice views of the shopping part of the terminal. I entered around 1pm as my flight was at 4pm. Seating More...

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Review: AVANI Metropolis Auckland Residences

Background: I found this hotel as it was featured on a site that mentioned all the new hotel openings in Auckland. The Metropolis was built in 1999 as the tallest residential building in New Zealand. The AVANI Metropolis Auckland was opened in 2017 after renovating and rebranding the previous hotel there. The hotel has 65 apartments, and the rest of the building consists of residences. Arrival: Our early flight from Hong Kong put us in Auckland at 8 in the morning. Rather than wait for our room to be ready at 2PM we decided to pay the 50 NZD...

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Review: Renaissance Hong Kong Harbour View

Background: This review is long overdue, but I stayed at the Renaissance Hong Kong Harbour View almost a year ago. I had a Category 5 Certificate to use from my Marriott Bonvoy card and it was a good use as rates were over $300 USD a night. Now, the Renaissance has been increased to a Category 6 under the Bonvoy program. Check In: My Cathay Pacific flight from LA brought us in really early in the morning, so I wasn’t really expecting the hotel to let us to check in at 9am. Regular check-in was at 2pm but the...

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Review: Hawaiian Airlines Plumeria Lounge at Honolulu Airport

Location: The Hawaiian Airlines Plumeria Lounge at Honolulu Airport is located one floor above the main departure floor, next to the inter-terminal shuttle bus stop. Follow signs to Hawaiian Airlines and Ohana flights and then signs for the Plumeria Lounge will pop out. Access to the Plumeria Lounge at Honolulu: Complimentary lounge access is granted to Business Class guests departing on a Hawaiian Airlines International flight. Those flying on any Hawaiian Airlines flight can purchase a access pass for $40. Or, you can be granted complimentary access with a Priority Pass Membership, which is what I used to get...

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Review: Penthouse Suite at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego

Over a year ago, I stumbled on an amazing rate that Extreme Hotel Deals posted on their site for the Penthouse Suite at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego. Bookable directly through Hyatt, the rate was $219 for any room type that was available. So, I choose the Manchester Grand Hyatt Penthouse Suite. I was happy when the hotel didn’t contact me or anything about the rate, and there were no bumps along the way. Check In: Arriving at the porte-cochère, I was a bit disappointed to see the temporary lobby still outside (This was labor day weekend)! On my...

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Review: Delta 757 Main Cabin Los Angeles-Honolulu

Background: I booked a Delta flight for my trip to Hawaii since it was the cheapest option for an Expedia Black Friday vacation package. As a Silver Medallion, and booking a non basic economy fare in fare classes T and X, I thought I would be eligible for upgrades. But, I wrote earlier this week on how the tickets purchased through Expedia didn’t allow for upgrades. Interesting to note for future reference. Flight Details: Delta 1149 Los Angeles (LAX) – Honolulu (HNL) Seat: 40A Aircraft: Boeing 757-200 (75G configuration) Delta 1434 Honolulu (HNL)- Los Angeles (LAX) Seat: 24A Aircraft:...

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No Upgrades When Booking on Expedia for Delta Medallions

Background: I booked a Delta flight for my trip to Hawaii since it was the cheapest option for an Expedia Black Friday vacation package. As a Silver Medallion, and booking a non-basic economy fare in fare classes T and X, I thought I would be eligible for upgrades. I was auto-upgraded to Comfort+ on my first leg (but I declined so I could sit with my family). The computer split up my family and I to three different window seats despite a full Comfort Plus row being available at T-24 and all of us on the same reservation. I...

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Review: Southwest Airlines Flights LA-Bay Area

To visit friends in the Bay Area for the weekend, I booked 2 Southwest flights and was able to utilize the Free A-List Free Standby benefit which I wrote about here yesterday. On both flights that I got on, they were with the new livery. This was exciting for me to see when the plane pulled into the gate. I haven’t flown on Southwest in about 10 years, so I was excited to try them out again. FLIGHT DETAILS: Southwest Airlines Flights 103 and 4370 Santa Ana (SNA) to Oakland (OAK) and San Jose (SJC) to Long Beach (LGB)...

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