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Old Jan 4, 00, 10:52 pm
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Denver, Colorado, USA
Programs: AS MVP 75K, UA PremEx-MM
Posts: 3,067
New Year's in Vegas - Shuttle DEN-LAS-DEN

Here’s a trip report for New Year’s in Vegas:

Friday, Dec. 31
UA 2717
N933UA 737-500

We were booked on the 8:10 p.m. DEN-LAS but got on standby on the 4:30 flight so we could make the most of our New Year’s Eve. This trip was spontaneous but the fare was only $266 R/T with just 2 days notice. Checked in at the counter – four agents waiting for non-existent passengers in the Premier line.

Full flight but we got on no problem – 21 A&B; last row but only two seats in the block – no middle. DIA was deserted (except for the Vegas-bound) – had to hoof it back to the East Red Carpet Club where we watched fireworks on the Eiffel Tower – wow! Better-than-average selection of snacks including string cheese – my favorite. Jan./Feb. audio program but a December "Hemispheres."

Uneventful flight – on time departure and arrival plus a good crew. Pretty good munchies called “Party Mix” rather than the dreaded “Safari Mix” -- pretzels, bread bits and tiny corn chip-like things. Free drinks for some reason (the flight attendant did charge a couple of other pax for theirs), so the Finlandia (w/ cranberry) and Jack Daniel’s (w/ Coke) tasted extra good.

On time to LAS – 40 minute taxi line so we took a shuttle that made 3 stops before making it to the Flamingo Hilton. We’ve both got HHonors Gold cards, so we quickly got a nice room on the 27th floor that was the last one on the Northeast corner of the building – long hikes to the elevator through some truly ugly blue and pink carpet. Very spacious room with a nice view of the Mirage/Harrah’s/Imperial Palace/Venetian. Free bottle of commemorative Millennium Champagne as well.

Gambled a bit and ate at the coffee shop (some outrageous prix fixe prices at many restaurants observed), then back up to the room to drink our bottle of (not free) Vueve Cliquot (signs everywhere warned against bottles on the Strip) and get festive. The Strip was closed to traffic and full of good-natured party people, most of whom looked 18 or so. The police kept a strip down the center for access which seemed to work pretty well.

Wandered down to Paris and then to the Bellagio, where we ended up inside the fence right next to the platform where Connie Chung and the Vegas mayor were doing a remote for ABC. Chaos on the other side – some poor kid climbed a light pole, then grabbed a power line and was electrocuted and fell to his death about 100 feet from where we were, although we didn’t know it at the time – big countdown on the Bellagio sign and then nice pyrotechnics at the faux Eiffel Tower at Paris – very cool looking rappelling group wearing white billowy costumes coming down from the top made for a nice show. Saw Maury Povich give Connie a big New Year’s kiss.

Wandered around a bit more (past the in-street drunk holding pen that was quite entertaining) and then lost a bit more cash at the “Wheel of Fortune” machine before heading to bed.

Sat. Jan. 1

Slept in, then checked out the Venetian. Ate lunch at the “Café Grand Lux.” Pretty good food (barbecued chicken pizza and excellent Thai spring rolls for me) and an attractive huge room, but the overall impression was very Cheesecake Factory (they created the place). Seems like everyone was from L.A. or New Jersey. Shopped and wandered around the rest of the day, plus more gambling (did OK). Ate dinner at Ming Terrace at the Imperial Palace, since we always go there at least once on each trip even though it’s Gringo food.

Sun., Jan. 2

Walked down the Strip to Mandalay Bay, where we had brunch. Not bad for $15.50; it included champagne (poured from a bottle suspiciously missing any evidence of a cork -- I guess the tap was in the back room somewhere) and the usual mountain of food. Nice view of the pool area. Looked around at Aerole's big wine tower and stark décor. I still think the Bellagio is the classiest place in Vegas with the best "craftsmanship" visible in the décor, although the Venetian had a few nice touches such as the faux Renaissance ceiling frescoes near the entrance. Gambled a bit more and did OK again. Probably walked away $100 up for the trip.

Later went for a run down Paradise Rd. Lots of construction, including a Del Frisco's steak house and a Candlewood Suites. Wonder why they still call it the "Sands Convention Center" even though it's next to the Venetian now while the Sands is long gone (although my Mom said she stayed there in 1960 and it was really swanky back then, as was Vegas as a whole). The town seemed to clear out about noon on Sunday.

Went to dinner at friends -- it was good to have a home-cooked meal in the middle of all that restaurant food. Gambled a bit more at the Flamingo and then turned in early.

Monday, Jan. 3
UA 2700
N388UA 737-300

Got up at 3:30 a.m. to try standby on the 6:00 a.m. flight to Denver (had seats on a flight at 6:20 p.m.). Cabbed to the airport and checked in at 5:00; we were given confirmed seats on the 6:40 flight and standby on the 6:00. Went down to D concourse and had a Cinnabon for breakfast, then went to the gate. Made it on at 5:50; seats 17 C and D (aisles across). Maybe 3 empty seats visible in economy. On-time departure and arrival.

Efficient crew; vanilla Vienna fingers and a Frappucino was the service. January "Hemispheres" but old Nov./Dec. audio. Noticed that UA now has electronic headsets in economy with detachable cords, a nice touch. I always bring my own small headphones anyway since even the electronic headsets provided in first sound terrible to me.

DIA crowded on the first Monday of 2000.
It was a fun trip and definitely more lively than Denver, where Y2K was a big non-event due to the city's paranoia. I don't expect lavish service from Shuttle (won't upgrade unless it's part of a larger itinerary - DEN-LAS sure isn't worth 1,000 miles worth of certs) so I'm not disappointed. Overall I'd give United an "A-" on this one.
Kurt is offline