Tuesday, October 14, 2014

United Airlines Domestic First Class Food



I recently had the opportunity to fly four segments in United Airlines Domestic First Class in my quest to obtain Star Alliance Gold Status via Aegean Airlines.

Currently, this status can be achieved in one round trip flight, but that will change after November 1, 2014 due to the recent changes in the Aegean Miles & Bonus program.

The flights I took were Seattle to Houston; Houston to LaGuardia, New York; LaGuardia to Chicago O’Hare; and Chicago O’Hare to Seattle.

This post will only focus on the food served in first class.

Pre-Flight Berverage
Service on flights began with pre-flight beverage service.  I usually order a Diet Coke and water.

The Seattle to Houston flight was a morning flight which included breakfast service.

There was a Greek style yogurt, bowl of fruit, a cinnamon roll and I chose the “cheese” omelet with sausage.

Breakfast
Cinnamon Roll
The yogurt was good, the fruit fresh although some of the cantaloupe pieces were under ripe and crunchy.  The omelet did not taste like cheese, the “sausage” patty tasted like Jimmy Dean microwave sausage, the side dish was a mystery to me.  It contained vegetables, cheese and something gummy and barely edible held the whole thing together.  The cinnamon roll was warm but tasted undercooked and somewhat raw.

Warm Mixed Nuts
On the Houston to LaGuardia flight, which was an afternoon flight and arrived at night, service started with a small ramekin of warm mixed nuts which was very good.

Chicken Lunch
Lunch came with a salad which was fresh, very wilted canned green beans, a roll, chicken which wasn’t bone dry but severely lacking in flavor, and ratatouille that was akin to chunky tomato soup.

Oatmeal Cookie
Dessert included a warm oatmeal raisin cookie which was very good.

On the LaGuardia to Chicago O’Hare flight, this was another morning flight that included breakfast.

Breakfast Sandwich
Once again, there was a cup of Greek yogurt and a bowl of fruit.  There was an Egg McMuffin type sandwich whose cheese had congealed into a small ball on the side of the sandwich.  Needless to say the sandwich was barely edibile.

The Chicago O’Hare to Seattle flight was an afternoon flight that included lunch.

Steak Sandwich
There was a mushroom bisque which was somewhat lacking in flavor, a roll, a steak sandwich which was tolerable, and a white chocolate cranberry chip cookie.

The food served in domestic first class is pretty poor in general.  I would rate the main courses slightly worse than what you would get at a fast food restaurant like McDonald’s, Burger King or Carl’s Jr.

At least alcohol is complimentary and drinks were refilled fairly often.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Hilton Seattle Airport and Conference Center



The Hilton Seattle Airport and Conference Center provides a free shuttle to the hotel, which is located approximately 5 minutes away from the airport.

Upon entering the hotel, there is a large open lobby with a bar and restaurant to the right.

The front desk is located to the left.

Complimentary Water
I was quickly checked-in and given 2 bottles of water, which is a nice touch.

Lobby

The hotel lobby is large and open with a bar and restaurant to the right.  The d├ęcor is somewhat modern, but that all begins to change once you start walking to your room.

The hallways look like a cruise ship from hell.  Everything is rather dated.

Room 2219
Upon entering the room, the bathroom is located to the right.

Sink
There is a single sink with limited counter space.

Acrobatic Toilet
The toilet is so close to the wall, that one must consider chopping off their leg or be a member of Cirque du Soleil in order to use it, or sit sideways.

Shower/Tub COmbo
There is a shower/tub combo with fairly decent water pressure and excellent temperature control.

Coffee Maker
There is a small dresser that hold the coffee maker.

TV
There is another dresser that holds the TV.

Desk
The desk is small but functional.  More importantly are the well placed outlets.

Sitting Area
There are a pair of sitting chairs with an ottoman that take up quite a bit of space.

Bed
The bed is somewhat uncomfortable, but they do provide a plethora of pillows.

Dresser
The night stand between the beds also contain outlets, making it easy to charge your phone, iPad or other gadget.

Since I was here for a quick overnight stay, the hotel did the job.  The hotel is conveniently located next to the airport, and the shuttle service is prompt.

If needing to stay close to the airport this is an okay choice, but I’d rather stay in town if I had the time.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Fairfield Inn New York LaGuardia Airport/Astoria



After a long day of flying, I arrived at the Fairfield Inn New York LaGuardiaAirport/Astoria a little after 9:00 PM.  The complimentary shuttle is very nice and convenient, but I had to wait about 25 minutes and had to call the hotel to find out their schedule.

The hotel is only about 10 minutes from the airport in a residential area right off the freeway.

I had used an expiring free night certificate as room rates were about $200.  Since I was only going to be there for about 8 hours, I thought this was an exceptional use of the certificate.

The hotel lobby is very small with a small seating area and tiny mini-mart.  What is convenient is that there is a television with outgoing flight information for all carriers.

The front desk is to the right.  Check-in was quick, and the front desk agent was very friendly.  She provided with menus of several local restaurants that provided free delivery when I asked if there were any good restaurants in the area.

Rom 304
I was given a room on the top floor, #304, which was at the end of the hallway.

Upon entering the room, the bathroom is on the right.

Sink
The bathroom is somewhat small but has a long counter top with tons of space.

Shower/Tub
Toilet
There is a shower/tub combo with great temperature control but water pressure was a little low.

TV


Microwave & Fridge
There is a TV, microwave and fridge in the room along with a coffee maker.

Desk
The desk is somewhat small and I would have a hard time getting any work done with the limited space.

Chair
There is a chair in the corner which probably doesn’t get much use.

Bed

The bed is comfortable with plenty of pillows.

The great thing about the room is that there are outlets everywhere which is always appreciated.  I don’t know why all hotels can’t get light fixtures with outlets built into them.

Stunning View

I did wake up to this great view in the morning however.

Breakfast Area
I did not have time to partake in the complimentary breakfast, but for once the breakfast area was very calm and not crowded at all.  Most of the hotels that offer a complimentary breakfast appear as though a food fight is about to break like in Animal House.  It usually is a free for all situation.

The hotel is clean, close to the airport, and the free shuttle and complimentary breakfast are extra perks.  If I needed to stay close to the airport again, I would stay here again.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Ritz Carlton Ranch Mirage - Welcome Amenities



Stays booked through a Ritz Carlton Stars Agent usually come with some type of welcome amenity which can be food or beverage, or as I found out other types of gifts with numerous stays.

Amenities included:

Cashews
A bowl of cashews.

Cherries - 3 Ways
A plate of fresh cherries, dried cherries and a white chocolate and cherry candy.  The fresh cherries were ripe, sweet and juicy.  These were not bing cherries and the front desk staff did not seem to know what variety they were.

Travel Mug &Toffee
A coffee cup and toffee, which was a lot like Almond Roca.

Diary & Candle
A diary and Mango Tangerine candle.

Hat & Water Bottle
A water bottle and hat.
Wine Key & Stopper

A wine key and bottle stopper.

Candle & Bath Salts
Bath salts and another candle.

Telescope

A telescope, although I am not sure how useful this will be since I’m not a sailor.

Sweater
And a merino wool sweater.

The welcome amenity varied greatly.  My agent contacted me and asked for ideas of what I wanted since they were running out of ideas.  I told her that I wasn’t picky, so there were some amenities that will get a lot more use than others.

Besides the great Stars benefits, the welcome amenity is another great little bonus.