National Car Rental is holding a free rental promotion plus a $100 gas card contest

Posted on: September 30th, 2011 by: Jason

National Car Rental is running a new promotion where you can earn a free rental certificate for every two qualifying rentals between August 22nd, 2011 and January 31st, 2012. It is called the “1,2 Free” promotion. You must be a member of the Emerald Club to participate – you can register at this link if you aren’t a member. All the terms and conditions can be found at that link.

In order to take part in this promotion, you will need to register here prior to making any of your reservations.

In order to celebrate this new promotion, National Car Rental is allowing MilesQuest readers to participate in a random drawing for a $100 gas card! All you’ll need to do to enter is to leave a comment on this post by October 1st at 11:59 PM MST telling me where you would use your free rental days along with your $100 free gas card.

This contest is only open for US readers so my loyal followers in Kazakhstan will have to wait for another contest. :) Also – I am not receiving any compensation in any form for giving away this gas card.

National Rental Car just happens to be where I always rent my cars on business trips and I am an Executive member in their program. I have always enjoyed their selection of cars and speed of checkout.

Good luck!

The human pin cushion for Africa trip

Posted on: September 29th, 2011 by: Jason

A couple of weeks ago, I headed down to the local health clinic to get the proper shots for my first trip to Africa.

As I walked in – I realized it was the first day before school and the waiting room was packed with kids waiting for their immunizations.

The lovely receptionist asked where I was traveling to. I told her I was traveling to Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana for the first time. She typed furiously into her computer, clicked a bunch of buttons, and asked if I had ever had a massive lists of shots.

Back to the waiting room till my name was called. I headed back to the room, where the nurse had quite the arsenal laid out. Eight shots in all – in various vials, with needles galore. She was quite a pro – sticking me in my right arm, then my left arm, then mixing it up and doing a double in the right, and then a double in the left. It was a dizzying blur of pain in both arms. How can anyone do heroin?

I thought I was done, but she had saved the best for last. On top of all the shots, I also needed to take Malaria pills. She handed me a sheet and as I scanned my options, it looked pretty bleak.

Option #1 – Mefloquine. 250mg by mouth weekly, same day of each week. Possible Side effects: Headache, nausea, dizziness, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, vivid dream (aka nightmares), visual disturbances, GI disturbance, insomnia, depression, agitation, restlessness, mood change.

Pros: Well, you do only have to take it once a week and visual disturbances could be like legally experiencing LSD.

Cons: What kind of seat mate am I going to be if I’m going through agitation and GI disturbances on the plane? I love how they soften nightmares as “vivid dreams” and it seems I would be an emotional basket case as well with visual disturbances.

Option #2 – Chloroquine – 500 mg by mouth weekly, same day of each week. Possible side effects: Nausea, vomiting, headache, sleep disturbance, dizziness, blurred vision, itching may worsen symptoms of psoriasis, temporary hair loss.

Pros: Once again side effect of sleep disturbance. But I never sleep on planes anyway so it wouldn’t be that bad. Plus you only have to take it once a week again.

Cons: Temporary hair loss? I’ve been blessed with a full mane and I’m not sure I want to see that fall off. We have improved to only having to endure blurred vision and dizziness – no more visual disturbances.

Option #3 – Malarone. 250mg by mouth daily starting 1-2 days before. Take with food or a milky drink. Possible side effects: Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, headache.

Pros:The list of side effects is dwindling though you do have to take the pills quite a few days in a row and who doesn’t want a milky drink?

Cons:I’m still not sure I can deal with vomiting on a plane though. Once I was traveling with my family to Denmark in a 5 seat row. The poor guy in the middle seat got sick half way through and had to use the airsickness bag pretty much the whole flight. He even had his Denmark flag shirt as he was meeting some girl he had met online.

Option #4: Doxycycline. 100 mg by mouth daily starting 1-2 days before, during and continue for 4 weeks after leaving area. Side effects: Sun sensitivity, nausea, stomach pain.

Pros: Seems to me the medicine with the least amount of side effects. I can probably deal with stomach pain.

Cons: If you miss one day of taking this one, it’s as if you haven’t taken it at all. Can I possibly remember to take a pill every day? Sun sensitivity? My skin type already burns after about 30 minutes in the sun – this will probably speed that up to 15.

Cast your vote in the comments section on which of the four I should take!

Free A club Gold Status with Accor hotels

Posted on: September 27th, 2011 by: Jason

You can receive free A club Gold Status by signing up here and entering in promo code AMEXSING10.

The AClub program is comprised of Accor hotels, which includes Sofitel, Pullman, MGallery, Novotel, Suite Novotel, Mercure, Adagio, ibis, all seasons and Thalassa sea & spa. There are over 2,300 hotels total that participate in the program.

Gold member status gives you:
A Club bonus points of 75% on every stay

Additional benefits at Sofitel, Pullman, and MGallery hotels:
A welcome drink and gift
Room upgrade (upon request – subject to availability)
Late check out till 4:00 pm (Except Thalassa sea & spa)
Having a room always available if you reserve at least 5 days in advance of arrival

The bed at the Sofitel in Budapest, Hungary is still the most comfortable bed I have ever stayed in.

Thanks to Priority Club Insider

1000 Free Membership Rewards Points for Platinum Amex holders for trying a bed

Posted on: September 22nd, 2011 by: Jason

Hästens (The horse in Swedish) is offering 1000 Free Membership Rewards points for Platinum American Express holder for trying one of their beds in a showroom.

Hästen makes their beds by hand in Köping, Sweden and has been appointed Purveyor to the King of Sweden.

    There are eights stores in the US to choose from:

Beverly Hills, California
Santa Barbara, California
Chicago, Illinois
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Soho, New York
Dallas, Texas
Houston, Texas
Madison, Wisconsin

Book an appointment time online, visit their showroom, try the bed, show your American Express Platinum card and they will mail or email you a certificate for 1,000 Membership Rewards points.

The offer ends October 31st.

Qantas is Good and Everyone Else is Bad?

Posted on: September 20th, 2011 by: Jason

I was perusing Twitter this morning and stumbled upon an article on the Harvard Business Review Blog in regards to the author’s experience on Qantas compared to US domestic carriers.

Joshua Gans writes about his experience flying within Australia on Qantas where

“When you travel within Australia, you start with a terminal with no queues. Yes, no queues at 8 am Monday morning, the busiest time of the week. There are ample check-in terminals and a large number of bag-drop stations. Security is a dream. There are no queues there either. You have to remove laptops from bags, but that’s it — no shoe or belt removal. It took all of five seconds. And as I looked around, I couldn’t even find provision for queues, that is, the ropes and barriers that adorn U.S. terminals.”

He concludes with

But the Qantas experience shows that airlines can do more and can do so while still making a profit. The U.S. airlines have turned into fortresses against continuing customer complaints and competitive forces have failed to bring about innovation and improvements. To be sure, there are bright lights such as Virgin and JetBlue, but the major airlines — United, American, and Delta — do not appear to feel the pressure.

Now there are certainly operational inefficiencies with the way that airports process the security queues in the US and all companies could do a better job of being more customer friendly. It seems a little strange though to draw his conclusion based on one experience. How do they handle massive amounts of people during Christmas? Is it really possible to load a large Airbus in 20 minutes before departure? Is Bircher muesli the key to customer satisfaction? :)

For those of you who have flown Qantas domestically in Australia – how does it stack up to the US experience?

Membership Rewards points finally post

Posted on: September 13th, 2011 by: Jason

Back in May, I wrote about how my wife applied and was approved for the American Express Rewards Premier Gold card.

After lots of calls to American Express and lots of follow up, I’m happy to report that the 75,000 Membership Rewards points have finally posted in their entirety.

US Mint Worker stole millions in dollar coins

Posted on: September 9th, 2011 by: Jason

There are those of us who are sad to no longer have rolls of coins being delivered and then there is a worker at the US Mint who has admitted to stealing millions in coins.

William Gray admitted that he took $2.4 million in $1 “error” presidential coins and sold them to a coin dealer in California by mailing them from New Jersey.

Let’s gather the facts here:

1. $1000 in coins weighs 19.20 lbs – so $2.4 million in coins would have weighed 46,080 pounds.
2. Shipping a 150 lb box from New Jersey to California would cost $200. I’m assuming we would want to insure it and want an adult signature but I’m going to choose to not offset the climate impact of this shipment.

3. We would need to send 308 packages to send all the 46,080 pounds of coins, so the shipment cost would total $61,400.

Let’s ask some questions:

1. How much is an error dollar coin worth? $2? $3? $5?
2. How did the coin dealer pay him $5-$10 million for all the coins?
3. Isn’t Mr Pickles from California? :)

Free 39 week subscription to the Wall Street Journal is back

Posted on: September 5th, 2011 by: Jason

As I’ve blogged about before, these deals won’t last long. Rewards Gold is giving away a 39 week subscription to the Wall Street Journal by simply filling out a short survey here. No credit card is required.

I have personally done this deal and the Journal will come – no strings attached.

Maldives – the conclusion

Posted on: September 1st, 2011 by: Jason

Trip to the Maldives – the flights part 1
Trip to the Maldives – the flights part 2
Conrad Lounge in Mali and Seaplane to Rangali Island
Beach Villa at the Conrad Maldives
Euro swimsuits and Turtles
The main pool and snorkeling
Our luggage arrives, Vilu, and the Quiet Zone
The employee strike
The strike ends
Ithaa underwater restaurant, Water Villa, and sunset cruise
Sunset fishing and Superior Water Villa
The final day
The conclusion

Finally was able to board our flight a little before midnight. We flew from Male back to Kuala Lumpur with another eight hour layover. Rather than try to go back into the city, we decided we would just stay at the Kuala Lumpur airport instead.

We went through customs and headed over to the Malaysian Air bag terminal to find out about compensation for our bags being lost for three days. After waiting in line for a good while, a friendly gentleman came to help us. We had to fill out a lot of paperwork and after explaining what happened he went to consult with his boss. He said that since we were flying business class, we were eligible for $100 US per person for our lost bags.

We debated whether or not take the offer but given the complexity of even finding our bags, we decided that it would be worthwhile to accept the offer since we were talking to a live person. He handed us the Malaysian equivalent of $200 and had us sign some paperwork and we were done.

We went back through passport control and headed up to the lounge where we stayed for six hours watching TV, sleeping, and messing around on the Internet.

We boarded the plane again and flew from Kuala Lumpur to Taipei and had another two hour layover and then it was back on the plane from Taipei to Los Angeles. By this point, I didn’t want to see anymore satay. I was ready to impale myself with one of the bamboo skewers. After another brief layover, we were finally back to Salt Lake City.

My final thoughts:
It was an incredible value to fly the entire time in business class for 120,000 Skymiles per ticket. The eight hour layover in Kuala Lumpur was a bit much. Bora Bora was our favorite destination of all time before this trip to the Maldives. The Maldives is now our absolute favorite place to go. There were so many things to like: the weather, the luxury, the food, the excursions, the staff, and the remoteness of the location.

In my opinion, the Conrad Rangali Island did a fantastic job in ensuring that our stay was pleasant.

We have been holding on to the British Airways buy one get one tickets and I am seriously considering redeeming them to go back to the Maldives. We enjoyed our stay that much.

Here are some final pictures:
Rangali Bar

Other various photos

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