2017 represented my first full year at Travel Codex, and my first full year as a dad. Though it was a slow travel year overall, I think I did manage to make the most of my opportunities. In chronological order, here’s a recap of some of my more interesting travel tidbits for the year. Then, I’ll preview some of my plans for 2018.
United Polaris Business Class for Pizza and a Bagel
United soft launched its Polaris-equipped 777-300ER in February, with domestic service between San Francisco and Newark. While I wanted to make the debut flight, I settled for a random weekend getaway the first weekend of March. The Polaris cabin most definitely rates as a huge improvement over United’s existing Business Class product.
But I needed a reason to fly to New York the long way, right? So I headed out in the freezing cold to grab a pizza and a bagel.
Ashok’s First Beach Vacation
For now, we’re sticking to road trips when we travel with our young son. And so we headed out on our first long one, to Gulf Shores, Alabama, in April. He certainly enjoyed his first encounter with the beach in Louisiana.
Then, we enjoyed a quick stop in New Orleans on the way for sightseeing. Though honestly, we spent most of the time eating.
Finally, we made it to Gulf Shores, and enjoyed this view from our hotel-condo for a few days.
Flying to Portland for a Chicken Sandwich
If flying to New York the long way for pizza counts as silly, then this trip REALLY took the cake. Or, umm, the sandwich. I had a long obsession with Pine State Biscuits’ “The Reggie”, a fancy fried chicken sandwich. So I concocted a day trip to Portland to try it out.
While in Portland, I also made time for a whiskey flight at House Spirits Distillery. One of Priority Pass’ most unique options, cardholders can try the flight for free.
Southwest 737-MAX 8 Launch Flight
Since I live in Dallas, making this flight was a no brainer. Southwest scheduled a special run of the “Texas Triangle” to launch its shiny new MAX 8 airplane. A selfie with the CEO stood out as the highlight of this trip.
Why not the flights themselves? Unfortunately, the trip turned into #MAXFail after the brand new plane went tech at Houston Hobby. Oops.
Finally, a Taste of jetBlue Mint
Originally, I planned my jetBlue Mint flight for September, but Hurricane Irma messed up those plans. I rescheduled for November, this time flying from Los Angeles to Boston. But first, I snuck in another special treat – a cheap add-on in American’s 787-9 Business Class.
My Mint flight from Los Angeles to Boston really was quite good, much better than what you find on other domestic carriers. Too bad jetBlue has such a limited footprint in Dallas.
Cruising With the Kiddo
I haven’t written up this report yet, but after Thanksgiving, we headed out to sea with Ashok. He had a fantastic time aboard Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas.
Oh yeah, the adults had a pretty good time, too, celebrating a milestone birthday for yours truly.
Some Things To Look Forward to in 2018
Besides continuing my quest to sample every Texas Monthly Top 50 BBQ joint, I already have a few trips planned out. Some aspirational, others ordinary, but all promise to be lots of fun. And I’m sure we’ll squeeze in something else along the way.
New York to Los Angeles in Delta One
A goal of mine is to try each of the “premium” domestic transcontinental offerings. United’s “ps” and jetBlue Mint last year got me halfway there. I jumped on the short-lived Virgin Atlantic Delta One redemption deal and booked the New York – Los Angeles route. The hard product on the 767-400 receives mixed reviews, but still, I’m looking forward to trying it out.
New Orleans in Luxury
My wife celebrates a milestone birthday this year, and she really wants to spend a few days in New Orleans. Works for me – it’s a great city, and easy to get to from here. I’ve decided to surprise her with a really nice hotel stay that I think she’ll love. She reads this blog, so I can’t reveal it, but it’s a luxury brand I’ve wanted to try for a long time. You hotel sleuths out there can probably figure it out from this photo.
A Long Weekend Jaunt in Air France La Première
This is one trip I’ve hyped up in my mind to a ridiculous level. Let’s face it, it’s either going to be the most awesome experience ever, or I’m going to regret wasting the time and money. It probably is a waste of money. But some thing tells me the hype might actually verify.
My First Flight On an A350
The A350 has proven an elusive target, since my overseas travel opportunities have dried up the last couple of years. Finally, though, Delta’s new Detroit-Amsterdam route on the A350 opened up some possibilities. I found award space in August, though I’m not reviewing the Delta One suites. Nope, I’m flying coach. Because I really want to see if the A350 provides a measurably better experience in the back of the bus.
Now, I still haven’t decided how I want to get home from Amsterdam. I could try and hitch a ride in Premium Select to compare the two products side-by-side. Or perhaps fly Icelandair and see if the dirt-cheap fares to/from DFW are worth it. Maybe hop over to Frankfurt and try Condor Business Class to Austin. Or keep it simple and just redeem some United miles for a Star Alliance Business Class award. Decisions, decisions…
American A321 Transcon First Class
My Delta One flight in March makes it 3 out of 4 premium transcontinental products. That leaves only American’s transcontinental service in the “A321T”. So I’ve got to try and get the last one this year, right? American is the only carrier to offer three-class transcon service, so what I really want to try is the First Class cabin. While the seats look fine, that’s not really why I want to try it. The seats don’t seem THAT much different from Business Class.
No, what I REALLY want to do is try Flagship First Dining, open to transcontinental First passengers. It looks pretty darn fantastic. That and it lets me address both my avgeek and food obsessions in one place.
I might be able to squeeze this in during the fall, so we’ll see if it works.
I’d like to thank each and every one of my readers for a successful 2017. I hope you enjoy what should be an exciting ride in 2018!