A good ol’ fashioned travel diary

I was on the road this past week, which was really fucking convenient, given that this blog blew up like never before, and I was too busy all day to do anything about it. I was even getting mentioned on Twitter, which was exciting (I’ve been on Twitter for almost a decade and I don’t know if I’ve ever been mentioned before). But I was stuck in a trade show booth shilling travel accessories, so I couldn’t really get involved. To make matters worse, I was as sick as I’ve been in years, which started to make me wonder if the whole thing was one sustained fever dream. I do have some observations from my week on the road that you might be interested in, though:

  • What a good week for me and IHG. I booked three rooms at the prestigious Candlewood Suites SLC Airport, and I LOVE that IHG gives me the points for all the rooms, even if two were for my coworkers. I wish airlines would do this with multiple flights. Even though extended stay hotels only award half the points, I’ll still do pretty well across three rooms, especially when you include welcome amenities for each room. Then, I missed my flight last night due to the trade show operations contractor fucking me, so I booked a last-minute room at the new Holiday Inn Express in downtown SLC, which also got me to five nights in the 2017 Accelerate promotion. (Just out of curiosity, have any of you ever worked with a company called “Freeman” in your line of work? I suppose they aren’t any better or worse than any gigantic logistics/operations company, but I still shudder whenever I know I’ll have to deal with them.) Anyway, in one week, I hit four of six Accelerate targets (book once and stay once, book once in January, stay 5 nights, and pay for a stay with the IHG card).
  • I’ll spare you the rote hotel reviews, but both of these places were pretty nice if you’re in SLC on a budget. I had extremely low expectations of the Candlewood, but it was perfectly serviceable, and the bed was surprisingly comfortable. The Holiday Inn Express was nice too – it has adopted the recent trend of low/mid-range hotels swapping out bland hotel fixture generica with cheap but clean-looking “modern” setups. It wouldn’t be my top choice in downtown SLC, since there is a Hilton and a Marriott both within a stone’s throw and a Sheraton a few blocks away, and all three of those are objectively nicer. I had to shoehorn an extra room night into my budget for this trade show, though, so price was a factor, and the Holiday Inn was at least 25% less than the other hotels. Plus, and this is a HUGE plus, Papa John’s delivers here until midnight. Here’s a picture of a room from IHG’s website:

holidayinnslc

  • I expected to pay a change fee and fare difference to change my flight with Delta, but I didn’t have to. I’m still not sure why, and I was in too much of a fog last night to figure it out. I called around 30 minutes before my flight to say that I would miss it, and that I wanted to be on the first flight the next day. The fare difference between what I paid and the next day’s flight was around $60, and the normal change fee is $150, so I had my Amex platty ready to cover what I assumed would run me $210. Then the phone rep informed me that it was a straight-across swap, so I didn’t owe anything more. The only thing I can think of is that my original flight had been moved 12 minutes later at some point, so maybe they waived the change fee because of that? Feel free to weigh in here, since it would be nice to know what was actually happening here, in case something like this happens again.
  • If I had to choose between United and Delta first class on an A320, I’d pick United in a heartbeat (assuming the latest products of course). I think Delta’s looks snazzier with the quilted leather and everything, but the seats are pretty hard, and they’re surprisingly close together. Especially in the bulkhead, Delta gives you around three inches between your nose and the wall, whereas United has room for days. I also like the storage compartment on the side of the United seats – this is small but really useful in practice. Delta’s non-refreshed A320’s are fine – I actually find the seats more comfortable than the new ones, but again, the pitch is pretty tight.
  • I had an experience on the flight out that I had never seen before. The inbound flight arrived, passengers deplaned, and while everyone was standing around waiting to board, one of the flight attendants walked up to the desk and announced that it was insanely turbulent over California and Nevada and that if anyone wanted something to eat or drink in-flight, they would have to buy it from the terminal. They did try to serve people on the flight, but it seemed pretty dicey, since most of the time they ended up returning to a jump seat while bracing themselves against the overhead bins.
  • I got to peer into the new Escape Lounge in Oakland, but I couldn’t go in, since the lounge isn’t part of Priority Pass yet. I hope it will be soon, because Oakland airport isn’t shitty enough for me to pay $45 to sit in a lounge whose only view is onto a bunch of Southwest planes.
  • I spent a lot of time in the Delta Skyclub in SLC today, and GOD DAMMIT DELTA JUST GET SOME NORMAL FUCKING COOKIES ALREADY. Every damn time, they have some fancy mishmash of nuts and toffee and shit, and I wonder why they can’t just put out a chocolate chip cookie and be done with it. However, I do credit the lounge for playing CNN rather than Fox News, so that was nice. The lounge was pretty crowded, although not excessively so, and as the only option in SLC, it’s pretty nice. I was going to take a picture, but then I got distracted by something and I forgot. Oops.

Okay, that’s my week. Oh yeah, there’s one last thing – the restaurant where the Amex concierge made me a reservation denied seating to a bunch of people before seating my coworkers and I, so I felt like a major big shot.

Thanks to all the new readers too! Hopefully this meandering post doesn’t have you reconsidering your decision to follow the blog. I’ll try to think of something more useful to post while I’m recuperating this weekend.

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