Thursday, July 31, 2014

Qatar's Unveils New A380 First Class Cabin

This post may contain affiliate links from our advertising partners. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here.
Qatar recently unveiled their new A380 First Class cabin at the International Travel Show in Berlin and here some pictures below of the new cabin. Qatar will be taking delivery of their first three aircraft in June.
The new First Class A380 seat, features a 90-inch seat pitch, transforming into a fully flat bed, together with an expansive choice of entertainment options displayed on individual 26-inch television screens.
Qatar A380
In addition to the 13 A380 aircraft the airline currently has on order, Qatar Airways is also set this year to welcome the first of 80 A350 aircraft, the world’s newest aircraft, as Airbus’s launch customer. This forms part of Qatar Airways plans to significantly expand its fleet with 300 additional aircraft, worth more than US $50 billion, on order, including the Boeing 787 and 777X.
Qatar A380
As part of its aggressive expansion program, Qatar Airways will launch routes to a further six new destinations during 2014: Philadelphia (USA) from April 2; Larnaca (Cyprus) from April 29; Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen Airport (Turkey) from May 22; Edinburgh (Scotland) from May 28; Miami (USA) from June 10 and Dallas/Fort Worth (USA) from July 1.
Bottom Line
This new first class cabin on the A380 features an elegant design. – Points Miles and Martinis

Pictures of American Airlines New 767 Business Class

This post may contain affiliate links from our advertising partners. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here.
This is the year that American Airlines will begin retrofitting its existing Boeing 767-300 fleet. The new planes will have 28 fully life-flat Business Class seats. Each seat will have aisle access.
767300 BC Front (2)
American plans to retrofit its 767-300 aircraft to offer 28 fully lie-flat Business Class seats with aisle access from every seat. Other elements of the retrofit project include the installation of new LCD drop-down monitors onboard, new digital audio systems, refreshed lavatories, and new seat covers and cushions in the Main Cabin that mirror the design of American’s 777-300ER fleet for a more consistent widebody experience.
American’s first retrofitted 767-300 will take its inaugural flight between New York’s Kennedy Airport (JFK) and Zurich Airport (ZRH) on April 1. As more retrofitted aircraft prepare to enter service, American will deploy the refreshed aircraft to additional markets.
767300 Upright BC

Bottom Line

These new American Airlines seats look great and it’s exciting to see they will start rolling these out on April 1, 2014.
Delta similarly completed the installation of flat-bed seats on their 767 planes, and subsequently increased the prices of awards across the Atlantic to 125,000 round-trip in Business Class. It will be interested to see if American Airlines follows.
Until then, looking forward to seeing these new seats as they roll out on April 1, 2014.
767300 Fully Flat BC

10 Things Everyone Does in a Hotel Room But Won’t Admit

Let's just get it all out there in the open today. Here are 10 Things Everyone Does in a Hotel Room But Won’t Admit. Confessing our sins to one another will cleanse us from all unrighteousness, right? Eh, whatever. You paid for the room, go wild!
1. Steals the toiletries, even the no-name ones: Because what if you run out of shampoo or conditioner at home and can't get to the drugstore before your next shower? Also, because deep down you're a hoarder.
2. Pays $4 for a candy bar: Especially after long flights. Damn you, Snickers. And Kit Kat, too.
3. Walks around naked: Why not? So long as we're not doing sex acts in front of the High Line, it's more than ok to walk around naked in our room. And so long as the curtains are closed.
4. Stiffs the housekeeper: Whether you forgot, didn't have enough cash on you or simply didn't even know this was a common practice, everyone stiffs the housekeeper sometimes. We say just double-up the next time for good karma's sake.
5. Uses towels only once: Like we said yesterday, we re-use our towels at home. Can't we take a break from this once in a while?
6. Leaves the room service table in the hallway without calling housekeeping: "Oh that's weird. We called housekeeping hours ago to remove the tray." Suuuuurreee you did.
7. Wrecks the furniture: Hopefully, the hotel won't notice the sneaker prints. Or the broken vase stashed in the closet. Or the red wine stain on the desk chair.
8. Throttles the hotel's WiFi network: Because you just had to download episodes of Game of Thrones (in HD!) during your stay, didn't you?
9. Leaves without checking out: We used to have a clear conscience about this one but some commenters have made us rethink the hotel version of the "Irish Goodbye."
10. Paid $16.99 + tax to watch a movie: You probably should have just streamed it from Netflix instead. Unless it was an adult movie. Heh. Don't worry, the checkout out bill usually doesn't list the movie title, so you're in the clear.

Delta + four major airlines move to NAIA 3 |

Good news for Delta Airlines travelers to and from Manila,
Philippines: they’re moving to NAIA Terminal 3 beginning July 31, 2014
for arrivals and August 1st for departures.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Emirates, Singapore Air and Cathay Pacific
will also be transferring to Terminal 3 by the middle to end of August. (Source)

NAIA Terminal 3 promises larger departure and immigration halls, a
smoother walk between the airport entrance and gates, more seating
areas, less congestion at security, and more shopping and dining

Airport Reflection

Photo: Dexter Baldon
Take note:

If you need to transfer between Terminal (T1) and Terminal (T3), allow at least 1½ hours to transfer between terminals.

An airport shuttle is available between terminals. The shuttle departs
every 30-45 minutes, and the ride to T3 takes approximately 30 minutes.

Taxi service is also available between terminals. Taxis are located
curbside at the T1 departure level, and the ride to T3 takes
approximately 30-90 minutes.

Proceeding through the security checkpoint at T3 takes approximately 30 minutes.

BusinessElite® travellers may access Pacific Club in Manila,located on the L1 Mezzanine level. (Source)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Emirates to stop flying over Iraq due to missile risk

announced last night that it will no longer allow its planes to fly
over Iraq due to concerns about the dangers posed by Islamic militants,
also known as ISIS.
Tim Clark, chief executive of the airline, announced planes would be
re-routed along other flight paths to avoid becoming targets for
surface-to-air missiles from fighters in the troubled country. Emirates
is taking precautionary steps to prevent an MH17 repeat from occurring
through war torn areas with its planes.
Emirates to stop flying over Iraq due to missile riskThe airline make up the largest number of flights that pass over
ISIS-held territory in Iraq. Presently, the airline has  more than 50
flights a day traveling in and out of UK airports.

Mr Clark’s decision came after it emerged the United States was
investigating whether ISIS rebels in Iraq had acquired weapons from
Syria which are capable to shooting down planes flying at 30,000ft or
more, similar to the technology used in eastern Ukraine by pro-Russian

Iraq sits below the main flight path between Europe and Asia and hundreds of civilian aircraft pass over it each and every day.

New routes will take planes to Europe via Saudi Arabia, the Red Sea
and Egypt. The change in routes may add up to 45 minutes to flight

Malaysia Airlines Mulls Name Change

Regardless on how accountable one might hold Malaysia Airlines
for the two tragedies of the past six months, there's no question the
airline's brand and identity have been considerably tarnished.

It's way too early to know if there will be any long-term impact on
future business success, but it appears MH won't be waiting around to
find out. In a media release,
it announced that it has already begun considering a new brand
identity, including a new name, to go along with a restructuring of
routes. The Malaysian Government, which is the majority shareholder of
the airline, said it would all be in an effort to draw new investors and

There was no indication of whether the changes would be subtle or
severe, and we would imagine the decision won't be made until the dust
settles and the full consequences of the disasters are able to be felt.
As a result, we don't expect to see a new name any time soon, but just
hearing that it's on the table for discussion is very interesting. We
typically get pretty excited when new livery and designs roll out, but
in this case, it obviously won't be an occasion to celebrate.

[Photo: Aljazeera]

Monday, July 28, 2014

Review of Grand Hyatt Washington DC

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

During a recent stay in Washington DC for the 4th of July
we split up our stay between two different hotels – the W Washington DC
that is located virtually across the street from the White House, and
the Grand Hyatt Washington that was located just a couple blocks away. 
We split our stay in part to stretch points/dollars and in part because
while we wanted the W for its location on the actual 4th of July, we
(accurately) guessed from reading reviews online that it wouldn’t be the
most family friendly joint in town.  The Grand Hyatt Washington, on the
other hand, was actually pretty family-friendly despite not being an
overtly family-oriented hotel.

Location of Grand Hyatt Washington:

The Grand Hyatt Washington is a large hotel with an atrium design
that has just under 900 rooms.  It is located on H Street NW which is
roughly  a half mile of walking from the W Hotel (full review of the W here),
which is nothing for an able-bodied adult, but does make a difference
in crazy 4th of July crowds or for tired, hot, and cranky kiddos.



C really wanted to swim in the atrium decorative pool!
What the Grand Hyatt really has going for it in terms of location is
that it is located literally on top of the Metro Center stop.  This is
hugely convenient for getting anywhere on the Metro and means you can
get on and off the Metro without even going outside in the oppressive
summer heat and humidity.


Indoor walk to the Metro
The Room:

We reserved a “standard” room via a very good rate on Travel Pony,
and received a requested king bed at check-in.  They also seem to have
lots of rooms with two double beds available if that arrangement works
better for your family.  Our room was located down a pretty long hall
(almost Vegas long!), but it was also very quiet, so no complaints.

The room had an updated look with plenty of plugs all around – even
close to the bed, which I love for all of our electronic gadgets. 
Compared to the W, the room was downright spacious!



Bad picture, but awesome plugs!
In addition to a larger room than the W, the Grand Hyatt Washington
also had a tub/shower combo in the bathroom that is more useful than the
shower-only W style for those with younger kids like us.  The bathroom
was also a traditional bathroom that is private from the main room as
opposed to the frosted glass style bathroom that isn’t quite as private
at the W.

One thing I remember about the Grand Hyatt that we loved is that it
was super easy to keep the the room very cool at night, which we love. 
Some hotel thermostats are set in a way that makes me feel like I have
to battle with them over temperature settings, but not this one.  A cool
and dark room (thanks to good blackout curtains) perfect for naps was
no problem.

Grand Club and Other Amenities:

The hotel is a full service Hyatt that includes a Grand Club on the
12th floor.  Since I have Diamond status we got complimentary access. 
If you don’t have complimentary access thanks to elite status you can
book a Club Floor room for additional points or money if you think you
will get that value back out of having club access.

We were so busy either seeing the sights or sitting with my kid while
she napped that I didn’t get to visit the club very often, but we did
grab breakfast from the club one morning and raided it for sodas and
waters a few other times.


Breakfast in the Grand Club
Just like the rooms, the Club seemed very modern and clean.  There
were employees in there helping you find what you needed every time we
went in.  Of course that makes me feel worse about snagging an arm full
of waters and running, but they were nothing but nice and helpful.  The
Club did have a section that was labeled just for adults, so even those
without kids could have a section to themselves (sadly, it was not a
sound proof room!).

The written instructions we received when we checked in indicated
that each room only came with Club access for two and that more guests
would be an additional fee.  That didn’t make any sense to me since I
had always understood it to be all guests of the room get access, but it
didn’t impact us in our situation.

Another amenity that the hotel had to offer was complimentary access
to a gym and indoor pool that was located near the entrance to the Metro
Center station.  We didn’t have time to actually use it on this trip,
but I did sneak a quick picture of the pool so you can see what it is
like.  Indoor pools can be a fun way for kids to burn off some energy
year round, though in the summer heat I’m pretty sure my kid didn’t have
any extra energy to burn off!

You Can Do it Too:

The cash prices for the Grand Hyatt Washington were very reasonable
the week of the 4th of July so using points would have felt like a
waste.  We paid about $108/night + tax.  I ended up booking one night
via hotel discount booking site Travel Pony
and one night directly with Hyatt for a variety of reasons, but one
bonus of doing it that way was receiving elite status credit by having
the night booked directly with Hyatt attached. My parents booked both of
their nights via Travel Pony and got the $35 off for their first $200+
Travel Pony booking as a result.  This brought their per-night rate even

We could have used 20,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points per night or
10,000 points + $125 via cash and points, but again with the low rates
that would have been a poor choice.  They do show availability for next
4th of July currently, though there is a two day minimum stay in
effect.  I do not recommend using Hyatt points unless you are getting at
least 1.5 – 2.0 cents return per point, so with rates this low I would
either just use cash or use a fixed value point such as via the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®
instead of Hyatt points to pay for the charges.  As an example, at
about $126 a night all-in this would have cost just 11,340 Barclay
Arrival points (after 10% of the points are returned thanks to it being a
travel charge) instead of the 20,000 Hyatt points it would have cost.

Overall Impressions:

This hotel is likely predominately a hotel designed for business
travelers and conference attendees as it has tons of meeting rooms, but
it happens to work pretty well for family travelers, too.  The
decent-sized rooms, standard rooms with two double beds available,
friendly staff, indoor pool, bathtubs, location on top of Metro Center,
Club lounge, and little touches like water in the lobby all work
together to make this hotel a winner for families coming to DC to see
the sights!



Taking advantage of the Metro – free for kids under 5!
Bonus tip: if you need to “carb up” for more
sightseeing, the brewery/restaurant right across the street serves
ginormous pretzel baskets complimentary when you go for a meal.

While this location wasn’t quite as good as the W, it was a better
overall fit for our traveling family.  If I had to do it all over again I
would have still stayed at the W just for the actual 4th of July night
due to the insane crowds, but would do all other nights at this hotel. 
Of all the hotels I have stayed at in the DC area so far, the Grand
Hyatt Washington is the one best suited for meeting the needs of a
family while still being in a very convenient location.

If you have stayed here I would love to hear your thoughts!

Review of Grand Hyatt Washington DC - Mommy Points

Sunday, July 27, 2014

BALER: Costa Pacifica Mornings in Full Color! @CostaPacificaPH

BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-54.jpg
Mornings in Costa Pacifica are the best. There's the awesome view of
the sunrise that unfolds in front of you, whether you're in your room or
in the pool. Then there's the delicious breakfast of binaliktad na dilis and Baler longganisa with garlic rice and egg, and suman with peanut butter and coco jam for dessert, to look forward to. :)

Check out this photo essay on Costa Pacifica mornings...

080 Buton St., Sitio Labasin, Sabang Beach, Baler, Aurora, Philippines, 3200
Manila Office: +632 576 4555
Baler Office: +63917 853 6040
Website Pacifica Raintree

Check out low rates and availability from Agoda: Costa Pacifica Resort (aff link)

BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-2.jpg
Make sure you book one of the beachfront rooms to get a front row seat to the Baler Sunrise.
BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-10.jpg
The color scheme is very soothing and relaxing.
BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-21.jpg
There are two pools to choose from: the L-shaped adult pool and the oval children's pool.
BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-13.jpg
It's great that you're literally just a few steps away from the beach.
BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-19.jpg
sound of the Baler waves crashing on the beach is very calming. It's
the perfect venue for your zen walk and morning prayers.
also one of the best places for a morning run. The beach is very wide,
not too crowded, and running from one end and back is very challenging.
Of course, you can also watch the beauty of the Baler sunrise while you go for a morning surf.
BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-61.jpg
The boys loved the swing...
BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-67.jpg
...and the duyan (hammocks).
BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-28.jpg
It was cool to get these refreshing morning towels. :)
Don't forget to buy from this pandesal vendor on the boardwalk.
Nothing like freshly baked pandesal from the province. Best paired with peanut butter and coco jam. :)

BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-78.jpg
Beach House serves the best breakfast buffet in Baler. :)
BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-30.jpg
A good selection of cheeses, dried fruits, olives, and nuts.
BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-32.jpg
The wood fired oven breakfast pizzas are a treat. :)
BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-35.jpg
Breakfast pizza topped with marshmallow, egg, or bacon.
There's also a good selection of breads and local pandesal.

BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-31.jpg
Assorted jams...
BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-82.jpg
...and Baler's famous Peanut Butter and Coco Jam.
BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-39.jpg
This is the comfort food section of the buffet.
BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-38.jpg
Crispy bacon...
...beef tapa...
BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-40.jpg
...smiling pancakes and waffles...
...stewed tomato with egg...
BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-41.jpg
...Baler's famous longganisa...
BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-43.jpg
...and binaliktad na dilis.
BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-81.jpg
The longganisa and dilis are best paired with the Casiguran Vinegar...
BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-45.jpg
...and salted egg, tomato, and homemade atchara. :)
BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-52.jpg
They also have an arroz caldo (Filipino poridge) station.
The homemade yogurt is really good, too! :)
BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-53.jpg
Baler suman is one of the best I've ever tasted. Don't miss the chance to savor these. :)
BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-87.jpg
Be sure to get a pool side table to complete your awesome Baler morning experience.
BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-85.jpg
I miss Baler breakfast!
BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-58.jpg
You can order hot chocolate with a serving of chocnut on the side.
BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-59.jpg
Baler suman has a purplish color. It's already good on its own -- no need to dip in sugar -- and very addicting.
BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-88.jpg
I still prefer dipping it in peanut butter or coco jam. Yum! :)
BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-117.jpg
They serve a "sushi" version with banana as a welcome dish in your room.

Baler is one of the best places to learn how to surf in the Philippines.
BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-93.jpg
It's always best to wake up early for your morning surf.
The local instructors' passion for surfing is contagious, and they are very accommodating to beginners.
BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-111.jpg
waves are very strong so it's not advisable for kids to swim. The boys
loved just playing around on the shore and teasing the waves.

The best part about Costa Pacifica is the swimming pool with an unobstructed view of the Baler bay.

The pool is kid friendly...

...with water toys, water polo balls...

...and inflatable floats.

BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-91.jpg
You can also have one of these ice smoothies...
...or get a refreshing drink of cold water with citrus hints.
You can spend your entire morning just enjoying the pool, the beach, and the resort facilities.

BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-134.jpg
Lunch at the Beach House is just OK. Exploring the other neighboring resorts and restaurants might be a better option for you.
BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-118.jpg
BEACH HOUSE MENUGet a Drink | Share Me & Take a Bite | Sandwiches, Wood Fired Pizza | The Main Event: Baler Specialties, Filipino Favorites, International Flavors | Sweet Endings
Prices are relatively expensive.

BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-129.jpg
Macho Nachos (P295 +10% service charge). Everything you want on it! If not, just ask.
You can have nachos for pica-pica.

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Pancit Baler (P295 +10% service charge). Shrimp, Shredded Bok Choy & Mushrooms, Served in a Banana Leaf Pouch.
I recommend this local take on pancit.

BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-124.jpg
Costa Clubhouse (P320 +10% service charge). Crispy Bacon, Melted Cheddar, Spring Onion Omelette, Grilled Chicken, Cucumber, Tomatoes, Red Onions, Honey Ranch Dressing.
A light clubhouse sandwich.

BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-127.jpg
Liempo "BBQ on a Stick" (P295 +10% service charge). Atchara, Chili Salt, Casiguran Vinegar.
Just sosy BBQ on a stick.

BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-132.jpg
I would travel all the way to Baler just to experience awesome
mornings at Costa Pacifica. The resort gets fully booked fast so it's
best to reserve at least 6 months in advance for the peak seasons.

Hope you enjoyed this photo essay. :)

Related Blog Post: Patty Laurel | Costa Pacifica Baler

080 Buton St., Sitio Labasin, Sabang Beach, Baler, Aurora, Philippines, 3200
Manila Office: +632 576 4555
Baler Office: +63917 853 6040
Website Pacifica Raintree

Check out low rates and availability from Agoda: Costa Pacifica Resort (aff link)


BALER, Aurora, Quezon Series (2011):

Live an Awesome Life,

anton  signature

Disclosure: Our Baler stay was courtesy of Costa Pacifica. Read Our Awesome Planet Complete Disclosure Policy here.  

This is an Agoda affiliate link: Costa Pacifica Resort (aff link).
I may receive a (very) small commission if you click on the link and
book via Agoda. Thank you for considering to book via that link if this
post was helpful in planning your travel.

P.S. Check out Hungry Surfer by Bay's Inn for lunch which was the go-to restaurant in Baler in the pre-Costa Pacifica days.

BALER Costa Pacifica Breakfast-15.jpg
Here's their menu...