This is my first TR I’ve written, so here goes.
Background: I’ve been playing the miles game since August 2012- I was working as an office guy in camp and was really bored… and I started reading up on all this stuff. It was right before the El Al glitch
that catapulted Dansdeals into fame. I even created a DDF account almost a year later to get the Google Wallet penny (remember that
?), but I never participated in the forums because it all seemed too disorganized and confusing. I tried a few times but gave up. Then, after coralsnake’s 150K Amex Biz Plat code
made it to the main DansDeals site
, I was inspired to give it another try, and this time I got the hang of it. It opened up a whole new dimension in the game for me, and inspired me to try things I never had the knowledge/courage to do before. And I really got a lot farther through DDF.
Anyway, I set about planning my summer vacation. This wasn’t the first miles trip I had done. Some trips included:
Last summer I flew to Israel for 3 weeks. One way in Iberia business class (with the help of the Citi AA 100K offer), one way in US Airways economy (when you could use Avios on that route without fuel surcharges), rented a car for a week and a half (Barclays Arrival Plus), and had a great time.
2 years ago flew back from Israel in Lufthansa business class, but alas as I was still pretty new in the game I didn’t know better and ended up with the old not-lie-flat business class.
I got the Southwest Companion Pass and have used it numerous times, as well as numerous Avios tickets in the US.
Anyway, this time I wanted to ratchet it up a notch.
[Disclaimer- not a lot of pics in this TR, sorry.]
I planned a trip to Los Angeles/San Diego/Oxnard. I looked at going for about a week.
Using 80,000 Singapore miles (2 Citi TY cards, with some left over), I booked JFK-LAX roundtrip in United business class for 2 people. The fees were around $26 total, which is great, but I had to wait almost an hour on hold to get to a Singapore rep to book the flight. I booked about 3 weeks before the trip, so the only flights available showing were the 6AM flights on both legs. Not great, but I was willing to do it to try the United p.s. flights.
I was traveling with my wife and 9 month old daughter. We got to JFK pretty exhausted, having gone to bed after 1AM, and thank god we stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts on the way for food and coffee… After check-in we headed to the United lounge in Terminal 7. We only had a few minutes there before we boarded, and my impression was it’s old and rundown and anyway they’re moving out of there in a few months so I shouldn’t expect any improvements anyway.
The seats on the plane were a mixed bag. It was definitely really nice to have lie-flat on a domestic flight. On the other hand, the seat felt slightly old and well-worn. The IFE was pretty good though, with a big screen, lots of options, and responsive controls.
It would have been a quiet, peaceful, and enjoyable flight, except… We had our daughter. She was overtired and hyper, and we took turns holding her until she finally fell asleep. The seat is pretty narrow: I am a thin guy, and still I barely fit in there with my daughter wedged in next to me.
They didn’t have a kosher meal for us but there was an extra one from economy, it was ok. We also finished off our DD stuff.
After landing in LA, we picked up our car from Hertz, a Volkswagen Passat (full size car). I used Hertz points for 3 free days, and paid a total of $65 for the car and car seat. I used the Amex insurance because I wasn’t sure the Sapphire Preferred one covered if I didn’t pay for the whole thing with money.
We had a reservation at the 4 Points Sheraton in Culver City (7K SPG) for Thursday night, but as it was still 11AM they didn’t let us check in yet, so we headed to Coffee Bean for some iced coffees and pastries(4/5) and then to Meshuga 4 Sushi in Pico for some lunch. They took forever to make my sushi- they cooked the salmon on the spot. However, it was delicious. (4/5)
Hotel was nice, nothing special. We kinda just slept the whole day... and continued eating our way through LA by heading to Jeff’s in Pico for a late dinner (they’re open late). I was there once a few years ago, and my impression was the same this time- the food is AWESOME (5/5)!! I got a corned beef sandwich and wife got a steak wrap, both very very good. The place really reminds me of Romanian (10/5) in Chicago- the best deli in the world.
The hotel wanted to charge us for breakfast on Friday morning, and there was really nothing there anyway, so we went to Bibi’s Bakery (3/5), a café we saw next to Jeff’s. It’s basically mostly a bakery but they also serve food, we got the “breakfast special” i.e. bagel, eggs, and salad (can you tell it’s run by Israelis?). In general, many parts of LA feel like Israel- the climate, the Israelis who run half the restaurants…
The rest of Friday was spent driving around Hollywood and enjoying the Grove.
We spent Shabbos at friends in La Brea.To be continued...