The Short Final

Dominic is a full-time consultant who aims to bring you news and inspiration about the best travel experiences, destinations, and industry insights without all the unnecessary fluff. Focus is on American AAdvantage and Starwood / Marriott loyalty programs.

Anyone Home? American Eagle Flight Gets Stood Up at TYR

Recently, an American Eagle (operated by Envoy Air) flight 3499 from Dallas-Fort Worth to Tyler Pounds Regional airport had to turn around during the approach phase and return back to DFW. This was because the pilots couldn’t reach the ground crew at TYR. Tyler Pounds Regional airport is an extremely small facility with only one commercial airline and destination – American Eagle to DFW. Air traffic control at the airport is only active for around 16 hours per day from 6:30AM-9:30PM CDT. This is interesting because flight 3499 is presumably the final flight to arrive at TYR before the ATC facility...

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That’s Hot: Paris Hilton to Launch Stunning New Hotel Line

Before I begin, I want it to be known that I have always given Paris Hilton credit for making Kim Kardashian famous (among other things). Her seeming “ditziness” is infectious and the great granddaughter of Hilton Hotels founder Conrad Hilton has certainly grown into the family business very nicely. Paris is looking to pave her own path with a hotel brand of her own; There are plans to open three Paris-brand hotels in each Dubai, New York, and Las Vegas. Paris already has a successful line of beach-themed nightclubs in the Philippines (part of the AZURE Urban Residence) so the natural...

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My Irrational Fear of Flying (And How to Cure Yours!)

I have a slight anxiety of flying. There, I said it. The main reason why I have such a hard time falling asleep on an airplane is that I have the teeniest ounce of anxiety and that prevents me from reaching the REM sleep phase. Every little bump and  movement wakes me. I’m so jealous of the people that pass out on a flight. You know, the mouthbreathers. Head back, mouth wide open in a fly-catching stance only to wake up a few minutes before touchdown. Unbelievable. What a life they must have! I don’t know about you, but I find some solace in being seated near other airline pilots. Their calmness keeps my nerves together. Yesterday I had the pleasure of being seated next to a FedEx pilot. On takeoff (typically the portion of the flight I fear most), it was comforting being able to watch him be still and relaxed; He would also be my indicator that something is actually wrong. I hate noise abatement measures because it requires a roaring aircraft to throttle back the engines immediately after takeoff, giving you the feeling that you’re going to drop out of the sky. My rule of thumb is don’t panic unless the pilots or flight attendants panic. As someone who flies thousands of miles per year for business and pleasure, you might find it hard to believe that...

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Is It Safe To Travel To Cuba?

Ever since the United States and Cuba opened diplomatic relations again, the curiosity for travel to Cuba has skyrocketed. There are now over a dozen airline routes scheduled from the United States to various cities in Cuba. In addition, major hotel chains like Starwood have begun taking reservations for one of two properties they intend to open in Havana. But with any “new” country, one of the major questions I have been consistently hearing is whether or not traveling to Cuba is safe for Americans. Crime One of the challenges with quantifying crime in Cuba is the lack of reporting by the Cuban government. Crime statistics are not published and the U.S. Department of State’s “Safety and Security” briefing on Cuba is based purely on the reporting of U.S. citizens and other travelers. With that being said, most of the information I’ve read when conducting research for this post makes it overwhelmingly evident that Cuba is certainly safe for travelers. Of course, being stupid (as my mom would say 😉 ) will almost 99.9% of the time get you into more trouble than you bargained for. So don’t go ahead and carry wads of cash or flaunt flashy, expensive jewelry, etc. The reason I say this is well, this type of petty crime happens everywhere and it’s the one time of crime that I’ve read is more common in Cuba. Thankfully...

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What to Do If You’re Lost in a Foreign Country

Getting lost can be a terrifying experience. Now imagine getting lost in a completely unfamiliar place. What do you do? What can you do? Scary, right? Fortunately, there are a few ways to better prepare yourself for a situation like this.   Write Down the Address and Phone Number of the Consulate It’s a good idea to record down on paper and electronically the address and phone number of the U.S. Embassy (or your home country) in the country you’re traveling to. You can find this information here. The U.S. Embassy (any embassy, really) is a landmark, the North Star if you will. Most citizens will be able to point you in the right direction or at least tell you you’re way off. Finding the Embassy can be especially helpful in the case you are robbed of your passport or other means of identification. For some more tips on what to do if you’re robbed abroad, check out this post.   Download Google Translate Google recently announced a great new feature of its Translate app – offline translation! If you’re in a country where there is a language barrier, this tool will come in handy as you won’t have to rely on having internet connection to communicate. If you’re lost and can’t speak the language then this app will help, but I would be cautious about making it obvious...

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5 Tips for Surviving a Red Eye Flight

I absolutely hate red eyes. I took one yesterday from LAX-PHL and while the flight is actually pretty chill, arriving home at 6AM just throws off my game for the rest of the day. My learning style tends to be “the hard way” so I don’t often put suggestions from others into practice and then regret that later on. I had a plan to survive yesterday’s flight and it actually worked out pretty well, save for a few tweaks. Here are some tips that helped me and might help you.   Hit the Lounge I arrived at LAX around 7PM for my 10PM flight. My plan all along was to walk from Terminal 6 over to the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) to use the Korean Air lounge, but then my flight got switched to Terminal 4 (perfect!). Why this lounge? Simply because my Diner’s Club card gets me in free. All I really wanted was food, drinks, and a shower. Being in a busy terminal and gate waiting area can sometimes be stressful and it definitely helps to have some space to be able to stretch out and decompress from the day. This is especially true before hopping on a red-eye. I highly recommend the Korean Air lounge. The staff is friendly and while the food is somewhat lackluster, If you are a Diner’s Club or Priority Pass cardholder, the...

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Review: Westin Bonaventure, Los Angeles

Traveling for business isn’t always the most lavish task on the planet, as I clearly pointed out here. Often times business travel means you are at the mercy of the budget when it comes to where you can stay and how you can fly. And then there are times where obliging isn’t so bad. Being an SPG loyalist, I had the choice between the Sheraton Grand Los Angeles and the Westin Bonaventure, and I’ll be staying at and reviewing both. Last week I had the pleasure of the Westin Bonaventure in downtown Los Angeles. The week before check-in, I...

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How to Get Upgraded on American Airlines

Last week I wrote about how I got targeted for an instant upgrade to American Airlines Platinum status. Flying AA becomes much more enjoyable with status as you are entitled to a number of perks, one of which being 500-mile upgrades. Getting upgraded is sometimes tricky, though. As part of my Platinum status enrollment I was given 12 500-mile upgrades to use and I receive four each time I hit 12,500 EQMs. These 500-mile upgrades work like credits and are redeemable in 500 mile chunks of flight distance, rounded up to the nearest 500 increment. For example, if you are flying PHL-MCO, the flight distance is 861 miles. With my Platinum status I received 12 500-mile upgrades so for this flight I would only need to redeem two of my credits (861 miles rounded up to 1,000). I’ve been flying PHL-LAX weekly which has a distance of 2,400 miles so I’d have to use five of my 500-mile upgrades.   Increase your chances and how to upgrade Once you book a flight, you have to request to be placed on the upgrade standby list. The speed with which you request an upgrade factors greatly in which order you’re placed on the list, along with your status level. Also, the flight has to have open first class seats, but that goes without being said. The key here is to first and...

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5 Great Caribbean Starwood Redemptions

A couple of weeks ago I was assigned to a project out in Los Angeles for the remainder of the summer which means I’ll be flying around 4,000 miles and living in hotels for six of the seven days in the week. During this time I plan on taking advantage of the SPG Triple Up promotion and my AA Platinum status offer to earn as many points as possible. Betty and I are looking to take a trip to the Caribbean over the New Year’s holiday and I’ve been doing my homework on some great places to check out. The two knowns here are that I am staying exclusively at Starwood properties (Westin and Sheraton) and flying American, where I hold Platinum status. The unknown is which Caribbean Starwood property is the best value for redemption. So I set out on a mission to find that out… When evaluating the best value hotels, I kept the following in mind: reviews, point valuations, and flexibility with AA miles (since I’d be redeeming them to get there!). I personally do not value miles so I relied upon The Points Guy and Ben over at OMAAT. I’d be using the points and mile valuations from TPG and OMAAT as my basis and then calculate the the dollar per point outlay of the going rate on SPG.com and compare it. Values: TPG = 2.5...

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Starwood’s First Hotel in Cuba is Available For Booking!

I was scouring SPG.com today while doing some research for another blog post and stumbled upon the official SPG site for Four Points by Sheraton Havana, which opened on June 27th! A couple of months back I wrote about SPG’s plans to take over and re-brand three hotels in Cuba and this is the first they’ve opened for bookings. I wanted to know how soon you could book a room at this property and it looks like it’s available right away! The Four Points Havana is a Category 6 property and will set you back 20,000 Starpoints per night. At the advertised...

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