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5 Things I Like About United Airlines In 2020



I’ve given United Airlines a lot of heat over the years. They have an abysmal track record flying into and out of our tiny regional airport here on the rural north coast of California. I’ve had *so* many delays and cancellations over the years, and very little sympathy from them. Their poor treatment of passengers with how they handled refunds at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic was so bad that I swore off spending money again with them.

True to my word, I haven’t bought a single revenue United ticket this year. Yet the irony that about 80% of my post-COVID flying has been with United Airlines is not lost on me. I’ve booked several awards on United Airlines, typically with partner miles.

What’s funny is that United has been the best it has ever been for me over the past months. Here are five things I’ve liked about United this year:

Not A Single Delay. Not. One.

Historically, nearly half of my travel with United Airlines between ACV and SFO was not without delay or cancellation. There was one work trip where I had a 3-hour delay on the outbound (different route) and a 3-hour delay on the inbound (yes, this route). This was the final straw that moved me over to flying Delta whenever I could, even if it meant driving for hours. I’d rather be in command of my time.

I have yet to experience a delay with United in 2020. I’ve now flown 18 segments with them, and not a single flight has arrived more than 5 minutes after scheduled arrival. It’s pretty incredible. This is entirely unlike my United experience prior to the pandemic.

My guess is that it really has to do with operations at SFO. When traffic is heavy and weather is bad, SFO is a disaster. The “trickle down” delays have bitten me many times. Lighter traffic takes all the pressure off.

Robust Communication by Text and App

Okay, I’ll go out and say it: United has always impressed me with their mobile app. It’s better than American Airlines’ app, although that one has been markedly improved. I feel like United’s was great when I first started using airline apps, and it hasn’t gotten worse. Delta has a pretty robust app as well, so I’m not sure I can call it the best. But it does make all the details and functionality you need extremely accessible.

Maybe it’s just a case of using it more than the other airline apps. About the only thing I hate doing on the United app is searching for award flights. But then I don’t like doing that from any mobile device or app.

If you opt-in to SMS notifications with United, you’ll get both texts and app pings at key times, such as when boarding has started. Arrival texts also help. United is excellent about texting as soon as the aircraft has its wheels on the ground, telling you your arrival gate and the gate of your connecting flight. If I was a novice traveler, these would be even more appreciated.

During COVID-19, there have also been texts ahead of time offering to rebook you due to how full an aircraft is.

Award Refund, No Questions Asked? No Way.

One of my worst experiences with United was when they refused to refund an award itinerary affected by cancellations and changes. Just a couple weeks later, with federal bailout money secured, they had no issues. I still don’t think how they treated customers was right, however.

Now I’ve managed to refund a couple award tickets, one with Delta and the other with United, no questions asked. Based on the travel dates, they didn’t appear to fall under the policy. The United one had a very minor change, and the agent was willing to refund it without any trouble less than 30 days before departure. I can’t imagine a similar request going anywhere with the previous United. Or maybe I just got lucky.

I will say that Delta has always been excellent in this regard. I once got full value for cash tickets canceled on the day of departure after I explained our situation. That agent understood customer service.

So Much Award Space!

Award availability with United has generally been good over the years, with a handful of notable routes and cabins as exceptions. They’ve always been stingy with business cabin space on their transcontinental premium service flights and to Hawaii. While you don’t see awards available every day, I’m seeing more space on some of these flights than I every have.

You can nearly always find space on the United premium service routes on most Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, even months ahead of time. I never remember this being the case. When I found award space to fly United 757-200 transcontinental business class, I had to book less than two weeks out.

I’ve also seen months where there are saver economy awards originating at my home airport of ACV available every single day in the month view to multiple destinations. With less people flying and less ability to carefully manage loads on their routes, it makes sense that United has a lot more award seats for sale.

More Pleasant Staff?

Even with the COVID-19 measures, I actually feel that airline staff have been better on the whole over the past few months. Maybe they are less stressed out with fewer flights. Maybe they are excited to work after not working for a while. Maybe they are hopeful to keep their jobs with layoffs potentially looming. Whatever it is, I’ve found staff to be better.

Passengers? Mixed. At least deplaning is no longer a mad rush. That I can appreciate.

Final Thoughts

Airlines have been hit hard during the pandemic, and most are still trying to find their footing financially. The hope for a quick rebound is pretty much gone. It’s certainly a buyer’s market at this time, as airlines are hurting for customers and cash. It makes sense that U.S. airlines have offered award refunds, no questions asked.

It will be interesting to see if the pandemic affects the culture of airlines in the long-term. With major carriers dropping change fees, we might see some real benefit for passengers before this is all over. I hope the lessened fees, award flexibility, and better on-time performance stick. Now I see how much of the latter likely has to do with their SFO hub, though.

Have you flown United this year? What was your experience like?

The post 5 Things I Like About United Airlines In 2020 appeared first on TravelUpdate.

By: Family Flys Free
Title: 5 Things I Like About United Airlines In 2020
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Published Date: Wed, 16 Sep 2020 16:09:46 +0000

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4 Amazing Travel Ideas For Your Next Adventure




Everyone loves a good vacation. Whether it be in a tropical resort or a small hotel in a different state, the idea of getting away is exciting. There are ways that you can take your vacation and travel to the next level though and make it one that you will never forget. Here are four amazing travel ideas for your next adventure.

Wine Tours

What’s better than traveling around beautiful estates and having some wine while you do it? Traveling wine tours are a fantastic way to see the state you are in, while also getting to try some of the top wine in the country. There are plenty of wine tours for you to choose from as well. Take a city like Kelowna for example. It is known for its amazing vineyards and wine estates. Therefore, Kelowna wine tours are some of the best that you can attend. It is a great adventure that will be memorable for a long time.


Do you want to get away from the cities and experience nature? Portaging and camping is a great way to travel around while having a great time doing it. There are many different portaging trips to choose from depending on how intense you want them to be. You can spend up to a month in the wilderness with just you and some friends surviving off the land. If you are into nature and camping, portaging is an experience you definitely do not want to miss.


If you want to cover large distances, why not travel to Europe and backpack around the country? Many people have gone there, packing only bare essentials traveling from country to country staying in hostels along the way. This has become so common that Europe fully accommodates people looking to do this. This is a fantastic trip if you are looking to see a ton of different countries and cultures, but don’t have a lot of time to do so. If you are backpacking around Europe, you will not be disappointed with what you are going to see.

An All-Inclusive Resort

Sometimes, simple is the best when it comes to trips like this. Find a tropical island filled with beautiful beaches and get a week’s stay in an all-inclusive resort. You won’t have to worry about food or drinks there, as everything will be provided for you. These are great vacations for people who are just looking to relax and escape from the rest of the world. Bring a bathing suit and prepare to spend hours relaxing by the pool or on the beach.

These are all fantastic travel ideas that will make for a great adventure. Remember, the more people you bring along with you, the better the adventure will be. Find out what you and your group want to do and try to book something to make it happen. At the end of the day, it is up to you to make it the adventure that you truly want. Where do you plan on traveling to next?

The post 4 Amazing Travel Ideas For Your Next Adventure appeared first on Travel Experta – Family Travel Blog.

By: Marina Villatoro
Title: 4 Amazing Travel Ideas For Your Next Adventure
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Published Date: Sat, 19 Sep 2020 15:10:31 +0000

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6 Amazing Places to Visit in Montana and How to Do It




Montana is one of those destinations that would be great for anyone who enjoys spending most of their time outdoors. If you are an adventurous soul who wants to explore the natural beauty of the outdoors, Montana has a lot in store for you.

6 Amazing Places to Visit in Montana and How to Do It

Housing multiple national parks and extensive rural land, Montana will provide you with the best scenery and an abundance of wildlife. So, if you are looking for an unforgettable trip to the Big Sky Country, keep on reading to find out about 6 of the best locations you can go to in Montana.

6 Amazing Places to Visit in Montana 

1.  Great Falls

Due to it being in the very center of Montana, the Great Falls is one of the most popular destinations for tourists. The Great Falls, which is also known as the Electric City, can be a stopping point for you if you’re visiting nearby national parks or if you were simply near the middle of Montana. They’re a magnificent sight to behold and are certainly one that you won’t get bored of anytime soon. There are multiple routes that you can take when visiting the Great Falls. For example, you can walk along the Missouri River banks, or you can visit the Ryan Dam. Either way, you’ll have extensive knowledge about American history at the end of the day.

2.  Glacier National Park

if you want to start your trip visiting one of the most magical destinations of Montana, you’d better go to the wonderland that is the Glacier National Park. Nestled between British Columbia and Alberta, Glacier National park is one of the best destinations that you can start your trip with. It covers around 16,000 square miles and is the homeland for the Grizzly bear, the Canadian lynx, mountain bighorn sheep, and mountain goats. It is also known as the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem. If you’re more into hiking, you’ll be interested to know that there are various hiking trails, like Huckleberry Mountain Trail.

3.  Virginia City

If you want a throwback to a bygone era, Virginia City is the right destination for you. The historic town proudly displays its vintage houses, historic monuments, narrow railways, and cobblestone roads everywhere you look. It was also a commercial hub and the biggest town of the state, that is until the year 1875. Moreover, Virginia city is historically known for gold mining and it does attract travelers from every which way, especially those who like to relish in the medieval times. So, if you want to go back in history, and visit the Thompson Hickman Museum, Virginia city is your destination.

4.  Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park

Montana is filled with natural parks all around, but there aren’t that many cave parks around that feature one of the best sceneries and interesting topography. Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park is a hotspot for tourists, as it features a number of caves, astounding formations of stalactite and stalagmite as well as pillars. There you can enjoy taking a guided walk and take as many photos as you want. You can also enjoy a picnic or go canoeing to see the wildlife there. You can also visit the Heritage Museum or pay a visit to the nearby Headwater State Park.

5.  Helena

Of course, you can’t go to Montana without visiting its capital city. Helena is also another location which also attracts a large number of tourists. Though it is more modern than Virginia city, Helena still has a historic aura to it, which you’ll find evident in historic-modern monuments and buildings. You can take tours through the city or trek your way to the Mountain Gates of Mississippi River.

6 Amazing Places to Visit in Montana and How to Do It

There are also a number of interesting destinations, such as the Cathedral of Saint Helena, Mount Helena Park, and Montana State Capitol. The Montana Historical Society museum is another interesting location for history geeks, as it exhibits artifacts both modern and historic.

6.  Whitefish

If you ever find yourself in Kalispell or the Glacier National Park, then you must definitely go to the beautiful Whitefish resort in the north. Due to a glacier activity, Whitefish was created in the Flathead Valley. It is also surrounded by freshwater, which means you’ll get to see a breath-taking landscape of lakes and streams. Whitefish is one of the best destinations for anyone who likes to be about and about, as you’ll find a wealth of outdoor activities that you can enjoy.

Finding the best destinations in Montana isn’t that hard of a task, especially that you’ll have a large variety of options to choose from. Whether you want to enjoy the feel of the vibrant city, immerse yourself in old history, or enjoy some of that cowboy culture, Montana will be a perfect destination for your next trip.

The post 6 Amazing Places to Visit in Montana and How to Do It appeared first on Travel Experta – Family Travel Blog.

By: Marina Villatoro
Title: 6 Amazing Places to Visit in Montana and How to Do It
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Published Date: Wed, 23 Sep 2020 14:49:24 +0000

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Has social media totally ruined how we experience travel?




When I wrote my first blog post, I wanted to start by outlining my perspective on travel. Travel is something that I not only enjoy but it’s something that also gives me a sense of fulfillment. It’s a lot more satisfying than any material object that I’ve bought or could buy in the future. When you travel often, your friends and relatives often ask you how your trip was. You narrate your story with excitement. Well, the world has now truly changed as we’ve all been sitting at home during this pandemic. With Social media, we’ve still been able amplify our voices and share our travel experiences with the world.

However, the key question to ask is whether social media has really killed the wonder and excitement about travel. Has the constant need to update everyone and the rampant need to measure your likability by the number of likes you get messed things up?

Real Travel Experience v/s Social Media Posts

Experiencing gorgeous Lake Tekapo

When someone asks me about my trip to New Zealand, yes, I tell them about my thrilling bungee jump at the home of bungee jumping. However, what I tell them is the experience that I remember. The experience of waking up early in the morning and walking around lake Wakatipu with a cup of coffee in hand.


My morning stroll by Lake Wakatipu. So much tranquility!

The experience of soaking in the sights and sounds of dawn while taking a walk by the lake. These sights and sounds leave you mesmerized and leave you wanting more. As much I love flying business class by using miles, it’s these experiences that I cherish and remember even more fondly.

Bungee Jumping in Queenstown

Skewed Goals

Once you start blogging, a lot more people in your social circle as you the question: “Where should I travel?”. I answer by looking to know more about that person’s preferences. Does he/she like big cities, or wildlife or beaches? Sometimes, the answers leave me rolling my eyes. As social media becomes a more integral part of our lives, more people end up planning travel in order to imitate an Instagram celebrity or influencer. The sense of wonder about the world is nowhere in the picture. It’s about capturing that moment and getting ‘liked’ on social media.

Social Media Celebrities

Whether you accept or deny it, social media has become a monster. Far too many people are determining how they feel by how many likes they get on social media. This has messed up our way or feeling fulfilled or satisfied. I’m sure many of you have that one friend who must’ve said this: “I really enjoyed that trip to Europe but my photo in Venice only got 20 likes.” Yes, that’s someone whose priorities are messed up. It’s no longer about the journey or the destination. It’s no longer about exploring a new country. The whole exercise has been reduced to the number of likes on social media.

Devices Everywhere

Devices are everywhere. Smart phones, laptops, smart watches, you get the drift. Have all these smart devices necessarily made us smarter? In the good old days, people used to write travelogues. Since almost everyone has a device these days, everyone can take pictures and videos.

How many times do you enter a popular restaurant and see people clicking pictures of food? For many people it’s not about savoring the taste of food, but about posting a nice photo on social media in order to get the Likes flowing in.

Filtering and Editing

At what point does reality stop being reality? We live in the era when fake news is a term. Are Instagram filters the fake news version of social media? Do they enhance the quality of the photo or alter it? More importantly, all these devices and media platforms divert us from the core reason to travel. It’s all about how quickly your post on social media and which filters you use. It’s devoid of reality but it’s what people like to see.

The Pundit’s Mantra

Obviously, I don’t expect everyone to have the same travel philosophy and goals. Everyone has their freedom to choose. The freedom to choose whether you want to want long-term gratification or short-term attention. I love to read posts by fellow bloggers where they describe their experiences in detail.

In the miles and points world, many of us already know how to book that business class seat or get that hotel upgrade. However, how many of us really want to write in detail about how we feel? Are readers just looking for the best deals, business class seats and luxurious hotel stays, or looking for a window into your experience?

What determines where you want to travel? Do you feel the pressure to post pictures on social media? Do you think bloggers should write more about how they feel as opposed to just writing about how to get to a particular place? Tell us in the comments section.

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The post Has social media totally ruined how we experience travel? appeared first on TravelUpdate.

By: The Points Pundit
Title: Has social media totally ruined how we experience travel?
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Published Date: Tue, 22 Sep 2020 12:10:24 +0000

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