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Trip Notes: Our SoCal Quasi-Mileage Run…

I left off previously last month when we were leaving the Newark Presidents Club in middle of a flying across the country earning miles worth more than the cost of the $78 ticket…

-We were upgraded on the flight from Newark to Houston.  The aircraft was a 777-200, the same airplane that Continental flies on international routes, like from Newark to Tel Aviv. It was my first time being in the BusinessFirst section of that aircraft since Continental switched from their old style BusinessFirst seats to the new lie-flat seats.  It was a pleasure to be able to make the seat into a bed with the touch a button.  There is even a USB plug to charge an iPod for example and a regular 3-prong style plug as well.  I did notice that the cutout where your feet go when the seat is made into a bed varied greatly between seats.  While some seats had huge footwell cutouts, others had significantly smaller footwells.  Bulkheads seemed to have the biggest footwell cutouts.  Each seat has a large LCD with hundreds and hundreds of free movies and TV shows to watch.  You can even control your iPod from the screen.  All in all it’s a very nice upgrade from the old-style BusinessFirst seats that Continental had.

-In Houston we went to the excellent Presidents Club in Terminal E and made our way up to the 3rd floor of the massive club.  The showers there are significantly nicer than the ones Continental has in Newark.  There is a closet in each shower room where you can put your clothes into and they are pressed while you shower.  In Newark we had to scout around to find empty seats in the club but on the 3rd floor of Houston’s club there were plenty of open spaces.

-We were upgraded on the Houston to Orange County flight as well but this was a domestic 737 configuration.  If only Continental flew the 777 from Newark to the west coast directly!  Continental is retrofitting all of their 737s with hundreds of stations LiveTV and on-demand movies and this flight had that.  In coach they charge $6-$8  for the service with a $2 discount if you use your Continental OnePass Plus card (the same discount applies towards alcoholic beverages bought with the card), but in First the service is free.

-We arrived into Orange County airport Tuesday evening at 10:30pm and Avis had a Caddy STS with just 93 miles on the odometer waiting for us.  We used the $30 Daily Getaways Avis coupons to pay for it.  Best of all-you don’t pay all those nasty rental car taxes when you use the $30 coupons!

-That night we stayed at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach.  The category 6 property feels slightly dated, but the main draw in that it’s right on the great beach.  It’s kind of mind-boggling that this could be on the same redemption category as some of the other top-tier Hyatt hotels.  They discounted the $23 resort fee to $17 as a Hyatt Diamond member, though I still don’t know what exactly that fee is supposed to cover.   We received a nice suite, but when I turned on the air conditioning it gave off a strong electrical smell and didn’t work at all.  We did get 6,000 points though as compensation for that.  The pools are nothing to write home about for a resort property, although perhaps I am spoiled by the Grand Hyatt Kauai or the Hyatt Regency Maui? The property does have a nice Regency Club where they serve a complimentary breakfast.  We ate some cereal and drank Tazo Passion Fruit tea out on the club balcony and went to walk along the nice boardwalk along the beach.  We even rented a 2 person trike and peddled up and down the boardwalk for an hour which turned out to be more fun than I thought it would be!  Overall a fine hotel for the location alone, but nothing to write home about otherwise.

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