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  1. Has anyone here used this site? I heard of it the other day, was somewhat cynical, but.. Looked into flights to NZ for about six months out from now. Two seats in Prem Y on NZ YVR-AKL-YVR, C$6,100 on NZ.com and other places. C$4,950 on vayama. Same seats, flights, metal. I also like the layout of the site, the options, very user friendly. Looked at a few other flights, some are cheaper on airline site and have better options (Thai), some better on Vayama. It's well worth including it in your research.
  2. I would meet you there except I will be in NZ with the kids for two weeks of beach. We leave tomorrow.
  3. I will be making a few trips to SE Asia over the next few months, like most of us here; I sought to travel these long flights in reasonable comfort at an affordable price. YVR-NRT-BKK or YVR-HKG-BKK were *A options, but too expensive if booked as Bizz Class fares, YMU fares are less expensive but then the upgrading game begins and NRT-BKK-NRT cannot be upgraded. The best option that I saw was to purchase return tickets that start in BKK, C$3,200 for a C fare (on ANA ticket stock) BKK-NRT-YVR and back again, on a mixture of TG, ANA and AC. No upgrade hassles, flexible, status mile earning, simple. Searching for Bizz Class flights YVR-BKK Expedia produced all sorts of option ranging in price from $1,800 to stratospheric, duration from 19 hours to weeks, well almost. Philippine Airlines (PA) had the lowest price and shortest duration. I searched the net best I could to find info on PA’s comfort and service, given they are a smaller carrier the information is limited. PA’s website is short on information as well. Seat guru was some help. I used a TA to book both the PA and ANA flights as I have never booked through Expedia and was skeptical about it for some reason. I was not a good CF/FTer and let the TA call the airlines for seat selection with no input or research done by myself. Upon arrival at YVR, stand in line in the Mabuhay line up, two people in front, one ckin agent for our line. A very efficient and mildly officious gent was grabbing people, literally, from our line and leading to the next available ckin desk while holding up a hand to ward off the plebs in the regular line. I asked to see a seat map for seat selection and was firmly and politely told I would be very happy with my seat. It was spoken in such a way, I daren’t question it. Was given an invite to the Plaza lounge at YVR, I had never been there before so had a look around and walked to slightly lover level in the far right corner where no one was, likely because a sign said it was for Eva First pax only, seemed a good reason for me to be there. Boarding was efficient, the transit pax from LAS were boarded first, and I let almost all others board before me, the less time spent in the sardine can the better. Upon entering the aircraft and taking the left turn we all love I walked through a Bizz Class cabin and thought the seats and their arrangement were much the same as the old NZ intl Bizz Class, cradle style, so-so recline, the seat in front reclines into you a little. I kept walking to find my seat, 2H and realized I was in a different cabin, the old First Class. Two rows of six pairs, twelve seats in total. The seats and their configuration are pretty much the same as the old NZ First Class, later on I discovered that they are better as they recline flat. Leg room is borderline absurd when the seats are not fully reclined, at 6’4”, legs fully extended, there is still two feet until the seat in front. Another way I measure the space, I have five windows! Although PA does not sell First anymore, the service for the six of us in this cabin was First as in we were catered from our own galley by our own crew, the curtain between First and Bizz remained closed the entire flight. The staff is very courteous and efficient, nothing was a bother, and food was not bad, not great, but not bad. I would rank it very slightly below AC’s Exec First offering. Champagne was Heisdick, wine is red or white, non descriptive past that. Entertainment system is old style swing out of the arm. The most important thing for me is value received. My criteria are personal comfort (privacy, recline, leg room, width) service level, food, entertainment. I never expect a really good meal on an aircraft so I am rarely disappointed. IMO, the value received was extraordinarily good. I wish PA was a *A partner as I would fly them more. When traveling alone as I was the AC et all seating pods are nice in many ways, but for two people who want to interact with each other, the old style First cradle seats are hard to beat in my opinion. The other thing I like, maybe my suppressed inner snob coming out here, I like the exclusivity of a small First cabin. I was fortunate to travel First on NZ quite often, all on award bookings. It had a much cozier more exclusive feel than the herringbone milking parlour look that the pods give. Maybe one day I will find a way to fly First on another *A carrier to experience First pod style. This was a very long winded way to endorse PA as a carrier that offers terrific value for a comfortable flight to SE Asia ex YVR. The above was all written from the plane, more to add now from the Mabuhay Lounge at MNL. Left the plane, followed signs for Transfers, everyone toy pass greets you with a friendly good morning, down some stairs, hang a right for the transfer desk. Behind the desk is a slotted board similar to ones you see in some hotels or car rental firms, with the rental contracts and key envelopes. Presented my onward BP, the lady produced and invite to lounge, a uniformed gentleman asked me for my passport, BP and lounge invite, led me past an immigration desk, into a small non descript elevator having shown a guard my stuff, got out a level higher, bypassed two different line ups for documentation, right to the front of the security line up and escorted to the lounge. Concierge service in the extreme. What a great way to avoid all officialdom and line ups. I seem to get stared at a lot here. White and 6’4” does that in a country of dark skinned midgets, tic. The lounge is perfunctory , wifi, good food selection, odd breakfast offering such as pasta, but good nonetheless. No showers though, anywhere in the aiport.
  4. Superdawg, many thanks for those charts. They do help.
  5. I'm in need of a new CC in order to separate some finances. For years I have used CIBC Aerogold Personal and the Business one. I have looked at different Amex offers over the years, got the Business one this past year for the 25,000 bonus points, used it for 11 months and cancelled it before the annual fee kicked in. I'm currently SE, will fall to E March 01, 2010, the travel I have booked for Jan and Feb 2010 will requalify me for E 2011, in 2010 I may qualify for SE again but will not count on it. My typical CC spend is approx $60,000 per year, this can spike up considerably if doing a building project, however Home Hardware does not accept Amex. I have a loyalty to Home Hardware that will not be broken to chase Amex at a different builder supply. Having looked at the various Amex offerings, I see they offer perks that I already have with Air Canada Elite and Fairmont Platinum. The do offer 1.25 and 1.50x. My historical redemptions have been Business Class awards on Air NZ, with some ill thought out NA J awards, and well thought short haul domestic awards on a very expensive route. The need for the short haul awards on the expensive awards is coming to an end shortly. I see future award travel involving more J awards to NZ on NZ and possibly some Asian travel as well. I would like to maintain AC Elite at a minimum, of course in the least expensive most comfortable way possible. My thoughts are leading to be RBC Avion as I can purchase a revenue ticket that I can pay to upgrade the fare to an upgradeable comfy seat fare. This helps me maintain AC status inexpensively and fly comfortably. Should I see a Europe trip in my future I could convert to BA however I think I would be unlikely to do that as I will be wanting the status earning flights on AC. My AP account will continue to accumulate, albeit at a slower pace, so I can get the occasional trip in J to NZ on NZ. For the purpose of choosing a card for long term use, I'm ignoring the annual charge and sign up bonus offerings. I recently purchased an annual medical, trip cancellation/interruption catchall plan from RBC for $136, so insurance offerings from various cards are not important, except for rental car coverage which all offer I believe. Any help is greatly appreciated. Am I missing some offerings in other cards or Amex? Fire away with questions to help choose the right card.
  6. Try to keep our own partisan views out of it for a minute. Both major parties are as useless in many ways as the other. Richard Colvin was used by the Libs to make the Cons look bad, problem is that it has backfired. Both parties are guilty as each other for doing this to each other. The bigger issue that bleeding heart Canadians and others have an issue with is information gathering that may involve usimg tactics that cause mental or physical pain. Their is a constant debate about the quality of information garnered, some may lie to stop the pain, others will spill the beans. The terrorists do not abide by rules of any sort when planning attacks on us, yet we try and fight them using our quaint nice little rules that work well here but not there. Trying to instill democracy and our law on these people in their countries wil be a dismal failure, as it was for all the others that tried prior to us. The only way we will be protected, and the vast majority of law abiding people in these countries, is to root out and eliminate the minority that cause the problems. It doesn't matter how many tens of thousands of soldiers we put on the ground in Iraq, Afghanistan and other such places, we will lose the war, lose many lives and spend a fortune. The old fashioned cloak and dagger methods that were used for decades when clandestine services were clandestine, will win this war on terror. Massive armies have failed in these countries for decades, and are continuing to fail. I believe the majority of Americans would support such tactics, however the minority who oppose such methods are muuch noisier than the majority. If presented to Canadians in the right way, do you want to continue spending billions of dollars and hundreds of lives on a war will lose or shall we bring all out troops home and put a few highly skilled people on the ground with Yanks, Brits and others, these people may cause harm to win the war, which would you prefer? I think the answer is obvious. For those that disagree, rather than criticising for the sake of it, come up with a better solution.
  7. Many of us have booked numerous rooms at Fairmont through the call centre. I can hear the words about room can be cancelled up to 6pm day of arrival, they are firmly imprinted in me. I wrongly assumed the same cancellation policy would apply to the NFAF I booked online, I didn't bother to read the Ts and Cs. Called to cancel a room about noon day of arrival to be told that rate has a 24 hour policy. I apologised profusely, quickly accepted full blame for not reading the Ts and Cs, explained how many times I've heard 6pm day of and wrongly assumed. A supervisor came on and waived any charges. Thank you Fairmont. Just a heads up for others though who use this rate and need to cancel for some reason.
  8. Nope, I use NFAF frequently with no employee or other intervention. Fairmont Waterfront for $115 this past weekend, or $150 for Fairmont Gold. Opted for the Gold as I can eat more than the $35 All booked using NFAF, AND earning AP points that it explicitly says cant be done, but asks you for a FFP number.
  9. I like FPC, yes bennies have been reduced a little, but still a good chain and program that works well for me. Plat status is either 30 nights or 10 stays. The latter may be easy for you to achieve. I like the room and suite upgrade options, two US$50 dinng certs, free internet and the always answered Plat line. To make your stays more affordable, book online and enter NFAF in the promo box.
  10. As an entrepreneur who eats what he kills, and someone who is married into the civil service, I see two sides to this, maybe three. The CS has many excellent employees who genuinely care about their job, work hard, strive to satisfy us the customer, are fiercely loyal to their employer, in other words they are exemplary employees. The CS also has far too many dog fornicators who punch a time clock, abuse the system and get away with it. They are a cancer to the exemplary employees. I have no doubt that job security, dental medical and a DEB pension plan are key items for people who join the CS. The CS needs to figure out a way of getting rid of the cancer. This past week I had the pleasure, not being sarcastic, of yet again visiting the Vancouver Passport Office. Having attended that office at least a half dozen times over the last few years, I can speak of the staff. They are always very friendly, efficient and helpful.
  11. The question was raised a while back about business eligibilty for the 30 credit passes, along with the GST number requirement. When I bought the new pass last night, I didn't have my GST or BN available, 1 works very well.
  12. The Canada West Pass no longer has the July 29 deadline.
  13. Doesn't most everyone in the Peace triangle feel they are part of Alberta? For sure, and in many cases wish they were. Given Bring Cash's decision to enact HST of 12% by July 2010, more will be wanting to be part of AB, Peace Triangle businesses will lose more than they already do to cross provincial border shoppers.
  14. The Canada West I buy is cut as of July 30. I see they have a BC Commuter pass, hoped it would have worked, however it only flies as far north in BC as Prince George, I guess Fort St John has been made part of AB by AC. So, I just bought another 30 credit pass, the Canada West T+ model, my thoughts are that whatever replaces it, if anything will be more expensive, we'll see if I'm right or not.
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