Monday, January 08, 2007

Charles Bove — Vin Mousseux de Qualite

This post was posted on my other site: on December 31, 2006.

Charles Bove — Vin Mousseux de Qualite

This is a Chenin Blanc-based sparkling wine from the Loire Valley. Although described as Brut, it is just a little bit sweeter than you would expect. It is refreshing, fruity, and delicious. Best of all, it is only about $10.00 a bottle — about a third of what you would pay for Champagne.

We will be using our Charles Bove to ring in the New Year. A Happy New Year to all!

I bought it at the Iron Bridge Wine Company. For their address, click

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Paris or London; Orbitz or Hilton or YTB?

Paris or London; Orbitz or Hilton or YTB?

I put this posting on my new site:

I am always shocked by how much it costs to be in London these days. With the dollar worth just a little more than fifty cents, everything seems to be so expensive. Even beer does not seem to be the bargain it was just a few years ago.

I was recently planning a trip, and wanted to stay the last night near an airport so I went to Orbitz ( to check out the price of the airport Hilton in Paris and the price of the airport Hilton in London. The result was not exactly surprising — London was much more expensive than Paris. The Hilton at Heathrow was $363 a night, and the one at the airport in Paris was $202. (I was booking for the night of 3rd March, 2007)

But the surprising thing about this exercise was when I decided to compare the rates offered by Orbitz with the rates at the Hilton site ( The Paris airport Hilton was only $130, and the London Hilton was $372.

While Orbitz seemed much higher than using the Hilton site, I did find the same rate at YTB. For the sake of full disclosure, the person who runs this business is a good friend of mine, a person that I have known for a number of years and would recommend very highly.
It really pays to shop around!

One other tip — look carefully at the rates. Hilton quotes the prices in pounds and euros. Getting that wrong could turn out to be an expensive mistake!

Finally, if you are staying at a Hilton, make sure you get points and miles. You don’t get many miles if you are staying just a night, but it can be a clever way of breathing new life into miles on an airline you don’t use anymore. (Miles expire after a certain period if there is no activity in the account.)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Singapore Airlines -- SQ 25 from New York to Frankfurt

Also posted on my new blog site --

Singapore Airlines runs several flights from the New York area to Singapore. There is a non-stop, SQ 21, which goes out of Newark on an Airbus (340-500), and also service from JFK on a Boeing 747-400, with a stop in Frankfurt. (Interestingly, both SQ21 and SQ22 run eastbound so the traveler on this route will go round the world without really stopping!)

All airline adventurers should at some stage of their lives experience the joys of flying one of the better Asian airlines (Cathay, Thai, Singapore, etc.). SQ 25 provides an opportunity for you to experience Singapore Airlines even if you are planning to spend your miles on a European trip.
Here is an example. I once wanted to travel from Washington to London using miles in my Mileage Plus account. The obvious way to travel would have been on any of United’s three non-stop flights from Dulles to Heathrow. As someone whose goal is to travel on as many airlines as possible, I decided to use United’s service from Dulles (IAD) to New York (JFK). I took SQ25 from JFK to Frankfurt (FRA), and then used Lufthansa to get from FRA to London (LHR). The price of this route in miles was the same as if I had taken the non-stop routing.

Next summer, I am going to use SQ25 again for a family trip to Athens. Using United miles my route will be Washington - New York - Frankfurt - Athens - Frankfurt - London - Washington. The last leg will be on United, but I could not avoid that if I wanted to spend a few nights in London on the return trip.

Mileage Plus seats are limited on SQ25 so the traveler really needs to make plans in advance. With careful planning, this is a good way of experiencing what is arguably the best airline in the world.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Using Delta Miles

The days of free travel are numbered. It is becoming more and more dificult to get miles; airlines want more miles for flights; and some airlines (USAirways and Delta, in particular) are changing the rules about how long miles can lie dormant before they expire.

With this in mind, I decided to use up my Delta miles on a trip to London. Booking using Delta airlines, it seemed as if I would have to take a very circuitous route to get to London. (From Washington, one route involved going from BWI to Atlanta to Cincinnati to London’s Gatwick airport, which is inconvenient for me.)

But there is an alternative. In the end I got a much better route — Washington to Paris to London for exactly the same number of miles on Air France. Plus that puts me into Heathrow. And, Air France still serves free drinks in Economy.

When you are using your miles, consider using an alternative carrier. Delta belongs to Skyteam, and you can use the Skyteam site ( to figure out what your options are. Delta alternatives include Alitalia and Korean. With United miles, you can fly on Swiss, Lufthansa, Singapore, Thai, and SAS!