Suggestions for North American routings

Discussion in 'Your Questions' started by arun, Dec 25, 2004.

  1. arun

    arun Member

    Sep 5, 2002
    311
    0
    Sydney
    Hi
    We will be going to LA (in USA) and Edmonton (or Vancouver) in Canada in April. These are the definites. Would also like to cover Philadelphia, New York and Toronto, if time (and money) permits. I will be departing from Sydney.

    Will be flying economy. Any suggestions on routings, airlines, fares, and alliances are most welcome.
    Regards
    Arun
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  2. NM

    NM
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    Aug 27, 2004
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    What type of things do you want to see? Theme Parks, National Parks, City sights, Historic sights?

    How long will you be there?

    Are you wanting to maximise FF points/miles or attain/retain FF status on any particular program?

    Some things to consider might be using Amtrac for some of the journey. DC to New York (via PHL) is pretty simple and quick, and when you consider the cost of airport transfers can be quite economical if staying near the stations (ie New York Penn Station). We used the train from BWI to New York and then New York to Niagara and then drove into Toronto to fly on to Europe.

    If you have the time, I definately recommend seeing Niagara Falls, which is only about 90 mins (depends on traffic) from Toronto. Again, there is a train if you prefer - the train from New York continues to Toronto. I just booked the train tix on-line and collect via the kiosk at the station.

    April would be a great time to see places like Yosemite National Park and probably Yellowstone. There will still be snow on the peaks (probably above 6000 ft at the time) and the falls and streams will be flowing from the snow melts. The Tioga Pass (Eastern entry to Yosemite and at almost 10,000 ft) will still be closed by the snow.

    OneWorld flight options on the east coast are a bit limited. AA do a lot of codeshares with Alaskan Airlines (AS) which are not available on the OneWorld fares like Circle Pacific and OneWorld Explorer, and won't earn QF FF points. To get to Vancouver or Edminton on AA you will need to connection through DFW or Chicago.

    You could fit a routing into a LxCIR22 fare (OneWorld Circle Pacific economy up to 22,000 miles) with a sidetrip to include YVR. Something like SYD-LAX-PHL-ground-YYZ-ORD-NRT-SYD. That would involve train/drive from PHL to New York and then train/drive New York to Toronto. I recommend the train and stop at Niagara Falls. A side trip to YVR could be taken on AS or AC from LAX or on AA or AC from ORD. Fares for such a trip can be quite reasonable.

    Note that Circle Pacific in economy is booked in L class, so not good for earning QF FF points on AA flights.

    Another option is the economy B class fare on QF/AA. That will get you all the way to New York with up to 5 stopovers along the way. I am not sure what the max mileage is, but it is very flexible. The big advantage of that fare is the booking class. It is fully flexible and earns full economy miles on the AA FF program. Join the AA Plat Challenge and you have AA Plat FF status by the time you hit LAX, earning 100% bonus miles. Also, AA plat FF's traveling in B fares can request upgrades for free if seats are available. The B fare will be something around $3300 plus taxes depending on departure date. The Circle Pacific fare is $3069 plus taxes.
     
  3. arun

    arun Member

    Sep 5, 2002
    311
    0
    Sydney
    Thabks NM for the detailed info. I did not think of the train journey, but looks quite an attractive option.
    1. We are going for a conference in LA and plan to go to the Disneyland (or Disneyworld?) in LA. Plan to cover /universal Studio.
    2. My BIL (wife's bro) lives in Philadelphia.
    3. My sister and mom live in Edmonton, Canada.
    These are the absolute minimum. Having gone all the way, I would like to go to NY and Toronto.
    I will start looking at the options and I am sure I will have more questions!
    Thanks again.
    Arun
     
  4. danielh

    danielh Member

    Dec 5, 2003
    352
    0
    Well I'm planning to go to LA in Dec 15 2005 and return Jan 12ish 2006.

    I've already booked my QFF Award tickets and I will be travelling with my future wife (as of 2 April 2005).

    I am trying to hit the 2006 CES (Consumer Electronic Show) in Las Vegas between Jan 3-6 2006 and then off to San Fran MacWorld on Jan 9-13 2006.

    The CES is not a must but I would like to see it. MacWorld is a must though.

    I'm trying to work out my trip and currently it is...

    15 Dec 2005 - Arrive in LA
    19 Dec 2005* - Travel to Las Vegas
    19 Dec 2005 - Start Trafalgar Tour called "The Trailblazer"
    http://www.trafalgar.com/content.asp?ID=400&TourID=985&OldID=399&RegionID=5&x=29&TimeID=4&LengthID=2&y=10&SearchPageID=399

    26 Dec 2005 - Back in Las Vegas
    30 Dec 2005** - Leave Las Vegas to go XXX
    7 Jan 2005*** - Leave XXX to go to San Francisco
    12 Jan 2005 - Leave SF and fly to Los Angeles to catch flight back to Melbourne.

    * - I cannot decide between Amtrak, Car or Plane. Plane travel is apparantly about AU$75 per person (just got back from Flight Center)
    ** - I cannot decide what to do for this 7 day period. Do I go back to LA? Do I fly to Seattle? Do I fly further East to places like NY? And I know that I will miss the CES with this date.
    *** - Wherever XXX is going to be, I need to work out how I will travel from there. Plane, Car or Amtrak.

    The flight Center person mentioned something called Airplane Coupons where you can buy things like 4 x 1 sector flights for US$450. This was on the expensive side but apparantly it is flexible. Since I'll be travelling during the peak nasty holiday season I'm probably going to purchase any plane ticket about 6 months in advance. Does anyone know of something better?

    What is it like to just decide to drive from LA to LV (362km) and LV to SF (664km)? Or just to drive in the US in general? (and yes I know they drive on the other side).

    Sorry for the jumpy nature of this post. I'm adding in bits and pieces every half hour or so.

    Regards
    Daniel
     
  5. danielh

    danielh Member

    Dec 5, 2003
    352
    0
    Well I'm planning to go to LA in Dec 15 2005 and return Jan 12ish 2006.

    I've already booked my QFF Award tickets and I will be travelling with my future wife (as of 2 April 2005).

    I am trying to hit the 2006 CES (Consumer Electronic Show) in Las Vegas between Jan 3-6 2006 and then off to San Fran MacWorld on Jan 9-13 2006.

    The CES is not a must but I would like to see it. MacWorld is a must though.

    I'm trying to work out my trip and currently it is...

    15 Dec 2005 - Arrive in LA
    19 Dec 2005* - Travel to Las Vegas
    19 Dec 2005 - Start Trafalgar Tour called "The Trailblazer"
    http://www.trafalgar.com/content.asp?ID=400&TourID=985&OldID=399&RegionID=5&x=29&TimeID=4&LengthID=2&y=10&SearchPageID=399

    26 Dec 2005 - Back in Las Vegas
    30 Dec 2005** - Leave Las Vegas to go XXX
    7 Jan 2005*** - Leave XXX to go to San Francisco
    12 Jan 2005 - Leave SF and fly to Los Angeles to catch flight back to Melbourne.

    * - I cannot decide between Amtrak, Car or Plane. Plane travel is apparantly about AU$75 per person (just got back from Flight Center)
    ** - I cannot decide what to do for this 7 day period. Do I go back to LA? Do I fly to Seattle? Do I fly further East to places like NY? And I know that I will miss the CES with this date.
    *** - Wherever XXX is going to be, I need to work out how I will travel from there. Plane, Car or Amtrak.

    The flight Center person mentioned something called Airplane Coupons where you can buy things like 4 x 1 sector flights for US$450. This was on the expensive side but apparantly it is flexible. Since I'll be travelling during the peak nasty holiday season I'm probably going to purchase any plane ticket about 6 months in advance. Does anyone know of something better?

    What is it like to just decide to drive from LA to LV (362km) and LV to SF (664km)? Or just to drive in the US in general? (and yes I know they drive on the other side).

    Sorry for the jumpy nature of this post. I'm adding in bits and pieces every half hour or so.

    Regards
    Daniel
     
  6. markis10

    markis10 Veteran Member

    Nov 25, 2004
    30,088
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    BNE & SYD
    Prebook your accomodation for Vegas and tell the travel agent that you just want to visit as a tourist, dont mention the CES at all if you want a cheap room, some block bookings are sold to wholesalers on the condition that no CES business is booked.
     
  7. NM

    NM
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    Aug 27, 2004
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    Remember that you wil be there in winter, so that will affect where you go and what you do. LV is in the desert and you have to cross the southern Siera Nevada mountains to get from LA to LV. It will be cold and you may see some snow. But the road is good and it is an easy drive. It also means you have a car when you get to LV and dependking on where you are staying that may be helpful.

    You can drive to the Grand Canyon (South Rim) in about 4 hours from LV. If you plan on staying there overnight, plan and book accommodation. Staying inside the NP will require pre-payment but is a great experience. Again, it will be cold and plan accordingly.

    Driving from LV to San Francisco is not so simple in winter. You cannot easily drive over the Siera Nevadas north of Fresno, so you are going to have to head south-west and then north from Fresno. If you can get through the Sequoia National Park it will be spectacular at that time of they year, but the roads may be closed - do some research. There was snow on the roadside through Sequoia NP in late May when we drove through.

    In summer months, I would recommend heading to SF via Yosemite NP. But the Tioga Pass (eastern entrance to the park) is closed between November and May/June each year as it is at 10,000 ft and snow-covered for several months each year.

    The drive along Pacific Coast Highway (PCH - Route 1) from LA to SF is spectacular. You can stop off at Hearst Castle, Big Sir etc along the way. It is a little like Great Ocean Road in Vic, but grander. It is wise to plan and book accommodation along the way. Take your time and enjoy the scenery. You can keep heading north along PCH from SF to see the redwood trees.

    Near SF, head down to Monterey for the best aquarium in the world - it can't be missed on Cannery Row. And just up around the point is Santa Cruz with a great boardwalk. Not sure how much will be happening in winter though.

    You can easily spend several weeks driving through California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona etc looking at some of the most spectacular national parks around. If you plan on going to multple NP's look to pre-puchase an annual pass. A few years back they cost US$50 and the 12 months starts from the first use, not purchase date. Park entry is usually about US$20, so three of NP's and you are ahead.

    If you have any specific things to see/do (like skiing, museums, NP's, historical sights, shows etc) let us know and we can see what comes to mind.
     
  8. QF WP

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    Jun 20, 2002
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    Snow in Las Vegas indeed, see this comment in an email this morning from a client who lives there :

     
  9. QF WP

    Moderator

    Jun 20, 2002
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    danielh, a story on Macworld 2005:

    This is Apple's big week. The company kicks off its biannual Macworld conference in San Francisco, with CEO Steve Jobs scheduled to give his widely covered keynote address on Tuesday...
     
  10. danielh

    danielh Member

    Dec 5, 2003
    352
    0
    Thanks for the tips guys.

    With regards to NPs, I'll be travelling through a few on the "Trailblazer" holiday tour.

    From the sounds of it, it looks like I'll be flying from XXX to SF and SF to LA.

    Alternatively I might take a flight from LV to some place like Seattle and work my way south to SF and THEN fly to LA.

    I was considering doing some Skiing in Lake Tahoe or Heavenly but prob not do it as future wife is a complete beginner and I want to have fun skiing but will get a lot of flak if I abandon her on the slopes.

    Any thought on flying to Vancouver and then working my way south? I've got a 7 day window to make it to SF so is this a reasonable trip?

    Regards
    Daniel
     
  11. arun

    arun Member

    Sep 5, 2002
    311
    0
    Sydney
    I spoke to Flight Centre.
    Their suggestion is that I buy a SYD - New York with a stoppover in LA. About $1900 incl taxes with UA.
    Buy a side trip from LA to Edmonton (Canada). Not sure of the cost but some websearches indicated about $350US for a return.
    I just found that my BIL lives in Boston. Can I take train from NY to Boston? How long will it take and is it convenient?
    Again NY t Toronto by train - how long will it take?

    Is it worth to get a Round trip fare - SYD EDM-TORONTO-Boston (or New York)-LOS ANGELES?
    Is it worth looking at some air passes?
     
  12. NM

    NM
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    Aug 27, 2004
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    If you are going to use UA, you might want to consider buying (or getting from someone who has one) an Entertainment Book, which contains a voucher for something like 25% off UA flights SYD/MEL to USA. Will likely save you more than the cost of the book ($50 I think) and you get the other vouchers and benefits of the Ent book as well.
     
  13. arun

    arun Member

    Sep 5, 2002
    311
    0
    Sydney
    Oh yes. I have that. I need to check if that is on a "full fare"or any fares.
    Thanks for that NM.
     
  14. NM

    NM
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    Aug 27, 2004
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    I think it is any published fare, but don't one here to check. My sister has an E-Book and offered me any vouchers I could use. I left that one in her book but said I might come back for it sometime as she is not going to use it (and neither am I likely to use it). But if it was only full fare I would not have even considered it.
     
  15. Gary Steiger

    Gary Steiger Junior Member

    Jul 17, 2003
    20
    0
    California, USA
    I live in California.

    Yosemite is spectacular any time of the year, but April is a bit early. The falls will probably be running, but will not be full. The flowers will not yet be blooming in the valley. And the road to the high country will be closed by snow. I remember trying a visit there in April years ago, and was very disappointed.

    And you will really be too early for Kings Canyon/Sequoia National Parks. The big trees are at around 7000 feet. Snow will probably be everywhere, restricting hiking in the groves.

    The two train trips between San Francisco and L.A. are not very interesting. Same for train from L.A. to Las Vegas. On that latter route, for method of getting between the two places, price rules. Most intercity trains in the U.S. are not very frequent, and are almost always late, sometimes very late (up to a day).

    I recommend driving the coastal route, State Route 1 as long as you can stand the 2 lane very winding road driving on the wrong side all the way. (Freeway US 101 more or less parallels it if you get tired of Highway 1.) Highway 1 features very spectacular coast line, Solvang (nice Danish town Danes say is more Danish than Denmark), Hearst Castle (don't miss this amazing place), and the Monterey Peninsula. Don't miss the Monterey Aquarium. Big Sur, south of Monterey, has some nice hiking, as do all of the Redwood State Parks between Monterey and San Francisco.

    Do the math before you buy the annual National Parks pass. Yosemite is $20 (per car, not per person), but others are less expensive. You can get prices here.

    Las Vegas has both very cheap and very expensive lodging available. I don't see the point of the latter, since I spend time in the room only to sleep and bathe. I have spent more time than I care to think about in that city (hint: Bellagio and Mirage are the two best places to play poker). I have written up some suggestions for the place on my website, The Personal Travel Experience of Gary Steiger. I think you will find them useful.

    RE: Your idea of driving down to California from Vancouver. I think you can expect a lot of rain. The weather patterns change dramatically around 100 miles north of San Francisco. Better south, worse north. Rain will obstruct views of most of what you would want to see, though the Redwoods can be very nice in rain and mist.

    If you rent a car, you will want to return your car to where you rented it. One way rentals in the U.S. are very expensive. So that probably means renting the car in L.A.

    There is no way you can see everything you want to see in the short time you will be here. Consider it an "overview" trip, and plan to come back to see the rest. If you are sure you will come back in the late spring, summer or early fall (say late May to mid-October), leave Yosemite to then, especially if you can enter from the East over Tioga Pass in the summer. But if this will be your only trip to the Western U.S., Yosemite is a must.
     
  16. peggysue445

    peggysue445 Newbie

    Jul 9, 2004
    6
    0
    Beware Hwy 1 in Winter

    We had planned on including this spectacular drive in our Dec'04/Jan'05 Canada/USA itinerary for 12months. We had just driven to the outskirts of Carmel only to come across a sign to say "due to impending weather conditions the road is closed" This was also due to the unseasonal rains that California was experiencing at the time, but that on further investigation we were told by the locals that this road can close at any time due to unpredictable weather in the winter months. So forward planning is warranted to save the disappointment we experienced especially as we had been upgraded in our hire car from SF to a 2 door Canary Yellow Ford Mustang we can only imagine the thrill of driving down that road.
    We also experienced some flight delays due to "winter" again" so make sure you include spare days when on tight itineraries/schedules & avoid Alaska Airlines at all costs.
    Canada is a beautiful country - enjoy
     
  17. danielh

    danielh Member

    Dec 5, 2003
    352
    0
    Pass us some more info on your trip. I think I'm going to be doing a very similar trip to yours.

    Also, how much was the car hire up there?

    Regards
    Daniel
     
  18. arun

    arun Member

    Sep 5, 2002
    311
    0
    Sydney
    I have finalised my travel. I am flying SYD/LAX/New York/LAX/YEG(Edmonton)/LAX/SYD.
    SYD/LAX?SYD is QF. LAX/New York/LAX on AA. Canadian sector on America West. I was thinking about AA gold / platinum challenge. I asked the TA if SYD/LAX/SYD could be put on AA code. He replied in negative saying that it is QF tkt. Is there any use in using AA FF card instead of QF? With QF, I have about 100K points but no status.
    Thanks
    Arun
     
  19. Bob

    Bob Member

    Jun 8, 2004
    180
    7
    Brisbane (sometimes)
    arun,

    You will be able to use the QF coded flight as part of the AA Platinum challenge. Just make sure your AA FF number is on the booking and boarding pass.

    I changed to my AA FF number on an already booked QF LAX to BNE flight and got Platinum with AA on that one flight. Also, recently got QF to remove points from my wife's QF account and got them credited to her AA account to complete the Platinum challenge for her.
     
  20. arun

    arun Member

    Sep 5, 2002
    311
    0
    Sydney
    Thanks Bob. I will now register for the AA challenge then. My wife and son are not AA members yet. Will I get their cards in time if I register them online now?
    Regards
    Arun
     
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