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Lucky Giants fan wins daytrip to New Zealand (Huh?)

San Francisco residents and Giants fans, Ms Thuy Thi Le and her boyfriend, Mr Kim Dang after they were announced the winners of Air New Zealand’s “Giant New Zealand Weekend”.

An ecstatic Thuy Thi Le as she was announced the winner of a free trip to New Zealand at the Giants game last Friday

Did you hear about the lucky couple who won a free one-day trip to New Zealand at the Giants vs Diamondbacks game last week?

Get this: Bay Area residents Thuy Thi Le and her boyfriend, Kim Dang, were declared the winners of a unique Air New Zealand Twitter contest during the first inning during the San Francisco Giants vs Arizona Diamondbacks game at AT&T Park last Friday.

The winners had to immediately depart the game for SFO to catch Air New Zealand’s 12-hour overnight flight to Auckland. The flight departs SFO at 10 pm and arrives in Auckland at 5:55 am.

The pair enjoyed Air New Zealand’s lay flat business class seats on the way down, and woke up in Auckland for an action packed day of activities which gave them a taste of some of the great things New Zealand has to offer. Then, on that very same day at 7:15 pm, they boarded another overnight flight to bring them back home to San Francisco, arriving at around noon on Sunday.

Thuy's 12-hour day trip included free helicopter transportation

Thuy’s 12-hour day trip included free helicopter transportation

During their whirlwind experience the pair was treated to private helicopter transportation between locations as they dined, jumped, sipped and zipped their way through picturesque New Zealand landscape.

How’d they do that? The Giants partnered with Air New Zealand to challenge fans to tweet why they should be chosen to take the nonstop Air New Zealand flight to Auckland for the ‘Giant New Zealand Weekend.’ Thuy tweeted: I should be flying to New Zealand so I can climb the Franz Josef Glacier, place a Giants Flag on it and let it wave with PRIDE! #AIRNZGIANTS.

Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon, who was in San Francisco for the event, said, “Market research shows Americans tend to overestimate the amount of time it takes to get to New Zealand.  The reality is that it’s a comfortable 12-hour overnight flight.  You can jump on board, enjoy a great meal of New Zealand food and wine, go to sleep and wake up in Auckland.”

The lucky couple having a nice lunch at the famous Huka Lodge on New Zealand's north island

The lucky couple having a nice lunch at the famous Huka Lodge on New Zealand’s north island

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After arriving in Auckland; the winners headed to check out the incredible view from New Zealand’s tallest building, the Sky Tower. They then boarded their private helicopter to fly over the breathtaking scenery of Waikato and the Rotorua thermal region, including spectacular views of Mt Ruapehu and Hobbiton.

The pair landed at an exclusive luxury lodge for a gourmet lunch before flying north again to Waiheke Island, home to boutique vineyards, olive groves and adventure activities such as zip lining.

The final stop was at one of Waiheke Island’s premier vineyard restaurants to sample fine wine and canapés before a short helicopter transfer back to Auckland International Airport and their nonstop Air New Zealand flight home to San Francisco.

“This was truly a GIANT weekend experience I will never forget,” said Thuy. “From the breathtaking views of Auckland atop the Sky Tower, the serene atmosphere of Huka Lodge in Taupo, the wild and crazy zip lining adventure on Waiheke Island, and the magnificent wineries dotted throughout, New Zealand truly has something for everybody. Now knowing it’s only a 12-hour flight from San Francisco, I am definitely going back to reunite with our fellow Kiwis!”

Zip-lining with Eco-zip in Waiheke Island

Zip-lining with Eco-zip in Waiheke Island

-Chris McGinnis

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Catching up on Bay Area Travel News - March 24 2013

 

Inaugural Hawaiian Airlines A330 gets a water cannon salute upon arrival in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo: Hawaiian Air)

Inaugural Hawaiian Airlines A330 gets a water cannon salute upon arrival in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo: Hawaiian Air)

A NEW WAY TO AUCKLAND. On Wednesday, Hawaiian Airlines added yet another new international route from Bay Area airports via its Honolulu hub: Auckland. Flights operate Monday, Wednesday and Friday only using a 294-seat Airbus A330. We checked on roundtrips in mid April and found fares as low as $766 round trip including all taxes and fees. (That is a remarkably good deal.) Business class is in the $5,000 to $6,000 range. Only Air New Zealand offers nonstops to Auckland from SFO. The New Zealand city is the seventh new international destination Hawaiian has added since 2010, which include Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, and Sapporo, Seoul, and Brisbane. Flights from Honolulu to Sendai, Japan start in June service to Taipei cranks up in July. Hawaiian has also launched a Facebook promo campaign for two free tickets. Would you consider flying Hawaiian to New Zealand or Asia? Why or why not?

Screenshot of Hawaiian Air booking

Screenshot of Hawaiian Air booking

NEW UNITED APP. This week United introduced a new app for Windows Phone 8 that allows users to book flights (including award travel), check in, get mobile boarding passes, monitor flight status and view Mileage Plus accounts. The United Windows Phone 8 app is available from the Windows Phone Store. Since the Bay Area seems to be Apple country, I have a question: Do you or anyone you know have a Windows phone? How is it?

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Knee room in an "Even More Space" seat on a recent JetBlue flight SFO-BAS. (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Knee room in an “Even More Space” seat on my recent JetBlue flight SFO-BOS. (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

JETBLUE ADDING PREMIUM FLIGHTS? JetBlue is hinting around that it might add some sort of premium seating on its transcon flights from Bay Area airports, according to AP. Have you flown JetBlue back east? What did you think of the product? From my experience, the JetBlue coach seat is quite comfortable, but without wi-fi for those 5-6 hour flights, it’s a tough sell for wired travelers. However, JetBlue says it is getting new satellite-based wi-fi this year.

Screen shot 2013-03-24 at 10.10.48 AM

MUSICAL GATES AT SFO. Here’s an interesting email from a dumbfounded reader who wasn’t warned about the fiasco of flying on United Express out of SFO. “So weird. We came to the United terminal at SFO to fly to Burbank but now we have to take this weird shuttle to another terminal. Had to go thru an ‘employee only!’ Entry down some rickety stairs and on to a tiny little bus thing.  So odd!!!” It could get even more confusing…we hear from SFO insiders that United will soon start using gates in the Delta gates (C) at Terminal 1, too. Stay tuned…

ON-TIME PERFORMANCE AT SFO. When you hear Virgin America and United chest beating about their stellar on-time performance at SFO in January, don’t forget this important fact: January 2013 was the third driest January in SF history! Just wait til the fog rolls in!

Dramatic rooftop pool at the brand new Okura Prestige hotel in Bangkok (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Dramatic rooftop pool at the brand new Okura Prestige hotel in Bangkok (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

BUSINESS TRIP: BANGKOK. Are you headed to Bangkok…or do you just dream about going there? Check out the advice and photos in Chris McGinnis’s latest BBC Business Trip: Bangkok- read up on the rash of new luxury hotels, where to get great Thai food, where to get a suit made, and why you should NOT ask for chopsticks.

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