Free Admission This Saturday To Portland Art Museum, Children’s Museum, and Portland Japanese Garden

This Saturday is Bank of America Saturday at the Portland Art Museum, Children’s Museum, and the Portland Japanese Garden.  Bank of America Saturday allows you free general admission to those museums when you present a Bank of America credit or debit card.  It is a cool little perk of owning a Bank of America card that does not get talked about very much.

Bank of America Saturday takes places the first Saturday of every month.  It does not include admission to special exhibits.  At the Portland Art Museum admission to a special exhibit is usually an extra $5 so still an amazing deal.  Free admission applies to the cardholder only.  When my wife and I take advantage this we use our Bank of America issued Alaska Airlines credit cards.

Admission to the Portland Art Museum is normally $15, the Children’s Museum $10, and the Japanese Garden is $9.50.  We are having some great weather this week and hopefully it holds for Saturday because the spring time is a great time to visit the Japanese Garden and doing so for free is even better.

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How To Use British Airways Avios To Book Award Flights on Alaska Airlines

This weekend I booked four flights to the Big Island in Hawaii using my British Airways Miles, aka Avios.  A couple years ago I signed up for a British Airways credit card that had a 100,000 bonus miles for signing up.  Thanks to their distance based award chart and being a partner with Alaska Airlines, I knew that was good for four tickets to Hawaii from Portland on Alaska.

You cannot book Alaska Award flights online, you have to call their reservation line.  The CSRs on the reservation line have a reputation for being a surly bunch.  So I was not looking forward to the phone call.  It turned out that the phone call was relatively pain free and actually a pleasant experience.   I learned a few things from the experience that I thought I would pass along, for anyone else who might be looking to book an award flight on Alaska with British Airways Miles.

First, the phone number.  This was sort of a pain in the ass to find.  Maybe it was just me but the number I found on their website wasn’t obvious to me that it was the correct number. Other internet resources were not very clear either.  If you want to book a flight on Alaska with Avios, here is the number that you call, 1-800-247-9297.

Second, the phone tree is not very intuitive, at least it wasn’t for me.  When you call the number press one, and stay on the line.  Do not press anymore options.  I won’t tell you how many phone calls it took for me to figure that out.

Third, if you can, try to avoid calling during peak times.  The call center is open daily from 7am to 11pm EST.  I would recommend calling early or late.  I called both in the evening and around noon EST and waited forever, before finally giving up.  When I called at 10:30 pm EST there was hardly any wait until a person answered.

Lastly, because Alaska cannot be booked online the CSR should waive the booking fee. The booking fee is $25 per person booked.  I’ve heard that getting the CSR to waive the fee is hit or miss.  For me, it was not even an issue.  The CSR waived the fee without me even asking.

I thought once I finally got to a human being the process was very easy.  Which makes the total cost of $20 to fly four people to Hawaii even more awesome.

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Pioneer Square Turns 30

Courtesy Bruce Forster Photography


Today, 30 years ago marks the opening of Pioneer Square.  The red brick plaza in the heart of downtown.  I remember being at the opening ceremony of Pioneer Square when I was a kid.  At 4 years old I was just happy to have free mini ice cream cones and being outside.  Only as an adult, who has lived in Portland for most of my life, do I realize the significance of this simple plaza.   Continue reading

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