Dallas to Istanbul: SkyTeam Business Class ~$1800 R/T All In!

Found this one quite by accident! Wide open availability from DAL (Dallas Love Field) to Istanbul, Turkey (IST) on SkyTeam: Delta, KLM, Air France. Wide open for most of 2016. I was unable replicate from other departure cities within a few sample searches.

BOOK ASAP! You can always purchase on Delta and cancel within 24 hours.

Samples Dates are departing on Mar 16, 2016 and returning on Mar 23, 2015. Search on Google Flights and book through Delta or Air France.

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Hotel Review: Shangri-La Jakarta

On my recent trip to Indonesia, I had the opportunity to stay at the Shangri-La Jakarta for 7 nights. Our company hosted a multi-day event at the Shangri-La and my colleagues and myself stayed at the Shangri-La for a full week. I expected good service from a Shangri-La but I was absolutely thrilled with the service I received.

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Pool Grounds

Everyone in Jakarta loves to smiles and the Shangri-La is no exception. Everyone: bellhops, wait staff, chefs, front desk, management….all were incredibly warm and inviting. Just like everywhere else in Jakarta, security is tight on site. Taxis are easy to retrieve out front with Silver Bird taxis almost always on standby out front.

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Lobby Bar

The hotel has just about every amenity you need paired with comfortable rooms. You can take a half point off for the slightly dated room decor but to be honest, it didn’t matter one bit to me. The decor is still upmarket and very comfortable. I hear they are renovating many of their rooms, however. For your point addicts, this property participates in the Shangri-La Golden Circle loyalty program.

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Deluxe Room Bath

The location of the hotel is slightly off the main thoroughfares but still very close to all the attractions of Central Jakarta. Traffic is horrendous in this city so always plan to give yourself LOTS of extra time to go anywhere. Fridays are the worst, especially during the afternoon-evening rush!

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Spectacular view of Central Jakarta from my room

With my incredible city views every morning, fresh breakfast in Satoo, and well run event space at Rosso, every day started with a great experience. I only dined in two of the on-site restaurants which included Satoo and Rosso. Both the food and service were fantastic within each. The variety at the buffet in Satoo was incredible!

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Delicious Shangri-La treats at Satoo
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Outside Satoo on the Shangri-La grounds

I highly recommend the Shangri-La for a multitude of reasons. Service is number one in my book and I hope I get to return to Jakarta, just to stay here again.

Spring Flight Deals to Europe Under $700: OneWorld, Star Alliance, & SkyTeam!

Morning, readers!

Winter is here and this is prime time for cheap deals to Europe from North America. Below are a few highlighted deals in Economy that are currently available on Google Flights:

Chicago (ORD) to Istanbul (IST) – $621 R/T inc. taxes. Sample dates Mar 11-Mar 16, 2016.

Operated by Delta/Air France/KLM. Bookable on Google Flights/Delta.com

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Chicago to Istanbul, $621 R/T

Chicago (ORD) to Sofia, Bulgaria (SOF) – $683 R/T inc. taxes. Sample dates Mar 11-Mar 16, 2016. Price is a few dollars cheaper on Delta/KLM but for those of you prefer to fly the Dreamliner or Star Alliance, this is your best option.

Operated by LOT Polish on the 787 Dreamliner. Bookable on Google Flights/LOT/Priceline

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Chicago to Sofia, Bulgaria, $683 R/T

Miami (MIA) to Rome (FCO) – $685 R/T inc. taxes. Sample dates Mar 9-Mar 14, 2016.

Bookable on Google Flights/AA. Flights booked on AA are marketed by AA so you will earn 100% AAdvantage miles on flights. Operated by AA/Iberia.

mia fco AA Iberia mar 9 2016

 

 

Snag these low fares while they’re hot! Play with dates and other departure cities to see if you can find even better deals yourself on Google Flights.

 

Share your thoughts in the comments below. Or on Twitter @BenjaminJ84 and @AvionAddiction.

My Whirlwind November to Asia: Comparing OneWorld In-Flight Products

Well I’ve been a bit terrible about posting much lately but I’ve had quite the busy travel schedule lately. I traveled to Asia twice in 2 weeks this past month so I feel as if my body is just now back to normal sleep.

I traveled to Jakarta for work for 9 days, returning just before Thanksgiving and then after only 4 days at home, traveled to Tokyo for a short 6 day vacation in the Tokyo area. I actually passed through Tokyo Narita 4 times plus an extra fifth visit due to flight schedule changes.

In total traveling to Asia, I experience the following OneWorld long-haul products:

  • Japan Airlines Premium Economy
  • Japan Airlines Economy
  • American Airlines Business Class
  • American Airlines Economy

Aircraft Flown:

  • AA A321
  • AA MD-80
  • AA 777-200
  • JAL 767-300
  • JAL 777-300ER
JAL 777-300ER Parked at Narita Airport
JAL 777-300ER Parked at Narita Airport

 

Outbound Journey #1: DFW-LAX-NRT-CGK

I flew AA Economy (Main Cabin Extra) from my home at DFW to LAX, connected to JAL Premium Economy (Bulkhead) LAX to NRT, followed by JAL Economy (Bulkhead) NRT to CGK. Premium Economy was not offered on my final leg to Jakarta as it was operated on an older 767.

Return Journey #1: CGK-NRT-ORD-DFW

Returning from Jakarta I flew JAL Economy CGK to NRT, JAL Premium Economy (Bulkhead) NRT to ORD, and finally AA Economy (Main Cabin Extra) ORD to DFW. Premium Economy was offered on my leg from Jakarta to Tokyo, however, it was completely booked when I booked my trip.

Outbound Journey #2: DFW-NRT

This was a nonstop itinerary from DFW to NRT in AA Economy (Main Cabin Extra/Bulkhead) on an older 777-200.

Return Journey #2: NRT-DFW

While this itinerary was changed multiple times due to flight mechanical issues, ultimately, the itinerary was nonstop from NRT to DFW in AA Business Class.

Smile for Global Entry!
Narita Admiral Club – Very traditional but great service!

 

Smile for Global Entry!
Smile for Global Entry!

 

Comparing Products

Your gut reaction of course is to automatically assume that the JAL operated flights were exceptionally better than American Airlines. While in most areas this was true, there were a few ways that American Airlines came out ahead.

Overall on service, JAL was more welcoming but there tends to be a bit of a language barrier for English-speaking passengers. One notable exception was a super sweet flight attendant in Premium Economy on JAL NRT-ORD. The staff in AA Business Class was very chatty and inviting but in Economy, forget it! They would rather not speak to you unfortunately. JAL Economy far exceeds AA Economy for long-haul flights.

In terms of food, JAL was overall better but the AA Business Class breakfast NRT-DFW was a surprise favorite meal. The only thing that I ate truly horrendous was the mid-flight snack on AA in Economy DFW-NRT. It looked like wet cat food on bread!

And in terms of seating, there’s no fair comparison between Business and Economy. But I really loved the JAL Premium Economy Seats. They were an affordable compromise when paying cash for a seat. I sat next to a very large man NRT-ORD on JAL and the Premium Economy seat gave plenty of extra room that I didn’t notice at all. In a standard economy seat, we would have elbow wars the whole flight! I love the foot rest that extends out to be half as good as an angle lie-flat seat.

Here’s a few highlights in “airline gastronomy”:

 

JAL Premium Economy “Udon de Sky” Mid-Flight Snack

 

JAL Premium Economy Ice Cream

 

JAL Premium Economy Lunch LAX-NRT

 

AA’s Disappointing Mid-Flight Snack in Economy DFW-NRT. Or as I remember as the “wet cat food sandwich”

 

AA Business Class Pre-Arrival Breakfast NRT-DFW

 

JAL Premium Economy Pre-Arrival “Brunch” NRT-ORD

 

AA Business Class Starter NRT-DFW

 

AA Business Class Lunch NRT-DFW

 

AA Business Class Ice Cream Sundae NRT to DFW - A Classic!
AA Business Class Ice Cream Sundae NRT to DFW – A Classic!

I had a great couple of trips, even if they left me totally exhausted. I got to experience many different products in a very short time so it was pretty cool!

Share your thoughts in the comments below. Or on Twitter @BenjaminJ84 and @AvionAddiction.