...constantly searching to find the best travel deals and places to visit. A never-ending quest for adventure!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

In Auckland: The Food

We had the opportunity to sample some fine cuisine while in the Auckland region.  Here are some of the highlights we had across our stay:

Depot: One of the top-ranked restaurants on Tripadvisor, Depot did not disappoint.  Freshly cooked food with fantastic service made this visit memorable.  The wine list was choice and we really enjoyed the ability to pass small plates and sample a variety of options.  Can't wait to visit here again on a future trip.

One Tree Grill:  More of a fine dining establishment, the food was very flavorful though a bit more pricey.  I really enjoyed being able to choose items via iPad where you could see the preparation and what options were in picture.  Parking was an adventure since it's in a busy neighborhood but I liked the atmosphere.

Hell:  Yes, we actually tried this place and it was excellent. The pizza menu alone was one of the more creative I've seen.  Check it out (and marvel at the flavors)!

Elliot Stables: Another notable location in downtown Auckland, Elliot Stables offers a variety of choices for dining with one central seating location.  You can hop from place to place depending on your preference and they deliver right to your table.  We tried Burg'z - no complaints!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Overhead bin access for a fee on United?

Earlier this week I saw a post about United starting to charge for overhead bin space, and I couldn't resist the urge to do some research to verify.  Turns out this is part of their new Basic Economy ticket structure that will soon be implemented (if not already in select markets).  From the United hub:

Basic Economy fares include:

  • Automated seat assignments will be given at check-in. Passengers will need to acknowledge when making a multi-seat purchase that seating together is not guaranteed.
  • Carry-on bags are limited to one personal item, unless the customer is a MileagePlus® Premier® member, primary cardmember of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card, or Star Alliance™ Gold member. Passengers with disabilities will be able to carry-on mobility aids and other assistive devices.
  • There will be no voluntary ticket changes except as stated in the United 24-hour flexible booking policy.
  • MileagePlus program members will earn redeemable award miles; however they will not earn Premier qualifying credit (miles, segments, or dollars), no lifetime miles, and no contribution to four segment minimum.
  • Customers will not be eligible for Economy Plus or premium cabin upgrades.
  • Customers will board in the last boarding group (currently Group 5) unless a MileagePlus Premier member, primary cardmember of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card, or Star Alliance Gold member.
  • Basic Economy fares can't be combined with regular economy fares or partner carriers.

What isn't changing with Basic Economy fares:

  • Economy seating: Customers with Basic Economy reservations will be seated in the United Economy® cabin, which remains unchanged.
  • Checked baggage: Checked baggage policies remain the same as for our regular United Economy fares, and baggage benefits for MileagePlus Premier members, and primary cardmembers of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card and Star Alliance Gold members still apply.
  • Inflight options: Onboard food, beverage and entertainment options remain unchanged.
  • Award miles: As a MileagePlus program member, customers will still earn redeemable award miles.

Friday, December 2, 2016

In Auckland: The Stay

I've decided to break up the time in Auckland into several posts covering the place we stayed, restaurants and food we ate, and other things we saw.  Normally I'd write this all in chronological order per day, but I figured it might be easier to try something different since we were onsite at each place for a few days.

To start, I just want to share how incredible the Airbnb location was for our stay.  I've really had nothing but great experiences using the site and highly encourage everyone to give it a try if you're looking to experience life beyond a typical hotel.  In this case we chose a place outside of the city limit, near the coast, and in part of the rainforest area of the north island.  We couldn't beat the low price and option to see a bit more of the country.

I'll let the pictures tell the tale:

We had absolutely no complaints - Dave and Kim were excellent hosts and available at any time to answer questions and make recommendations.  Included in the room were a small fridge, coffee/tea, utensils and plates, and access to a washer.  Since we had our rental car we could come and go as we pleased without interrupting them.  With the town of Titirangi nearby, we were able to get food and bring it back to eat at our place.

One feature of the room/cabin is the outdoor adjoining bathroom/shower.  With the weather in the 70s and 50s at night, it wasn't a problem to walk out onto the deck.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

LAX-AKL: Pleasant experience in AA 787 Business Class

Movies, food, drink... couldn't have asked for a better or smoother flight to Auckland.  We boarded LAX early and found our seats in row 2.  After a short taxi we were airborne and dinner was served. I opted to try the steak with potato and salad which was flavorful and not tough in the least.  Sleep soon followed and the 13.5 hours flew by before breakfast and landing preparations were underway.

After a short line to confirm we weren't bringing anything bad into NZ, we exited the airport to track down our rental car. For only $90 I hoped the deal lived up to the hype.

Gratefully, the Holiday Auto person was quick to arrive and pick us up - after a short orientation we were off to find our Airbnb hosts!  Driving on the left side of the road came back to me quickly and the views were awesome as we drove through the city and out into the country. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

PHL-LAX: Drama to start

Nothing like a little drama to start the trip. Thankfully, it was nothing directly having to do with me (though it did occur in my row).

 As we prepared for departure, the gentlemen in my exit row (10A) decided to make a fuss about something you should never joke about on the plane: the safety briefing. As the flight attendant started it as normal, about halfway through she started to cry and did everything possible to keep it together.  The reason for crying was unknown. As she tried to get the attention of Mr. 10A to pay attention, he blew her off at the start and then grudgingly said yes at the end before she went up to the front of the plane. A few minutes after, another flight attendant came and apologized, asking if we were ok after our briefing acknowledgment.  Mr. 10A said no - he wasn't and wanted the full briefing. She started in again and he insisted on having it complete or else he would complain.  She made all of us actually hold a briefing card and went through the entire info. When compete he also insisted that he know the reason for the crying before he would acknowledge the process.  The attendant asked if he was going to be a problem and he said no.  Apparently that wasn't good enough. The captain came on, telling us we would be delayed a few minutes for a 'customer service issue' and would be putting the jet bridge back.  The CSR agent came on and asked Mr. 10A to deplane with her. He said nothing, grabbed his things, and left the plane. A short time after the door was closed and we departed for runway 27.  Later I found out there had been a problem on the jetbridge with the same person and it supposedly carried over. Not sure what tripped him off but he was a jerk and deserved to get kicked off for how he was treating the FA's. They apologized profusely though everyone in our row was supportive.  Coincidently I overheard him on the phone as we boarded talking about how he had just flown in from Italy and picked this specific flight so he wouldn't have to drive in LA traffic when we landed.   Weird.

 Otherwise an uneventful and smooth flight.  That is until the lead flight attendant figured out our itinerary and came back to offer me some prosecco in celebration of the trip. Prozt!