NYC’s “Hair” District

In my wandering around New York City today, I apparently went right through the heart of 100% Genuine Human Hair district..

100% Human Hair

And, when I saw that this next shop had some “new arrivals,” I started to wonder where it comes from..

Newly Arrived Hair

Newly Arrived Hair

These were not two anomolies.  These shops covered a full city block.  You have to love NYC for it special shops!

Delta Airlines – Flight Notes

After several months of blogging regularly on my travels, I have come to the conclusion that flight recaps are probably boring to both of us.  Unless something really unique happens or it is an unusual trip, such as the ATL-JNB flight, there just usually isn’t too much to differentiate one flight from another.  As a result, I’m going to change to posting periodic notes and comments about my flights instead of detailing every single one. 

I just got done with several trips on Delta including roundtrips to London, Dallas, and Newark.  Here are some random thoughts from these flights.

  • I had one of the last flights to London Gatwick and Delta has now consolidated all their service to Heathrow.  I’m sure that makes sense but I’m going to miss Gatwick as it was so easy to navigate, there was a nice arrivals lounge with showers, and it was certainly easier to get through passport control there.
  • I had the good fortune of getting bumped up to Business Elite on the Gatwick flight but it was the old 767 configuration and it is clear that lie-flat, herringbone configurations have completely spoiled all of us.
  • The Purser on the Gatwick flight was outstanding and I was pleased to give her a “Great Job” certificate. I think Delta’s flight crews are typically very good.
  • Newark airport is just as bad as it was 12 years ago when I flew in and out of it regularly due to living in the area.  I cannot imagine being a United/Continental customer there and having to deal with it every week.
  • I still have 100% upgrade success this year domestically.  If there is a FC cabin, I have been in it and have usually cleared well before the flight.
  • My on-time performance has been very good.  There was s delay for mechanical issue a couple of months ago and one for a sick passenger in the past few weeks, but those have been the only exceptions on the record this year.

As you can see, I’ve had some pretty good experience on Delta this year and their in-flight product has been very good.  I’ll share more thoughts after my next set of flights.

Hilton Green Park – London, UK

Hotel Review

If the Metropole was large, busy, and a little impersonal, the Hilton Green Park is just the opposite.  It is small, quaint, and quiet.  However, that brings other issues.  In retrospect, I think I was a little nostalgic about this hotel.  This is where I rode out most of the volcanic ash disruption a couple of years ago and maybe I was influenced by that experience.

What is good about Green Park?  It is in a great location on a quiet side street next to Shephard’s Market and close to Mayfair and Piccadilly.  It has character.  The staff is very responsive.  It has a very nice bar and restaurant.

Downsides?  No executive lounge.  Small rooms.  No fitness facilities.

Would I stay here next time?  Maybe.  The Green Park tends to be lower price than some of the other Hilton properties in London.  The competition would probably come from somewhere like the Strand Palace which has comparable rooms at a slightly lower cost and in a more central location for the West End.

Final Grade: B-

Points and Dollars

My total spend for my two nights was $553 (rate of $214 USD per night).

For this, I earned 4,545 base points plus my “Points and Points” bonus of 2,272 and my Diamond bonus 2,272.  I got my Diamond “MyWay” bonus of 1,000 plus the AMEX on-line booking bonus of 500.  The Q2 Double Points bonus netted me another 4,545.   By charging it all to my HHonors Surpass card by AMEX at 9 points per dollar, I will earn another 4,977.  Total HHonors earnings equals 20,111 points.

London Photo Journal

Here are a few photos from my recent trip to London that turned out nice enough to share without taking the time to do any editing.

While I was in London, I had the chance to attend a reception at the House of Lords.  Of course, it was very nice, but the best part was getting some access to the terrace right on the Thames.  This gave me the opportunity to get a few shots from a different angle than most are usually able to shoot.

Terrace at House of Lords

Terrace at House of Lords

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was also able to get this shot of the London Eye and County Hall from across the way as the sun made its final descent in the horizon.

London Eye at Dusk

 

 

I had arrived for the reception a bit early so had a chance to stroll around the parks and streets just south of the Houses of Parliament.  My first discovery was an edition of Rodin’s “Burghers of Calais” scupture in the Royal Gardens adjacent to Parliament.  This is one of my favorites of his but I did not know they had a copy here.  Then, I strolled around the side streets and was able to get the following shot.

Houses of Parliament

Houses of Parliament from side street.

Travel Executive Summit Recap

This morning’s Travel Executive Summit was well-attended and featured a couple of high powered panels moderated by Randy Petersen.  The morning session was a robust debate about the role of loyalty points and whether they will evolve into something like currency.  I tend to side with the folks who think this movement would significantly degrade their role in program loyalty.

The second panel featured senior level reps from several hotel loyalty programs including upscale Hilton HHonors and Starwood Preferred Guest.  It was clear in listening to them, that the decisions they make and the motivation behind their plans are to reward and show value to their loyal customers.  That may sound a more than a bit obvious (after all, they are called loyalty programs) but if you read enough flaming posts on the internet about these program you might need to be reminded.

Tonight, it is the opening reception of Frequent Traveler University with two jam-packed days of information ahead.

Hilton Metropole – London, UK

Hotel Review

I’ve stayed in London many times but never had the occasion to stay at this particular hotel but had the chance to experience it as part of a business conference that was held at this location.  Located near Paddington Station and the Edgware tube station, the Metropole is a busy location.  It does not feel relaxed or comfortable, but, rather, has a feel of hustle and bustle.

The area around the hotel is heavily Arabic and, as a result, there are lots of ethnic restaurants in the area that are worth a try for good Middle Eastern food.  Baker Street is a close walk in one direction and Oxford Street can be reached on foot in about 10-15 minutes walk.

There were lots of things this hotel did well.  The staff was very friendly and thanked me for my business on multiple occasions.  The business facilities were good, the internet was fast, there is a nice fitness center and pool, and the room was fine.  The Executive Lounge was good, not spectacular.

But, I didn’t particularly care for this location.  They didn’t do anything wrong.  It’s me, not them.  I just never felt relaxed and didn’t feel the hotel had any personality.  So, the rating below is still good and not a reflection of the service levels.

Final Grade: B

Points and Dollars

My total spend for my four nights was $1,186 (rate of $149 per night for first two nights and $235 per night for second two nights).

For this, I earned 9,541 base points plus my “Points and Points” bonus of 4,770 and my Diamond bonus 4,770.  I got my Diamond “MyWay” bonus of 1,000 plus the AMEX on-line booking bonus of 500.  The Q2 Double Points bonus netted me another 9,541 and, for some reason, I still occasionally get a 2011 Any Weekend bonus of 1,000.  Plus, the first two nights were paid in advance and registered in the Facebook 24 Hour bonus event so I will see another 2,500 points there plus 10,674 from charging it all to my HHonors Surpass card by AMEX at 9 points per dollar.  Total HHonors earnings equals 44,296 points.

“Priority Pass” Success

There are several cards I carry around in my bag that I rarely have a reason to use.  Two of my primary examples are my Priority Pass card and my Regus card.  In both cases, I’ve actually received memberships/cards due to affiliate programs but rarely have the need to use them.  However, my Priority Pass answered the call this weekend.

On Friday, I took one of the last Delta flights into Gatwick.  After today, Delta will be consolidating all London flights into Heathrow.  At Gatwick, Delta has used the arrivals lounge in the Sofitel Hotel for elite members and Business Elite customers but, given the impending shut down of Delta operations, I was not sure if it would still be available.

I arrived at the lounge and found that it was still in operation but no signage indicating that Delta was still be served.  However, it did have a notice for Korean Airlines, a Skyteam member, so I thought I might perhaps have access through my Sky Club membership that I get for free as a Diamond Medalliion with Delta.  However, the desk agent said that did not qualify.

Having never used my Priority Pass card, I gave it a try and it worked.  The agent gladly accepted this for admission and I was able to get a hot shower and breakfast before heading into London.  Thank you Priority Pass!

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