I’ve had very good success getting rides with Uber thanks to their handy app and often very good drivers.  I have found their prices to generally be very competitive, and sometimes even better than cabs.  The quality has always been better than cabs – usually way better than cabs.  However, free is the best kind of price, so Uber is even better than normal when you are taking advantage of new customer bonuses and referrals.  Uber has been reminding me from multiple directions that Friday April 25th is the deadline for you and your friend to both get $20 in free credit for signing up using a referral link Presumably after that date it will go back to $10 each, though that’s just a guess.

Uber Referral

The terms do say that to receive the $20 credit your friends must ride before midnight on April 25, 2014, so if you are sitting on some credit from signing up I would try to use it by Friday night if you are in need of a lift.  I would guess that the $20 credit then becomes a $10 credit after that date, but again that’s a guess.  It’s possible it just goes poof.   What may turn out to be an even better deal for those who are new to Uber is the code HIPMUNK.  The Points Guy reports this should give you a $25 credit toward a ride if you are a new customer and take your first ride by May 30th.  You need to enter the code HIPMUNK in the Promotions tab once you log into Uber.  These type of codes used to stack with the new member sign-up credit, but they no longer work that way so it’s an either/or deal.

Also while you are setting up your Uber account, I would link your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to be the default payment choice as it pays out Uber as a travel expense at 2x plus the annual 7% bonus.  You can see the 2x payout below on my Sapphire Preferred thanks to my expensive, but very convenient, ride from the Paris airport into town.

Uber 2x

Happy Ubering!

This post does contain affiliate links.  As always thanks for your support!

 

Posted by mommypoints | 2 Comments

When Rocketmiles first came out I was of course excited to see another way to earn potentially thousands of airline miles via booking hotels on their site, but I had three main issues with the program.

1.  The prices seemed kinda high some of the time compared to what I could find elsewhere.

2.  They only had a limited number of hotel options in select (major) cities.

3.  You had to assume you wouldn’t earn hotel points/elite status credit since you were booking via a third party.

It was still potentially a good option in some cases, but those cases were relatively limited for me personally.  However, things seem to be improving at least on the first two points based on some of my own searches.  My mom has to attend a wedding in the near future in Longview, Texas.  Never heard of Longview, Texas?  That’s okay, and I assumed that RocketMiles probably hadn’t heard of it either since they were historically pretty useless when searching for hotels in small cities.  However, RocketMiles not only had some hotel options in Longview, but it had the one that my mom wanted to book anyway as she has stayed there before and had a good experience.  Color me pleasantly surprised.

The next barrier naturally was price, and I have been watching the price for her like a (semi-distracted) hawk.  The lowest price that RocketMiles offered was basically the same as the lowest price you could get anywhere without using an AARP or AAA type code.  Since my mom can use those codes, she would be paying about $6 more to book via RocketMiles, but in the process she would be earning the standard 1,000 miles for staying that one night plus 3,000 bonus miles since this is her first booking with RocketMiles and was eligible for a promotion.  I don’t know if the 1,000 bonus mile new customer offer she could get by being referred by me would end up stacking with all of that or not, but assuming that she earns “just” 4,000 United miles for her roughly $107 pre-tax reservation, that is pretty huge.

RocketMiles

Those United miles are worth somewhere between $60 – $80 for most people in the miles and points world, and they are way more valuable than the few Hilton HHonors points she may be forgoing by booking via RocketMiles.  My mom isn’t chasing elite status with anyone, and is certainly going to come out ahead by paying a about $6 extra to book with Rocketmiles and earn at least 4,000 United miles in the process.  If you or a family member is in a similar position, it might be worth a second look at RocketMiles the next time you need to make a hotel reservation – especially if you are still eligible for some of their new customer bonuses!

 

Disclosure: The Rocketmiles links in the post are mine, but feel free to leave your own referral links in the comments section!

Posted by mommypoints | 9 Comments

We recently flew in United BusinessFirst (business class) from Houston to London, and then took a British Airways flight from London to Paris that we booked separately.  Here is a summary of those flights, as well as some information on flying on a TransAtlantic flight with a younger child.

Houston – London United BusinessFirst in Two Cabin 767-300

There is no way to get to Paris from Houston on a Star Alliance Airline without having a connection, so when booking I simply looked to get as close to Paris as I could on a flight with confirmable upgrade space (using a United Global Premier Upgrade that I got as a 1k elite).  You can read more about the planning process for these flights in this post.  In this case that meant that I booked a flight to London, and then separately booked a flight on British Airways from London Heathrow to Paris.

We were able to leverage a free “Same Day Change” ($75 for those without elite status) on United to leave on the last departure of the evening from Houston to London.  This meant we departed at 8:50PM and arrived in London around lunch time the next day.  My hope in booking this (in addition to having a full normal day at home) was that since it was roughly my four year old’s bedtime, that she would go to sleep on the plane shortly after take-off.  We spoke extensively about sleeping on the plane before the flight, so she knew that was the plan and has a pretty good track record of sleeping on planes when it is bedtime.  We ate dinner in the airport before boarding, and I dressed her in comfortable clothes that we called her pajamas for the evening.  We were both really excited to be starting our big adventure to Paris together as we boarded!

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Our we’re going to Paris faces!

We selected two seats together that were next to the window, and I put her in the seat against the window so that I would know if she got up as she would have to climb over me.  I decided that was the safest location for her to be while I was asleep in terms of her not getting out without me knowing it, and no one getting to her without me (hopefully) noticing.

The seat selections were good, but since there is a barrier between the two seats she was pretty upset that she couldn’t see me as she went to sleep.  I held my hand over the barrier so she could feel it, but she would have much preferred to crawl into my seat and sleep there…there just wasn’t anywhere near enough room for the two of us to sleep in one seat.

The flight attendants delivered the pre-departure beverages, and as always we opted for ginger ale and (watered down) cranberry-apple juice.  This may not be the champagne or mixed drinks pre-departure beverage that many enjoy on adult trips across the pond, but it was perfect for us.  Or technically it was almost perfect as it was missing the two small straws that seem to work best for C on the airplane.

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After boarding was complete she settled in and watched one cartoon from the IFE selection.  They had options like Frozen, Cars, Dog With a Blog, Smurfs (the new one, not the one we had in the 80′s), and a few other kid centered shows and cartoons.  I knew the lights would be on in the cabin for a while during meal service, so I told her she could watch one show before she needed to go to bed.  I hoped she would fall asleep during the show, but that with that big grin on her face that clearly didn’t happen!

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The only part of the meal service we participated in was the ice cream sundae.  I’m sure that sugar didn’t help with going to sleep, but it sure was fun and hey it’s vacation!  I don’t think she ate more than two or three bites of it, but getting served ice cream in the sky will always make us smile!

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Even though we didn’t eat the meal, I did snap some photos of the menu in case anyone is curious as to what was served.  Even with this 9PM departure, meal service still went on for about two hours.  The economy cabin was dark way before the business cabin was finally done with meal service.  I really wished that on the last flight out they would do an “executive style” express service for everyone.  I can’t imagine why anyone would want to be awake eating until past 11PM local time when the point of business class is likely to get sleep before landing in Europe.

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To maximize sleep, we also asked for them to not wake us for breakfast (though of course the noise and light will likely wake you up anyway).

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As the dinner service drug on, we tried an eye mask to see if maybe that would help C fall asleep.  It didn’t work, but it was worth a shot as the cabin lights were just too bright for her to wind down.

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Shortly after the lights were eventually turned out, I did get her to fall asleep while holding her hand over the divider between the seats.  She slept soundly from that point until about 30 minutes before landing when I woke her up so she could use the lav before landing.  I would estimate that meant she was able to sleep without interruption for about 6.5 hours.  That clearly is shorter by far than the average amount of sleep she gets each night, but it was a peaceful 6.5 hours, and it was enough for her to make it through the next day.  I would guess I slept for about 6 hours, which also isn’t terrible considering how short the flight is.

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She wasn’t thrilled when I woke her up a little before landing, but she was excited to have made it across the ocean.  I wanted her to be able to use the restroom on-board before landing as I wasn’t sure how long it would take for us to get to one she could use at Heathrow.

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Awake already? Can’t we just keep flying!

Overall the United flight from Houston to London was solid.  The flight attendants were nice, which really helps when you are going solo with a young kid (on the way back we weren’t quite as lucky with one particular flight attendant).  The BusinessFirst seats are plenty comfortable for sleeping for us, and the only thing I wished was different was the length of the meal service on the late departures.  In a perfect world, I think departing around 6:30PM might be the ideal departure time for us as meal service would be ending at about the time that she should normally go to sleep anyway.

To get C’s take on the seats, check out the very short clip below.

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Getting Through Heathrow and Flying British Airways from London – Paris:

Once we landed (a bit late) at Heathrow we had to catch a bus to get to the terminal that our British Airways flight was operating out of.  Finding the bus wasn’t very hard thanks to good signage, but waiting the almost 15 minutes for the bus with a tired kid wasn’t the easiest thing ever.  In general, getting through Heathrow with her went okay in the end, but was a little tough since I was traveling alone and she had to pull her own bag much of the time despite being half asleep.

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When we had to clear security for the BA flight I regretted tremendously that we were in coach as the lines were quite long and slow moving.  Had we spent 2x the Avios of a coach flight we could have been in business, which wouldn’t matter much for the short flight, but would have made getting through security at Heathrow much quicker.  When traveling solo with a kid things like premium cabin travel aren’t interesting to me because we are more “pampered”, they are interesting to me because they make travel much easier. Having OneWorld elite status would have also helped, but we don’t have that either, so we just stuck it out in the long lines.

Ultimately we got to the gate for our BA flight just a few minutes before boarding, and the gate agent offered for us to board early (probably based on how pathetic we looked at the moment).  She also informed that my carry-on bag was likely too large and needed to be checked.  She did this at no charge, but warned that I may not be as lucky with a different gate agent next time.  I have since purchased a smaller carry-on bag as I got a bit tired of the “carry-on roulette”.

We got settled on the very short British Airways flight to Paris and were even served drinks and snacks despite the very short flight time and being in coach.  Just like on my last intra-Europe British Airways flight, I was very impressed by the service, and I hope to fly them across the pond soon.  Very fortunately my tired four year old passed shortly after take-off.  Seeing her in that contorted position made me so glad that she didn’t have to sleep like that all night flying over the Atlantic.  Sure I could have found a way to make her a bit more comfortable, but even for kids, sleeping in coach seats isn’t as comfortable as sleeping in a lie-flat seat.  That said, don’t feel bad if you don’t have enough miles for your kids to fly overnight in lie-flat seats, but if you can make it happen, it is worth it even for the little ones.

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Upon landing in Paris we had no issues or lines getting through passport control, and the longest delay was just waiting for our bags to come out.  Luckily there was a “balance beam” and other kids her age to play with while we waited the 20 minutes or so for the bags to come out.  They do have complimentary baggage carts that were quite helpful to load the bags and the kid on once they did finally come out.

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Makeshift play area waiting for the bags

We decided to use Uber to get into town, and within about 2 minutes of requesting a ride on my iPhone the driver was there in a nice Mercedes.  The ride was about 70 Euros, which was the same price as our cab ride back to the airport later that week.  Keep in mind if you have any referral credits for getting your friends or family to sign up for Uber, they won’t work in Paris.  I am guessing they only work in places where your currency is the same as the one being charged.

There are certainly cheaper ways to get into Paris than Uber, but when traveling alone with a four year old, I’m pretty sure there isn’t anything easier.  Keep in mind lots of unofficial cabs will try to get you into their cars, so be clear that you already have plans.  One unofficial cab driver followed my mom and aunt around the airport in Paris for a while trying to get them in his car.  After almost an hours drive in traffic we arrived to our hotel, The Park Hyatt Paris Vendome.  We had made it across the ocean together without any major issues and were ready to start our time in Paris!

Posted by mommypoints | 20 Comments

Just a quick note to say look closely in your email today for a targeted promotion from Hyatt Gold Passport.  I have seen offers ranging from 1,000 – 5,000 bonus points for upcoming stays.  I got one in my email that offered 1,000 bonus points after my first eligible stay from May 1 – July 31, 2014, but you can read about other versions of the offers here.  For the… Read the Rest.

Posted by mommypoints | 8 Comments

We have our “biggest” trip of the year coming up very soon where my husband and I are flying literally around the world to celebrate his 40th birthday.  We are only stopping in a few cities, but we are technically flying around the world via Europe to The Maldives, and then back home via Asia.  This award was booked all in business class on Star Alliance partners including United, Turkish… Read the Rest.

Posted by mommypoints | 16 Comments

This week I got an email from a reader newer to the miles and points world who is starting the planning process for some vacations before deciding which hotel programs they are going to focus their earnings in.  For the record, this is the right way to start your miles and points journey.  You will come out better if you decide how you want to use your points before you… Read the Rest.

Posted by mommypoints | 11 Comments

Here are the basics on two promos that are out right now and might help a few of you stretch your points or even earn a few extra ones! Hilton HHonors Double Points or Double Miles Spring/Summer Promo Launched: From May 1 – July 31, 2014 you can earn Double Points or Double Miles at participating hotels and resorts in the Hilton Portfolio.  You do need to register for the… Read the Rest.

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This morning I read a post on View From the Wing about whether coach customers should be able to use the first class lavatory on the plane.  My thought is that most of the time you should use the restroom in your ticketed cabin as you are usually instructed to do during the announcements, but like with almost anything, there should be some exceptions to the rule.  Here’s what I… Read the Rest.

Posted by mommypoints | 34 Comments

My family collects airline miles so that we can pay for flights we otherwise couldn’t afford to buy with cash and make certain flights far more comfortable than they otherwise would be.  However, not every single flight we take is paid for with miles, so we have to decide which ones get paid for with miles and which ones get paid for with cash every time we book a trip…. Read the Rest.

Posted by mommypoints | 9 Comments

Apologies for keeping this quite short (Easter Bunny duties are calling), but wanted to mention that the IHG Rewards promo that is giving 50% the points price at select hotels promo is live!  You can see some of the details below, or read the previous post on the topic for more info.  Half-off the points price for these hotels makes them quite affordable in many cases! WHAT: Get 50 percent off… Read the Rest.

Posted by mommypoints | 3 Comments

To conclude the write-up of our recent ski trip to Whistler, I want to share five tips for families who plan to visit Whistler for a ski trip in the future.  If you are interested in Whistler, then here is our report on the Westin Whistler (complete with video review) as well as info on flying into and staying near the airport in Vancouver.  Whistler Blackcomb is the biggest ski… Read the Rest.

Posted by mommypoints | 4 Comments

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