Ruminations Above The Aleutian Islands in Polaris Business Class

How many times on this planet does one find oneself flying over the Aleutian Islands? Not many for most of us, including me, and hence my blog title today. Turns out if you leave from Denver for Japan instead of from San Francisco or Los Angeles, your route takes you over Vancouver, skims Alaska and then goes right over the Aleutian Islands! Just like Sarah Palin I can wave to Russia today.

Denver Airport

Denver airport

I’ve had a very pleasant day flying to Japan so far. At this very moment, I am literally over the Aleutian Islands, with about 5 hours to go on my 12 hour flight. Well, the day has been MOSTLY pleasant except for having to wake up at 3:40am to catch the Courtyard Marriott Natomas airport shuttle to make my 5:25am flight. The shuttle times were 4 or 5am, so I didn’t have much of a choice; I only had about 25 minutes time at the gate before boarding my flight to Denver. And am I the only one who sort-of sleeps with one-eye open before an early morning flight because your subconscious thinks you’ll miss the flight otherwise?

Polaris bedding

Polaris bedding

I’m sure you are wondering why I am flying backwards to Denver to go to Japan. Well, my circuitous route got me an unbelievable deal on a Business Class ticket for the trip (less than 1/2 the usual price). I am lucky to fly business a fair amount of the time thanks to miles, upgrades, and searching out discounted fares. With my Rheumatoid Arthritis, a good flight with my legs up and room to stretch can mean the difference between a painful first few days of a trip or not, so this is a good thing. I couldn’t find a discounted business fare to Jerusalem for the TBEX (Travel Blog Exchange Continue reading

I’ve Been Right In The Middle of the Northern California Flooding Disaster

I5 Flood Near Willows CA

I5 Flood Near Willows CA

It has stopped raining. Here in California we have spent so much time praying for rain that it has felt strange doing a complete about face and instead pray for a stop to the rain. Well, all the rain did not stop and it has caused quite a local disaster in Northern California and difficulties for all our travelers. I have discussed disasters and travel previously here, but I did want to say a few words on the subject again in light of the rain, the Oroville Dam Spillway Emergency and the flooding that has been going on in Northern California this week.

First of all, I really feel horrible for any travelers that were at hotels or visiting people in cities including Oroville, Marysville and Yuba City that had to evacuate due to the Oroville Dam emergency. The evacuation order was extremely frightening. The initial order that went out was THIS IS NOT A DRILL…FAILURE OF EMERGENCY SPILLWAY EXPECTED WITHIN THE HOUR…”. I had been closely monitoring the situation for several days, and the announcement popped up on my Twitter feed and it was so out of the blue and severe that I ran into the next room and showed my husband and said “Is this Fake News? We double checked the URL and turned on the TV and immediately could see that the announcement was for real.

Can you imagine getting that evacuation order as a traveler in our area? At least the local people all know the roads and the ways out of the towns. Plus where do you go? What are the local stations for news on the radio while you’re in your Continue reading

Flying on New Year’s Day! Is There a Better Way to Greet 2017?

Leaving Boston Logan Airport

Leaving Boston Logan Airport

From the first moment I set foot on an airplane (I was 12 years old and headed to the Bahamas) I have loved flying. I loved it so much as a teenager that I even looked into being a flight attendant (at 5 foot 1 inch tall, that was a no-go).

I started traveling when I was 6. My life was pretty dull and I remember very little of it before then. But once I started going places…well, now THAT was something. Pre-flying I remember Cape Cod, Lake George, Lake Placid, and the Catskills (all in upstate New York; my family being from New York City), Vermont, New Hampshire, Bar Harbor and Freeport, Maine. Those are the places I remember most fondly.

And then once my family started flying…oh, the places you go! While I was a teenager we went to Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Mexico City, Acapulco (back when that was still an amazing place), Hilton Head Island in South Carolina , and Hawaii.

Made Premier 1K with United Airlines!

Made Premier 1K with United Airlines!

No need to innumerate all the places I’ve been since then, because that is what this blog is about. Lets just say I feel completely at home flying and, well, going. Which is a good thing since so much of my family lives on the other coast, and also a good thing since my husband and I share traveling as a hobby.

Back to today. Applause to United for a great experience flying; my first as a Premier 1K. I cleared both of my RPU upgrades (one last night and one at the airport). I already had printed out my boarding pass for the one that had cleared yesterday but they still called me at the gate and gave me a new and improved boarding pass that said in giant letters PREMIER 1K at the bottom. Since this was my first notice that all had gone as planned for my December 30th flight I was a happy camper. Continue reading

Traveling on United to Boston For New Year’s Eve

Flying over the Sierra Nevada

Flying over the Sierra Nevada

So I decided I hadn’t traveled enough in 2016 (a dubious assessment, you might rightly think) and I therefore took off today, December 30th, to spend New Year’s in Boston with my son. He broke up with his girlfriend this Fall and was planning on dinner alone at a family favorite restaurant that I introduced him to, Cragie on Main. This upset his mother. Oh, and I might also mention that a trip to Boston pre-January 1 would throw me over the finish line for 1K status with United next year. So my long-suffering husband (who hates New Year’s and hardly ever stays up till midnight on New Year’s with me anyway) said MERRY CHRISTMAS and here I am on a United flight to ORD (Chicago) and then BOS (Boston) to meet my son. It’s funny, but as you get near 1K status, all of a sudden you can speak in airport shorthand…

In any event, I also decided to try to burn some RPU certificates that I got as a Platinum elite flyer with United. I got a fairly cheap flight and booked myself into Economy Plus…and even though all the flights had TONS of first class seats, of course United waitlisted me on all of them. Um, thanks United. And then on this flight I go to check in and there are still 2 seats left in first class. United, in it’s non-infinite wisdom, decided they would try to upsell the remaining first class seats for $200 each (yep, I was offered to BUY the seat for $200 at check-in) instead of honoring my hard-earned RPU. Of course they both sold for that price and I ended up #1 on the upgrade list and my upgrade didn’t clear. I hope that the $200 makes the difference in your yearly profitability report United, cause It seriously pissed off this frequent flyer. Continue reading

A Family Trip In Osaka

Arcade in Osaka

Arcade in Osaka

Finally a quiet moment on my trip. I haven’t blogged much (other than micro-blogging on Instagram) since this Japan trip is a family trip and the first time in probably 6 years that my family has been on a trip all together, just the four of us (me, Mr. Travelholic, Son Travelholic and Daughter Travelholic). So spending time together has been the major priority. We have also kept incredibly busy, visiting Tokyo, Kyoto, Arima, Hiroshima/Miyajima and Osaka in just 9 days. The trip would have been much better paced if we could have had 2 extra days, but Daughter Travelholic had to get back to classes and Son Travelholic had to get back to work on Monday.

We have also walked and walked and walked this trip which is common in Japan; we have easily walked over 14,000 steps each day which is about 6 miles; today I have walked 16,218 steps or 6.84 miles and we are going out to roam the Continue reading

Flying All Nippon Airways to Japan for the First Time

United Club at SFO

United Club at SFO

My kids have already departed from Boston and Mr. Travelholic and I are ensconsed in the United Club at SFO awaiting the beginning of our trip to Japan. We are here a million hours early because of that one time I gave myself 6 hours to get to SFO from my home (normally a 3.5 hour drive) and nearly missed my flight due to Bay Bridge traffic. Of course today there was no traffic and we have nearly 4 hours now to wait till our plane departs for LAX, and then to Haneda on the red eye.

You might ask why we are going from SFO to LAX and then to Haneda, and then why on an awful redeye. Well, we were able to get 1/2 price Business Class tickets by picking this route, and since putting my legs flat vs not for 12 hours help the rheumatoid arthritis affected knee joints immensely, this is the route we have picked. The difference between flat legs vs bent legs for that long can mean hitting the ground running vs. a slow and painful start to an international trip.

As for the redeye, we get into Tokyo at a godwaful 5am arrival time. Mr. Travelholic sleeps great on planes and is already plotting his day in Tokyo. I never sleep on planes and look at all such plans with great trepidation.

We are taking All Nippon Airways (“ANA”) for the first time internationally. This is exciting because we always take Continue reading

Playing Travel Delay Roulette. And Losing. And then Sort-of Winning.

View from Cortyard Marriott, Portland Waterfront

View from my room at the Courtyard Marriott Portland Waterfront

So yesterday morning my group of five travelers (ranging in age from 21 to 83) woke themselves up at the ridiculously early hour of 3:30am (12:30am West Coast time if you are counting) to catch a 6:15am flight out of Portland. We normally wouldn’t try to leave that early going East coast to West coast but we were trying to make a wedding on the West coast after seeing the play my daughter directed on the East coast the night before. Tough scheduling.

We had a non-eventful trip to the airport and then Gate. Very pleasant actually; no traffic from Freeport to Portland, easy car-rental return, easy Premier check-in line (thank you United) and TSA-Pre security. We like the choices for breakfast at PWM (Portland International Jetway): great breakfast bagel sandwiches at The Great American Bagel and Starbucks (I think there is also a Burger King for those so inclined). Am I the only person who eats low carb except on long air travel days because I just have to self-soothe on those days…).

We boarded the plane in a timely manner, and then the captain’s voice: “We have to power Continue reading