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Subject: Travel guide to BGG.CON 2016 rss

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Brian B.
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Welcome to the BGG CON 2016 travel guide thread!

This thread is meant to help you with your travel questions to BGG CON 2016. I travel for a living and have experience with this; you can see my flight stats and flight map here. I've split this guide into flight, car, and hotel.

What's new for 2016?
For those who are familiar with the guide from past years, there's really only one change: the addition of Google Flights as a site to check for pricing. I have fallen in love with that site.

Without further ado, here's the full travel guide...

Flight
You are probably going to want to fly into Dallas/Ft. Worth International airport (airport code DFW), unless Love Field offers savings (more below). Almost all major airlines fly into DFW. American Airlines has a hub at DFW, which means they have by far the most non-stops into and out of the airport. However, DFW is one of the classic cases of airlines charging significantly more to fly nonstop to rather than taking a connecting flight. It's up to you and your budget vs. time constraints.

Dallas also has a second airport, Love Field (code DAL). With the Orange Line having opened between Love Field & DFW, you should also check fares there. Southwest is the primary tenant at Love, but a couple of other airlines fly there as well. More on Southwest and getting from Love to DFW below.

Websites to check for cheap pricing
Ah...the question as old as Internet travel agencies themselves. Here's the order I like to check things in:

1. http://flights.google.com . A couple of years ago, Google bought out ITA, which is the backend many companies use to search fares. Google has since made a website using ITA results and it's lightning fast--you can plug in dates & times and get a look at airfares, you can narrow it down by preferred alliance, you can plug in a departure city and date but no destination if you just want to see what's cheap, etc.

2. http://www.hipmunk.com . Hipmunk shows not just the flights and prices, but compares times with a really nice display so you can see just when the flights are.

3. Check http://www.kayak.com. Kayak does, IMHO, the best job of comparing different prices from different websites.

After you've found a fare you like, go to the airline's website and book it there if at all possible. The main reason is simple: if something goes wrong and you booked your ticket through a travel agency, it's not clear whom to call. You'll call the agency who will tell you to call the airline; then you'll call the airline who will tell you to call the agency. It's a mess, and why I always book my ticket through the airline's website unless there's a significant savings to be had elsewhere.

What's a reasonable price?
It is downright impossible to answer that question without knowing where you're coming from. You would think that it would be proportional to the distance you're traveling from (e.g. Boston-Dallas should be more expensive than Shreveport-Dallas)...and that would be wrong. It's all about competition; larger airports with more airlines will be cheaper than smaller airports. Of course, if you're not sure if you've found a good deal, feel free to post to this thread and ask!

When should you book?
You shouldn't book until you're certain you can come. If you have to cancel your ticket, most airlines will charge a $200 cancellation fee and you'll get the rest of the money back as a credit to use toward a future flight, not a refund on your credit card. That said, I usually like to book no less than 2-4 months in advance; if you book later, a lot of the cheap tickets are gone. Under no circumstance should you book less than 2 weeks before your flight to BGG CON, as tickets can go WAY up in price after that point.

One more piece of advice here: look at the prices every single day. It doesn't take long, and every once in a while, you'll find the flight price suddenly went down by $100, whether because of a sale or because someone typed in a price wrong in some database somewhere. These often don't last 24 hours (if even that long), so taking the couple of minutes to check each day is well worth it.

Why don't I see any Southwest prices when I look?
There are two reasons:
1. Southwest has removed all their pricing from any public travel website other than their own. Thus, you must go to their website to check their prices. NOTE: Contrary to popular opinion, Southwest is not always the cheapest! You should certainly check them, but also check other airlines, as they often match or beat Southwest fares.

2. Southwest does not fly to DFW. They fly to Love Field (airport code DAL), which is a different Dallas airport about 20 miles east of DFW. You would be on your own to get from Love Field to and from the Hyatt Regency. If you want to know the why behind all that, Google "Wright Amendment" and you'll find all sorts of details. That said, if you do want to fly into Love Field, you can now take the Orange Line directly between Love Field and DFW for $2.50 one way. Details on the Orange Line are here.

How to get from Love Field to DFW:
1. Follow signs at Love Field to ground transportation.
2. Find and take Love Link 524. Love Link 524 is a free shuttle that runs every 15-20 minutes from Love Field to DART's Orange Line Inwood/Love Field station.
3. After arriving at the Orange Line station, buy a single use ticket from one of the fare vending machines for $2.50.
4. Take the Orange Line toward DFW. It runs every 20 minutes or so.
5. DFW will be the very last stop on the Orange Line. It drops you off at Terminal A; you can then follow the directions below to call for the hotel shuttle.

More information on going from Love Field to the Orange Line can be found here.

Driving
Only a couple of things to say here:
1. If you have a GPS, set it not to the hotel, but rather to Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport. Once on the airport grounds, turn the GPS off and follow the signs to the hotel. (Note: it's been reported below that it's now OK to set your GPS directly to the Hyatt Regency DFW; that used to not be the case due to DFW construction, so it probably depends on when you last updated the mapping data.)

2. If you're flying in, you do not need a rental car. In fact, at least strictly from the convention perspective, there's really no good reason to get one. Last year, we got to use the Grapevine Shuttle for free, which went to plenty of restaurants and some grocery stores. Of course, if you want to tour Dallas or Ft. Worth, you'll want a car to go there.

Parking
The hotel has a parking garage. You can get your parking validated at the hotel and it should cost you nothing. But make sure to wait until just before you leave to get your ticket validated, as the validation only lasts for so long.

Hotel
If you're lucky enough to find a room there, stay at the Hyatt Regency DFW (and NOT the DFW Grand Hyatt, which is also a fine hotel, but not where the convention is being held). Check here for BGG rates. If you want a refrigerator, you can call the hotel in advance and ask for one; they'll likely charge you a fee for it. If you can't get a room at the convention hotel, go here for more information about other reduced rate hotel options.

Note you may find cheaper rates at non-contracted hotels, but we're not supposed to discuss them on BGG.

Getting from the airport to the hotel
You have two options to get from the airport to the hotel, which is to take the shuttle or walk.

Shuttle directions
1. Get off the plane.
2. Follow signs to baggage claim. At DFW, each baggage claim is only shared by about 5 gates, so this shouldn't be a long walk. Even if you don't have a checked bag to pick up, note the gate number of your baggage claim. Baggage claims here are not numbered like at most airports; rather, they're named after a nearby gate, such as "Baggage claim E14." It's the E14 you need to know.
3. Pick up your checked bag if you have one.
4. Look for a big board labelled "Visitor Information" or somesuch near baggage claim.
5. On the touchscreen, select Accommodations, search by brand, and select Hyatt. From there select the Hyatt Regency DFW. When you select that, the touchscreen will direct you to pick up the phone to place the call.
6. Pick up a phone, and the call will be placed.
7. Ask for a pickup from the airport. The clerk will ask you what baggage claim you're at; answer with the info that you noted in step 2.
8. Go downstairs and ultimately outside, and look for the area labeled "courtesy vans." It should be in the same area as the rental car shuttle.
9. Go to that area and wait for the blue van with white letters. MAKE SURE THE SHUTTLE IS GOING TO THE REGENCY (you should ask the driver to confirm). There's a couple of other Hyatts near DFW; I once had a couple of pilots on my shuttle who thought we were going to the Grapevine Hyatt.
10. Get ready for tons of fun!

Walking directions
Your other option to get to the hotel from DFW is to walk. To do so, you probably won't want to have checked luggage as there are some stairs. Here's how you do that, according to a poster at Flyertalk.com:

Take the SkyLink (the train behind security that connects all the terminals) to Terminal C and exit at the door opposite Gates 20/21 (to the left of the Admirals Club and to the right of the food court). Once outside, find the "TO HOTEL" sign on the garage across the road. To get to the hotel, it is about three down-staircases (8 steps each) and one up-staircase of 8 steps each, then just before reaching the hotel entrance, a three-section down-staircase (3 sections of eight steps each, for a total of 24 steps).

And that's it! Once you're there...well, you can check the rest of this forum for everything going on at the convention itself. If you have questions or comments, don't hesitate to ask!
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David Short
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Thanks. Lots of good info as usual.
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Gil Hova
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Fantastic post.

One thing to add for people who are driving: get your parking ticket validated as you are walking to your car, and not a moment before. If you get your ticket validated too soon, you'll get charged tolls.
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John Hathorn
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As always, thanks for posting this!


I will say that my car's GPS leads me right to the front door of the hotel (Hyatt Regency) without any problems. It also leads me out of DFW with perfect accuracy.
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LiteBulb88 wrote:
Driving
Only a couple of things to say here:
1. If you have a GPS, set it not to the hotel, but rather to Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport. Once on the airport grounds, turn the GPS off and follow the signs to the hotel.

Parking
The hotel has a parking garage. You can get your parking validated at the hotel and it should cost you nothing.


I really needed that, thank you very much.
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Brian B.
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IngredientX wrote:
Fantastic post.

One thing to add for people who are driving: get your parking ticket validated as you are walking to your car, and not a moment before. If you get your ticket validated too soon, you'll get charged tolls.


Thanks! I added this to the guide.

JohnnyOffice wrote:
I will say that my car's GPS leads me right to the front door of the hotel (Hyatt Regency) without any problems. It also leads me out of DFW with perfect accuracy.


Thanks as well! The first year we were at the Regency, they were pretty serious about telling us not to trust GPS locations of the Regency due to the construction; that construction has since finished and I'd imagine all GPS's have caught up. I added a note to the guide.
 
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Quick comment on Southwest. Although it isn't always the cheapest fare, it does have the advantage of two checked bags for free per passenger. Compare this to most other airlines which charge for all checked bags unless you use their branded credit card or are a frequent flyer. This can make a big difference if you're transporting a lot of games.

Also, although you cannot get cash refunds, except on the expensive fares, you can cancel any fare, up to 10 minutes before the flight and get full credit for other Southwest flights. The major restriction is that the credit is only good for one year from the original booking.
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John Hathorn
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LiteBulb88 wrote:
IngredientX wrote:
Fantastic post.

One thing to add for people who are driving: get your parking ticket validated as you are walking to your car, and not a moment before. If you get your ticket validated too soon, you'll get charged tolls.


Thanks! I added this to the guide.

JohnnyOffice wrote:
I will say that my car's GPS leads me right to the front door of the hotel (Hyatt Regency) without any problems. It also leads me out of DFW with perfect accuracy.


Thanks as well! The first year we were at the Regency, they were pretty serious about telling us not to trust GPS locations of the Regency due to the construction; that construction has since finished and I'd imagine all GPS's have caught up. I added a note to the guide.

I can't say it will work for all GPS. I use the built-in Ford nav system included with the SYNC System.
 
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JohnnyOffice wrote:
LiteBulb88 wrote:
IngredientX wrote:
Fantastic post.

One thing to add for people who are driving: get your parking ticket validated as you are walking to your car, and not a moment before. If you get your ticket validated too soon, you'll get charged tolls.


Thanks! I added this to the guide.

JohnnyOffice wrote:
I will say that my car's GPS leads me right to the front door of the hotel (Hyatt Regency) without any problems. It also leads me out of DFW with perfect accuracy.


Thanks as well! The first year we were at the Regency, they were pretty serious about telling us not to trust GPS locations of the Regency due to the construction; that construction has since finished and I'd imagine all GPS's have caught up. I added a note to the guide.

I can't say it will work for all GPS. I use the built-in Ford nav system included with the SYNC System.


I haven't had any problems with getting directly to the hotel using Google Maps on my phone.
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Bill Gallagher
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Lots of good information! Will you be adding in information on food options? I'll post a bit on those here:

Regarding the Grapevine shuttle: Last year, this was subsidized by Rio Grande Games. There is no guarantee that it will be this year; stay tuned to confirm it. As has been mentioned, it will take you to a number of restaurant options (fast food, fast casual and full service) as well as several shopping options (including a Super Target). The shuttle normally costs $5; you'll get an all-day pass that allows you to utilize the entire system (up to six lines I believe - note that several of them don't run on a daily basis). The shuttles run hourly; one should take that into account when scheduling games. Those wishing to use the shuttle on Tuesday will have to pay the $5.

Note that the hotel does not allow outside food and drink in the convention areas (it's fine in the guest rooms). I don't know how rigorously this is enforced though. There is a "quick grub" area set up at the convention where one can get food and soft drinks, as well as a Starbucks-like kiosk. Other food options include a sports bar, coffee shop (including buffet) and steak house (dinner only; pricey).

The rules on alcohol are strictly enforced though (must come from a hotel bar or restaurant). The Scotch and beer trades that you may read about are strictly attendee run (and not by BGG). You'll have to travel a ways to buy alcohol for those events due to state and local laws (you won't find it at the Super Target like you can in California).
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Yuglooc wrote:
Lots of good information! Will you be adding in information on food options? I'll post a bit on those here:

Regarding the Grapevine shuttle: Last year, this was subsidized by Rio Grande Games. There is no guarantee that it will be this year; stay tuned to confirm it. As has been mentioned, it will take you to a number of restaurant options (fast food, fast casual and full service) as well as several shopping options (including a Super Target). The shuttle normally costs $5; you'll get an all-day pass that allows you to utilize the entire system (up to six lines I believe - note that several of them don't run on a daily basis). The shuttles run hourly; one should take that into account when scheduling games. Those wishing to use the shuttle on Tuesday will have to pay the $5.

I don't know much about the shuttle. As you'll see below, I make due food wise without leaving the con hotel at all.

Quote:
Note that the hotel does not allow outside food and drink in the convention areas (it's fine in the guest rooms). I don't know how rigorously this is enforced though.

This isn't strictly true. The hotel does allow some delivery of food from certain nearby restaurants. I don't know about having that food in convention areas, though I have definitely seen people with pizza boxes from non-hotel restaurants in the boardrooms and other convention areas. I usually bring small bags of trail mix purchased offsite or brought from home. I keep them in my backpack, snack on them between breakfast and dinner and have never been approached or hassled about them by hotel or con staff.

Quote:
There is a "quick grub" area set up at the convention where one can get food and soft drinks, as well as a Starbucks-like kiosk.

They call this the "cash and carry." They serve quick fried options: chicken tenders, french fries, etc; some kind of barbecue sandwich (pulled pork is common, but brisket as well); and other quick grab foods: pizza, chips, prepared sandwiches, etc. They also have beer, soda, water, energy drinks and coffee. You have to buy tickets for these items from a cashier and hand those off to your server. You'll see many people pricing their desired food items at the cashier and paying for exactly enough tickets, but it's perfectly acceptable to just hand them a $20 and ask for 2 beer tickets (they are separate) and the rest in food tickets.

I usually, but not always, go here for dinner.

Quote:
Other food options include a sports bar, coffee shop (including buffet) and steak house (dinner only; pricey).

There are 2 restaurants in the hotel: Mister G's (the steak house/fine dining) and Jacob's Spring Grille. Jacob's offers a buffet for breakfast, another for lunch, and another for dinner. They also have a menu you can order items not on the buffet from. The line for Jacob's is usually long. I get up early and eat the breakfast buffet. I also bring my travel coffee mug from home and they fill it up at the end of my meal at no additional charge. Great service!

Aces is the sports bar (not really sure what makes it "sports" - I guess there are a few tvs but good luck watching a game) and serves alcohol. They also serve items off the same menu as Jacob's and it is much quicker to get a table, order and eat here. When I don't get dinner at the cash and carry, I come here.

Jett's is the coffee shop. They serve food, but it is the prepared and prepackaged kind: chips, sandwiches, candy, junk food, etc. They have sodas and coffee/espresso, water and other assorted beverages. No alcohol here. If I get a late start in the morning, I'll grab a bagel, muffin or other breakfast pastry here.

There is also a gift shop on the lobby floor. They have refrigerators with some food items, drinks including beer, and desserts. They also have OTC medicine, toiletries, and clothes if you forget to bring yours or the airport loses temporarily dislocates your luggage.

Quote:
The rules on alcohol are strictly enforced though (must come from a hotel bar or restaurant). The Scotch and beer trades that you may read about are strictly attendee run (and not by BGG).

Yes, these are unofficial events and not sponsored by the convention in any way. Outside alcohol can be in your room, so these events end up as a crawl from room to room with tastings of the mentioned items in each room. I understand that last year's scotch crawl got a little rowdy so I'd expect to see some restrictions placed on it this year... however, it will still be unofficial.

The con staff asks that you not bring alcohol to the convention floor or, really, have it outside of your room in general. The hotel restricts it, I believe for insurance purposes mostly but there are probably other reasons, and if hotel security sees you being obvious with it you will get in trouble (I don't know how much - it's at your own risk). I will say that I know of people who have had flasks or small bottles of liquor, purchased outside the hotel, in backpacks or purses in convention areas. These people keep the bottles out of sight, do not get disorderly (for the most part), and do not flaunt any breaking of any rules. I have never seen anyone who does this get in trouble, though I've not been everywhere.

Quote:
You'll have to travel a ways to buy alcohol for those events due to state and local laws (you won't find it at the Super Target like you can in California).

DFW area alcohol vendors
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JohnnyOffice wrote:

Yes, these are unofficial events and not sponsored by the convention in any way. Outside alcohol can be in your room, so these events end up as a crawl from room to room with tastings of the mentioned items in each room. I understand that last year's scotch crawl got a little rowdy so I'd expect to see some restrictions placed on it this year... however, it will still be unofficial.


The beer trade's usually in just one room, no crawling involved, and hasn't gotten out of hand that I know of (though there can be a fair number of folk involved). It's a mix of sharing & trading, with the emphasis on trying beers unavailable where you live or Texas (and homebrew).
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RE: Getting from Love Field to DFW Airport
It appears that factors include cost, trip time, and ability to schedule a pickup time (vs working within public transportation schedules).

Suggestions:
1. If you post here or create a separate entry to the main forum to ask if anyone else is arriving to Love Field around the same time you do, you might be able to arrange a shared shuttle/taxi/Lyft/Uber. Google quotes direct path to be 16.2 miles, approx. 25 min by car, for purposes of ride share quotes. (recommend including Love Field in subject of new thread)

There may also be a local attendee close enough to pick you up. Only way to know is to ask, worst that happens is a no.

2. Shuttle should be a direct trip, rather than the 1-2 hour trip on public transportation. I checked SuperShuttle's website and it is currently $26 per person for van ride share. You can schedule a pickup ahead of time easily via the SuperShuttle website. I do not know how they handle luggage, but since it is a van, chances are they have space for bags.

3. DART is possibly the cheapest option, but also the longest trip.
I am NO expert on it, so a local or someone who has taken it may have better info than I do. I am quoting info from two different BGG users, see below. I advise that you verify with DART that those instructions are still accurate. Routes change from time to time. This can take 90-120 minutes one way, from what I see.

4. Taxis, Lyft, and Uber are options, I have no idea what pricing in the DFW area runs. From generic info, taxis look to be $40-50. If you shared with others, the cost might be cheaper than the shuttle, but solo, this appears the most expensive method.

Here are two BGG Users who have shared info:

LiteBulb88 wrote:

(quoted from original post in this thread)
Welcome to the BGG CON 2016 travel guide thread!

How to get from Love Field to DFW:
1. Follow signs at Love Field to ground transportation.
2. Find and take Love Link 524. Love Link 524 is a free shuttle that runs every 15-20 minutes from Love Field to DART's Orange Line Inwood/Love Field station.
3. After arriving at the Orange Line station, buy a single use ticket from one of the fare vending machines for $2.50.
4. Take the Orange Line toward DFW. It runs every 20 minutes or so.
5. DFW will be the very last stop on the Orange Line. It drops you off at Terminal A; you can then follow the directions below to call for the hotel shuttle.

More information on going from Love Field to the Orange Line can be found here.

I have never used any of these methods, but other people may chime in with their experience.


And Tips from a BGG Con Veteran also has info here(pertinant quoted below):

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1576079/tips-bgg-con-vetera...
cmontgo2 wrote:

Travel

Getting to the Hotel. If you fly directly into the DFW airport, the hotel will send a shuttle around to get you. Call them when you get in.

If you arrive at the *other* airport (Love Field), the DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) is a very cheap and efficient option. I used it last year. For a couple bucks ($2.50 for a two-hour pass and $5.00 for an all day pass), you can get from Love Field to the hotel. Travel time is about 1.25 hours from baggage terminal to the front desk of the hotel.

How do you get there? When you exit the terminal outside the baggage claim area of Love Field, go up the incline, out to the main sidewalk (where arrivals are picked up) and turn to your right. Go all the way down the sidewalk to the end where you will find a DART sign for Bus #524. Wait for the bus (every 10-15 minutes or so). Only one bus line runs at this stop, so you can't get on the wrong bus. Get on the bus, pay for a card (they do not provide change) and ride the bus to the Inwood/Love Field station. Go up to the elevated train platform. Two train lines operate at this station, Green and Orange. You want the Orange line. Get on the Orange Line headed to DFW Airport and ride to the end of the line. When you arrive at DFW, exit the train terminal via the tunnel in the middle of the platform (you might be dropped off on the opposite side and have to cross over the tracks). Do not exit the terminal at the end of the platform (like I did my first time), this will take you down to a lonely bus terminal. Instead, exit through the tunnel in the middle of the platform and walk down the curving sidewalk to a busy street where arrivals are coming outside. Go left down the sidewalk to the first set of exit doors for the baggage claim (arrivals). Call your hotel, give them the door number, and ask them to send a shuttle.

The only draw back to the DART is that you are responsible for lugging your luggage. I bring a backpack and two cases, and it wasn't a huge inconvenience, but you should be aware of this requirement.

If you don't want to just take my word for it, you can find more information about the DART system from Dallas Love Field here: https://www.dart.org/riding/lovefield.asp

If you want to use a cab, beware that they are going to be expensive. I used a cab from Love Field to DFW (which was about a 20-minute drive) and ran me $45 (not including tip) between airports (I did this a couple years ago, but I was floored by the price). It is convenient because they will drop you off right in front of the hotel, but be prepared to pay for it.

There is also a shuttle service, which I know nothing about -- some attendees have used a shuttle from Love Field to the Hyatt, which with a group could be a middle ground between the DART and a cab. It comes with the convenience of door-to-door service, unlike DART, and rates (with a group) well-below cab fare. I believe this has to be scheduled/arranged before you arrive, and hopefully a veteran can come along and explain in the details and prices of how to arrange this option.
[/size]


This is a thread from last year by BGG con attendees: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1471280/dart-love-field-dfw...

I also found this thread on TripAdvisor, though it is older. https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g55711-i141-k5025118-C...

Best of luck, hope this helps!

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