Month: January 2014

SFO – Shanghai for only $598 Roundtrip

Last minute get away? How about going from San Francisco to Shanghai China for only $598! 

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Go to Shanghai for less than the price of a domestic roundtrip from SFO-NYC. Go during Chinese New Years to see lots of cultural sites and fireworks (they were invented in China!), party and eat great food. How? Be flexible and leave soon.

Use Orbtiz (help support us by using our link) to book your flight on American Airlines.

Try January 29th – February 7th. The route goes from SFO to LAX to PVG. Return is PVG to LAX to SFO. Crazy right? Book now before 

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Southwest International + Companion Pass

1601002_10152292262773949_281817735_nSouthwest announced this morning that it has started direct service to the caribbean. This is a huge deal as it is likely only a matter of time before they start providing direct service (not through AirTran) to other international destinations, namely Mexico.

While the routes are a bit lacking right now things are sure to get better. Currently most flights will start in July 2014 with service to Aruba (AUA), Montigo (MBJ) and Nassau (NAS) from a few US airports (namely ATL, BWI and MCO).

  • Aruba flies direct to Orlando, Atlanta, and Baltimore
  • Montego Bay flies direct to Orlando, Atlanta, Baltimore, and Chicago
  • Nassau flies direct to Baltimore and Atlanta

When southwest.com first showed the new routes for booking at around 12:01am PST I was not sure if Southwest would allow you to use a Companion Pass (see What is the Southwest Companion Pass?). Well the answer is  … YES, YES, a million times YES! While fees are generally higher (between $10-70 USD each way) for international destinations Southwest is not charging any fuel tax or surcharges like most legacy carriers. This means that you can fly 2-for-the-price-of-1 to some warm tropical beaches.

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Off to warm water, white sand beaches and tropical drinks. All you need is your passport information and some money to pay for the flight 🙂

How to maximize your value? Well if you have a Companion Pass, start booking. I was able to get flights from Atlanta to Aruba for only 9180 rapid rewards points (worth $165 at 1.8 cents each) and added my companion for only $12.50 each way. For less than 20,000 repaid rewards points and $25 we will be able to enjoy a nice long weekend vacation.

Southwest Starts International Routes !!!

After Southwest acquired Airtran there were rumors that Southwest would finally begin international oversea routes. While Southwest expanded to flights to San Juan (a US territory) they still use Airtran to operate most of the international routes to Mexico and the caribbean countries.

Looks like that is about to change. As of January 27, 2014 12:01am (PST) can you now book flights on Southwest to international destinations. For example this route from Atlanta (ATL) to Aruba (AUA) on July 3rd now works.

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Southwest’s site is buggy right now (no logins, cannot book with points etc) but its good news. Still unknown is if current companion passes will work. Stay tuned for more!

Our 2013 Holiday Vacation Part 1

Logistics of Travel

Our Holiday vacation itinerary went through several iterations. Airports in CAPS are destinations. lower case are layovers.

It started with OAK-mdw-atl-SJU-atl-las-OAK

Then my company announced our holiday schedule so it changed to SFO-las-BNA-las-SFO. Christmas in California followed by OAK-mdw-atl-SJU-atl-mdw-OAK.

Then I thought about all the time we’d spend flying back and forth and wanted to maximize fun time and minimize transportation time. After overcoming the guilt of not spending Christmas with the rest of my family, plans changed to OAK-LAS-BNA-mco-SJU-bwi-mdw-OAK.

I had been suggesting to the hubby that we try to take a day trip to the Dominican Republic for weeks so he surprised me and added St. Croix (Unite Sates Virgin Islands) to the itinerary. So our final plans were OAK-LAS-BNA-mco-SJU-STX-SJU-bwi-mdw-OAK.

Southwest’s flexibility gave us the opportunity to take one of our longer and more random trips but packing everything for a 10 day trip covering temperatures from 15-85, fine dining, work and nature adventuring, in a carry-on and backpack isn’t easy.

Here’s what I packed
boots
flip flops
skirt
sweater dress
2 tee shirts
2 sweaters
romper
sundress
cargo pants
jeans
lounge pants
turtle neck
puffy jacket
light sweater
swim suit
scarf
gloves
long johns
also managed to fit in googles, water shoes and a snorkel

Whenever we take longer trips, I bring at least one piece of clothing that I plan on leaving behind. It lets me add variety to my wardrobe and still have room for souvenirs. This time it was a bulky sweater that stayed in Nashville. I also pick a color or theme so I can easily mix and match clothing. For Vegas and Nashville the dominant color was brown. For the Caribbean, I took inspiration from a pair of earrings and wore yellows and blues.

We left work a little early on a Friday to avoid traffic to OAK. It took 35 min to drive the seven blocks from my office to the bridge. We got to the airport on time for our flight which had been delayed. We barely made it to dinner at Mastros. Even though they close at 11, they had noticed that we keep moving our reservation back and figured we were delayed and welcomed us in at 10:45PM. On the plus side for us, it was like private dining. After dinner we browsed the Christmas decorations in Crystals, Aria and the Bellagio conservatory garden before we were off to bed. Our 7AM flight out of Vegas was just hours away.
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Free First Class Meal?

Free meals for a year? How far would you go to get this perk from an airline? Well … 

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A man bought a first-class ticket and used it to have free meals and drinks at the airport’s VIP lounge almost every day for nearly a year, Kwong Wah Yit Poh reported. The itinerary for the ticket was found to have been changed more than 300 times within a year, and the owner of the ticket used it to enjoy the facilities at the airport’s VIP lounge in Xi’an in Shaanxi, China.

The rare case was discovered by a China Eastern Airlines staff member, who then decided to investigate. When the ticket’s validity was almost up, the passenger cancelled it for a refund. An airlines spokesman said there were no means to stop this act, even if it was done on purpose. However, many netizens lauded the passenger for being smart, rather than condemning him.

Hat Tip to: http://www.relax.com.sg/article/news/man-uses-first-class-ticket-to-get-free-meals-for-almost-a-year#sthash.WoA8IHQJ.dpuf

Southwest Companion Pass

Southwest Airlines is primarily known as a low-cost carrier in the United States. With its one class (all economy) seating, line-up boarding process and bags fly free policies it is often overlooked by travelers who are trying to get elite status. However, Southwest has one of the best, and relatively unknown, frequent flier programs in the industry… the Companion Pass.

What is it the Companion Pass? The Southwest Companion Pass (http://www.southwest.com/rapidrewards/tiers-more-companion-pass) allows you to designate a companion who can fly for FREE whenever you fly. You can designate anyone! Your spouse, child, friend, co-worker or yourself (you’ll get a sign to place on the seat next to you and reserve the seat).

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When this package comes in the mail it’s time to travel !!!

How do I get the Companion Pass? There are only two ways to qualify for the Companion Pass: 1) Earn 110,000 Companion Pass Qualifying points or 2) Fly 100 one-way flights in a calendar year on Southwest.

How long is a Companion Pass good for? The year you qualify for it and the entire following calendar year. You heard that right! It is good for the rest of the year you earn it in and the ENTIRE NEXT YEAR. This means the earlier you earn the companion pass in the year, the better. If you earn it on November 15, 2014 its good until December 31, 2015 (12.5 months). But, if you earn it on February 15, 2014 its still good until December 31, 2015 (20.5 months).

How do I use my Companion Pass? Once you have qualified for the companion pass it’s super easy to use. You can designate a companion online at: https://www.southwest.com/flight/login?returnUrl=/account/rapidrewards/companion-status or you can call Southwest. Once you have done this you can immediately start booking flights with your companion. You first book your own flight (with money or points) and then you can either click on “Add a Companion” to book a flight for your companion (you only pay the government required security fees of usually $2.50 per segment) or call Southwest to book it for your companion.

It is important to note that the primary companion pass holder must be present for the companion to fly. If you book a flight using your companion pass, but are not on the same flight Southwest will remove your companion from the flight and may revoke your pass (and may ban you from flying with them in the future). Your companion does not earn any Rapid Reward points when you book them using your companion pass since they are flying for free.

Crazy Tip? The Southwest Companion Pass even works on award flights. So if you book a flight with points your companion still flies for FREE. This means that not only does it cut your flying costs in half, it also doubles your fun when you are booking reward flights. 

Have questions? E-mail us at DINKTravel@gmail.com

SFO to Shanghai China for only $632 Roundtrip!

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Want to spend Chinese New Year in China? United has a great fare sale from San Francisco (SFO) to Shanghai, China (PVG) for as low as $632. It is a direct, non-stop flight that lasts around 13 hours. Must leave before January 31th, 2014.

Use ITA Matrix (Link here) to check lowest prices and book your flight directly from United. Lowest price of $632 available for January 29 – February 7th.

Then book your flight through Orbtiz Travel 

This fare includes approximately 12,292 miles.