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Up In The Air / Need help with a RJ equipment change
« on: April 04, 2017, 09:33:35 PM »
My son and his friend are flying the following itinerary tomorrow (4/6)
One ticket:
Second ticket:

Both tickets, all in J, were purchased via AmexTravel (with BizPlat points, not that it matters).

The problem is that RJ has changed the equipment on CAI-AMM. The RJ  phone rep says that they do not have a "downgrade" policy, meaning that if the pax was booked in J but ends up flying in Y, they don't compensate. Instead, they put the pax on an earlier flight or a later flight in the cabin that was ticketed. Problem is that they only arrive in CAI two hours before the flight, so they can't take an earlier CAI-AMM flight, and they don't want to take the later CAI-AMM flight, because then they will need to spend the night in AMM airport and won't get back to TLV until Friday morning...not ideal.

I can certainly HUCA to RJ and see if I can get some compensation from a different agent, but the guy said that he asked his supervisor.  I am on the phone with Amex Travel to see if they can help.  I guess best case would be that the boys stay on the flight that is ticketed, still get to use the business class lounge in AMM, and get some compensation. Can I expect Amex to provide compensation?

The other point is that maybe flying in J for the CAI-AMM leg isn't such a big deal... it's only a few hours, right?

Thanks for any advice.

Text DANDELION to 555-444 and if one of the first people, you'll get free box of 24-ct Crayola crayons.

DDF DO Board / DDF DO: Cancun Edition
« on: February 12, 2017, 10:10:10 PM »
Anyone going to be in Cancun next week?

Trip Reports / Seville for Shabbat
« on: December 14, 2016, 06:35:51 AM »
A friend of ours just got back. She is not a DDFer but wrote up a pretty darn good TR and was happy to allow me to share here. So, HT to her!


1.       Very nice hotel, though not in the center of the city (other side of river, near university):  Barcelo Sevilla Renacimiento.  Was part of Expo 92.
2.       Went to shul Friday night, 6 men, 1 other woman, orthodox, sefardi, hidden in unmarked building in city.  Surprisingly, people not so friendly ,but may have been their discomfort with English.
3.       Ordered kosher food for Friday night with colleague – local community member, Moises Hassan, gets the food from Malaga (I think) – not great, but nice to have it
4.       Went to Flamenco performance (3rd on tripadvisor – yours was sold out, I think) Sunday night – enjoyed – thnx for suggestion
5.       Private tour of Jewish Quarter with Moises Hassan – very interesting – he is extremely knowledgeable – lectures on Holocaust but lawyer by training – thinking of moving to Boston to send son to Maimonides.  Only 25 Jewish families remain.  Tour was very worthwhile and I learned a lot.
6.       Went to Palace – amazing!
7.       Walked all around
8.       Don’t miss the river next time!! (Editor: we were there last summer. )

Conclusion: I would love to go back with (NAME REDACTED) – beautiful city!  Sadly, Jewish life is almost non-existent.


Travel details:  I took the train there from Madrid (which I think you did, too).  Very easy from Madrid airport.  I flew from Seville to Madrid for my return.   Almost missed my flight from Madrid (extreme fog in Madrid delayed flight from Seville), but didn’t, though my bag did.  Since the next Iberia  flight from Madrid-TLV was actually an El Al flight, they wouldn’t take my bag, so had to wait >24 hours for next real Iberia flight to take it.  Oh well.  They will be delivering it to me. (Editor: bag delivered today. I suggested she seek compensation.  She said she was just happy to have her bag!)

Sorry no pics.

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(not sure if above link works -- it just shows the weekly ad; no coupon needed; no limit AFAIK; I bought 4 cartons on Friday)

Deals/Deal Requests / Free coffee all week at 7-11
« on: September 30, 2016, 04:33:48 PM »
Not great timing, given RH and Tsom Gedalia but still might get 4 or 5 free cups of Joe.

Victoria's Secret sale curiously timed to coincide with MNF.

Free Shipping on any purchase plus 25% off a single item.

In-store purchase Only (AFAIK) at Bed Bath and Beyond.
Get via rebate a $15 VISA GC after purchase of $200 VISA GC.  My store had the with the old yellow/gold packaging; brought back fond memories.
One per household says the T and C.
Search Blackhawk, of course.

It is probably not worth a real trip report, but I have some time
 waiting for our return flight to depart, so I thought I would
 memorialize our experience here.

 Four of us were traveling: me and Mrs. zow, along with our dear son
 (DS) and dear friend (DF). We bought BDL-DCA-BDL for $70 to fulfill the JetBlue 75,000 point bonus.

 DF met us at our Newton home at 1:30pm, and we left our home around
 1:45. DF offered to pay me $20 to cover some of the gas costs. I told
 him that was way, way too much...thanks to Stop & Shop, BDH.

 We pulled into the parking lot at BDL around 3:30, parked easily --
 tons of short-term parking available close to the terminal (contrast
 this with BOS, for example), and got through security in no time. I
 will note that we used the JetBlue EvenMoreSpeed priority line, which
 totally bypassed the regular queue. However, it put us in the regular
 screening line and we would have had to go back out and wait in the
 queue to use TSA preCheck. You would think they would set it up so
 that the priority line could feed to either regular or preCheck. Oh

 In any case, we still had about 30 minutes before boarding so we went
 to the Admirals Club. It was near Gate 24, while our flight was
 leaving from Gate 4 , about a 7-minute walk. The Admirals club is
 small and very typical of all the other Admirals clubs, right down to
 the snack towers (O-K-D). They also had snow peas and grape tomatoes available in the buffet.

(Note, these are not the kosher offerings. I had taken the pix for a friend who does not observe kashrut.)

 We boarded our flight, about half full on an A320. DW and DF were
 excited to take advantage of the complimentary alcoholic beverages
 that accompany their Mosaic status. Unfortunately, the drink offerings
 were very limited on this short flight, and they had no alcohol
 whatsoever. (A little weird, as the shuttle flights on American from
 DCA to BOS, and I'm pretty sure DCA to LGA) all offer beer and wine.

 We arrived at DCA a bit ahead of schedule, with about 40 minutes to go
 until our return flight was scheduled to board. We headed to the
 Admirals Club, where I have been a number of times. It is a much
 larger club, but the food offering is the same as everywhere. I
 davened mincha in the business area of the lounge, though I later
 realized that they have a "quiet" room (no cell zone) that would have
 been even better.  DW, DS, DF and I all enjoyed some snacks and
 drinks, and then we headed back to the same gate and same plane where we had
 disembarked not even an hour earlier. The boarding process was already

 The return trip was a bit more crowded--maybe 85% full or more. DW and
 I didn't even have the middle seat open between us! Unfortunately,
 even though we were all in our seats and ready to close the door for
 an on-time departure, JetBlue had other plans.
 Here is the note I will be sending them once we land:
 Dear JetBlue,
 My wife, son and I were on JetBlue 1098, DCA-BDL, on 9 August.  We all
 rushed to get to the gate during the appointed boarding period. Once
 we and our fellow passengers were fully boarded, the crew announced
 that we would be waiting on the Tarmac "for a few minutes" while we
 waited for a Flight coming from FLL with five passengers.

 Well, we waited and waited for at least 45 minutes, sitting on the
 Tarmac, and we had already been instructed that our computers had to
 be put away, so it was wasted time for those of us who needed to
 accomplish such tasks.

 This delay also resulted in our delayed return to BDL, requiring us to
 pay for an extra hour of parking at BDL.

 I respectfully request compensation for this fully avoidable delay
 that was the result of what I believe was poor operations and decision
 making on the part of your management.

 Thank you for your consideration.
 I will post a follow up once I hear back from B6. I know I'm not the
 Chief Rabbi of New York, but hopefully I will have similar success!

 We landed at 8:35, about 15 minutes late. We retrieved our car easily,
 paid $24 for parking, drove back to Newton, and were home by 10:30pm.

 Even with the delay on the return flight, this was a totally fun and,
 of course, lucrative trip.  I will write an addendum when our points

Trip Reports / Mr. and Mrs. zow's Boston trip report summer 2016
« on: July 20, 2016, 12:52:24 PM »
We live in Newton, but we wanted to take advantage of having two free nights at the Fairmont from credit card sign up. So, we planned a midweek escape, while all of our children are busy doing other things this summer.

Monday night

We went with our son to Taam China for dinner. We arrived around 8:30 p.m., and about half of the tables were occupied, so we sat down with no difficulty. Seating capacity is probably not more than 50 people in that restaurant.

We started with the PuPu platter. Sometimes, the items can be a little dried out on the platter, but tonight everything was perfect. The wings were especially juicy. The spring rolls had a terrific taste. We also ordered Peking ravioli, panfried, and they are excellent. If you ask for it, they will bring you a really hot and spicy pepper sauce on the side, which is delicious if taken in microgram quantities.

Our son wanted to get lo mein, which we almost never do, so we had the veal lo mein, and it, too, was delicious. Had a nice smoky flavor.

We also ordered General Gao chicken, our old standby, and it was as good as ever. The only complaint is that the serving platter and the quantity of product seems to be shrinking. (Sorry no food pix but trust me, delicious. )

Our son dropped us off at the Fairmont Copley Plaza, thereby saving any transportation cost.

We used our two free Visa sign-up nights for the Copley Plaza, and we also used a suite upgrade that came with it. I had written ahead of time to the manager, and explained that we were celebrating my wife's birthday (this is true!) so I think that is one of the reasons why they put us in the very special Catie Copley Suite.  This is a very large suite, a corner room on the third floor, with views of both the Westin Copley Hotel on one side and Copley Square and the Boston Public Library on the other.

The bathroom was nice, but not nearly as nice as the Waldorf-Astoria in Jerusalem or the Park Hyatt Paris. However, we recognize that the building here at the Copley Plaza is much older, and they did the best they could do with the available infrastructure. They provided us with a welcome plate of chocolate dipped strawberries and a nice card wishing my wife a happy birthday. Bed was extremely comfortable.

Tuesday morning, we woke up, davened, and then worked out in their sparkly new and very well appointed health club on the six floor. It looks out over the rooftops of Copley Square, and it's very pleasant. There is fruit and tea available for the taking in the health club, a nice touch. 

We walked from the Fairmont to Milk St., Café, about 1.2 miles, where we had lunch. We sat outside, which was perfect, as the weather was ideal.  Milk Street underwent renovations a little more than a year ago, and the restaurant now is really terrific. They have three separate serving stations, meat on the left, with sushi (pareve) and dairy/ pizza far back left. On the right, is the café, with pastries and espresso. There are also several refrigerator sections, with pre-packaged items, and those include both milk and meat, as well as pareve. We had the watermelon gazpacho and some sushi, which were all outstanding.

For dessert, had a Key Lime tart and a peanut butter tart. We took them to go, and had a plan to walk over to the North End, where we would sit in or outside  an Italian café,order some espresso and coffee, and eat our dessert. It's an easy walk to the north end, across the Rose Kennedy Greenway, which used to be the Central Artery. Back in the day, 20 years ago before the Big Dig, this big ugly freeway overpass used to bisect the city, and made it much more difficult to get from downtown to the north end and the Seaport area. Now,they are beautifully interconnected. 

Strolling down Hanover Street in the north end is fun, even if you're just walking and not purchasing.

It seems as though everybody not wearing a yarmulke was in Mike's pastry, or had been there earlier and was carrying one of their classic blue and white boxes  full with cannolis. We stopped in Cafe Vittorio and café Paradiso. Neither of them would let us consume our "outside" food on their premises, and we didn't feel like eating dessert surreptitiously, so we walked back toward Downtown Crossing.

We found the Capital One Cafe on Tremont Street, near the Park Street Station, where they serve Peet's coffee at half-price for Capital One cardholders. Also, they hand out free drink coupons from time to time, usually to first-time visitors, so you might get lucky!

After a delicious dessert, we walked back to the hotel, did some work, and then decided we would walk to dinner in Coolidge Corner, about 2.4 miles.  Our driver -- I mean our son -- met us for dinner at Jerusalem Pita and Grill.

On the way, down Newbury Street, we passed the Clover food truck. Note that they have hashgacha from an orthodox rabbi in Providence. However, according to my modern LOR, Clover does not meet community standards. I mention this not to judge anyone, only to share information for those visiting.

We arrived to Coolidge Corner. Unfortunately, dinner was mostly disappointing. First, the climate control in that place is never quite right. Too cold in winter and too warm in summer. It wasn't sweltering but it was kind of stuffy. They seemed even more short-staffed than usual. One guy was waiting tables, managing the register, and assembling take out.

They no longer have beer and wine on the menu, and they said without liquor license I could not even BYO. Too bad, as I wanted to have a beer given that I wasn't driving. 

They used to serve cabbage and carrot salads for the table, but that seems to have stopped. Wife ordered babaganoush to be added to her pita sandwich; instead, he brought a plate of baba, which was pretty good, along with a plate of Spanish eggplant and a plate of beets. Those were all pretty tasty; only charged for the baba.  Curiously, they only brought out two pitas for the three of us. We ordered a hot appetizer sampler plate, which they forgot to bring us. Waiter remembered after bringing our sandwiches but we said no thanks then. DW had the Meorav Yerushalmi in a pita. I had lamb shish kabob in a laffa and son had shawarma in laffa. None was overflowing with meat; mine was particularly sparse. Also, son's and mine were not even luke warm. All in all, not rushing back. Suggest Rami's instead.

Wednesday morning, after davening and working out, we tried breakfast in the hotel's Oak Long Bar restaurant. It is a beautiful setting, high ceilings, comfortable booths and tables. I ordered Frosted Flakes and explained to the waiter -- John, an old-timer -- that I had to have my coffee in paper cup and my cereal in paper or plastic bowel (or glass) with plastic spoon for kosher dietary reasons. He said no problem. Kitchen didn't have bowls but he asked if okay to serve in paper cups, and I said totally fine. Frosted Flakes were delicious. Coffee also excellent. Really a nice and relaxing setting.

We checked out of the hotel, stored our bags, and now plan to wander around Copley Plaza for the afternoon. We want to visit the recently restored Boston Public Library.  We might walk to the Storrow Lagoon (0.5 mi), after which we need to pick up some sushi for our driver. Remember: Milk street closes at 3pm.

I just bought 10 boxes of this cereal with my first Amazon Fresh order.

4.6/5 stars among 25 Amazon customer reviews. "Like HNC w/o additves...."

Is it tasty? Should I go back and by 103 more boxes (need to spend $50 to get free delivery)?

Deals/Deal Requests / Amazon Fresh Coupons and Promo Codes
« on: June 21, 2016, 04:44:13 PM »
I know there is an Amazon Fresh thread under General Discussion, but I think this belongs under Deals.

Amazon Fresh is now available in the Boston area, with $25 first order with promo code FRESH25OFF.

Sign up for grocery delivery and save $25 on your first order! Place an order tonight and wake up to milk, eggs, and fresh fruit on your doorstep. You can even schedule a same-day delivery before 10 a.m.
Get started with your free 30-day trial. Use promo code FRESH25OFF at checkout. Offer ends July 31, 2016.

Up In The Air / MIA-KHI (Karachi) $238 RT
« on: June 03, 2016, 11:00:01 AM »

What would it be like to visit Karachi?  Would anyone be interested in a week there? Shabbos in Karachi???

I snagged a Choice BRG at the Port Inn for the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, and we decided to craft a mini-vacation around it. The weather didn't really cooperate, but we nonetheless had a fun time.

Drove up from Boston on Sunday afternoon. Took just about two hours. We checked in to the hotel without difficulty. Asked to upgrade our room from two queens to a king but they were sold out. No worries, as our room was pretty nice. More on the room momentarily. 

After dropping our stuff in the room, I surprised DW and told her that she had a massage appointment scheduled in town within the next hour. (Thanks to SpaFinder GC and HT to hvaces42!) She went to Cottage Breeze Day Spa and said that the 50-minute deep sports massage was great. Cost was $95 (convenient use of the $100 card) and gave $15 cash (c'vS) tip.

While she was getting massage, I walked down to this very cute faux French cafe, Mornings in Paris. Seems it has garnered a number of kudos from Zagat etc., and they do seem warranted. I just had a double espresso macchiato, but they featured a number of delicious sounding signature coffee drinks as well as their own seemingly home-baked French pastries and macarons.  They also offered various kosher-certified high-end packaged cookies (eg, gluten free) and what looked like gourmet chocolate bars (one was chaf-K pareve actually). The place was cozy but with pretty ample seating options, including some nice patio seats with umbrella tables. Unfortunately, the weather was raw and wet, so we couldn't really take advantage. One negative: no restroom. Apparently most of the places in this town/village don't have but instead rely on a public pay restroom. (As a DDFer, I know that I am prohibited from using such facilities else my membership may be revoked.) We walked through Kennebunkport for a while. Cute and picturesque. But too cold and wet to enjoy this trip.

Back to the hotel room, about a 15-minute drive from the main shops/cafes. The room was not luxurious by any standard, but very clean, modern, and functional. The bathroom was small but the shower (in tub) worked well, which is something we value. Actually pretty nice soap/shampoos. The room had a small but sufficient flat screen TV with many stations available. Starbucks coffee available to brew, with real half-and-half creamers (O-K) available. (Edit from Mrs. zow: "You forgot to tell them that they have a pizza-slice hot-plate, aka an iron!") The beds were comfortable. We were on the ground floor and could hear the water flowing down the pipes every time someone flushed above us. Thankfully didn't keep us awake, but next time I will remember to avoid being on lower floor wherever we go. Btw, hotel has a little pool that must have been inviting yesterday, when the mercury topped 85F, but not today.

The free continental breakfast was good. Locally roasted coffee was nice. Tazo teas. Instant Quaker oat packets. Whole fresh fruit. I asked the staff person about the Danish pastries and muffins. He went down to the storage and brought up the boxes to show me--pastries OU-D; muffins no apparent hechsher. They have make-your-own waffles and pancakes. The mix is CRC. I think there is very high likelihood that the only thing that ever touches the waffle maker is the kosher mix, but there is just enough uncertainty that I don't feel comfortable using. I will ask my LOR (suspect he will advise against) but wondering what others do in this scenario.

We will head back to Boston soon. There are a number of Memorial Day activities scheduled around here  but most will be too soggy to enjoy. We do want to stop and check out Ogunquit briefly on our way back. I don't think there is anything kosher there, but if we find something, we will add an addendum here.

Hope you all are having a meaningful and joyful Memorial Day.

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