Category Archives: Air Travel

JetBlue Card’s Flip the Forecast Contest


From the email bag…. if you’re in a wintry part of the United States, you know how much weather can screw up your flight plans. Apparently, JetBlue is making the most out of this current East Coast scenario with a “Flip the Forecast” contest.

Taken from the message I received:

JetBlue Card parked branded Airstream trailers in two drastically different locales, Boston and San Diego, connecting customers at each destination through a livestream video experience. Participants on both ends had the chance to win a pair of roundtrip tickets to the opposite location if they were able to convince and agree to swap locations with the other. We captured the challenge Bostonians and San Diegans faced on film to inspire other forecast flips across the JetBlue network:

Apparently you can join in the fun too through “Flip the Forecast.” Starting today (March 6) through Saturday (March 10), JetBlue customers can submit a short video pleading their case for why they should flip their forecast through a national Instagram contest for the chance to win a pair of roundtrip JetBlue flight certificates.

Here’s how it works:

  • Ensure you have a public Instagram account (of course)
  • Create and upload a video telling us what city you live in and why you need to travel to a different one with a different climate
  • The city you reference must be in the United States and a city that JetBlue currently serves
  • The video post must include @jetblue, #FlipTheForecast and #Contest, and comply with Instagram community guidelines.

For more information on how to enter the “Flip the Forecast” contest, see the official contest rules.

At the conclusion of the contest on March 10, 2018 at 11:59 PM ET, JetBlue will judge and score each eligible entry based on creativity, storytelling and desperation. The 10 people with the highest scores will be notified via Instagram.

2017 – My Year In Review


Creative Commons photo / maf04

2017 was a good year. I had some ups and downs but I made some pretty neat accomplishments. At the same time, I’m realizing with every year literally flying by, that I’m starting to more and more figure out where I want to be heading, travel and otherwise.

Here’s how 2017 went for me with a few milestones.

Working at an awesome museum

In order to help keep a steady cash flow for my travel budget and overall livelihood, I took a part time job at one of NYC’s most popular museums. With having a “come and go” schedule, I was nervous about whether or not my manager would understand, or more so accept, my “other job.” Or the fact I maybe could only work certain days or be gone for periods of time. There were some rough patches at first, but so far I’ve been lucky to be able to balance both my museum job and my travel job at the same time.

Having More First-Time Destination Visits

One of my dream trips since childhood was to see China (I think I actually tried to dig a hole in my backyard but didn’t get far.). In May, I got to fulfill this wish with my visit to Suzhou, China, a city that resonates with Old China due to having canals, waterways and classic gardens. And I got to travel to destinations I probably never would have imagined: Israel, El Salvador, Guatemala, Croatia, and the Bahamas. I left prayer notes at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, tried surfing at a beach called El Tunco, toasted marshmallows over lava-generated heat at a volcano called Pacaya, and went on a Game of Thrones tour in Dubrovnik.  Not bad!

Staying at an Ice Hotel

A February snowstorm altered by plans for a work trip to Canada’s Quebec region, in that I completely missed the first day. But I still got to experience one major activity – spending the night in an ice hotel. Located outside of Quebec City, Hotel de Glace is a chilly location in which you can either go on a tour of this seasonal lodging (completely made from an ice and snow mixture) and/or pay to spend the night in one of its room. You have to get dressed well enough to handle an overnight stay (think winter gear that’s breathable while keeping you warm). I felt prepared and woke up once, maybe twice, but overall was glad to have tried it – and then to head back into a more warmer accommodation.

Seeing More of the US

I harp on this a lot but, in terms of travel, there is a lot more to the US than meets the eye. While the current political climate is pulling us in different directions, our nation’s cities and town have their respective offerings that can appeal to any traveler. I visited Montgomery, Alabama, which is the central point for major Civil Rights events such as where Rosa Parks’ arrest and the responding Montgomery Bus Boycott. Up north, Philadelphia has so many ties to the American Revolution, but it’s also got a major arts scene and a culinary assortment of everything from Israeli, to Southern, to German and Cuban eateries. For 2018, I’ve already booked a few trips to other US cities; can’t wait.

Choosing to Be More at Home

While I’ve been really grateful for all my 2017 travel opportunities, I’ve been trying to be better about exploring more of New York City. For the next two years, I’m viewing NYC as my homebase. Lately much of my exploring involves going around the neighborhood I stay in and going to and from work and meetings. So, I want to be sure in 2018 to see more of this city. I’ve tackled a lot – museums, landmarks, festivals – but I would love to discover more of its restaurants and districts. I’m also trying to expand my social circle more (most of my friends are married with children and others have moved on) so I want to get out there and meet new people. But if that next cool trip comes up…

What would you like to see or do in 2018? Let me know.

Star Alliance Worldwide Mileage Competition

Star Alliance

Here’s another travel-related contest for you. It involves Star Alliance, one of the world’s largest global alliances, and a million frequent flyer miles.

Star Alliance is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a worldwide mileage competition where travelers share their favorite cultural experiences for a chance to win one million frequent flyer miles (1,000,000 miles). Twenty-one winners will be rewarded with 1,000,000 frequent flier miles to be used on any of its 28 member airlines.

The competition is now underway and ends on July 31, 2017.

If you’re stumped on how you might use this prize, Star Alliance also offered some suggestions:

  • 2 first class tickets around the world. From New York to Paris to Dubai to Hong Kong, stop along the way and see the world in style
  • Fly an entire wedding party and guests to Hawaii
  • Reunite eight family members in Paris to enjoy all the city has to offer
  • Treat extended family to a Spanish beach vacation in Andalucía. Book luxury hotel accommodations with the miles and have some to spare for a rental car.

However, you have to enter first. To enter, visit this link. Note: you have to be a member of a Star Alliance FFP to participate. If you’re not but still want to enter this contest, you have to sign up and receive a membership number online in order to participate.


Then users select the Star Alliance FFP in which they wish to win the million miles and enter your FFP number. Next, contestants will upload a profile picture and an image of a favorite cultural where they will also describe their favorite cultural experience.

Judging will be carried out independently, by among others, Star Alliance’s 20th Anniversary partner, National Geographic. The winners wll be announced on September 28, 2017.

Warwick Hotels and Resorts Unveils ‘Warwick Journeys’


photo 1-25

Warwick Hotels and Resorts unveiled “Warwick Journeys” at their NYC location.


Recently, Warwick Hotels and Resorts unveiled “Warwick Journeys,” a guest recognition program with a twist. Instead of giving points, the loyalty program will reward frequent guests with personalized benefits, starting with its hotel properties within North America and Europe.

Available for immediate enrollment, “Warwick Journeys” not only gives credit for every completed stay within the program but also features what’s called a cross-stay accelerator benefit. This benefit works by allowing Warwick Journeys members to progress through benefit tiers quicker by staying at multiple Warwick locations rather than just a single one.


photo 2-8

Outdoor patio area of a Warwick New York suite, once used by Cary Grant


Here’s how it happens. With enrollment, introductory members will receive complimentary Wi-Fi during their first stay and can book Warwick Journeys exclusive member offers. Purple level members will have completed two to three visits at a participating property and receive perks such as continued free Wi-Fi access.

Warwick New York was once a residential building owned by William Randolph Hearst, which he built for his associates and, in particular, his mistress Marion Davies.

Upon completing a stay at two separate Warwick hotels or between four to 15 stays at one property, gold status members get additional bonuses such as guaranteed availability with 72-hour advance notice of arrival, when booking the member-exclusive rate, and a late checkout at 4 p.m. Then, upon completing a stay at four different participating hotels or 16 plus nights at one property, black-level members will get both gold-level amenities and additional bonuses, including guaranteed availability within 24-hour advance notice.

The unveiling of the program took place at Warwick New York, a property with a special history. Publishing giant William Randolph Hearst had the building built in 1926 as a residential tower to accommodate his friends in Hollywood as well as for his long-time companion, Marion Davies. She had her own specially-designed floor in the building. Other noted occupants include actress Jane Russell and actor Cary Grant.

Delta and Palace Resorts Offer Bostonians a ‘Survive the Winter’ Giveaway


Hey Bostonians, here’s another reason to celebrate. Delta and Palace Resorts have partnered to offer Bostonians the chance to “Survive the Winter” by entering to win a five-night stay at the all-inclusive Moon Palace Jamaica Grande and two VIP tickets to see the rock band Survivor perform at the resort on February 25, 2017.

Bostonians can enter to win on the resort’s Facebook page, which includes roundtrip airfare, free transfers and a $500 credit for two additional winners, courtesy of Delta. Enter by Friday, February 17.

This new route is part of Delta’s larger efforts to enhance Boston service including expanding its domestic and international destinations, as well as offering first class on every flight. In summer 2017, the airline will operate over 90 peak day departures from Boston, with daily service to 21 different cities and Saturday-only service to five cities.


My 5 Travel Goals for 2017


Credit: Michael Mueller/Creative Commons


Happy New Year! I don’t really create New Year’s resolutions, but more and more I’m trying to set some goals to complete over the course of the year. Now with travel being an important facet of my life, I’ve been thinking about what goals I would want to accomplish during 2017. So far I’ve got two that I’ve decided on, and three in the works, so here are my 5 main travel goals for 2017.

  1. Try staying in an AirBNB or other kind of apartment rental. Except for spending a weekend at a hostel, I haven’t stayed a reservation in non-hotel accommodation yet. Maybe it’s due to slight worries about staying in a rental place (P.S. don’t read these types of horror stories) or just figured that a hotel lets me avoid dealing with any serious concerns. Yet for a conference I’m attending this summer in D.C., I decided to give AirBNB a shot due to the location of the property being super close to the conference center and being half the cost of a week stay in a conference-sponsored hotel. So fingers crossed and probably many email Qs sent to the apartment holder.
  2. Better budgeting/spending. Those who know me well get that I like to buy items while traveling – souvenirs, mementos, neat finds, even gifts for family and good friends. Yet, due to a budget that keeps changing, it’s best that I stop doing so (okay, maybe just one thing). I’m pretty good about trying to buy local, in terms of checking where a product is made from or shopping from markets or direct manufacturers. My biggest issue is when my heart gets set on something, and my head tells me it might be better to buy it and bring it home than not to and wonder about it later (hence my wishful thinking on regretting to buy a kimono in Japan last year). So instead of shelling out cash – and definitely avoiding pulling out plastic – I’m going to either set a stricter limit of what I buy or discipline myself in realizing that what I spend will have to come out of something else (eek, meals or attractions).
  3. Getting more comfortable with adventure travel. As a kid who was often picked last for teams in gym class, playing sports has never been my forte. Sometimes my work assignments have me scheduled to do more adventure-style travel, too. I’ve had to pass up on water activities because I’m not a strong swimmer, and I’ve (probably unnecessarily) freaked out over doing ziplining and even rappelling (both of which involve experts leading us through every step and checking our equipment). In hindsight, I’m glad that I did ones that brought me out of my comfort zone, and I also realize that I’m probably holding myself back from trying new things. Even if I suck at them, at least I know that I tried.
  4. Experimenting more with photo and video. 2017 will mark the 20th anniversary of starting out my career in writing/media (wow!) but a lot has changed in my field that time. Even with travel, good writing is still appreciated but nowadays the game of storytelling keeps changing. A video segment of a destination totally provides a different perspective that the written, even spoken, word. And photography also has much to tell. A while ago, I won a GoPro Hero in a raffle and have to get on using it. I also want to invest in a good camera that permits good pics and video taking (if you have a recommendation, I would love to hear it), because it’s fun to learn and can provide some extra work.
  5. De-cluttering big time. This goal doesn’t seem like it fits on a travel list, but probably for the past 10-15 years I’ve accumulated a lot of stuff (from apartment living, clothing bought for special occasions/office work, a hobby of attending book signings, a revitalized interest in reading, and that damn site called eBay) that cost me not just money but also space, time, and, in some cases, emotions. To help me save on future expenses, I’ve been trying to reshop my closet for clothes I can reuse and perhaps give to charity like tag sales or libraries or maybe sell some items for a few bucks.


So, tell me what your goals are for 2017.


JetBlue Goes Retro With Palm Springs Service

Here’s another e-mail bag item. Off and on, I get news about airlines opening pop-up shops to celebrate new routes or developments. The latest one to do so, I hear, is JetBlue.

Today and tomorrow, November 11 and 12, JetBlue will celebrate the revival of its seasonal service to Palm Springs by going all out retro. The carrier has opened up a temporary Time Travel Agency in New York City’s SoHo district that transports visitors back in time with a Mod Mid-century feel. Find decor and service reflecting this Golden Age of Flight (probably sadly missed) and get the chance to win some swell prizes too.

The address for this Time Travel Agency is at 138 Wooster Street. It’s open Friday, November 11 and Saturday, November 12, from noon to 8 p.m. Sounds groovy.