- Planning the Trip
- Buenos Aires
To begin our journey to Argentina, we had to get to San Fransisco, since that’s where I found the great deal. I had booked us tickets on United the night before, and it was easy enough to connect both of us through Denver, and selected seats together even though we were on separate reservations.
I used a free category 1-4 night that I had earned through Marriott’s Megabonus promotion (stay 2 times get a free night) to book us the Fairfield Inn San Francisco Airport/Millbrae. I was hoping the full service Marriott near the airport would be available, since I’ve stayed there before, but it is a category 5 and I would much rather use a free night when rates were $189 or above in either hotel. The hotel was a pretty standard Fairfield Inn, and they had a shuttle but we arrived too late and took a cab, which was pretty cheap.
The next morning we had a lovely breakfast with a friend (skipping the free hotel breakfast) and headed to the airport to begin our long journey to Argentina. The first flight to Chicago was pretty uneventful, and once in Chicago we paid a visit to the United Club. If you’ve been in one United Club domestically, you’ve been in them all. Honestly, I can’t even find a picture I’ve taken of one. But here’s a review if you’re interested.
One great thing about the club is they go ahead and pre-clear your immigration so you don’t have to do that at the gate. Next came our 10 hour flight to Sao Paulo. We had seats in the bulkhead, so a nice bit of legroom.
My only beef with bulkhead seats on long-haul flights is the screens in the seat, so you have to contend with that. Overall, a pretty uneventful flight.
Transit in Sao Paolo was strange, since they just sort of pulled us from the stream of people headed toward immigration back into the terminal. We then set out to find the lounges, and tried out the United Club first. It was nice, with a good spread of food and self-serve drinks. It was especially nice since it was almost empty, which was not the case as we prepared to fly home.
Then we tried out the TAM lounge. It was significantly smaller, which surprised me since this is a TAM hub, but there was still plenty of seating, and a decent food/beverage selection, though the United Club actually had the better options of the 2 Star Alliance Lounges.
The TAM Lounge did have 3 computers to use, and a piano! The wifi in the TAM lounge, however, required signing up to receive what looked like marketing emails, while the United Club had free wifi to use.
Overall, it was a good experience at the lounges, and we only had a short 2.5 hour flight to Buenos Aires. We got loaded on one of the people mover buses to a remote stand to board our A320. The plane was older, but still relatively nice, and about what you’d expect on a short flight in economy. They did this weird thing where they fumigated the plane with what apparently is an insecticide, just to make sure no critters followed us from Brazil to Argentina.
It was a pretty comfortable ride (notice they provided pillows and blankets for a 2.5 hour flight!), and we got through Argentine customs with no problems. Overall we had a good experience on the flights, even though we were in economy. It was certainly a lot of flying, but worth it for all the miles we earned!
— Ethan CarterRead More
Noob contributor, Ethan (a Marriott elite), updates us on the newest breakfast perks with Marriott.
If you’re a Marriott loyalist like myself, you probably know that the breakfast perks aren’t exactly the best in the business. But they got a bit better today for Gold and Platinum elites, when Marriott announced that they would start offering free continental breakfast for 2 people 7 days a week at JW Marriott, Autograph Collection, Renaissance, and Marriott branded hotels.
Previously these benefits were only guaranteed during the week, and a few hotels had lounges open on the weekend. Now gold and platinum elites will be offered breakfast in the lounge if it’s open, and if the lounge is closed they can select from continental breakfast in the restaurant or 750 rewards points.
Unfortunately, the offer still excludes resorts, and also still does not open up breakfast benefits at Courtyard hotels, which is a huge gap in my eyes. Courtyards are mid-tier properties, and when everyone gets breakfast at most hotels below that (Springhill Suites, Fairfield Inns, and Residence Inns), it’s a tough pill to swallow when you stay 50 nights with the chain. I’ve written about some of my issues with Marriott, though they have been getting better and I have some higher-end stays coming up this summer.
This still doesn’t bring up Marriott’s standards to that of other chains, like Hilton who offer breakfast to gold members (which you can get by just having the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card) or Hyatt (The Noobmaster’s fave), who offers a full breakfast for up to 4 people, rather than just a continental breakfast for 2. That said, it’s still a step in the right direction, and for those like me who like weekend trips they can use points for, it offers a great opportunity to get breakfast on those weekends!
— Ethan CarterRead More
Marriott Hotels and Resorts hit 1 million Facebook fans this month (that’s more fans than Noobtraveler or Jack in the Box) and to celebrate, they’re giving away a million points to a few lucky fans.
It took Marriott only eight months to hit their milestone, and Michael Dail, VP, Global Brand Marketing, Marriott Hotels & Resorts, was quoted in the Wall Street Journal saying they’re “committed to transforming and deepening Marriott’s conversation with our guests in the social space.” We will see.
The contest for the million points launched April 16 and will end May 13. All fans have to do is like Marriott on Facebook submit their favorite travel photo (from airports to beaches to your grandmother’s house in Colorado) via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #MyMarriottMillion and then rally their friends to vote for their entry. Forget buying you a beer, this is how your buddy can pay you back for helping him move (but he can buy you a beer, too, that’d be the chivalrous thing to do).
The top five photos with the most votes will win 200,000 points each and a goodie bag filled with travel gadgets, including: a FitBit® Flex, a myCharge™ portable charger, a TrakDot™, a MiFi Constant Wireless Access device, a $350 Sponsor-specified gift card for MiFi Constant Wireless Access and a Sponsor-specified mini tablet.
One lucky grand prize winner will a trip for two to Austin, Texas for SXSW 2014 at the Austin Marriott South location for six nights in addition to the goodie bag and points. If that’s not motivation to start digging through your best photos, I don’t know what is.
So, if you’ve got that super clever photo of you holding up the leaning tower of Pisa or the always-popular shot of you holding the sunset in your hands on a beach, now would be the time to put it to good use. Snag your best travel photo and hashtag it, then bug your friends until they hate you and you could win big.
Marriott points can be used for free stays, additional perks, and room upgrades. 200,000 points could get you a six-night stay in any of the 3,600+ Marriotts in over 70 countries.
I know there’s a trip you’ve been dreaming of, and this is your chance to snag the hotel for free, or importantly a free trip to SXSW. Happy hashtagging!
— Noob MasterRead More