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Topics - Something Fishy

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I don't see this listed anywhere on the OK's list of alerts, so I suppose you should take this with a grain of salt at this point.

HT: @lfas25

I got the text on a Motzei Shabbos:

@DansDeals: Have 1MM Miles Or Top-tier Elite Status? Get 3 Months Of A Free JetSmarter Membership!

Free private jets? Don't mind if I do!

I fired off the email with my status screenshot and two days later my JetSmarter account was active. Being a hopeless aviation geek, flying private has ranked high on my bucket list for years. I've missed out on some earlier JetSmarter promos, and haven't yet had a chance to buy a JetSuite SuiteDeal. So when someone offers three months worth of free private jet flights, I wasn't gonna let that slip away.

There are two kinds of JetSmarter flights available: JetDeals and JetShuttles. JetDeals are ferry flights, where the aircraft is needed in a particular location for a paying customer. These flights were pretty random as far as timing, destinations, and aircraft type, but that was part of the fun - you never knew which interesting things will become available. Best of all, you were allowed to bring a guest along on these flights. These flights tended to become available only a day or so before flying, so being able to make last-minute plans were key.

JetShuttles, on the other hand, are scheduled charters between a few specific destinations and at a set time. Shuttles were for members only; you couldn't bring a guest along. However, you were able to book those months in advance and so it was easier to build more complex itineraries around them.

After all was said and done, I flew five times: three JetDeals and two JetShuttles. Definitely less than I expected to, but between family, work, and spending a week in paradise, I had only so many Sundays available.

I got to fly five different aircraft types, visit a whole bunch of new states and a national park, spend a magical day alone with my daughter in Boston, and have some great times with friends, including a number of airborne DDF DOs.

Yellow: JetSmarter flights
Red: Positioning flights
Blue: Return drives

Up In The Air / 20% Off UA Hawaii Rewards (Y Only)
« on: November 27, 2017, 08:09:09 AM »
Book Y Saver award by 12/8 and fly 1/7-3/10. RT or OJ required.

Just Shmooze / Casting Call - Chassidim Needed
« on: November 22, 2017, 05:17:03 PM »
I was approached recently by someone working on an upcoming Jewish short film and was looking for Chassidim to cast for a tisch scene. I got in touch with the director who gave me more details, and I offered to pass them on to a larger audience. So if anyone's interested, here goes:

The film is called Radzyn, and is a story about a chassidic shtetl that has existed in secret for hundreds of years. They are looking for Chassidim for that one tisch scene.  The basic requirement is a beard and peyos.

Filming will take place in South Jersey (near Philly) on Sunday December 10th from 12-8pm. Transportation from Brooklyn will be provided.

Kosher food will be provided as well.

They're looking for volunteers, but - quote - "it's a good opportunity to be on a film set, meet new people, and get some exposure to film. It's a great learning opportunity".

Contact if you're interested, or PM me for his cell number for whatsapp.

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with any of this. I was, quite literally, approached on the street outside work and asked if I can help. These guys have produced music videos for Lipa, Gad Elbaz, and others.

Up In The Air / Airlines and Lounges That Serve Kosher Wine (Master Thread)
« on: November 14, 2017, 09:43:51 PM »
Please add more info if you have and edit the wiki.

Primarily based off the info scattered in this thread.

Airline / Class / Wine Type / Notes

Air Canada (AC) / All / ?
El Al (LY) / ? / ?
Jetblue (B6) / Mint / ?
LOT (LO) / ? / ?
Swiss (LX) / ? / Barkan Classic Cabernet Sauvignon
United (UA) / ? / Covenant / Must be requested from the FA

Some reports scattered throughout the forums of wine on OZ, SQ, and OS, but these are all old reports. If you have any up to date info please post.

Trip Reports / Journey to the End of the Earth: A DDF Arctic Adventure
« on: November 01, 2017, 11:44:59 AM »
Five DDFers, nine days, and the high arctic. If there ever was a recipe for adventure, this was it.

Official group shot. R-L: @ChAiM'l, @Dan, @moish, @Something Fishy, and @whYME. Being that a few of these stooges have this weird need to remain anonymous, I took the liberty to perform some head transplants for the purpose of this picture:

Tech Talk / Photo Plus Expo NY: Free Pass
« on: October 19, 2017, 01:18:44 PM »

Choose a free expo pass of 15% off the conference.

Come say Hi!

Up In The Air / DL Economy: 20k RT to Hawaii, 12k to Carribean
« on: October 10, 2017, 01:24:55 PM »
Search on DL. Many dates available.


Up In The Air / VX Flights Now Bookable With BA Avios
« on: October 08, 2017, 03:11:59 PM »
For flights after 4/25/18 (will likely be AS flight number by then). Needs to be called in. Regular award chart applies.

HT: Lucky


It was many years ago that I discovered the existence of Jade Mountain Resort on the island of St. Lucia. This was years before I discovered my true love of travel and the miles and points game which made it all possible; all I knew was that this incredible place existed and that I want to stay there, preferably to celebrate my tenth wedding anniversary. The fact that rooms are between $2000 and $3000 a night didn't faze me much; clearly, by the time I was married for ten years I'd be a millionaire (at least!) and able to afford it, no problem.

Well as the years went by my tenth anniversary inched ever closer, but the million dollars remained elusive. It was becoming clear that there is no way in the world that I am blowing ten grand on a few night's worth of Jade Mountain. While the resort has remained on my bucket list, for the last few years I've been vaguely looking for an alternative place to go.

While the Maldives or Bora Bora were the obvious candidates, we needed something closer as we couldn't leave our daughter for too long. My main objectives were privacy and incredible snorkeling; with that and the time constraints, the obvious answer was somewhere in the Caribbean.

And so I found myself a few months ago marching into the house, cold, wet, and exhausted. I had just finished shoveling three feet of snow off the driveway and I was sick of it. I plopped down on the couch with one goal: book a tropical vacation.

Looking through a collection of "top places to snorkel" type lists, one unlikely place kept on popping up: the Bay Islands of Honduras. I had never even heard of these islands, and yet here they were, touted as a snorkeling and diving mecca. Further research showed that this was indeed true - despite not exactly being on a typical tourist's radar, the underwater world here is absolutely beautiful and pristine.

Still sitting on my couch on that cold, cold, wet day, a magical word jumped out at me: cheap private island.

Cheap private island? If there was an oxymoron in the travel world, surely this is it. Private islands are for the likes of Richard Branson and I don't know... the Queen of England? No way that a schlub like me could ever afford to even rent one for a few nights.

But if the internet says that a cheap private island can be had in Honduras, it's gotta be true. Do I duly did some research, and lo, not only does it exist, but the reviews were numerous and positive!

A private island? Incredible snorkeling? Cheap, to boot? Sign me up! I immediately fired off an email to the owner and got the booking-ball rolling.

The first thing I needed to do is choose an island. Yes, it turns out that there are actually two  to choose from... Sandy Cay is the smaller one of the two, but offered more privacy and a better reef. Little Cay is a bit bigger (yes, I know...), has a larger and nicer house, and a protected swimming area great for kids. Considering that our priorities were privacy and snorkeling, Sandy Cay easily emerged as the winner.

And so, for the princely sum of $140 a night, we became the sole inhabitants of a private island in paradise.

And by private, I mean private. There is nothing on the island but sand, palm trees, and a single house. No neighbors, no staff, no yentas insistent on learning your entire family history. Just utter and complete privacy.

The reviews were invaluable for a number of reasons, most importantly for helping to set expectations. This was not a 5-star resort; if I had to quantify the house, I'd compare it to a bungalow in the Catskills. Large and decent, but not new or fancy by any stretch of the imagination (I'll expound on these details greatly further along in this TR). The pictures on their website were somewhat out of date; but recent reviews and trip reports more than made up for that.

Booking the island was somewhat of an adventure in and of itself. Honduras, being the third-world country that it is, is slow enough. Couple that with "island time" and every email took three days to get a response to. Eventually we learned to live with it; that's just how things are done there (we had the same exact experience with every Honduran we dealt with). Payment was by Money Gram only, and 50% up front was required to secure the reservation. Not something I'd normally be comfortable with, but reading many people's positive experiences sure helped. It took over a week, but eventually everything was all set.

Now we had to figure out how to get there; this was by far easier said than done.

Getting to Honduras itself is easy; there are tons of flights to San Pedro Sula (SAP), which is the biggest city in the country and its main point of entry. UA, AV, and CM all fly there, so there was even decent *A award availability. The problem with that (of course there's a problem!) is that getting from there to the islands involves an overnight. With SAP holding the honorable distinction of the third most dangerous city in the world (recently downgraded from #1), that was not a particularly relishing thought.

Additionally, there were a few other wrinkles that complicated the flight planning tremendously. As per anecdotal accounts online, the mainland airports were far stricter at customs than on the islands; the flights to SAP mostly left between 1 and 3am, which was highly undesirable; and if I was going to Honduras, I really really wanted to fly in and out of TGU, which has been on my bucket list forever.

To top all that off, I had won a raffle recently for $600 worth of airfare which I wanted to use on this trip, which made me lean away from using only points. In any case, pretty much all the award availability was in J, which seemed like a waste on such relatively short flights.

And then came the internal flights... There are very few scheduled flights to the islands, none on "real" airlines, and most are on Shabbos anyway. But we could charter a plane for quite cheap... Or should we instead take a pair of ferries, which takes 4 hours but costs less...?

As you can imagine, adding all this up into a comprehensive itinerary resulted in the mother of all spreadsheets.

After weeks of looking, booking, and cancelling, I had an itinerary in place. On Sunday, we'd fly United to Houston and on to Roatan - the "big" airport on the islands. Overnight on Roatan. Monday morning we'd charter a plane to the next, smaller island, Utila. In Utila we'd meet the owner of our island and be taken over by boat, where we'd stay for three nights.

For the return, we'd take boat back to Utila early Thursday morning. We'll fly a hinky-dinky airline called Aerolineas Sosa to La Ceiba (on the mainland) and continue over to Tegucigalpa. From there we'd fly Copa to Panama City, have lunch in town, and fly home to JFK.

United: EWR-IAH-RTB; $436 x2, -$600 from the raffle. Booked in Y, got Y+ due to status, got upgraded to J on the second leg.
Private charter: RTB-UII; $278 for the plane.
Aerolineas Sosa: UII-LCE-TGU; $139 x2.
Copa: TGU-PTY-JFK; 30k UA x2, booked in J.

With an overnight on Roatan, only one thing was left: find a hotel. Luckily, this turned out to be a rather easy task: the top rated hotel on Trip Advisor was also the cheapest. $75 secured us a room in the lovely Seagrape Plantation Resort, which we ended up being extremely pleased with.

And so after a few weeks of planning, we were all set for an epic anniversary trip.

Update 11/01/18: Some Flickr accounts may also be affected. See this post for details.

Photobucket just decided to charge $400/year to host your images. If you have anything uploaded and embedded there your images will no longer show up. You will need to re-upload and re-link from a different image host.

Personally, I need to redo all GIFs on my TRs now. (My images are hosted on Flickr, but my GIFs are on Photobucket.)

Of course the question is how do we know that your new host will not pull the same trick next week... Maybe it's time to have TR pictures hosted on the DDF side.

Mods - it seems that we'd need a mechanism for users to edit their old TR posts; I know I do. Maybe some sort of temporary permissions on a thread by thread basis.

I have MVP status to give away. I'll give it to the first person who has at least 100 posts and will in return make a donation of at least $50 to any tzedaka.

PM me.

There's so much conflicting information online... anyone mind sharing their experiences, especially regarding side affects? Mefloquine, Doxycycline, Malarone...

Of course the obvious answer is to discuss it with my doctor, but he likely has less experience with this subject than I do and will end up Googling it himself.

Or if someone has the name of a doc who knows his way around this in the NY area, feel free to share.

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