As I began the process to reach 1K on United Airlines, I found some terrific airfares to Dublin over February weekends, allowing me to gain some big mileage without severe disruption to my daily job as the head finance exec for a growing internet streaming company. My initial goal is to find six long mileage runs in Feb-May time frame, before the higher summer fares kick in, allowing me to get the most miles for the least cost per mile (cpm)
MILEAGE RUN TO DUBLIN
I checked in for my 8am flight to LAX (My routing for this flight was through LAX-IAD-DUB to maximize miles) and due to the fact that I am a Mileage Plus Gold Member, and am flying internationally, I get access to the United Club at Denver this flight.
There are two identical United Clubs, one located on either side of Concourse B near the center atrium. One is near Gate B-44 and the other near Gate B-32. Each is located on a mezzanine level above the main gate level. Each is also a Star Alliance Gold lounge and also is open to US Airways Club members. Lufthansa refers its passengers to these lounges. Each club has the new espresso/capuccino machines and a staffed bar. The bar offers both house and premium beverages. Cereal is offered in the morning, while various snacks are offered the rest of the day. The United Club services include comfortable lounges, travel assistance, complimentary Wi-Fi, drinks, breakfast pastries and afternoon snacks.
Lounge: UNITED CLUB
Location: Airside – East Wing, adjacent to Gate B44.
Opening Hours: 05:30 – 21:30 daily.
Location: Airside – West Wing, adjacent to Gate B32.
Opening Hours: 05:30 – 21:30 Sunday – Friday. Closed: Saturday.
Since my flight to Lax left from gate B44, I enjoyed the hospitality of Chris and Dana at United Club West. This is a large, spacious United Club, one of the two in Terminal B that are very near each other. You enter from large sliding doors set into the main concourse, and up an escalator, with the reception desk at the bottom.
The colors are muted grey and beige, and very peaceful. Three of the sitting area have large armchairs: very comfy and great for a bit of a snooze. The fourth farthest quadrant is the bar area, which is bigger than at most United Clubs, and had a slightly better selection of booze. Finally, at the far end of the lounge is an odd long thin corridor with work cubicles.
United has the typical bar set-up….. Miller is on draft, there are two types of each of red and white wine, and there are free basic spirits. On the room dividers are tea and coffee making facilities, while soft drinks and juices are in the fridge. On the morning I was there, food was pretty basic with just the standard United cheese, crackers, fruit, muffins and bagels. There are three large widescreen TVs in the lounge and above the bar: these are generally on sports channels. There is free Wifi throughout the United Club (just get a card from reception). At the far end are the Work cubes. There are free newspapers – just the Denver Post and USA today however – and a few magazines on a rack by the bar. Toilets are by the escalators, and there are no shower facilities in this club.
Given my lack of status in United Mileage Plus. I will be doing the next six mileage runs in the back of the bus (although as a Mileage Plus Gold, you are able to get complimentary seating in Economy Plus, and I’ll tell you that the 5 inches of extra leg room is WORTH IT!) I flew from Denver to Los Angeles on a 767, then cross-country to Washington DC on a 767, then did the overnight to Dublin, again on a 767. The return flight was exactly in reverse although I did get upgraded on the last leg from LAX to Denver (woo hoo!).
I booked this 6 leg flight, entirely in EconomyPlus and the experience was okay, with really good flight attendants. The service was great, the seats were reasonably comfortable and the entertainment options were good but not great. The food was only so-so. Both the LAX-IAD as well as the IAD-DUB flights had IFE at each seat, giving us 56 movies to choose from. Arriving in Dublin at the new terminal 2, immigration was a breeze (maybe 10 minutes) and then I caught my airport shuttle to the Hilton Dublin Airport hotel (which is actually about 5 miles from the airport but just a short 1-12 minutes shuttle ride. Initially I got a little confused as to where to get the shuttle but was guided to Zone 14 where all the shuttles pick up. Thank God for my roller luggage, since I bet this was about two football fields from terminal 2 in a light rain (the walkway is covered though).
The Hilton bus driver was a chipper man and gave me lots of ideas on things to do in my one day layover in Dublin. Having been to Dublin several times before, I had plans to possibly visit the Writers Museum and of course, make my way to a Temple Bar pub for a beer or two. Once we arrived at the hotel at 11 am in a steady drizzle (what else would one expect from the weather in February?), Sara got me checked in quickly and cheerfully, even at this early hour. As a Hilton Gold, I get free breakfast and free internet (good for a travel blogger, eh?). When entering the L-shaped hotel to the right is Burnell’s Bar & Restaurant, along with an internet corner and the elevators. The reception is straight ahead and the lobby is modern — there is also a small seating area, monitors showing the departures and arrivals and a large clock behind the reception. There is a dedicated counter for Hilton Honors (HH) members.
WALKING AROUND DUBLIN
Once I got freshened up with a nap under my belt, my 30 hours in Dublin started with a visit to Temple Bar. Temple Bar is a colorful quarter of Dublin City which, almost accidentally it could be said, over the years developed a bohemian ‘Left Bank’ character, while retaining in its cobbled streets and old buildings a charm no longer to be found in many other parts of the city. The Temple Bar district extends from Fishamble Street in the west to Westmoreland Street in the east, and from the River Liffey in the north to Lord Edward Street-Dame Street-College Green in the south. I took a stroll through Meeting House Square and enjoyed the sights, sounds and aromas from the food stalls at the Temple Bar Food Market, browsed the books at the Temple Bar Book Market. The name has quite a history. In 1599, Sir William Temple, a renowned teacher and philosopher, entered the service of the Lord Deputy Of Ireland. In 1609 Temple was made Provost of Trinity College, Dublin and Master Chancery in Ireland and moved to this country. Sir William Temple built his house and gardens on newly reclaimed land here on the corner of Temple Lane and the street called Temple Bar. In 1656, his son, Sir John Temple, acquired additional land, which with reclamation made possible by the building of a new sea wall, allowed the development of the area we now know as Temple Bar. In the 17th century ‘Barr’ (later shortened to Bar) usually meant a raised estuary sandbank often used for walking on. Thus the river Liffey embankment alongside the Temple family’s plot became known as Temple’s Barr or simply Temple Bar. Later this evolved into the present thoroughfare connecting this whole area from Westmoreland Street to Fishamble Street.
Having been here before, I just enjoyed sitting back and watching the Saturday night revelers more than anything. This was a big night for Hen Parties (bachelorette parties) and I was amazed to see so much drinking for the female contingents.