Travel

Florida Keys Islands Bucket List: 50 Things to Do in Key West & Beyond

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From Key Largo to Key West, a Florida Keys road-trip will be filled with some of the best bucket list things to do. The islands are undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in the country with adventurous activities, historical attractions and the best Key Lime Pie.

The post Florida Keys Islands Bucket List: 50 Things to Do in Key West & Beyond appeared first on Bucket List Journey | Travel + Lifestyle Blog.

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The Sad Backstory Of How Marriott Fired An Employee For Liking A Tweet

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As some of you may remember, at the beginning of the year a few companies found themselves in hot water for “disrespecting Chinese sovereignty.” One of the companies that was in trouble was Marriott. In a Mandarin language questionnaire that they sent to customers, they listed Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan as separate countries, which China views as disrespecting their sovereignty.

A Marriott spokesperson issued the following statement at the time regarding the situation:

“Marriott International respects Chinese sovereignty and its territorial integrity…We sincerely apologize for any actions that led to misunderstanding on the aforementioned stance.”

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Swiss Is Opening A New First Class Lounge In Zurich (And Adding First Class Car Transfers)

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In 2016, Swiss opened a new first class lounge at Zurich Airport, located in Terminal E. This lounge is spectacular, and it ranks number three on my list of the world’s 10 best first class airline lounges.

The lounge is incredibly elegant, features top notch a la carte dining, has a huge outdoor terrace with great plane spotting, and also has the most comfortable bedrooms available in any airline lounge.

Last March I wrote about how Swiss was planning on opening a second first class lounge at Zurich Airport, located in Terminal A. This is the Schengen area of the terminal, used for flights within Europe. Initially the new lounge was supposed to open by the end of 2017, but as is normal when it comes to airport construction, there have been some delays. However, we now have an opening date and more information on the lounge.

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How Many Delta Amex Cards Can You Apply For?

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Through April 11, 2018, we’re seeing increased sign-up bonuses on Delta’s co-branded American Express cards. The details of these offers are as follows:

— The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express & Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express are each offering 50,000 SkyMiles after spending $2,000 within three months, plus 10,000 additional SkyMiles after spending an additional $1,000 within the first six months, plus a $50 statement credit after making a Delta purchase within the first three months; the cards have $95 annual fees, which are waived for the first year
— The Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express and Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express are each offering 70,000 SkyMiles plus 10,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles after spending $3,000 within three months, plus a $100 statement credit after making a Delta purchase within the first three months; the cards have a $195 annual fee

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United Eliminates Quarterly Employee Bonuses, Spins It As A Positive

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Well, it’s not just frequent flyer devaluations that are spun as “enhancements.” Apparently the same is true of employee bonuses at United being eliminated in favor of a lottery system. The Chicago Business Journal reports that United President Scott Kirby has sent a memo to employees informing that their quarterly performance bonuses (of up to $300) are being replaced by a new program called “core4 Score Rewards.”

The new lottery system includes quarterly prize drawings, ranging “from $2,000 to $40,000, luxury cars, vacation packages, and a grand of prize of $100,000 awarded to one eligible employee per quarter.” This drawing will happen each quarter as long as United reaches at least one of their performance goals. While a $100,000 bonus might sound like a lot, keep in mind that United has about 88,000 employees, so this is very clearly a cost saving measure.

Here’s what Scott Kirby and a United spokesperson had to say about this change:

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What We Know About The Future Of The SPG Business Amex Card

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Through March 28, 2018, we’re seeing the best ever sign-up bonus on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express. The card is offering a sign-up bonus of 35,000 Starpoints after spending $7,000 within three months. We’ve never seen a bigger sign-up bonus on the card before, though we have seen similar bonuses in the past. However, this bonus has a lower minimum spend requirement than some of the offers we’ve seen in the past.

35,000 points may not sound like a lot, but Starpoints are the single most valuable points currency on a per point basis, in my opinion, and I value 35,000 Starpoints at ~$770. So if you don’t have this card and are able to apply for it, I’d highly recommend doing so.

One question I’ve received about this offer relates to the future of the SPG Business Amex, given Marriott’s takeover of Starwood. As of now Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest are being run as independent programs. Here’s what we know going forward:

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IHG Rumored To Be In Talks to Acquire Belmond

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We’ve seen a lot of consolidation in the hotel industry in the past few years. Marriott has taken over Starwood, IHG has taken over Kimpton, and Accor has taken over Fairmont, Raffles, And Swissôtel. While it sounds like this isn’t anywhere close to being finalized (and may not happen), The Times ran an interesting story this week about a potential acquisition for IHG. While the story is primarily about a short term drop in IHG’s stock due to the company not paying dividends to shareholders, there’s an interesting rumor in there as well:

“There were strong rumours yesterday that Mr Barr had held recent preliminary discussions with Belmond, the New York-listed luxury hotel and train operator formerly known as Orient-Express Hotels, although his insistence at last week’s results that any target would have to be a ‘small, asset-light’ brand makes a deal unlikely — unless he can do a back-to-back sale of Belmond’s assets.”

For those of you not familiar with Belmond, up until 2014 it was known as Orient-Express, though they rebranded at that point (and there’s an interesting backstory to the rebranding).

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Swiss Is Offering A Caviar Tasting In First Class (For A Limited Time)

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The international first class experience just keeps getting more and more over the top. With limits on how much better airlines can make their first class suites, they’ve largely turned to their soft product to differentiate themselves.

While some things are unnecessarily over the top and arguably gimmicks, that doesn’t mean they’re not at least worth mentioning. For example, I recently flew Singapore Suites and wasn’t just offered the typical choice of Dom Perignon or Krug, but this time around they were serving 2004 vintage Krug, which is insanely pricey.

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Weekly Review: March 3, 2018

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The first six weeks of the year were the busiest period of flying I’ve ever had, as I logged a crazy number of miles. Unfortunately that ended with me getting the flu a couple of weeks ago, though I’m finally fully recovered from that. I’ve been on the ground now for about a week and a half, which has been great, as I’m finally well rested. My next adventure starts this coming week, so stay tuned for that.

On the points & travel front, this week we saw a bunch of big new credit card sign-up bonuses, American released a good amount of international first class award availability, we saw a new safety video from Air New Zealand, and much more.

With that out of the way, here’s a recap of this week on the blog:

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CRAZY: $600 Roundtrip Business Class Tickets From Cairo To New York

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I’m not sure how useful this necessarily is, but it’s a damn good fare. Meridiana was recently rebranded as Air Italy, after Qatar Airways took over a 49% stake in the airline. The airline is getting an overhaul, and over the coming years will get 30 Boeing 787s, as Qatar Airways hopes to turn Air Italy into Italy’s national airline.

While Meridiana has flown from Naples and Palermo to New York for years (I even flew them last summer, and had a pleasant flight, despite them using an ancient 767 for the route), as of this spring the airline will be based out of Milan, and operate flights to New York and Miami.

At the moment they have some insane business class fares from Cairo to New York. Specifically, they have one-way business class fares of under $400, and roundtrip fares of $600. That’s crazy.

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