These are the taxes for UA and AC for a business class award flight to Europe, same departure and return city. Of course, the itinerary is different, longer for UA but travelling business class a few hours extra should not matter .
Of course, it is very easy to book AC on the Aeroplan website (I am Super Elite with AC) but for UA you have to call. And I had called a few times and UA was not available for the trip I wanted (everyone knows UA is cheaper so the award tickets sell out fast). I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown as I wanted to book the tickets even on AC but I was still hoping for a UA flight.
I was told by my friends who had done it that the strategy is simple: you call, you don’t get what you want so you hang up and next day you call again, and again and again. I don’t like doing this so in fact I had called only 2 or 3 times I think. But the 4th time I called (and last time as I could not wait any longer) seats were available. I had to alter my schedule but I considered it worthwhile, the difference would more than cover 2 extra hotel nights.
I wonder when UA will start charging fuel surcharges. It is too much of a discrepancy.
And, also I wish there was an online tool for booking award tickets on Star Alliance, the same that the agents use. I would not mind pay a booking fee even higher than the $30 fee for a booking made by an agent as long as I can do it in my own time not ‘stressed’ that I use too much of the agent’s time.
My trip was very complicated; I think I spent around 2 hours on the phone and at the end the agent told me he had to manually calculate the taxes as the system could not calculate for more than 10 flight segments (!?!) or something along this line. I was about to ask him how I could check he didn’t make a mistake doing these manual calculations (did he use Excel or a calculator?), but I was exhausted and at the same time I didn’t want to ‘upset’ him.
I still have the confirmation e-mail* in my inbox and it bothers me that my options with regard to this promotion are very limited (almost non-existent). I mean I managed to get the other Club Carlson promotions (Mission Accomplished) but this one seems unreachable.
However, I have thought of something: my plan is to have someone else – I have a friend in Minneapolis – stay at Park Plaza Bloomington. As a matter of fact he doesn’t have to stay there just check in and after a few minutes he would check out.
I will reserve the room using my Club Carlson card and my credit card of course. However, at the check-in my friend’s CC will be used (I’ll reimburse him) and I will still get the points. I’ve confirmed with the hotel this is possible (they still sell a room that otherwise perhaps they would not fill, so they should not mind) but perhaps I am missing out on something.
Have you done this type of ‘maneuver’ before?
The deal is that I will get 50,000 points for $106 + tax. I could pay $90.10 + tax but this would be non-refundable, so I cannot take this risk (since my losses in stocks I have become very risk adverse ).
I am planning on visiting Norway next year and one night at Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel, Oslo is … 50,000 points or $216.51 tax included refundable.
So even if the plan seems kind of convoluted – saving/making money is never easy :) – I am thinking of going ahead with it as I would save around $100.
* THANK YOU for registering for the Park Plaza® Ultimate Night Giveaway. You are receiving this email to confirm that you have successfully registered and are eligible to earn 50,000 bonus Gold Points®.
Simply complete a qualifying one night stay at any Park Plaza hotel now through 28 August 2012 and earn enough bonus Gold Points® for a FREE night at any Park Plaza hotel worldwide.
Stay One Night, Get One Night with Park Plaza. Book your stay today
Yes, I did pat the statue.
At some of the places I visited you had to leave the shoes out.
They say Japan is a safe country and I did not mind leaving the shoes there until I saw this sign. And I started to get very worried about my shoes.
So sometimes they are lost, otherwise why would they have this warning/notice? I suppose they meant ‘stolen’ how could the shoes be lost if you leave them on a rack. And taken by mistake by someone else ?! Everyone should be able to recognize her/his shoes.
Lots of sake in Meiji Park in Tokyo
It is not what you think, it is a Hindu symbol.
Far-right ‘militants’ with the old Imperial flag and blasting patriotic music (I think so)
Smoking lounge (?!)
Nissan Leaf in a showroom in Tokyo, didn’t see any one on the streets. I read somewhere “So far this year, combined sales of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid and Nissan Leaf electric car total less than 10,000 vehicles”. I think they referred to the US market, but I suppose the situation is the same everywhere.
I was in Kyoto in the bus going to the train station and I said why leave now, I have a one day bus pass so let’s take advantage of it and see more of the city. So I got off the bus at a random station and there …
‘We have only this for dinner, you should have hunted something.’
I had the free beer at the restaurant La Flamme d’Or at the Asahi Beer Hall, one of the buildings of the Asahi Breweries. The Asahi Flame is often colloquially referred to as “the golden turd” and the Asahi Beer Hall itself as “poo building” by many Tokyo residents.
It was a rainy Saturday taking cover from the rain and a waitress was outside of the building, I think she was smoking. We started to talk and she asked us whether we wanted a free beer (we didn’t have to purchase anything). I agreed and we had lunch also (initially I did not have any intention of eating there). The food was good and very affordable. I don’t know whether the free beer is something they usually do. This menu cost 1,000 Yen.
I loved the Japanese food. It was so light but filling at the same time. And I liked their fast food ‘eateries’. You choose the menu, insert the money, get the ticket and go to the counter: fast, clean and convenient.
I was fascinated by the vending machines for drinks and I tried all of their coffees (cold and hot).
I even saw a vending machine for alcoholic drinks.
‘Freaks’, I did not want to find out what was there:
‘This jelly beverage that can quickly replenish energy. It is best for life in a busy contemporary. Please before it does sports.’ How difficult would it be to ask one of the so many English teachers who are in Japan to check the label?
They like to give English names to the stores:
It says among other things: “We want to show you in as no ‘Customer’ it and ‘Best Friend’.” Did they use Google Translate?
I didn’t really understand what is this ‘by the earthquake generation’.
Much has been written about them and I was fascinated also by these ‘contraptions’. Google search for ‘Japanese toilets’ – 136,000 results; ‘American toilets’ - 98,100; ‘German toilets’ - 6,970.
I stayed at a friend’s and when I asked about all those buttons he told me not to worry and just showed me the button for flushing (fine for me).
Good way to save water
However, even such a sophisticated device has something missing (or perhaps it is there and I don’t know about it): the flushing should work only if the toilet seat is down. “Dr. Gerba has also studied germ counts in the house, and by doing so, discovered the right way to flush the toilet. You should flush with the lid down If you flush with the lid up, a polluted plume of bacteria and water vapour erupts out of the flushing toilet bowl. The polluted water particles float for a few hours around your bathroom before they all land. Some of them will land on your tooth brush.” From the article Flushing Out The Truth
Also the seat should be transparent to see that everything has been flushed properly. Of course I wrote these ‘suggestions’ to Toto the largest manufacturer of washlets as they are called.
Tokyo was as I had expected, and I suppose all Asian metropolises look more or less the same (I might be wrong).
However, Kyoto was a very nice surprise. It didn’t look like a large Japanese city even if its population is close to 1.5 million. No wonder Kyoto is on the position 12 on the list published by the lifestyle magazine Monocle.
You cannot come to Japan without visiting Kyoto.
Imperial Palace in Kyoto (free to visit)
Kinkaku-ji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion)
View from a hill (the Imperial Palace is in that park)
‘Kyoto Tower’, the tallest structure in an otherwise very flat city, from Wikipedia:
Kyoto Tower has been the subject of controversy since it was in its planning phase. Public opposition not only stemmed from the tower’s ¥380 million ($1.056 million in 1963) price tag, but also from the fact that many believed the needle-shaped spire was too modern looking for the ancient capital. The construction regulations in Kyoto that restrict a building’s maximum height increases the sense of proportion between the tower and the low machiya and ferroconcrete apartment blocks below. These municipal regulations have ensured that the tower maintains its status as the tallest man-made structure in the city since its construction and will likely help it to hold the distinction for many years to come.
Today, reaction to Kyoto Tower remains divided. Many foreigners who come to Kyoto seeking an elusive sense of old Japan are surprised to see both the modern, glass and steel Kyoto Station and the imposing steel tower directly across the street. Alex Kerr, an expert on Japan’s fading past, has called the tower “a stake through the heart” of the city.
The ‘Roku Roku’ hotel I stayed at, good value for money (clean and quiet) plus bicycles (no extra fee); and we biked a lot, a very good way to go around.
JR Pass is the famous Japan Rail Pass that can only be purchased abroad and used by foreign tourists and Japanese nationals living in a foreign country.
I struggled a lot whether to purchase a JR pass or not driving myself crazy and my wife as well in the process. I made a spreadsheet* having all possible combinations and in the end I decided to go for the ‘E-Voucher for Kyoto Bullet Train Open Ticket Package & Kyoto Sightseeing One-day Pass’.
Kyoto was the only city in Japan beside Tokyo that I wanted to visit and I would have had time for during my 7 day trip to Japan. And this voucher was the best choice in the end, as I could take any train (JR Pass limits you) so when I left Kyoto back to Tokyo I did not even bother to look at the schedule, I think it was a high speed train evey 10-20 min.
‘Shinkansen’, one of the first Japanese words I have ever learned. Now there are high speed trains in many countries but they were the first.
*I read in a book that people spend more time deciding what microwave to buy than analyzing their investments. This is true for me too. I spent thousands of $ on shares without thinking too much (and of course I lost) but for saving a few $ I spent lots of time.