California, Here I Come!

Yes, fellow travelers, it’s time to hit the road again. After a 2½ hour delay on the ground, AAC CPA and I are midway between the right and left coasts, winging our way via American Airlines to sunny Los Angeles.

There was no real explanation about why we were so delayed at JFK this morning. There was, apparently, a huge buildup of planes that were unable to take off. Yes, it was raining, just a bit, but is that any excuse? Geez, Louise.

AAC
AAC CPA settles into AA #1 bound for Los Angeles

So, we finally took off, libations were served (Bloody Mary’s, Tito’s on the side, please) which, for some inexplicable reason, were accompanied by biscotti. Where are my warm nuts??

Then there was a bruschetta omelet, accompanied by sausage, fresh melon and a biscuit. I was hungry, and it was tasty (enough).

Now I want to tell you about our itinerary for the next 11 days. We’ll be in Los Angeles – a much maligned town, if you ask me – for the next 4 days. Then we’re flying up to San Francisco and motoring to the wine country – Yountville (in the Napa valley), to be precise. After a few days in that paradise, we’re spending a long weekend in San Francisco. We’ve made this trip many times – it’s our annual west coast swing – and we couldn’t enjoy it more.

So what will we do for fun? There will certainly be a lot of eating; in fact, our dance card is filled every night with some very interesting dining establishments. I’ll tell you about them as we go along, but I’ll give you a little preview of our dinner tomorrow night:

We’re going to a place called Maude (“and then there’s Maude!”), which is this very hot restaurant in Beverly Hills. Helmed by chef Curtis Stone (“Top Chef” and “Around the World in 80 Plates”), the restaurant features a set multi-course menu that changes monthly. Each menu features one “star” ingredient: for June, it’s cherries. From what I’ve heard, we’re going to have a pretty fine experience.

Curtis Stone
Curtis Stone

DINING TIP: Maude

There will also be some culture on this trip. For instance, tomorrow morning, we’re going to LACMA (the Los Angeles County Museum of Art) to see one of two Mapplethorpe exhibitions which are currently on view in the Los Angeles area. (The other is at the Getty.) As Mapplethorpe’s art was somewhat divided into two camps – as I imagine the exhibitions will likewise be – it’ll be interesting to find out which one we’re going to get. Stay tuned.

Mapplethorpe-01
Mapplethorpe by Mapplethorpe

CULTURE TIP: Mapplethorpe at LACMA

We’ll be staying at our favorite local hotel, L’Ermitage, located on Burton Way in Beverly Hills – just a few short blocks from Rodeo Drive, in fact. When we were last there – almost exactly a year ago – the place was in the midst of a major renovation, which was completed some months ago. At that time, we were shown a model of the new guest rooms, and the hotel has stepped up its game in providing a luxe experience for its lodgers.

L'Ermitage

TRAVEL TIP: L’Ermitage

We’ve also made a pretty dramatic decision regarding our LA sojourn: for the 1st time ever, we’re not renting a car but, rather “Ubering” our way around town. We’ve had friends who say it’s the only way to go. Between car rental fees, valet parking and hotel parking charges, this has got to be a good deal, right?

So that’s our little trip in a nutshell. Now it’s time to watch a flick, so I’ll stop here. I’ll be back soon with reports on our travels. Keep an eye on this space and have a lovely day.

STOP THE PRESSES! AMAZING PROMOTIONS ON AMERICAN AIR AND BRITISH AIR

Greetings and Salutations! How is everyone today?

I just had to wake up at 6:00 AM today to tell you about another of my travel obsessions. Do you love to maximize your airline miles? Do you want to know about great deals and promotions that may save you beaucoup bucks? Does the prospect of finding deals that will place you in the front of the cabin make you tingle all over?

If so, you MUST check out The Points Guy. Their byline is “Maximize Your Travel”. I found them over the summer and I’ve been a faithful follower ever since and I’m not even kidding. I just have to say that they are amazing and you should drop everything and check them out right now.

TRAVEL TIP: The Points Guy

But I know we’re all very busy people so, to save your valuable time, I want to share with you two of their recent posts that may be of interest:

Their first tasty tidbit was posted just yesterday, and it seems the American Airlines is deeply discounting first class fares on its transcontinental service between from JFK to LAX or SFO (or versa vice, of course). When I say “deeply”, I’m talking about R/T fares as low as $1,198. May I just say that’s CRAZY???

You may already know that American introduced new equipment in 2014 that’s used on all nonstop transcon flights on these routes, the A321T. It’s a cute aircraft and AAC CPA and I have flown it several times, both in business and in 1st class. In fact, here’s AAC CPA settling in on a recent flight to the right coast:

Version 2

And here’s a better look at that 1st class seat:

AA 1st Class Seat

Nice, huh?

Says The Points Guy:

“All of these flights are eligible for AA’s lucrative bonus miles promo for premium-cabin travel, earning you up to 24,000 bonus miles on a round-trip. Additionally, as these are P fares, you’ll earn 2 EQPs per mile flown. Note that the cheapest fares to LAX are only available for Saturday-Saturday travel.” These fares are currently available from October through February.”

BTW, as of now, flights between JFK and SFO are running about $100 more.

So, if you feel like a flying to or from the coast and want to get an amazing deal from which you can travel in style, check out the link:

TRAVEL TIP: American Air First Class Promotion

The Points Guy also gave me a heads up on another fab promo regarding steeply discounted fares to Europe over the upcoming holidays. In fact, it’s THEIR fault that AAC CPA and I are returning to London during Christmas week. Darn them.

While several airlines offer these discounted fares, the best deal is actually a cross-promotion between British Air and AARP (and, no, you apparently don’t need to be – gulp – 50 to become an AARP member, in case you were wondering).

The Points Guy advises that:

“You’ll get the deepest discount on flights operated by British Airways or OpenSkies, since you can apply an additional 10% off coupon when you pay with a Visa card. Note that flights are also available on American Airlines, though the additional 10% discount won’t apply. First class is discounted as well — New York to London will run you $2,967 round-trip, for example.”

This promotion is available for departures either during Thanksgiving week or the latter half of December.

BA
Let’s fly to Europe for the holidays!!

In our case – and, yes, we are proud and out AARP members – I went right to the BA/AARP Cross Promotion link below and started playing with dates and flights. Just for fun, I priced business class flights over and 1st class flights on the return. In addition to the $400 per person AARP discount for booking the flights, we also had a lotta Avios miles (from British Airways) and, in exchange for chunk of them, we got a further $1,200 discount. The bottom line for the two of us was just about $4,000 for everything. Not bad, right?

And the cherry on the cake is that we’ll be in London for Christmas. How much fun is that?

TRAVEL TIP: British Air/AARP Holiday Promotion 

or, to get you directly to the AARP webpage to book your BA flights:

TRAVEL TIP: BA/AARP Cross Promotion

LESSON FOR TODAY: If you fly and have accrued miles or are looking for a great deal, The Points Guy is your man.