On the way out of Japan, NPS spent one last night in Tokyo at the Peninsula Hotel. The Peninsula is situated near Tokyo Station right by the high fashion (and expensive) Ginza district.

Check in was a bit chunky when we arrived, because the front desk was understaffed, but we were eventually serviced and upgraded into a city view suite. Room 1712 had not only a spacious set of rooms, but also chauffeur services and breakfast in the room for 500 yen.

Peninsula common area

Sitting room features comfy couches and chairs

The bedroom sub suite is set apart from the living room. There is an extra toilet for entertaining.

Extra bathroom

Makeup desk


The window of the bedroom (by the desk) over looks the city

The spacious bathroom has multiple sinks and a non-plastic shower. The shower could use better water pressure.

Huge tub with city view


Luggage room and walk in closet

All in all this is one of the best laid out and most interesting suites NPS has ever stayed in.

A visit to the nearby high fashion mall cost us a pretty penny in designer clothing. And then it was off to dinner at the great hole in the wall Sake No Ana. Worth a visit!

Tokyo traffic

Sake no ana

Sake lineup one

The victor

Sake lineup two

The second victor

At sake no ana, dinner is Japanese pub food. You know, like waygu beef cooked on a rock.

The peninsula also provided airport transportation to Narita in a BMW which was well worth the price on the last day of a long trip. We were ferried to the airport in style and helped through the checkin process. Security was very very fast leaving time for sushi at Kyotatsu (terminal one near gate 34).

Five showerheads foe the Peninsula hotel. Very chic in the fashion district of Tokyo.

Lets tip our NPS hat to the people in marketing, shall we? We’re running a conference for a couple of hundred senior people down in Florida. So Amelia Island it is, and the Ritz-Carlton at that. Anyway, how does this property rate? Off the charts.

Room 832

Room 832

United pulled a ridiculous head fake on the way down: You’re upgraded. Oh, sorry, nevermind. Oh no wait, you ARE upgraded but now there is no room for your suitcase since you’re already seated in the back. In the end the trip was great and NPS appreciates the upgrade. Nice try united! Lets do it again and get it all right next time!!

The hotel provided car service at the airport, and our driver was superlative. He took a shortcut that saved us 20 minutes getting on the island. There was some evidence of hurricane damage on the sides of the road coming in. This island dodged a bullet when hurricane Matthew stayed off shore just two weeks ago.

We were greeted by name at the door with some champagne (which we sadly had to skip), and whisked up to 832 by gregarious staff. Outstanding greeting.

And the amenity shows that someone has been doing their homework. Cocktail? Yep. Sparking water? Yep. Hand written note? Yep. It’s all here and all awesome.

Pirate Loot (chocolate treasure, a cocktail, and sparkling water).

Pirate Loot (chocolate treasure, a cocktail, and sparkling water).

832 is nothing short of palacial. A gorgeous room with an incredible view of the ocean from its five balconies.

The suite has two main sections and 5 rooms.

Living area off the bedroom

Living area off the bedroom

832 bedroom

832 bedroom

Dining area

Dining area


Of course, we’re here for the showers. This non-plastic shower is also off the charts. Multiple shower heads and a bench? OK then.

Shower in the bathroom suite (itself several rooms)

Shower in the bathroom suite (itself several rooms)


The bar situation here is not good, which in 2016 is just plain sad. Sure, you can get some scotch if you try hard enough. But no bourbon to speak of. And if you order a proper cocktail (say, something like a sazarac) you will be sorely disappointed. Ever had a cocktail served hot in a glass straight from the dishwasher? How about a sazarac made with angostura? Yeah no.

Time to invest in some people who actually know what they’re doing Marriott. In the meantime, stick with the Mt Gay Extra Old rum (in a glass that has cooled off).

Four showerheads and a sincere wish for some more free time and a real bar for the Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island. Gorgeous property run by hospitality experts.

USAirways to Raleigh

March 14, 2015

Surprise surprise! Commuter jets operated by Republic for USAirways have wifi, and you can upgrade for super cheap. Too bad they only fly out of DCA.

I am not sure what United has planned, or when its plan will be implemented, but they seem to think a plan is reality. Ridiculous.

I flew in and out for dinner and did not spend the night. But I did camp in the Marriott RTP lobby for a short while. Yuck.

At least Marriott listened (and brought out a cocktail to boot).

Delta Net and other Wonders

September 30, 2013

Since cigital is opening an office in Atlanta, it looks like I will be flying down there more often. Flying to Atlanta is best accomplished on delta of course. So we left United at the gate, and here we are in the air.

So what do we think? Well for starters, Terminal B at IAD beats the bejesus out of Terminal A (which I call the “walmart terminal.”) It is modern, spacious, and has restaurants designed by something other than a chimpanzee.

IAD Terminal B != Walmart Terminal A

IAD Terminal B != Walmart Terminal A

Second of all, the delta flight left a bit early (better than on time) and has wifi available. (This is the first noplasticshowers entry posted from 35,000 feet.) I did have to pay to get moved into “economy comfort” or whatever they call this, and net costs $14 for this 90 minute flight.

Delta wifi.

Delta wifi.

All in all, things seem pretty similar to a United flight on an A320, but there’s net. I think that is good. Right?!

Here we go. United has opted to spend $30M on advertising to tell us that they are once again “friendly.” Read all about it in the NY Times story here:


The best return for United’s $30M in my view would be as a severance package for Jeff Smisek. Bye bye sucky CEO. Second best? Spend $30M getting operations fixed so that flights actually depart on time (or in some cases actually depart at all). And while you’re at it, why not ditch some of those planes that you bought way back when the original “friendly skies” debuted in the mid-1960s?!

United goes back to the future.

United goes back to the future.

Here’s the first spam! Nice spend!! Know why these customer actors are happy? Because they were upgraded! Yay! Must have way more than my 1.5 MILLION miles.

United Spam #1: Friendly!

United Spam : Friendly!

I flew United through Manchester on my way to Munich. Why? Because an upgrade could be guaranteed at time of ticket purchase. Those lie flat seats are too good to pass up when you travel too much. And the way United treats its frequent fliers these days, it’s best not to bet on an upgrade ever. Honest.

The flight over here was just fine on a reconfigured 757-200 with a decent BusinessFirst section. The only problem was we arrived early leaving even less time for sleep.

That transformed an already problematic four hour layover into an even longer 5 hour layover. I decided to seek a shower.

The good news is there is a Radisson Blu hotel situated between Terminal 2 (where United flies in) and Terminal 1 (where Lufthansa flies out). Popping the security perimeter for a shower is easy enough, especially if you are the second guy off the plane. Customs was a breeze.

The Manchester Airport skywalk.

The Manchester Airport skywalk.

The showers in the Radisson Blu are located on floor 0 in the gym/pool facility. I was the only person there.

Changing room.

Changing room.

The shower itself was great. Plenty of hot water and tons of room. In fact, the shower facility itself is better than the Senator Lounge shower in Frankfurt. Of course, United has no Arrivals Lounge here, but what do you expect?! It’s United!

Non-plastic shower.

Non-plastic shower.

The only problem was getting back into the security perimeter through the awful security line at Terminal 1. The line was very long. No TSApre here! Shoes off, belt off, laptop out, plastic bag of liquids separated. You know the drill (and it sucks).

Security nonsense aside, a shower on arrival in Europe is just what the doctor ordered. And the Serviceair shared lounge in Terminal 1 (the Lufthansa lounge) is just fine for waiting out the rest of the layover, especially since I am clean.

Lufthansa seems to have put me in a middle seat on the way to Munich (I switched to a window since no aisle seats are available). Wow, the star alliance is just awesome. Business class half way.

TSApre worked (and it does not suck)! TSApre failed (that does suck). TSApre kept on failing consistently for five months.

For the first few times (10?), everyone (including the TSA agents at Dulles) were convinced that I had been randomly selected again. After all, I have a Global Entry identity with a nice plastic card and everything. Then, last week the TSApre icon thingy was added to boarding passes regardless of whether you are selected for extra screening or not. None of my boarding passes had the icon! Uh oh. THis was obviously a system problem somewhere.

The new icon looks something like this. (Not sure who this guy Timothy D. Jester is, but he posted his boarding pass for us. Uh thanks Timothy. And sorry that you are on a waiting list for upgrade even with Global Services status. Typical.)

United app puts a TSApre icon on boarding passes now.

United app puts a TSApre icon on boarding passes now.

I thought the system failure was United’s fault since they had “changed my frequent flyer account to cohere with the TSApre database” and I was directed to “double check” all the data. I did everything I could to check through the website and even spent an hour on the phone with United last night.

This morning we discovered that the failure was my travel agent’s fault. They had my birthdate wrong in their system. Easy fix, and important too. Now the TSApre icon is on my boarding pass.

Moral of the story? Double check your birthdate entries if TSApre is failing for you. Apparently big brother cares when you were born.

FWIW, I made it through a very long (30 person) TSApre line in 6 minutes. Not bad.

Landed on Alitalia flight from Rome. Got through customs after a series of rather silly questions (given that we were just here last Sunday with the same passport numbers and everything). Had to dig up the address of the hotel in order to fill out the form properly.


Went to catch the Heathrow Express. The ticket office person sitting at the desk was “closed,” though present. Got tickets from a machine.

Went down to catch the train from Terminal Four where we landed. The instructions as to how exactly to do this from Terminal Four were not at all clear. I can only imagine what all of the Italians were thinking?! (Probably felt right at home actually.) Only the British can set up a system that obscure knowing full well that many thousands of visitors have to use it every day!

The Ministry of Silly Walks must run the Heathrow Express.

The Ministry of Silly Walks must run the Heathrow Express.

Had to take the train from Terminal Four Platform Two to Terminals 1,2, & 3 to catch the Heathrow Express after crossing from Platform One where we disembarked to Platform Two. Directions? Unclear. Electronic signs? Designed by a chimpanzee. Eventually, after an hour and twenty minutes had elapsed we caught the Heathrow Express.

Meanwhile, the Department of Dinner Reservations back at the Zetter had hit a snag after the reservation plan I asked them to execute last night failed at step 2 (call restaurant). The restaurant I had requested was already full! So the obvious thing to do is wait to let me find out after my five hours of flying-related blackhole comms? Uh, no.

Argh. Great Britain, what has become of you?