Review: Delta Sky Club LaGuardia Airport Terminal C

On a recent trip to Chicago, I had an early morning flight out of LaGuardia Airport on Delta Airlines. Delta uses the majority of gates in Terminal C and also has two Sky Club lounges in this terminal. Since I find myself using American, United, or Southwest for most of my travels out of LGA, I’ve never had the opportunity to use a Delta Sky Club. Presented with an opportunity for this particular trip, I arrived earlier than usual so I can experience what they had to offer. As an AMEX Platinum credit card holder, I get complimentary access to Delta Sky Club lounges if I am booked on a Delta flight. Unfortunately, I can’t bring in a guest free of charge. They would have to pay the discounted rate of $29 if they were to accompany me.

Seating Area

Even though my flight was at 7:10 a.m. and I was there by 6:10 a.m., the lounge was certainly not as empty as I thought. I’d say about 30% of the lounge was filled up. There were pockets of empty spaces and it didn’t take much effort to find a desirable seat next to the window. Most of their seats have plug outlets and USB ports and if you want to sit facing the tarmac to watch airplanes land and take off, they have window-facing seats as well.

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The view from Delta Sky Club if you get a seat next to the window

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This particular Delta Sky Club was like one giant room with a pillar here or there that might act as a buffer for privacy but not much else. Compared to the Centurion Lounge in Terminal B which is my go-to lounge at LGA, this lounge was massive. I purposely didn’t have breakfast at home so I can sample the food at this lounge.

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I had a bagel, chickpea salad, boiled egg, and some coffee. The chickpea salad was very good and flavorful. Certainly, something different to have in the morning if you’re not used to having a salad at 6:30 a.m. Since I got there early, their bagels were pretty fresh and seemed to be sourced locally. They had a variety of bread, bagels, and muffins among the bakery items. They also had a nice selection of cereal, parfait, and fruits. What they didn’t have were hot breakfast items that the Centurion Lounge is known for. I understand that there are some Sky Clubs that have this option and hopefully Delta brings hot breakfast to their NYC Sky Clubs soon. Their coffee was Starbucks Coffee and it tasted fine.

Business Center

DeltaSkyClubPrinterDeltaSkyClubNewsPapersDelta Sky Club does not provide computers but they do have an area in the back of the lounge that has a printer and a semi-private area that has the daily newspapers. They certainly have the space to add a few desktops and it would enhance the lounge if they did.

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This Delta Sky Club had the fastest internet speed I’ve tested at any lounge. This is perfect for business travelers and with the number of guests that fill the lounge during peak hours, their increased bandwidth serves them well.

 

Conclusion

Overall this was a pretty decent lounge. Delta could definitely improve certain aspects such as adding hot breakfast items, adding a couple of desktop computers, etc. If you need to spread out and get some work done, this is a decent place for that. As an AMEX Platinum credit card holder, would I recommend someone pay $29 to accompany me to this lounge? No, I would not. I would give this the nod over most United Clubs I have visited but it’s simply not at the level of a Centurion Lounge and it has a long way to go before it gets there. Since Terminals B and C are not physically connected at LaGuardia, you do have to take a shuttle between the two. The one advantage the Sky Club has is that it located past security unlike the Centurion Lounge. This removes the fear of having to deal with a long security line after exiting. I would rate this lounge a 3.8/5 with a strong potential to improve if Delta makes a few changes.

Review: The Langham, New York City

Thanks to my cousin Salma Hatia for this detailed review on The Langham.

This was my 2nd time staying at the Langham in NYC, but my 1st time staying at the Langham as an AMEX Platinum Member—which was a whole new experience! Don’t get me wrong, I had a great first stay, it was what I expected for a 5-star hotel, however as an AMEX member I felt like the experience was so much better—like, seriously, who was I?When I checked-in, they immediately upgraded me to an executive suite with a kitchen on the 21st floor because I was an AMEX Platinum member. Along with the upgrade, they told me that I had a $100 credit to use on whatever I wanted, like the spa or room service, complimentary breakfast for 2 at their Michelin-star restaurant, Ai Fiori, and late checkout at 4pm, which was clutch because our flight was at 5:30pm on Sunday.

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When we went up to our room the first thing me and my cousin immediately noticed was the view through the large windows—we were able to see down 5th avenue and we could see the beautiful Chrysler building.

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View of Bank of America Tower and the Conde Naste Building (with H&M sign)

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Beautiful view of the Chrysler building and looking down on Fifth Avenue

The 2nd thing we noticed was that we had a powder room—when does that ever happen? Needless to say, we had more than enough room. We even had some of our friends and cousins come up to hang out with us in the room, 6 adults and a baby were hanging out comfortably. All the cafes around us were closed, so we ordered lattes from room service (using my $100 of credit) and they were excellent!

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Full kitchen via AMEX Platinum upgrade

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Views of Manhattan from the bathroom

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Soap, shampoo, and conditioner were all Chuan, a holistic proprietary brand owned by Langham

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Another huge selling point for the Langham is their location. The hotel is centrally located in Manhattan, so we were able to walk to most of our destinations on Saturday. We walked to Washington Square Park, Times Square, and the Highline. The next day, we had to check out by 4pm and catch our flight at 5:30pm so we didn’t have a lot of time to waste. We woke up at 8am and called the doorman to arrange a ride to central park at 11am using the hotel car service (which is free!).

Pro Tip: The hotel has a Jaguar that will drop you off wherever you want to go up until 59th street, they start taking appointments in the morning at 8 am, and it is on a first come first serve basis.

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Jaguar that’s provided for guests of The Langham

After we had our ride set up, we got ready and cashed in on our complimentary breakfast at Ai Fiori—which was phenomenal! My cousin and I decided to order a couple of things and share. We ordered the buttermilk pancakes, uova in purgatorio, and the house potatoes —everything was phenomenal. You can see the picture below.

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If you asked me what the stay was like after my first time, I would’ve said it was great—all the basics of a 5-star hotel. But, staying here as an AMEX platinum member really made this experience next-level amazing, to say the least! It is rare to have a travel experience where you don’t find yourself compromising on something, whether it be the room, service, or location. But I can truly say that there was no compromising at the Langham NYC, everything was at the top of its game—the room, the service, the amenities, the location, and the (free) food were all a 5 out of 5.

 

Wide Open Award Availability to Maui on Delta Airlines via Flying Blue

Even though the cost of airfare has gotten much cheaper over the last decade to places such as Europe, destinations like Hawaii still have round-trip airfare that routinely exceeds 4 digits. Due to its location, Hawaii does not have service from an ultra low-cost airline such as Spirit or Frontier.  This, in theory, would bring down airfare from legacy carriers such as American, Delta, and United. Southwest has announced that they will start service to Hawaii later this year but the impact it will have on airfare remains to be seen. With that being said, there are still sweet spots within award travel that can get you to Hawaii for bargain redemptions. If you’re a holder of the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Preferred, American Express Platinum or Gold, or the Citi Prestige credit card, you also have the ability to transfer those points into Air France and KLM’s frequent flier program called Flying Blue. If you search up award tickets on http://www.flyingblue.com, you will see plenty of award availability on their Sky Team partner, Delta Airlines, to Maui from coast to coast. A one-way ticket can be had for just 15k points or 30k round trip per person. Here are some examples of the award tickets I found for April and May:

 

New York City (JFK) to Maui

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Plenty of dates available for 15k departing JFK to Maui with a layover in Los Angeles or Seattle

 

Maui to New York City (JFK)

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Multiple days for the trip back can found for 15k points

 

Chicago (ORD) to Maui

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Maui to Chicago (ORD)

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Los Angeles (LAX) to Maui

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Los Angeles has plenty of days for the 15k award redemption. Possibly the most of any city

 

Maui to Los Angeles (LAX)

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If you have any the aforementioned credit cards and have accumulated enough points, this would be a great way to get to Hawaii. If you don’t have any of the above credit cards but you’re interested in one, make sure you apply only when you are certain you are going to be spending enough over a 3 month period to get the bonus points. For example, both Chase cards require $4k spending over 3 months to get the 50,000 point bonus while American Express varies depending on the time of the year. The bonus from these cards can put you right on the doorstep for a trip to Hawaii.

Getting the Dreaded SSSS On Your Boarding Pass

Traveling using frequent flier miles and points certainly has many advantages, such as making business class travel attainable for the casual traveler, and regardless of the ticket class you purchased, you’re saving money compared to booking with cash. However, there are instances where you might book using points from one airline in getting to your destination and use points for a different airline during your return. As far as I can remember, I haven’t ever used miles for the same airline going and coming back. For example, I’ve flown on United miles going to Europe while flying on American miles coming back multiple times. I was able to minimize the number of miles I needed to use by planning my itinerary this way. The only issue? Booking international tickets one way will often result in getting the dreaded SSSS on your boarding pass. SSSS stands for secondary selective screening selection. For me, the biggest giveaway that I’ll end up with SSSS on my boarding pass on the return trip is when I’m unable to check-in for my flight 24 hours before takeoff. The mobile app will tell me “please check in at the airport” or I’ll get an error message.  For a traveler that’s designated SSSS, the only way to get check-in is at the ticketing booth at the airport. When you receive your boarding pass at the airport, the capitalized SSSS will be highlighted by the ticketing agent. Once you are in line and the security and the customs officer scans your boarding pass, either a red light will flash or there will be beeping sound, alerting the agent of your SSSS designation.  It’s also important to note that there are other factors that may also be in play. Your name (there may be someone with the same name or similar that may be on the watch-list), the region you are traveling to and from, and your citizenship status could all play a role.

 

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My SSSS designation from Dubai to NYC last summer

Every country differs on their protocol for conducting the secondary screening. In Reykjavik, Iceland, I was taken a to a separate room and all the contents of my carry-on bag were removed. All electronics were swabbed and scanned and the procedure was completed in 10 minutes. The personnel were very friendly and explained what they were going to do in advance. In San Jose, Costa Rica, the security personnel gave me a pat down and searched my bag right at the gate. I actually hated this experience since almost everyone on my Southwest flight headed to Baltimore was already at the waiting area. I had 170 pair of eyeballs watching me as one agent thoroughly searched and swabbed my backpack and all its contents while the other gave me a thorough pat down.

There are also instances where you might get SSSS on your boarding pass when traveling domestic. This occurred in 2015 when my wife and I returned from Istanbul, Turkey. Istanbul was deemed as a high risk travel area (it still might be), and anyone returning home from that area was getting SSSS on their boarding pass for the ensuing months. Upon returning, my wife and I had domestic flight from Chicago (ORD) to NYC (LGA), a flight we had taken countless times. This time, we both received the SSSS on our boarding pass, much to our surprise. The TSA officer asked if we had been anywhere recently. I told him we were in Istanbul the prior week and he explained everyone coming back from that region was being selected for secondary screening. He wasn’t wrong as even people with TSA Pre-check and Global Entry were being flagged from secondary screening. In this instance, we were both given thorough pat downs (more like a massage) and had every electronic device swabbed and scanned. Our laptops had to be taken out and powered on. Even The Points Guy had a similar experience upon returning from Turkey around that same time and you can read about that here.

If you do get an SSSS on your ticket, be cooperative and understand that the security personnel are just following protocol and doing their jobs. It will make the process easier, quicker, and you’ll be on your way a lot sooner. During my recent trip to Argentina, my wife and I did not get the SSSS (finally!). But if you can’t check-in 24 hours in advance, budget more time than you normally would when heading to the airport.

 

Travel Itinerary: 7 Days in Argentina

I’ll go over our itinerary to Argentina and Chile and the miles/points that we used on different segments. I’ll go over what we did well with regards to planning while touching upon the aspects that we could have done differently. Everyone’s purpose for a trip is different, but my wife and I had one main goal in mind: To make the Patagonia region of Argentina and Chile our priority. We had 6 full days in Argentina so we had to make the most of it. So here it goes……

Getting There:

Non-stop flights to Buenos Aires, Argentina depart from NYC, Newark, Miami, Dallas, and Houston. We were traveling during the busy holiday season and we were definitely not going to use cash to book this ticket. Round trip airfare was at least $1,300 a person on American, United, and Latam Airlines. United Airlines was charging 70k miles one way from Newark or Houston for this trip. American Airlines was charging over 70k miles from JFK, Miami, and Dallas (DFW) We caught a huge break when we searched up the one way trip from Miami on British Airways. They were only charging 25k miles per person from Miami to Buenos Aires via American Airlines. Since they are One World partners with American, we were able to use British Airways Avios (BA’s mileage currency) to fly on American. Since neither my wife or I had ever visited Miami, we figured we’d use our JetBlue miles to fly from Albany to Ft. Lauderdale and escape the ensuing blizzard that was en route to Albany, NY. This allowed us to spend two days there and enjoy the city. The flight to Buenos Aires departed on the 24th from Miami during the evening.  A one-way ticket on the same flight would have cost us over $1,900 dollars per person!!! We got significant value on this redemption, possibly one of our best ever. British Airways is a transfer partner of Chase (If you hold the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Preferred) and American Express (Platinum and Gold) so it’s one of the easier mileage currencies to accrue.

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The damage had we booked using cash. Insane.

Day 1: Buenos Aires

Our flight landed at 6:45 am and this was really going to be our only full day in Buenos Aires. I tried to sleep as much as I could have, but anyone who travels economy class knows, you can’t really sleep well when you’re sitting for that long. My wife and I were both tired and our hotel, Dazzler Polo (part of the Wyndham portfolio of hotels) was all the way on the other side of town. We just hoped that even if the hotel didn’t let us check in early, they would at least hold our bags until the 2 pm check-in time. Once we got our luggage we hailed an Uber (more on this later) and took the nearly 1 hour ride to the other side of town. By the time we got to the hotel, it was 9 am. I walked to the front desk and told the lady we just arrived from Miami and kindly asked her if there was any possible way she would let us check in early. She quickly checked her computer and said there was a room available and that she would give it to us. This was a HUGE deal.  It allowed us to take a much-needed 2-3 hour nap and still have the entire day ahead of us to explore the city. Since it was summer in South America, sunset was not until 8:10 pm.  So a huge shout out to the lady at Dazzler Polo for really helping us salvage that day. The hotel itself was awesome and I booked it using a hotels.com gift card that I redeemed using Ibotta (you can read about that app here).

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Front Entrance to the Dazzler Polo Hotel

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Hotel Room

The free breakfast was far better than what you would get at American hotels.

This hotel was located in the northwest part of Buenos Aires in the neighborhood of Palermo. To visit some of the main sites near the city center, we got on their subway and got off at the last stop (Catedral). Their subway system is really easy to use and if you do need help, the employees will gladly assist you.

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Once we got off the subway at the Catedral station, everything we wanted to see was a short walk away. Plaza de Mayo is a beautiful central plaza that has a pink building called Casa Rosada, the statue of San Martin, and the Catedral Metropolitana. Many picture opportunities will present themselves here. If you walk a bit further into the hip and trendy Puerto Madera neighborhood, you’ll find the Puente De La Mujer or Women’s Bridge. This neighborhood also has many restaurants and brunch spots and is very lively at night. We happened to be there during Christmas so most of the places were closed.

The best way to explore any city is by walking. Could you get around between some of these sites with a taxi or Uber? Sure you can. And speaking of Uber, I preferred using it for longer distances in Buenos Aires. The regular taxi was also an option but with Uber, you’re locked into a fare and you know approximately how much you’re going to be paying before you step into the car. With a taxi, there’s always that chance that we might be taken advantage of as foreigners. The app worked seamlessly and a one hour ride from one side of the town to the other cost about $25 American dollars. The taxi company quoted me double that price. But most of the time we walked, and walked, and walked and saw much of the sites we wanted to see.  We loved Buenos Aires and now it was time to get back to the hotel and prepare for the flight to El Calafate the following day.

Day 2: Buenos Aires to El Calafate

I booked this flight using Chase Ultimate Rewards points on Aerolineas Argentinas. El Calafate is the gateway city to the Patagonia region of Argentina. Had I used cash, the flight would have cost $450 round trip per person. Again, I was set on not paying cash for any airfare. As a Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card holder, I was able to get 1.5 cents per point booking flights. This cost us 30k points per person for this roundtrip from Buenos Aires to El Calafate. This trip was taken from Buenos Aires’ other airport, Jorge Newbery International Airport which is located on the north end of Buenos Aires, about 1.5 miles from the Dazzler Polo. It’s much smaller than their main airport and I chose it because of the cheaper fares to El Calafate. The total flight time was about 2 hours 45 minutes. Once we got there, we booked a round trip transfer with a company called VES. It’s a smaller bus that took us to our hotel and also dropped us off at the airport when we’re flying out of El Calafate. The total for two people was 480 pesos or about $26 USD.  This was far more cost effective than taking a taxi and Uber did not offer service here. Here’s a tip: Request a window seat and sit on the right side of the plane (Any seat that is F). This side will give you some spectacular photo opportunities as you’re landing into El Calafate. You can see an example below.

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For the duration of our stay at El Calafate, I booked a hotel named Picos Del Sur. For $56 a night, this hotel offered free breakfast, free WiFi, and was located just a quarter mile away from the city center where all the shops, restaurants, and cafe’s are located. The staff was awesome and super friendly and the premises weren’t bad either. The breakfast was okay as most of their offerings were high carb items such as sweet croissants, muffins, toast, cereal, etc. Most of this hotel stay was paid via hotels.com gift card via Ibotta (man I love that app).

Day 3:  El Calafate

For any of you that might travel to Patagonia in the future, let me give you some advice: Throw the weather forecast out the window. This is one of those places where you can try to plan around the weather and it means absolutely nothing. We saw days where torrential downpours were forecasted only to see clear skies (much to our delight). The weather here changes hourly because the Atlantic and Pacific coasts are literally just a couple hours drive away.  On this day, we decided to stay in El Calafate and spend the day exploring the town and nearby places. One gem we encountered was the Laguna Nimez Reserve. This place is a sanctuary for flamingos, owls, birds of prey, and other unusual birds I had never seen anywhere else. The entrance fee was 150 Argentinean pesos or roughly $8 USD. The entire circle around the sanctuary takes about 90 minutes to walk and it offers some amazing views of Lago Argentino as well as the mountains in the background. If you’re in El Calafate, I highly recommend it. For the second half of the day, we spent walking around the city center and checking out the town vibes. El Calafate has many nice boutique shops that worth checking out.

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Day 4: Perito Moreno Glacier

On this day, we booked a tour to Perito Moreno Glacier with Hielo & Aventura. You can visit their website and see everything they have to offer right here. They picked us up from the hotel at 7:30am and off we went on the 90 minute journey to Parque Nacional Las Glaciares.  The first stop was a scenic overlook for about 10 minutes. This spot provided a glimpse of the awe-inspiring scenery yet to come. The second stop took us to the multiple viewing decks that are right in front of the glacier. We saw a few smaller chunks of glacier calve off into the lake and even that was incredible. The third thing on the agenda was the boat ride to the southern face of the glacier so we could actually hike on it. If you’re coming to Patagonia, I highly highly highly recommend doing this activity. For you Game of Thrones fans, it literally felt like we were north of the wall. The scenery is incredible and unlike anything I have ever witnessed. The ice has a nice shade of blue and even the water in certain crevasses seems like it has a deep blue color to it. This activity costs about $180 per person and that includes pickup and drop off from your hotel. As a Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card holder, I was able to apply my $300 annual travel credit for 2018 for this excursion, effectively bringing our cost down to about $60 combined for two people.  That’s a hell of a way to use the travel credit. Something to keep in mind: There is an entrance fee to Perito Moreno that is separate from the tour cost. It’s 500 Argentinean Pesos (equivalent to about $27 USD). The park ranger will collect that fee at the entrance of the park and from what I remember, they don’t accept any other currency.  Be sure to exchange your currency before you get there. My wife and I booked the 90 minute hike for this trip rather than the 6-8 hour hike. Looking back at it, this is one the things we wish we did differently. It wasn’t  as challenging as we initially thought and if you’re physically fit and have done longer hikes before, the longer hike might be of interest to you. Just be sure to dress in layers for either one you may choose. Even though they give you snow clamps, it’s still important you have a decent pair of hiking shoes for this trek. Merrell, Keen, Columbia, etc would all suffice. They also require you to have gloves so you don’t cut yourself on the jagged ice if you fall. Sunglasses are a great idea if you’re there on a sunny day since the glare off the glacier can be blinding at times.

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The boat ride to get to the glacier is also incredible and you can view it for yourself. It does get windy and there will probably be rain at some point so it’s best to wear waterproof clothing and a raincoat.

Day 5: El Chalten

On day 5, we did a day trip to El Chalten, a town that’s about 3 hours north of El Calafate. El Chalten is known for its hiking, scenery, and Mt. Fitz Roy. Unfortunately for us, Fitz Roy was hidden by clouds for the entire day we were there. But we still didn’t pass up the opportunity to hike a few trails. Some of the trails are moderately challenging and will require a lot of steep climbing. You will get wet, muddy, messy, and if you’re not physically fit, it might be painful. But on a clear day, the reward at the end is majestic views of Fitz Roy that is postcard-worthy. The best thing about El Chalten? It’s one of the few places where you get access to the trails without paying an entrance fee. If you’re into camping, it’s a very popular spot to set up camp.

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A viewpoint from one of the trails at El Chalten

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The viewpoint at the end of the Mirador trail

Day 6: Torres Del Paine National Park, Chile

A trip to Patagonia is not complete without a visit to Torres Del Paine National Park on the Chilean side. This was an entire day’s journey and the trip cost about $250 per person (including pickup and drop off from the hotel). Luckily for us, my wife is also a Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card holder and we were able to apply her $300 travel credit for 2018 into this excursion. This brought the excursion down to a very reasonable $200 or $100 per person. The tour bus picked us up at 7am and off we were. The drive from El Calafate to the Chilean border was about 2 hours. Once there, you have to get off the bus twice, once before you cross into Chile to be checked by Argentinean authorities and then again when you’re in Chile. Once there, you get your passport stamped by Chilean border patrol and declare anything that is required to be declared (don’t be that person). Our tour group had about 30 people and the entire process to cross into Chile took about 45 minutes. Once we were cleared, the journey to Torres Del Paine took about 90 minutes. We were super fortunate to have a mostly clear day when we got there. If you have a clear day, you’ll be able to see the famous towers. We stopped at the first four viewpoints for pictures before stopping at another point for lunch. They provide lunch but unfortunately, they don’t provide a vegetarian option. This was my one issue with this tour operator and I conveyed to them that it’s not acceptable given the exorbitant cost of the tour itself.  Luckily we bought plenty of granola bars and gatorade and that was sufficient. After lunch, we stopped at a few more viewpoints for some spectacular photo opportunities.  Anywhere you stop in the park, there will be an opportunity for an amazing picture. The last stop was a 90 minute hike (very easy) that gave us panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. We also saw guanacos, a species that is related to the camel and llama.  I took a video of the hike which you can view below.

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The towers of Torres Del Paine were visible on this day

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Day 7: Flight Back to Buenos Aires and Flight Back to New York City. 

This was the conclusion of our trip. Our flight back to Buenos Aires departed at 11:35 am and arrived at around 2:10 pm.  To get back to Buenos Aires, we flew Aerolinas Argentinas as we did when we arrived.  For the flight to New York City, we redeemed American Airlines miles for seats on American (not British Airways Avios as we did on the way here). The redemption was 57.5k miles per person and although it wasn’t a great redemption value, it was better than United, Delta, and other options we had.  We grabbed steak at a place called Al Rawshe which was not too far from their smaller airport where we had landed. Argentina’s number one export is beef and steak is something they do really well. And trust me, the steak at Al Rawshe was phenomenal. We then took an Uber to their larger airport and were headed back home. Another tip when you’re flying out of El Calafate: Sit on the right side of the plane just as you would when you fly into El Calafate. You get incredible views of the turquoise blue Lago Argentina on upon takeoff and ascent. You can view the video below.

Review: Art & Lounge Newark Liberty International Airport

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Prior to a recent flight from Newark to Chicago, my wife and I had a two hour layover at EWR. Since we had a 3 hour drive without any lunch from Upstate NY, I thought we might have to settle for overpriced airport food. Fortunately for us, we found Art & Lounge in Terminal B, a lounge that was part of the Priority Pass network. As a Chase Sapphire Reserve holder, Priority Pass allows me and one guest (some cases two) complimentary access to their vast network of lounges.

Art & Lounge is located prior to security at Terminal B. You can get there via the Air Train from Terminal A or C but if you have already cleared security, you will be required to clear it again when you head back.

 

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Entrance

 

Once you’re in, the staff at the front desk will verify your boarding pass and swipe your Priority Pass card. I was starving and went straight to the buffet area to check out what they were serving for dinner….

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Grilled tilapia, baked potatoes, pizza, and steamed vegetables

 

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Bowtie pasta

 

 

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Oatmeal and shortbread cookies

 

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Orange and apple juice at the bar area

The food served at this lounge was very good. The pasta was excellent, the grilled tilapia was fresh, and the steamed veggies and baked potatoes were all on point. I got there just as they were putting out the food. Had I got there two hours later, it’s entirely possible this review is different.  Let’s move on to the other areas of the lounge…..

 

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This is one of the common areas where my wife and I decided to get situated. The TV is on via a projector and just about every seat has an outlet to plug in electronics. If you want to read one of the many books they have on the shelf, you can do that as well.  The lounge itself is not big and when we got there, it was roughly half filled.  I can imagine this place being quite packed during peak travel times.

 

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The adjacent room had plenty of available space

 

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The first common area was mostly filled when we entered.

 

The one noticeable flaw this lounge had was the WiFi speed. It was dial-up level and business travelers that need to be connected won’t be able to survive on 0.59 Mbps.

 

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I’d rate this lounge a 3.8/5

Good food, good vibe, and comfortable if you can find space. The super slow WiFi speeds and its location pre-security are minor flaws. In case you are wondering, I was able to take the Air Train from Terminal B to C and clear security all within 10 minutes.  I do have TSA pre-check and for those of you who don’t, I’d probably leave the lounge 35-40 minutes prior to boarding.

 

Review: Centurion Lounge LaGuardia Airport

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Front desk of the Centurion Lounge at LGA

 

If you are an AMEX Platinum card holder, one of the best perks that comes with the card is complimentary Centurion Lounge access to any of the locations across the US. Platinum card holders are also allowed to bring two guests free of charge. If you were to pay for access, one day passes cost $50 per person.

The Centurion Lounge at New York’s LaGuardia airport is located on the 3rd floor in terminal B.  The lounge is located pre-security and the staff will recommend you depart the lounge and arrive at security 45 minutes prior to departure, particularly if you don’t have TSA pre-check.

It might be a bit confusing at first but you will see many signs that point you towards to the elevators that take you up to the 3rd floor.

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When you enter the lounge, the friendly staff at the member services desk will ask you for your AMEX Platinum card, a form of ID, and your boarding pass.  Once you’re in, your free to move about. The first thing I checked out was the food options……

 

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The salad bar had your basic run of the mill options. Nothing that really stood out.

 

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The ginger rice with sauteed vegetables and roasted carrots were delicious

 

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I had an almond coconut cookie on the right. Perfect combo of moist and soft. I can tell they weren’t sitting there the whole day. The brownies looked good too but I need to relax on the sugar.

 

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The bar and dining area. I was there at 5:30 pm on a Friday. Generally one of the busier times due to the influx of business travelers.

 

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Full scale bar

 

If you arrive at the lounge between 10 am and 6 pm, personal space might be difficult to find. I was fortunate to find an empty sofa my second time visiting this lounge. No such luck during the first visit.

 

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The personal space is very comfy if you can find a spot. Plenty of outlets, and more than enough space to lay out your food, drinks, and laptop.

 

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If you’re able to get one of the few private booths, consider yourself lucky.  Everyone is eyeing them and waiting to make a dash once a booth becomes available. Both times I have visited this lounge, I was unable to find a private booth.

 

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Larger conference table at the Centurion Lounge

 

If you have the AMEX Platinum card and you have a layover or some time to kill, the Centurion Lounge at LaGuardia is worth checking out. This is especially true if you are laying over or departing from terminal B. This lounge has a decent food and drink selection, comfortable personal space (if available), free WiFi, and staff that will do everything they can to make your stay comfortable. It’s also a great spot to get work done. One drawback for this lounge is that it is located pre-security. I would highly recommend taking a glance at the security lines prior to going to the lounge so you have a better idea on when to depart the lounge and arrive at security.

Although I have not been to the United or American Airlines Admirals lounge at LGA,  I have heard anecdotally from people who have that the Centurion Lounge beats them in food and comfort. Perhaps in the not too distant future, I will have a chance to visit one or both and give a detailed review.  In the next day or two, I’ll post a review of my recent experience at the Centurion Lounge at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

My Experience with AirHelp for a Delayed Flight to London

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For those of you who have experienced a non-weather related flight cancellation or a delay of 3+ hours on a flight to or from Europe over the last 3 years, you might want to visit http://www.airhelp.com and see if you are eligible for compensation. On a flight from New York City to London back in May of 2015, my flight on Norwegian Airlines was delayed for 5+ hours. When I inquired about the reason for the delay, they said it was due to a scheduling error and not having a pilot available to fly the aircraft. I thought it was a pretty ridiculous excuse for a reputable airline such as Norwegian not to have a pilot available. A few months prior, I had heard about AirHelp and I thought I would give them a shot and have them process my claim. AirHelp has lawyers that process your claim for you in European courts. If the judge awards you monetary compensation (this can be as high as 680 euros), they take half of that (25% service fee and 25% legal fee) and directly deposit the rest into your bank account via Payoneer. If you are not awarded anything, they don’t collect. Classic case of zero risk, high reward. I emailed them my flight info and the reason Norwegian gave me for the delay. They told me right away that cases similar to mine were awarded compensation greater than 90% of the time. They were transparent throughout the entire process and kept me updated on where the case stood. About 14 months after I initially contacted them, AirHelp informed me via email that the judge ruled in my favor and I had been awarded 600 euros. In a funny twist, I received an email from Norwegian Airlines just 2 days later. They were offering me 150 euros as compensation along with an apology (lol, apologizing 14 months later). I immediately contacted AirHelp and they informed me not to accept anything. Norwegian was trying to give me a low-ball offer hoping that I would accept it and reduce their liability. I declined Norwegian’s offer and AirHelp transferred $328 into my bank account via Payoneer 4 business days later. Although the process took a while, there was very little effort in my part to collect the compensation. I paid $397 for the one way flight to Europe so the compensation covered more than 80% of that cost. If not for AirHelp, I certainly was not going to go through the hassle of filing a claim in Europe. If you have experienced a delay of 3+ hours transiting to or from Europe, the image below will guide you on whether you should pursue a claim. You will also find all the info you need on http://www.airhelp.com. You certainly have nothing to lose and they’ll inform you on whether your claim is worth pursuing in court.

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It’s unfortunate that the U.S. doesn’t have similar laws that would offer consumers the same level of protection for delayed and cancelled flights. We have our own air carriers that are chronically late and will continue to be late until punitive measures are put in place.  As of right now, the worst that can happen to them are a few negative yelp reviews.