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Wish You Were Here: The Atacama Desert of Northern Chile

October 15, 2013 at 10:38 AM | by | Comments (0)


A sand dune and the "amphitheater" rock formation at Valle de La Luna

Any attempt to describe the wild terrain of Chile's Atacama Desert is an exercise in futility. To friends, we've likened this "driest place in the world" to the desert in Arizona or southern Utah, but we must admit the Atacama is actually quite indescribable. Forgive the oft-used idiom, but it has to be seen to be believed.

Flying into El Loa Airport (CJC) in Calama, the snow peaks of the jagged Andes fall away and the landscape transitions to a rusty palette of parched volcanic earth. You'll wonder: "what in the world have I gotten myself into?" The striated cliffs, towering dunes, and salt lagoon oases don't resemble anything that should be in this world. Mars maybe, but surely not Earth.

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The 6 Most Scenic Flights in South America

Where: Chile
October 14, 2013 at 12:08 PM | by | Comment (1)

If you think the above photo is beautiful—it's our Andes view from LAN Airlines flight 158 from Santiago to Calama—then get ready to have your mind blown and your bucketlist overflowing.

South America is a land of such staggeringly varied terrain, from desert to glaciers and rainforest to snow-capped peaks, that flying over it without requesting a window seat is one of the biggest travel mistakes one can make.

Now, which route? Get your camera ready because, using our own past travel knowledge and a passion for experiencing the extremes, we've laid out the Six Scenic South America Routes to Fly Before You Die:

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Travel 101: Knowing the Difference Between 'Non-stop' and 'Direct' Flights

October 10, 2013 at 12:32 PM | by | Comments (0)

"Direct" and "non-stop" mean the same thing, right? Wrong—which is why we're taking today to do some travel 101 with a refresher on these terms. Why is knowing the difference so important? Well, you can clearly state your flight preferences to airline reservations and gate staff when making bookings or changing plans, and you'll also just generally sound like the clued-in traveler you are.

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What's Up with the Oneworld Airline Alliance in 2013

March 13, 2013 at 11:41 AM | by | Comments (0)

There's been some big, exciting news in the aviation world, and some bankruptcies and some mergers that cross the lines of traditional airline alliances. These shake-ups will redraw alliance lines and might affect your ability to earn and burn frequent flyer miles to your dream destination. Let's discuss Oneworld since the recent American and US Airways merger will mean the most for US-based travelers.

We already know that the New American will be sticking with Oneworld, which means the inevitable departure of US Airways from Star Alliance. In general, this doesn't open up a wealth of new US destinations, but it actually expands an already thorough South American network and opens a few new European cities to Oneworld.

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Inside the Oneworld Lounge at Los Angeles International Airport

February 7, 2013 at 4:20 PM | by | Comments (0)

You're at Los Angeles International AIrport and preparing to wing your way to another continent and you'll be spending those in-air hours in either Business or First Class. First off, that sounds like you planned an excellent trip—congratulations. Second, you'll want to hit up the lounge for a last-minute tipple or email check, and if you're traveling on a Oneworld alliance airline (like Qantas, LAN, Cathay Pacific, British Airways and Japan Airlines), then the lounge for you is on Level 5 of the Tom Bradley International Terminal.

As it's a combined lounge, the amenities here are generic but plentiful. This means more than 10 shiny Mac desktops, a long buffet bar with both and hot and cold food options, two extensive self-serve beverage areas plus a full bar with bartender, private shower rooms, and plenty of modern, comfy chairs nearby power outlets. The design isn't exactly revolutionary or even notable, but it is clean, modern and spacious.

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What It's Like to Fly for 10 Hours on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Where: Santiago, Chile
January 14, 2013 at 12:05 PM | by | Comments (0)

It flies! It actually flies!

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a headline hog. You can read all about it and its drama (lately more than ever) throughout major media, but there's nothing better than actually stepping onboard with a ticket to ride.

After more than a year of hanging out with the 787 on the tarmac, we finally flew the darned thing as South American airline LAN celebrated the inaugural flight of their new Los Angeles-to-Santiago, Chile 10-hour non-stop with the spiffy new bird.

So, what actually happens onboard a 787 flight? Is it really so different from any other airplane? Having just stepped off of this, our first 787 flight, we can finally answer those questions: lots of stuff and yes.

To describe a 10-hour flight is akin to boring neighbors with photo slides of a water park vacation. Instead, we're breaking it down into the hourly highlights ("the short of it") and, for those rapt with pleasure for every detail, the long of it, in first-person:

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Celebrating LAX's First 787 Flight: LAN 603 Non-Stop to Santiago, Chile

January 11, 2013 at 1:50 PM | by | Comments (0)

While this week hasn't exactly been all sunshine and rainbows for airlines flying their Boeing 787 Dreamliners around the world, last week sure was. On January 2, we stepped onboard aircraft CC-BBC, the gleaming new third 787 delivered to South American airline LAN for what would be a monumental inaugural flight, non-stop from Los Angeles-LAX to Santiago, Chile-SCL.

Our ticket read seat 1L. As the first row, first window on the right, that's practically a cockpit jumpseat (though our legroom and recline would be better). This would be more than a first 787 flight from LAX; it would be our own, personal first 787 flight. To say we were psyched is a gross understatement. The energy and optimism rippled through the line of waiting passengers in all classes, holding all types of tickets, as a special party for the full flight began at the gate.

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How to Say '787 Dreamliner' in Spanish

Where: Santiago, Chile
January 7, 2013 at 5:24 PM | by | Comments (0)

How do you say "787?" Seven-eight-seven or seven-eighty-seven? Though technically both are perfectly acceptable, the language may vary depending on the country to/from which you're flying the new airplane. And, since United is the only US operator of the airlines with Boeing 787 Dreamliners, the international names for the bird are more prevalent.

Before we set off on last week's LAN inaugural flight from LAX-SCL on their newest Dreamliner, @PointstoPointB tweeted us to ask: "how do they call the plane in Spanish onboard? Siete Ocho Siete? Siete Ochenta y Siete? El Sueñoliner?"

Well, dearest @PointstoPointB and future flyers of the LAN Dreamliner, we cleared up the issue firsthand with LAN's flight attendants. Their answer:

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Even the Toilets of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner are Futuristic

January 4, 2013 at 12:29 PM | by | Comment (1)

This is the future.

There may be no personal jetpacks or hoverboards or even cheesecake in pill form, but at least we have advanced enough as a civilization to install self-closing toilet lids in airplane lavatories.

This miracle of modern engineering we only just discovered after @jonk tweeted us to ask if, after having seen auto-close lids on United's new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, LAN's new birds had them as well.

Onboard the inaugural flight of the LAN 787 from LAX non-stop to Santiago, Chile earlier this week, we had 10 hours to explore the 787 in-flight, in both Economy and Premium Business class, and made the question of the lavatory a priority. Check back Tuesday for our full review and photo galleries of the flight, but let's resolve this important issue right here and now.

The answer:

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Follow Along on the First Boeing 787 Dreamliner Flight from LAX

January 2, 2013 at 3:18 PM | by | Comments (0)

Hello from LAX! Today we're off to Santiago, Chile (our 2012 Destination of the Year), though this time it's not the city we're checking out; we're flying 10-ish hours each way simply for the airplane taking us there. That's right—it's the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and this is yet another huge entry on its history timeline as LAN inaugurates a fresh route with their spanking new wings.

LAN Airlines was the fourth carrier to receive a Dreamliner, but first in the Americas. Today they tack on a few more records, as this inaugural flight—LAN 603 LAX - SCL—is...
· The first 787 scheduled service from LAX
· LAN's first 787 route to North America
· The first 787 service overall between North and South America
· The first non-stop service from LAX to Santiago, Chile (a new route that'll operate 3x/week, Wednesday-Friday-Sunday)

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Four Awesome (and Free!) Art Basel Miami Beach Events Open to All

December 8, 2012 at 10:50 AM | by | Comments (0)

YAY—it's Saturday! Let's talk Art Basel Miami Beach. The annual contemporary art event—which encompasses several art fairs, art installations around the city, and a gajillion parties—brings in the big spenders and the struggling creatives alike for four days of fun in the sun.

The official dates are Thursday-Sunday, December 6-9, but it's this weekend that sees the most interest from people outside the art & design industries. Yes, even regular people can attend. Though tickets to hit any of the main fairs cost double digits, there's plenty gratis happenings for a sweet taste of this infamous event.

Here's our four favorite free events, open to all:

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The Only Three Cyber Monday Airfare Sales We Care About

November 26, 2012 at 12:09 PM | by | Comments (0)

As much as it pains us to type the words "Cyber Monday," it's true that there are enough travel deals out there to make the term stick a bit. Here's a few worth mentioning:

· Virgin America private jet to CES:
$49,000 gets you VX's #nerdbird, an A320 that'll bear a design of your choosing for one month. Oh yeah, and you'll get a roundtrip flight for 136 guests from San Francisco to Las Vegas for 2013 CES—the world's largest consumer electronics show—on that plane.

The trip will come complete with free onboard Gogo WiFi, Elevate Silver status for all guests, Elevate Gold for the purchaser +1, and all 136 CES passes and keynote tickets will be taken care of. We seriously dare you to find a private jet company that can beat this deal. They just can't, especially when it comes to the addition of the custom livery! Buy it on Gilt City. AMEX Centurion cards were practically made for moments like this.

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