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Messages - shauly

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1
Trip Reports / Re: Chabad Saved My Trip!
« on: July 15, 2018, 01:26:08 PM »
Amazing, thanks for sharing!

I'd be livid at the hotel though, especially considering its caliber. You need to make it clear that they ruined your entire trip and copy the hotel GM and execs and Hilton corp. The fact that Chabad saved you is none of their business. I'd settle for nothing less than a comped stay.

I took your advice and escalated it. I just got an email back that they've given me 50k points. Considering it was a 2 night stay at a 95k+ per night property, I'll be trying for more.

2
Trip Reports / Re: Chabad Saved My Trip!
« on: July 13, 2018, 12:12:15 AM »
Kudos to you, for being honest with yourself, and more importantly the consequences of your actions. I know many here would have raised a stink to the roof to get everything they can out of this. I think that getting anything in another Waldorf is a long shot. I think that if done respectfully it would not be unreasonable to ask for compensation in either points or partial refund of the certificate. Even though the issue is inherently jewish in nature, its not much different than other dietary restriction.

Agreed that it's not different than any dietary restriction and it shouldn't cause any bad feelings towards Jews but what should happen and what does happen are two different things.
Amazing, thanks for sharing!

I'd be livid at the hotel though, especially considering its caliber. You need to make it clear that they ruined your entire trip and copy the hotel GM and execs and Hilton corp. The fact that Chabad saved you is none of their business. I'd settle for nothing less than a comped stay.


I'd love a comped stay but I don't know when I'll next be in LA which is why I'd ask for something at the Waldorf in Jerusalem.

It's not a bit much to copy all those emails on? I feel like that would put them on the defensive.

I think I'll just tell them along the lines that I spent $3k each on flights, I convinced my wife to leave the kids with her mother which we never did before with the little one, and we really just want to redo it and get it right.

Anyway, do you happen to have any of those contact details?

3
Trip Reports / Re: Chabad Saved My Trip!
« on: July 12, 2018, 10:57:40 PM »
Great TR. Someone has to ask..... what did the Waldorf give you upon checkout?

Well, they asked me how much the food cost, and I told them I'd get back to them since it was shabbos. I've now sent them the receipts and they are reimbursing me in full.

They have not proactively offered anything further, and I'm thinking hard how I want to handle it. On the one hand, I spent a lot of points/money on this trip with a very specific idea in mind. We ended up enjoying, but it was not the vacation I wanted or planned. I wanted to be sitting on the balcony of my room, eating all the fancy food, enjoying the view, and sharing it all with nobody else except my wife. I loved the meals at Rabbi Danny, but sometimes you just need a break. So yeah, I legitimately feel like my trip was severely impacted by their mistake and I have every right to complain and ask for compensation.

On the other hand, the nature of the issue is inherently Jewish, and that's what the spotlight will be on if I make a stink. I don't want to impact anyone else's ability to have this hotel accommodate Kosher needs, but more importantly I don't want to make a chillul Hashem.

In my ideal scenario, they would refund me my certificates and maybe put in a good word with the Waldorf in Jerusalem to help me get a suite there to redo the weekend, with guaranteed Kosher food. If I ask for anything I will do it in a polite and respectful way, but I still haven't decided if it's worth the above risks.

Definitely open to input here.

4
Trip Reports / Re: Chabad Saved My Trip!
« on: July 10, 2018, 04:26:45 PM »
Nice TR.

Agree Mint is better than AA F.

There's no comparison. I'll admit that I was a bit spoiled since a week earlier I flew EK F so my standards are a bit high right now..

Title is off to a great start :)
Well done.

Thanks! This is not meant to put down any other group of Jews, but there's just something special about the way Chabad innately and genuinely cares for every Jew. Rabbi Danny's wife had made shabbos for 90 people the week before, and he promised her that she would have a week off this week. Then, Friday morning the four guys called him, and she quickly got a meal together. Come Friday night, and he walks in an hour late with two extra people, and she was somehow still delighted that we were there. Simply amazing.

5
Trip Reports / Chabad Saved My Trip!
« on: July 10, 2018, 04:09:14 PM »
This is going to be a real quick report of a weekend trip I took to LA that was almost a complete disaster. I probably wouldn't have posted a report, but I wanted to share an incredible story of hashgacha pratis and the amazing chessed of Chabad.

My wife has always wanted to go to LA, but whenever we are in the US she is usually working, and never has time for trips. A few months ago I noticed some AA F space from JFK to LAX on a Thursday night, and I quickly booked two seats. There was nothing available for our return on Sunday night, so I booked two seats in JetBlue Mint. These are two products that I've wanted to try for a while so I was pretty happy. We were arriving at midnight on Thursday, so I booked the Marriott Renaissance LAX Airport since it was close, cheap, and I had some expiring Orbux I needed to use. For Friday and Saturday night, I booked the Intercontinental Century City with cash. It was about $350 a night for a basic suite I think. However, within 24 hours of booking I got an email from Hilton with weekend anniversary nights. I had totally forgotten about them, so I was pretty excited and decided to use them at the new Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills. When I called up to book, I was told they had no standard rooms available, which I knew wasn't true. After some pushing I found out that their definition of a standard room is a handicap room, which conveniently wasn't available. After a bit of pushing, they agreed to speak to the hotel manager, who would call me back. Within 10 minutes I had an email from the manager saying they'd be glad to process my booking. I emailed my certificate information, and they processed it all for me.

We arrived at JFK about an hour before our 8:30 flight. Flagship First checkin is available on the right side of the terminal, and within minutes we were directed to an escort who was meant to take us through security. It took a few minutes of explaining that we were in first class to convince her to take both of us through, as she kept insisting that only I was priority. Eventually, she put down the show she was watching on her phone and took us to the front of the line. It seemed like she was going to take us all the way through, but after scanning her ID and starting to come to the actual screening, she changed her mind and left. Oh well. It didn't take long until we were at the lounge. I've been to the AA lounge several times before, and although it's comfortable it's nothing special. Obviously the main attraction for most would be the Flagship Dining which we obviously were not able to take advantage of. After a brief wait in the lounge, we headed to our gate. We were the last two passengers on board a fully booked flight.

My initial reaction to the A321-T First Class product was that it's a very impressive seat to see on a narrow body plane. It was also very strange to look to the end of the plane and see just how small it was. It definitely feels out of place on an aircraft of that size. Unfortunately that's where the impressiveness ended. I wasn't expecting outstanding service, but I still felt like it was extremely disinterested. The first clue is that infamous line in the safety announcement, "Flight attendants are here primarily for your safety, but if you need anything else...". The plane had an air conditioning issue where it was blowing out tons of mist, and we had about an hour delay until it was fixed. During this time, our drink orders were taken, but nothing was actually brought until well after take off. Additionally, hardly any announcements were made to let us know what was going on or how long we would be waiting. It was especially noticeable to me since I had recently taken several Qantas domestic flights in Australia. It's really sad to think how far behind most of the world American carriers are.







Anyway, the coldness continued throughout the service. When the meal was served, the flight attendant walked down the aisle simply barking "Tray tables out" without even looking at any of us. The seat itself was also disappointing. When I boarded, there were crumbs everywhere from the previous flight. The furnishings seemed old and worn, and the TV screen and remote were unresponsive. Additionally, the TV screen swings out, but you can't tilt it at all. This means that if you want to watch while laying flat or even semi reclined, the viewing angle was terrible.

With all the negatives in mind, it's still a perfectly acceptable way to travel for six hours, and it's definitely far better than economy.

We landed in LA on time even with the delay, and managed to just miss the shuttle to the hotel. I didn't feel like waiting, so we just took an Uber. The Marriott is an older hotel that definitely shows its age. There was no minibar, and the water bottles in the room were $7. It was past 3am NY time at that point for us, so it didn't really matter. We went straight to sleep, and left right after we woke up the next morning.



The plan was to drop off our bags at the Waldorf, and go spend the day seeing various sites that my wife wanted to visit. It was about 30 minutes to the Waldorf from the airport, and we arrived slightly before 10am. There is a circular driveway that leads up to the hotel, which is your first impression of the building. Throughout our stay there was a constant stream of Rolls Royces, Maseratis, Bentlys, etc going in and out. To our delight, the hotel clerk was able to get us in a room right away. We ended up getting Uber Eats from Bibi's Bakery instead of going out right away.















I'm not going to go through where we went, as it was all pretty standard stuff such as The Grove, Santa Monica Pier, Venice Beach, etc.

For food, I had placed an order with Lieders through their app. The Waldorf has two house cars, which you can use within 3 miles of the hotel. I requested one to take us to pick up the food. Unfortunately we only got the Maybach, and not the Rolls Royce. We got back to the hotel, double wrapped it all with foil I had brought, and dropped off the food in the hotel fridge, as we had arranged for them to store it and heat it up for us. Before shabbos, we went down to just double check that they would be heating up the right items for each meal, and bring it to us at the correct times. We waited some time while the luggage store room was checked, and then were told that the food had been moved downstairs and it would be a bit longer. Unfortunately it wasn't there either, so we decided to go back up to our room and requested that when located the food be brought up to us. On the way up, we happened to meet three guys on their way to shul. We again waited quite some time yet no food arrived. At this point it was already shabbos. We again went down, where the concierge informed us that our food had unfortunately been misplaced. Someone then checked the security cameras and discovered that it had been mistakenly loaded into another guests car who had left with it. The hotel staff were extremely apologetic, and offered whatever they could do to fix the issue. The concierge told me that the chef would prepare me absolutely anything I wanted. He offered to order food for us from anywhere in the city. He said that there must be some kosher restaurant that's open. I politely explained that if anything was open that would mean I can't eat there, and that there was really nothing he could do for us. My wife was upset, and I was trying to accept the fact that our shabbos food would consist of a few challah rolls I had kept in our room and the chips and snacks we had brought.

Literally right then, in walks a smiling, bearded Jew. He walks right up to us and says "Hi, I'm Rabbi Danny. Do you want to come to my house for dinner?". I couldn't believe it. I explained to him that not five minutes earlier the hotel had told us that they had lost all our food. He told us that the three guys I had seen earlier were coming to him for dinner, but there was another guy still at the hotel. He had told his friends that if he wasn't at shul by a certain time they should go without him, but Rabbi Danny would have none of that and insisted on walking to the Waldorf to get the fourth guy. We enjoyed a beautiful meal with Rabbi Danny and his wife, and the next day we ate lunch at the JEM center which I had no idea was just minutes away from the Waldorf. It's really incredible how Hashem took care of us, and how Rabbi Danny immediately welcomed us to his home even before he found out how much we needed him.

On Shabbos afternoon, the hotel sent up a gift basket with a box of Matzah, a pack of wafers, a bag of pretzels, some macaroons, and a jar of techina. Clearly they sent someone to the Kosher aisle of the closest store and had them dump it all in the cart. It was well intentioned but we didn't eat any of it.

On Saturday night we went to Trattoria Natalie for dinner.

Sunday morning we did a Warner Brother's studio tour, visited Hollywood Blvd, and then went to Bibi's for lunch. It was boiling hot, and we were exhausted, so we ended up going back to The Grove for a movie. Afterwards we went to Rodeo Drive, and then finally had a chance to try Bird Scooters that are all over LA. Basically they are electric scooters that are just strewn all over the city. It costs $1 to activate, and then $.15 per minute. When you are finished, you just leave it anywhere. We had a lot of fun zipping around as we made our way back to the Waldorf to get our bags. We ordered some food to go from LA Burger Bar, and picked it up on the way to the airport for our 9pm flight. JetBlue doesn't offer any lounge for Mint passengers, and the only lounge in T5 is the Admirals club which I don't have access to, so we had to rough it out in the terminal for about 20 minutes before boarding.

Upon boarding, we were warmly greeted by the Mint flight attendants. It was like night and day compared to the AA crew. I had assigned us the Mint Suites, since it was a redeye and we would both just be sleeping anyway. The seat was nice, but the footwell was extremely tight. The door was cool but it's just a shtick, especially once you've flown Etihad and Emirates. Once again the TV doesn't tilt down, so it's not great when you are reclined. As always the DirecTV and free wifi makes the flight that much more pleasant. The food actually looked decent, but I had already eaten meat and they served a dairy meal. After they cleared it, I went to sleep and woke up 30 minutes before landing. All in all it was a perfectly nice experience. I would definitely choose Mint over AA in the future.





Well that's it, I actually finished a TR! Thanks for reading!

6
Trip Reports / Re: Take the Long Way Home - Australia
« on: June 24, 2018, 06:25:49 AM »
Just arrived in Port Douglas! So far every single aspect of the trip has exceeded my expectations. Tomorrow we dive and Tuesday night we head back to NY.

I have a ton of pictures posted in my Instagram, @Shauly414.

7
Trip Reports / Re: Take the Long Way Home - Australia
« on: June 21, 2018, 03:32:28 AM »
Wow , you've been flying most of the time it's seems,  any time to enjoy yourself? ;)
  Will be waiting for the detailed TR.

We've been enjoying non stop. The Great Ocean Road was amazing. We did one and a half days, I would recommend at least two full if not three. We spent today in the Grampians. I feel like some people could do two days but I was happy with one. On the way to Melbourne now. I have some meetings tomorrow but on Sunday we go up north to the warm weather!

This country is so breathtakingly beautiful. I've seen such a tiny piece of it and already it's one of my favorite places I've been.

8
Trip Reports / Re: Take the Long Way Home - Australia
« on: June 20, 2018, 04:52:15 AM »
Just arrived in the Grampians. The Great Ocean Road was incredible, I got what I hope are some good pictures and a few drone videos. I definitely recommend it. There's kangaroos hopping all over here in the Grampians. So far Australia has been amazing! Looking forward to heading to the warmer north on Sunday.

9
Trip Reports / Re: Take the Long Way Home - Australia
« on: June 18, 2018, 03:02:12 AM »
Taking off now on the A380 to Sydney. The Etihad ground experience can't compare to QR, but wow, the plane is amazing.

10
Trip Reports / Re: Take the Long Way Home - Australia
« on: June 17, 2018, 04:18:03 AM »
Thanks guys! In the lounge in Jordan now, waiting for the flight to Abu Dhabi.

11
Trip Reports / Re: Take the Long Way Home - Australia
« on: June 14, 2018, 10:21:55 AM »
With just three days left until I leave, I finally finalized the rest of our itinerary.

The only things that I didn't cover in the last post was my itinerary for the Great Ocean Road and the Grampians, as well as my trip to New York. We arrive in Melbourne Tuesday mid-morning, and the plan is to grab some lunch and some food for the road, and head out. There aren't really any fancy hotel options, so we booked the Comfort Inn The International in Apollo Bay for the first night. It's about 2.5 hours from Melbourne, so that should give us plenty of time to see the sights on the way. It was $122 for a twin room. For Wednesday night, I booked The Grampians Motel and The Views Bar & Restaurant for $92 for a twin room. We will return to Melbourne Thursday night where we found a family to stay by until Sunday morning, when we leave for Cairns.

Now, for the way to New York. As I mentioned before, we both had to be back in NY by Thursday night for a wedding, so I was getting a bit anxious to get something booked. On Saturday night I got an ExpertFlyer alert that DXB-JFK had opened up in F late Wednesday night, but I had only transferred my first SPG batch to JAL on Wednesday so nothing had posted yet. That flight was gone by Sunday morning. I then set alerts for EK F flights from every city in Australia, as well as a handful of South East Asian countries that I thought I could make it to in time. That's when I noticed there was plenty of space out of HKG, another market where JAL doesn't charge crazy YQ. On Monday night, I got a notification that the DXB-JFK flight had opened again, but I only had 75k miles at that point. I figured it would be Wednesday by the time it all posted, but thankfully the other 125k posted Tuesday afternoon. In case it helps anyone, it seems like SPG-JAL posts at around 4pm Israel time. I quickly called JAL, and sat on hold for an hour, after which they only managed to hold my flights as they couldn't calculate the taxes. @shmueli2007 was also on hold, but by the time he got through they told him they can't book Emirates by phone as he can do it on the website. No amount of arguing worked. Sure enough, in the time between the end of my call and when he got through, they had added the functionality. His flights were booked in minutes while I waited for a call back that never came. After a few hours, I called back, waited an hour, and finally got my flight ticketed.

Now, we just had to get from Sydney to Hong Kong to catch the flight.. I waitlisted for several Cathay flights, but they were mostly full so I didn't have high hopes. The VA flight from Melbourne would have been amazing, and it seems to open up pretty consistently last minute, but it wouldn't get us to HKG in time. I finally found some space from Brisbane to Singapore on SQ J on the A350, with a connection to Hong Kong on the A380. It's going to be sad to be on SQ's A380 and not in a suite, but it's still a very decent option. I quickly called SQ to hold it, and transferred 53k UR (I had 5k already). I then canceled our QF CNS-SYD flight through BA, and rebooked us to Brisbane. I'm sad that we won't really have a chance to see Sydney, but we didn't have enough time to do it right anyway. I'll just need to go back! We have a 6 hour connection in Hong Kong, which should be perfect to grab some food and wander the city a bit before heading back.

Now that everything is settled, here is the breakdown of all the flights, hotels, and car rental costs:

Flights



TLV-AMM-AUH-SYD-MEL - RJ J, EY J, EY F, QF J - 100k AA (-10k rebate) + $79.91 USD
MEL-SYD-CNS - QF J - 29k BA + $30.71 USD
CNS-BNE - QF J - 15k BA + $20.65 USD
BNE-SIN-HKG - SQ J - 58k SQ + $99.30 SGD
HKG-DXB-JFK-DXB-BKK - EK F - 200k JAL (160k SPG) + $89.54 USD + $20 phone fee
I booked the return JFK-DXB for a year out and will use that leg for my next trip

Hotels
Abu Dhabi - Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Residences Emirates Pearl - 427.50 AED
Apollo Bay - Comfort Inn The International - $122 USD
The Grampians - The Grampians Motel and The Views Bar & Restaurant - $92 USD
Port Douglas - Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort, Port Douglas $341.98 USD for 2 nights

Cars
Melbourne - 3 days - Nissan X-Trail or similar - $97.04 USD
Cairns - 2 days - $49.47 USD - Hyundai I20 4 door or similar

I want to give a major thanks to everyone who helped me plan it, especially @MEIR613 who put up with hundreds of texts at every stage.

I think that's pretty much it! I hope these two segments are helpful to anyone planning a trip, and I can't wait to post the actual report.

12
Up In The Air / Re: What Award Itinerary Did You Just Book/Hold?
« on: June 13, 2018, 02:44:47 AM »
You were that bad?  :D

 ;D

I had to call back and wait another hour on hold as they never called me to take the taxes and issue the ticket. Anyway, after it was done, she said she has to put me on hold again to collect the $20 service fee (which I couldn't waive as you can now book EK online haha), and I accidentally hung up on her. Ticket was already issued, oh well.. The charge still showed up though.

13
Will UA R, IN, and XN class ever return?
I'd pay double for a subscription that included that.

+1000

14
Up In The Air / Re: What Award Itinerary Did You Just Book/Hold?
« on: June 12, 2018, 04:26:38 PM »
It's the only way to do it now, YQ is just egregious on most routes.

Yup. It was $89 in taxes. I had to pay the $20 phone booking fee. I'd be willing to bet I was the absolute last booking before they allowed web bookings.

15
Up In The Air / Re: What Award Itinerary Did You Just Book/Hold?
« on: June 12, 2018, 01:16:15 PM »
Maybe I'm totally insane.. But I just finished off my Australia trip. I booked HKG-DXB-JFK on EK F, and then had to get from Sydney to Hong Kong. I found BNE-SIN-HKG available, so I grabbed that, and I just need to change CNS-SYD to BNE instead.

And after an hour and a half on hold to book the EK flight with JAL, and even then I only got it on hold while they calculate the taxes and am awaiting a call back, you can now book EK online.  :o :o

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