My Blog List

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Kimpton Hotels Refunds Airline Checked Bag Fees

You can pay $25 or more to check a bag on an airline. .  Kimpton Hotels will give you cash back to offset airline baggage fees.  Simply show proof of an airline baggage charge when you check in at any Kimpton Hotel in the country, and they'll issue a room credit for one bag, up to $25.  You gotta love 'em for it!

Kimpton Hotel's "We've Got Your Bag" promotion


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Marriage - US Airways & American Airlines

Early on Valentine's Day morning, after nearly a year of dating, US Airways and American Airlines announced they will merge their huge families and corporate structures.

Photo courtesy of Reuters

  • The combined airline will be called American Airlines and will use the recently re-branded     American Airlines AA.
  • Once completed the new airline will be the world's largest carrier  with 94,000 employees, 950  planes, offering 6,700 daily flights to 336 destinations in 56 countries. It will have eight major hubs with a total revenue of nearly $39 billion
  • The new airline will be affiliated with the One World Alliance
  • The company will be headquartered in Dallas-Fort Worth and will maintain a  corporate and operational presence in Phoenix
  • Customers will not see any changes to their existing travel reservations.
  • Travelers will continue to book each airline independently until the merge has passed all legal and financial hurdles with the Bankruptcy Court and the Department of Justice.
  •  Until the merger is complete, each company will maintain its current loyalty programs (US Airways – Dividend Miles and American Airlines – AAdvantage®).        
  • For the most updated information on the proposed merger visit  

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Fat Tuesday in Sweden

Fika is the Swedish word for coffee break.  If you were playing a word association game, you're forgiven if Sweden wasn't the first thought you connected with coffee. But strong coffee and sweet pastries, especially cinnamon rolls, eaten with friends, are an important part of Swedish culture. Afternoon chats with friends at cafes are especially enjoyed during the long dark winter months. 

Semlor, photo courtesy of 

On Shove Tuesday also known as Fat Tuesday or simply the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, cinnamon rolls are replaced with Semlor or Semla.  These pastries are unique to the Nordics.   As you might expect from the name, they were originally made from semolina  wheat.  The buns are made from wheat and Cardamon. Cardamon is a spice that I love, unfortunately it isn't all  that common in the US, but it's very popular in Norway, Sweden, and the Arabia peninsula.  In Scandinavia it is often used in cakes and breads, in the Middle East it's also added to coffee.  

Semlor is a cardamon-spiced bun which the top has been cut off and the insides scooped out, it's then filled wit a mix of the scooped out bread crumbs, almond paste or raspberry jam and topped with whipped cream or powered sugar.  Look for the recipe on 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Preservationists Give Corbin Building a New Life

Standing on the corner of Broadway and John Street, the Corbin Building built in 1888 is undergoing a Restoration. Scheduled for demolition until preservationists intervened, the Corbin Building will be incorporated into the new Fulton Street Transit site.

Built by its namesake Austin Corbin, who combined the Long Island rail lines into today's Long Island Railroad, the building was designed by architect Francis Hatch Kimball who also designed the Empire State Building,  the Brooklyn Montauk Club, Reading Terminal, and Garrick Theatre among many other buildings.
I was standing on John Street and what struck me was the number of arched windows.  I discovered that the Corbin Building is unique for its time because Kimball used brick arches as an enduring structural support below grade and as a device to create a fairly column free office space on the upper floors.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Freedom Tower views in February2013

Last week I had one night in Manhattan and stayed at the  Millenium Hilton  
  across from the Freedom Tower. My window on the 37th floor overlooked the construction site.  It was a cold, crisp, and very windy night and the view of the site made me thoughtful. I said a prayer of thanks for my family and everything that we have and the things and events that enabled me to be looking out the window that night.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

If you check a bag, you need to have it weighed.  Working in a grocery store in high school, I remember how the scales weren't always calibrated - people pulling on them, kids swinging on them. The baggage scales at airports get an even bigger workout, staff stepping on them, kids weighing themselves, all shapes and sizes of bags being thrown on them.

Jerry Butler, with the Standards Division of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, confirms at that airport scales can't always be trusted. "They will get off because people are dropping 50-pound bags on that thing hundreds and hundreds of times a day," Butler said.

If hes going to check a bag for an upcoming trip, DH always weighs himself on our bathroom scale, then gets on again holding his suitcase. The difference is, of course, the weight of the bag. We've never had over weight bags so haven't run into the problem of paying for excess baggage, but I've seen other people   asking the airline rep to weigh their bags on another scale. Like the produce scales in your grocery store, the baggage scale should start at zero. Paying for checked bags is expensive, at least make sure that the weight of your bags is correct before you  hand over that credit card.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Airline Ancillary Fee Revenue or What it Costs to Check Bags

The airlines reported $14,816,370,067 in ancillary fee revenue for the period July 2011 - June 2012. Ancillary fees include baggage fee, extra legroom, premium seat selection and on-board food and services.  This averages about $50 per passenger on Quantas, $34 on Allegiant, and $23 on Flybe.  The bulk of this is of course checked bag fees.  

Representatives at JFK Airport say that one of the best selling items in the airport is luggage. People pack too much into their one suitcase and are over the weight limit. It's often cheaper to check two lighter bags than one heavy bag.

The airlines change fees fairly regularly and if you're like us, looking for the lowest fare, and with no allegiance to any airline, meaning no gold/platinum status, you're going to pay something for a checked bags.  If you regularly check bags,  are the type to purchase a ticket for a $50 saving,s think about what the airline is charging for a checked bag before you click the purchase button.

We  like to go to the website below from Fare Compare.  It does a very good job of going into specifics on baggage fees and allowances.. They also include details on several int'l airlines.  This page was updated on Jan. 25th.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Guinness Storehouse Photography Conest

If you've been to the Guinness Storehouse, and were smarter than me and took a camera, Guinness would like to see your photos. They are sponsoring a photography contest with some nice prizes awarded monthly. So you have a good chance of winning.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Become a Guinness Ambassador

Have you already booked or are you in the process of booking for The Gathering, the year long Irish Homecoming celebration?
James Gate Guinness Brewery, Dublin

 If you are, you're likely planning a trip to the Guinness Brewery in Dublin.  Consider  registering as  a Guinness Ambassador.  Guinness is offering free admission and a free pint to everyone that registers.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Montreal Canadien's at the Bell Center

 Having not been to a professional hockey game in some years, I really enjoyed the total experience at the Bell Center. 

 The game, the players, the music, the atmosphere, the fans....nothing is like watching a hockey match in person, and in Montreal.   CP Rail is one of the team/arena sponsors and when the Canadians' scored a goal the music started,  lights flashed, and on the first tier marquee a CP Rail Train went around.  The energy from the fans could have lit up the arena.

 Erik Cole scored the first goal in 2013 for the Canadiens, and rookies Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk both scored two points each- and the crowd of course went wild. Gallagher is 20 and Galchenyuk is 18!  

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Guinness before the Storehouse

About five years ago we attended a corporate event at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.  We started downstairs with a tour, and being history buffs enjoyed learning about how the Guinness family started the company.

We walked on through looking at the sepia photos of the brewery and Dublin in the 18th century as well as the old brewing equipment.  We learned how technology has improved the process but that they still only use the best barley, hops and yeast and water from the Wicklow Mountains.  Being a logistics guy, DH enjoyed the film on cooperage and how Guinness has been transported around the world for the last two hundred plus years.

We worked our way to the top of the Storehouse and the event at the Gravity Bar were we had 360 degree panoramic views of the Dublin City night sky.  The bartenders gave demonstrations on how to pull a pint and there was of course, traditional Irish music. The food, drink, and Craic  were mighty.

I didn't have a camera that night so I have no photos of us together to share. But I have an old photo of me in a tee-shirt that I bought in Dublin, way before Guinness opened the Storehouse to the public.

If you aren't a fan of stout, Diablo who owns Guinness also owns several other Irish beers and spirits - all available at The Gravity Bar - among them Smithwicks; the non-alcoholic beer - Caliber - which was a favorite of my father in law;  Bushmills - which was my Dad's choice, as well Bailey's.  Still waiting to hear if they are working on a Gluten Free beer.

Nothing like a hockey game in Montreal

Tuesday night I had the good fortune of attending a   hockey game at the Bell Center in Montreal, Montreal Canadians vs. Winnepeg Jets,  with some work friends.

Montreal Canadians vs. Winnepeg Jets Jan 29, 2013

Way back, before kids, when we lived in NYC, we used to go pretty regularly to Ranger's games in Madison Square Garden. I think that good tickets back then were less than $20. Something a young couple could afford.  We've been to a few in the thirty years in between but not too often,  and it reminded me how much I enjoyed it, especially when there is a fan base that really knows the sport.  It was hockey in Canada! My friends and I had good seats about thirty rows back from the goal.  I wish I had worn a red coat - I was one of the very few people that wasn't wearing the team colors.

The Montreal fans all in red