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Updated: 07/18/02

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Thursday, 18 July, 2002

Where have I been? Nowhere, but it's been very hectic and I haven't gotten the chance to write this week. So, brief updates:

Jennifer - No baby yet. She went out on maternity leave last Friday, and her due date was Saturday the 13th. I had a dream about her on Monday night that she and her dad were in a black SUV going to the hospital and she was driving. I called her the next morning and got the answering machine and left a message describing my dream and saying that I hoped it meant she was busy having the baby. She didn't call me back all day, so we all figured that she must be at the hospital.

The next morning she called and explained that she was at her parents' house and got back too late to call. But the strange thing was that her parents had just gotten a new SUV that day and she and John bought their old one - a BLACK Durango - and she had been driving it to get the registration changed that day.


Party Hearty. I finished my invitations today - I'm hosting a party in August for Ellen and Andrew's engagement. It would be nice if THE HOUSE was done, but. . .

Speaking of THE HOUSE, they finished putting in the blue stone floor in the den! The blue stones and Belgian block granite cobblestones were part of a road that ran through the middle of the warehouse, dating back to when it was a stable. We salvaged them and they laid them as the den floor this week. I'm going to see it tomorrow, but Richard says it looks wonderful. It will be great with the radiant heat in the wintertime - I'll only need to turn it on for a little while each day and the stones will retain the heat.

My big project this week was figuring out how to get me, Mark and Gary Business Class tickets to PNG next year without spending a gazillion dollars. So - looking at my frequent flyer miles, I investigated every possible scenario and here's how it ended up:

I have 220,000 miles on British Airways - yikes! One of their "partner" airlines is Cathay Pacific, with whom I can get two free round trip Business Class tickets from New York to Singapore for 180,000 miles. We will then buy a full fare Business Class ticket and split the cost. We still have the flights from Singapore to PNG and back, but at the end of the day, it works out to about $600 each to upgrade to Business for the 30 hour trip (each way) to and from Singapore.

[Believe me, after the first TEN HOURS, I was willing to pay twice that!]

But researching this has been an enlightening experience. There are unbelieveable deals out there, but you have to look for them, understand which airlines partner with which other airlines, hotels, and rental car agencies, and work at keeping your accounts updated. Sometimes, using your miles with an airline to get a free ticket with them will cost more miles than getting a free ticket on with one of their partners. That is the case with British Air - it costs 180,000 miles to fly Cathay Pacific compared to the 250,000 it would take to fly British Air, even though it is their mileage program.

Keep your eyes open for special partner deals and promotions. While I was looking for tickets, I found that British Airways was running a promotion throughout 2002 - they'll give you one thousand miles when you rent a car through Avis, up to a maximum of six rentals. Now, I rent a car a couple of times a month - through Avis - and didn't realize it. The good thing is, I can claim it for past rentals, so I just added 6,000 miles to my account and I only had to fill out an on-line form.

Search many websites to find fares. And if you are dealing with a carrier from another country, check to see if they have websites designed for specific countries or regions. Cathay Pacific has a main site, and then sites tailored to the regions they serve. When I priced up a Business Class ticket on the main site, the price was $7,800! But when I went to their US site and priced the same flights, the cost was only $5,400.

[Gee, I wonder which one she'll pick?]

I also did Cathay Pacific a favor by doing this. When I pulled up the same itineraries on the two sites, I noticed that there were differences in the flight times. Not huge, at most an hour and a half, but that could make the difference between making and missing a flight. I sent them a note explaining my concern and they wrote back and said that they had checked their program and it was running just fine. Maybe I didn't realize that the US site listed flights on a twelve hour clock (a.m./p.m.) versus the twenty-four hour clock used on the main site?

[Duh - no, that's not it.]

So I wrote back and thanked them for their response, but no, the two sites are showing different schedules. I gave them the specific flights and time differences. Shortly thereafter I received a note from a supervisor thanking me for letting them know this and apologizing for the inconvenience. They were sending my comments to their website managers to have them figure out why there were differences.

[Note to self: book flight NOW before they fix it.]

~ ~ ~

Quote du jour:

"The saddest thing I can imagine is to get used to luxury."

Charlie Chaplin (1889 - 1977) English actor, director, composer

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