My Week in Points: Live from the Arctic, All the Links I Didn’t Link

My weekend trip is where this hobby pays off for me. I used 60k United miles for an award on SAS that gives me 2 days in Oslo, 2 in Svalbard, and a half-day in Tromsø. Norwegian winter feels great and today is my first 24 hours of darkness polar night.

SAS economy long-haul is good experience, Star Alliance Golds don’t expect the red carper or any upgrades to premium economy. Their lounges reached their zenith with hot dogs in Newark. The domestic lounges in Oslo and Tromsø are skimpy on the refreshments. Norway is the odd European country with no 3rd-party airport lounges that I can find, certainly no Diners Club or Priority Pass lounges.

SAS EWR Lounge

The SAS app is quirky such as showing flight status as to, then from. Norwegians don’t read right to left, do they? I like the liability within 22 hours of departure to download various publications. Give me my FT Weekend and I am a happy flyer.

SAS App Entertainment

Hotels are the functional Radisson Blu Plaza Oslo, next to the main station, and well, the intent was to be at the Radisson Blu Polar Hotel Spitsbergen, Longyearbyen in Svalbard. That closed this month for renovations so they moved me to the serviceable Spitsbergen Hotel. Both were last-gasp bookings of the Club Carlson credit card 2-for-1.

My night in Tromsø will be at a Choice Hotels that looks like a typo: Clarion Collection Hotel With. With what? Not only breakfast but also evening smorgasbord for 16,000 Choice Privileges points. I had 38,000 expiring under Choice’s old policy, so booked that and also my 25,000 point stay at the Comfort Suites Paradise Island Nassau, which has full Atlantic resort privileges. The new policy keeps points alive with any activity every 18 months. I need to write more on Choice Privileges because there is much value to extract and this gives more flexibility.

Last week was a return to travel program news after a week of manufactured spend cuts. Some of these article go back to late 2015, they say in my mobile bookmarks folder, and are still relevant so are being unearthed.



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  • Joanna J

    We will be going to Oslo on BA business class this July.
    We will be staying at Svalbard Radisson Blu. Do you have any advice for activities?
    the rest of time we will be in Oslo (Radisson blu probably)
    Good Oslo hotels?
    Thanks Joanna

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  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Joanna J – Oslo has lots of Radisson and Choice, none seemed better than middling though many have great locations. I was at Radisson Blu Plaza, I would say lobby 4-star, facilities 3-star (dismal fitness center and pool), rooms 3-star.

    For Svalbard activities you want to look at the calendar on this website which has all the operators, not just a few. Things change with weather, though you want to start planning early because even in January many options sell out. The Bradt Guide is good to learn about the range of trips. In July/August the snow will be gone so you will have the widest choice including numerous multi-night options to consider.

  • Joanna J

    Thank you. I had very good experience with Radisson Blu in Iceland and in Poland so i will probably stick with them. I will plan my day trips in advance.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Joanna J – helps in Norway that hotels pretty much all provide free breakfast, yeah it is the same, tried European muesli, cold cuts/cucumbers/tomatoes, with elements of English breakfast you get everywhere else.

  • Joanna J

    Thank you. I love good breakfast. We had incredible breakfast at Radisson Blu 1919 Reykyavik and again in Warsaw, Poland. We will be staying at RADISSON BLU POLAR HOTEL, SPITSBERGEN
    Is it good?

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Joanna J – I was booked there however they decided to close for a month to renovate so I was moved over to Spitsbergen Hotel.

  • Joanna J

    Thank you. I hope they will be open and done with renovations in July. We are going to be there for 4 days. The best Radisson Blu that i have ever visited was Radisson Blu Golden Sands in Malta. I highly recommend it.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Joanna J – they reopen January 22.

    Great to hear on Malta, we are booked for May on a Turkey – Malta – Greece trip.

  • Joanna J

    I would advise to be careful in Turkey.
    There is a bit of prejudice against American tourists there. I was there in 2014 and i avoided speaking English for safety. Malta is delightful and Greece is absolutely lovely, especially Crete.

  • Joanna J

    We bought business class flight on BA from WAS to Oslo.
    then we used points that we transferred from DC to SAS for a flight between Oslo and Svalbard.
    We are looking forward to the trip. Thank you for your review. It is really helpful.