Saturday, December 19, 2009

Why I'm loyal to Hilton HHonors

As I max out the Q4 Hilton promotion I reflect on why I continued to stay at Hilton properties after requalifying for Diamond VIP, the top tier.
  • There is a Hampton everywhere I go. I go places such as St. Joseph, MO, New Albany, IN, and others like that. The Hampton Inn is the only hotel among Hilton, Marriott, Starwood, and Hyatt. Many of the places I go have Holiday Inns, but I only stay there if nothing from the other chains is there.
  • I like the Hilton chain bedding. I always bring my own toiletries so those don't win me over, but I care about bedding. I try not to think about how often the duvet gets washed, but I'm a cold person and the 3 tiny sheets that Fairfield Inns and Courtyards (both by Marriott) try to pass as adequate bedding during winter in Iowa just don't cut it for me. I have never had a cold night at any Hilton brand I've stayed at. I'm constantly tempted to buy a Hampton Inn bedding set, but I'm not sure if I could keep it as white as they do.
  • This week I stayed at a Hilton property instead of a Marriott property because I had no shot at Gold with Marriott at this point (25 nights from Gold) and I just needed 1 stay to complete the 12 Q4 stays to get 75,000 points. 75,000 points are nothing since Hilton points are the peso of hotel points, but I just wiped out my balance recently so every point helps.
  • Most importantly though, this game to me is all about using the points. Points are only valuable when cashed in just like I used to tell my brother than a quarter is only a quarter unless you have an offer for more. I have redeemed many Hilton HHonors points over the years. Some places a Hilton is one of many locations to choose from in the city. In places like Charleston, SC the Embassy Suites is much better than any Starwood property in the city. The latest feat is using points to stay at a conference. At first there was no availability during the actual conference, then it opened up and I managed to use a discounted redemption rate for VIPs.
Would I tell someone at the checkin counter that Hilton has great promos? Doubtful, but it does meet my needs. Although everyone on Flyertalk seems to love Starwood and Hyatt, I have chosen Hilton.

Friday, December 18, 2009

US busiest airports

The top 10 busiest US airports

This list could double as the list of airports I avoid. Although I frequently connect in ATL and ORD out of necessity, I try to never connect in NYC airspace. It's just too risky.

Even if the flight is technically "on time" it may still be late. One time I was flying out of JFK on Delta. The flight was already 45 minutes late for boarding. Then when we finally pushed back the pilot announced we were #45 in line for take-off! I was glad I was on a direct flight because there is no way I could have made most connections after that much of a delay.

United does seem to like hubs prone to delays with SFO, ORD, and IAD all making the list, but at least UA is smart enough to avoid NYC airspace.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Another year coming to an end

This year I'm in pretty much the same boat I was in last year except on the rental car front.
  • Airlines: still 1P with United and Gold with Delta. Hit 75,000 and 60,000 respectively
  • Hotels: still Diamond with Hilton and Silver with Marriott. Lost status with SPG, but only because that was conferred from a credit card and I shifted my spending to Hilton AMEX.
  • Rental cars: Avis First *ahem* I mean Last. National got up to Executive Aisle and I made 5 star with Hertz, but I haven't rented with Hertz since then.
In a couple weeks it all resets to 0 and the race begins again.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New airport application for iPhone

GateGuru has launched a new application for the iPhone to act as a guide through airports.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

What's in my backpack?

The movie "Up in the Air" came out limited release December 4th and I finally made it to a limited release city so of course I had to go see it. I was in Toronto and just a couple stops from the Varsity Cineplex so I looked up the show times and got there in plenty of time since at the time it was the only theatre in the country showing the movie.

In the movie George Clooney has designed his life to exclude all attachments. He has no mortgage, no friends, and barely talks to his family. He does motivational speeches advocating this lifestyle. When I see this I know I am similar. Although I technically have a relationship and some friends, I have been aggressively cutting people out of my circle if they bring too much baggage. This situation could happen even with non frequent flyers, but hopping from city to city doesn't help the situation. Out of sight, out of mind, ya know!

Do I really want to maintain this lifestyle for years? who knows...