Wednesday, May 27, 2015

How to get a Southwest Companion Pass on the Cheap (...or How 2016 will be the Year of Southwest for me)

First off, a warning: This is very much your results may vary. It relies on jumping through some very specific hoops, those hoops still being offered by Southwest/Chase, and being in a position to do so. That said, let me share my story. 

Are you familiar with the Southwest Companion Pass? No? Well, here's the deal: If you fly 100 one way flights or earn 110,000 points in Southwest's Rapid Reward program, a person that you designate gets to fly for free with you for the remainder of the year and all next calendar year. In other words, BOGO for Southwest Flights.

That's a pretty great deal, but who flies 50 round trips a year or wants to spend between $55,000 and $110,000 on their credit card? It's a big prize for big spenders and as much as I love travel, I am not going to qualify with butt-in-seat flight segments. And despite that, I am 99% of the way there and I am about a month off from being 100%.

 How did I do it? I'll tell you and tell you how you can do it too. After the break...

Monday, May 11, 2015

Where've you been? A quick two months in review

The simplest way to summarize my April is this: Crazy. In addition to completing a rather large project at work (the documentation was 200 pages and I wrote it in four weeks), I also ended up having a very, very busy month of travel. In April, I visited Norway, Sweden, Mexico, and Seattle. That's over 15,000 miles in a month.

Naturally, I am only now starting to catch back up.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Seattle, WA

Stockholm, Sweden
Oslo, Norway

Oakland, CA

SOL Republic In-flight Testing

During my crazy month of April, I finally had the opportunity to try out my SOL Republic Bluetooth headphones on a plane. Naturally, performance here is going to be a big deal for me. The wireless features are great (as I first reported here), but planes offer a much different environment than around town.

So, how did they do?

Unfortunately, not that great. They did exactly what they were supposed to do (working both wirelessly and with the corded option perfectly), but the noise found in the Norwegian 787 was just too much for these otherwise good headphones. After being spoiled with active noise cancellation, I don't think I can ever fully go back. On the other hand, after being exposed to the freedom that comes with bluetooth wireless (again, first raved about here), I don't think that I can go back to a wired headset either.

While I'm still using these day to day, I am now going to have to find a pair that brings in the trifecta: Bluetooth, quality sound, and active noise cancellation. We'll see what I find!