web Musings of The Global Traveller

Friday, February 02, 2007

My travels

Apologies for the lack of recent posts. I'll try to do better. The start of the year has been busy travel-wise for me, although differently from other January's.

With lots of stuff on I have been busy with many short flights instead of international longhaul. In the past few weeks I have flown several different airlines and aircraft types, which keeps me on my toes for selecting good seats, different processes for check in, lounge access, and so forth.

My travel plans for the upcoming year are starting to take shape and I've booked some nice awards on the first date released for next Christmas / New Year period as well as finalising some paid trips. I find I tend to cash in miles regularly since the frequent flyer programs regularly devalue - hoarding miles is not "investing" for future travel. That said, some significant changes to alliances (more on that soon) will open up new opportunities for both earning and redemption.

I have taken a small gamble with one of my upcoming hotel stays. It is a new hotel currently expecting to open a month before my visit, although the opening date has already been pushed back several times. The hotel award looks very cheap compared with paid rates, and I've already confirmed an executive suite. So fingers crossed the hotel opens on time and is fully functional from the outset.

I've also been working to earn more miles with various promos, some of which were not well advertised. It really does pay to actively search them out. On one stay by booking hotel through an airline website, for the same heavily discounted rate as the hotel discount websites I get the same room and 2000 miles, not counting miles earned when paying the bill on the credit card. Not a bad return on 5 minutes work to do the comparison. Another trip I booked flights + 1 night of hotel as a package, got the same great sale fare on the flights as I would get booking just the flight, plus hotel for $120 with $100 rebate. So the hotel in the central city cost me $20, far below what the same hotel or any others for that matter would cost on a hotel discount website.

There was a period a couple of years ago when it seemed every few flights I would be asked to complete a survey. Then it dried up with very few surveys. I recently got emailed a travel survey which I thought was poorly designed. It was very long, more like something you'd get in a focus group - it took me about 40 minutes to complete. Many questions where confusingly written. Imagine airlines were people, for each of the listed airlines select which of the following types of people they would be. And the types would be something wierd like "sensible". Huh? I normally like doing surveys as I see it as an opportunity to give feedback so they can improve. However this one left a sour taste - too long for what they were giving for it, badly worded questions and a focus more on branding and advertising perceptions than on the actual product at hand.

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