Point Me to the Miles

Navigating the Path to Great Travel

Get $100 from American Express for Hotel Bookings of $600 or More

Now through September 15, 2015 you can earn a one-time $100 statement credit from American Express for hotel bookings made through the American Express (AMEX) Travel Portal.

AMEX $100 Hotel Statement Credit

Earn a $600 Statement Credit for Hotel Stays Book through American Express Travel


This is a pretty good offer, but unfortunately Fine Hotels & Resorts are excluded.  Also, due to the fact that booking must be made through AMEX Travel, you will may not be eligible to earn points and/or elite stay credit on your stay, but your mileage may vary.

And I wouldn’t necessarily go out of your way to take advantage of this offer.  Some rates I have seen are more expensive than what hotel websites are offering, so take that into consideration.

Terms & Conditions

Registration is required beforehand and must be completed no later than August 31, 2015.  You must be an American Express cardmember to book travel through American Express.  Offer does not include Fine Hotels & Resorts hotels.  The full terms and conditions can be found here.

A Delta Flight Attendant Who Sets the Bar High

I was traveling recently to New York for Flyertalk’s infamous Brooklyn Reality Tour  and had a flight attendant who was truly exceptional.

Thomas was the flight attendant in charge of First Class, but frankly I don’t think it would have made a difference in service, as he was truly attentive, friendly while maintaining a professional level of courtesy, and had a great sense of humor. Personality-wise he reminds me of a combination of the ever-affable Randy Peterson and Captain Denny, for those who have the fortune to meet both of those individuals.

The first thing I noticed of Thomas was that he went person to person through First Class asking very politely if we would like something to drink prior to takeoff. Sure, any First Class flight attendant should do this, but he took drink orders one at a time and came across very personally.

As boarding continued, from the front of the plane I heard “This is your first flight, come this way!” I watched, in awe, as two young kids were shown around the cockpit and met another flight attendant. “How many other times” I thought, “in this post-9/11 security-crazed world, would other pilots and flight attendants be willing to do such a thing for kids?

During the course of the flight snacks were distributed (the flight time was just over an hour) whenever I had trash he was quick to nice and offer to take it me.

After talking to him for a while about travel (I knew just enough Italian from travels there to answer his “grazi” with “prego”) we exchanged contact information. Thomas, who is showing signs of the silver strands of wisdom, explained that he shares a last name with Iron Man and exclaimed “I’m Iron Man’s older brother!”

At the end of the short flight, there are not many flight attendants I have shaken hands with and been told “I will be contacting, you Bryce.”

Thomas’s service was quite exemplary, and he deserve to be recognized for his service.

Being Nice is Never Devalued

I rang up United today, and was reminded the importance of patience and being nice.

Background Story

Last year, my family and I had travel nearly interrupted when United abruptly cancelled the outbound flight of our trip. Due to some quick thinking on my part (I find it’s always helpful to call on your cell phone line rather than wait with the masses) I got us re-routed on Delta, and we actually arrived sooner than originally expected.

My Call to United

Flash forward today. It’s nearly been a year, and I realize I still need to request original flow mileage credit for a family member if they are to earn miles from the ticket. Yikes!

I called up United, and provided the information, but only after an extensive wait on the phone. I should note that I could have easily grown impatient with the agent. Rather, I kept my calm.

Keep Calm

I was informed that while mileage the return could be credited, because the outbound was on another carrier, they could not provide mileage credit for that portion of the trip. Which is of course, WRONG information. But, no need to be defensive.

I maintained my cool, and simply asked “O, really, why is that?” It would have been easy to get defensive and upset, but by responding patiently and playing dumb a little, I was able to disarm the agent. She said she would check something, then came back a minute later and retracted what she had said—the miles could in fact be credit!

The Lesson

I know folks who would become quickly irate, but in doing so you make no friends for yourself—you make enemies.

So do yourself and everyone a favor today if they tell you something you don’t want to hear: Be Nice. They just might go the extra mile for you!

And United Dissapoints….

I am currently off to Philadelphia, the the City of Brotherly Love, for the July 4th holiday weekend.


Anyway, I am flying United, and hell must have frozen over because my flight out of San Francisco features in-flight wi-fi:

United In-Flight

United In-Flight Wi-Fi Available

However, there is a serious downside to this flight:

No Seat Power Available! on Some United Flights with Wi-Fi

No Seat Power Available!!


Honestly, the aircraft that I am on (an Airbus A319) is probably about 20 years old.  And just because an aircraft is retrofitted with in-flight wi-fi does not mean that it has in-flight power.  But, if you plan on using one or electronic devices on a 5-1/2 flight, you would certainly expect being able to power said devices using wi-fi.  UnitedFail.


Marriott Delivers A “Suite” Experience for Me

It is no secret that I absolutely love the Marriott Rewards program. Despite what many other bloggers say, I think it has a lot to offer and is a great loyalty program.  And during a recent stay I had with Marriott only validated that notion.

The Arrival

Recently, I spent a few days gallivanting through the history, culture of Boston, where I spent a few nights at the Marriott Boston Quincy.

I arrived from a rather late flight, and didn’t make it to the hotel until about 1 AM. While no one was currently available at the desk (I wouldn’t blame them), I rang the bell and Yvonne was quickly available to help me.

I handed her my ID and credit card, with my Marriott Gold Elite status card conspicuously between the two, as I always do at check-in.

It Never Hurts to Ask…

While she was pulling up my reservation I asked her if she by chance any suites were available.  A funny moment ensued, as she said that they had a number of snacks available by the desk. I clarified that I was talking about the type of room, and she apologized as she was in the midst of her mid-term exams.

Given the late hour I didn’t expect one, but it never hurts to ask—and she said that the Executive Suite was available!

Despite the confusion over “suites” I could tell she really cared and did a commendable job, especially given the late hour and the stresses of her academic studies.  I certainly was impressed with her customer service skills and willingness to help.

Because It can Lead to Rewards

One of the great things that make Marriott such a rewarding program in my opinion is they are consistently willing to go above and beyond, and she had certainly done that for me. And suite upgrades for elites are certainly a perk of the Marriott Rewards program, but she was extremely courteous and customer-focused, which left an impression on my despite the late hour.

I wanted to show appreciation for exceptional service, so I offered her a tip. She declined my offer by saying “I’m just doing my job!” I am not sure what Marriott’s policy is for receiving tips within the US, but this may have been why.

She also made sure to hand me a set of breakfast vouchers as the Club Lounge would not be open that weekend, and I headed to my Suite on the 7th Floor.


The Suite

The Executive Suite was situated across from the Elevator at an angle between the two perpendicular ends of the hotel.

Marriott Suite Upgrade for Elite Members

Boston Marriott Quincy Executive Suite

Just to the left of the entrance was a small bathroom.  Heading straight back was the living room area with a long table with 4 chairs around at, situated in front of a TV:

Marriott Suite Upgrade for Elite MembersFurther on back and to the right, there was a couch, beside another TV.

Marriott Suite Upgrade for Elite Members

Living Room Area


Angled to the left between the two TVs laid the entrance to the bedroom.


Marriott Suite Upgrade for Elite Members

Bedroom Entrance

To the right of the bedroom area was a desk and chair, across from the Bed.

Marriott Suite Upgrade for Elite Members



Marriott Suite Upgrade for Elite Members

Further to the left was yet another additional TV, followed by a closet across from the second bathroom.

(NOTE:  Hopefully this gives you a good layout and size of the suite.  I apologize for some of the missing photos, as I may have accidentally deleted them….:( )

My Thoughts on the Suite

In truth, I realized as soon as I set foot in the suite that it was a bit ridiculous. After all a sofa, two bathrooms, three TVs, and 10 chairs seemed to be a bit much for just one person!

That said, it was quite nice to be able to spread out and get some work done. It was a perfect reprieve from the busy streets of Boston, courtesy of Marriott’s friendly, courteous service.

In fact, I thought the service was quite commendable and that Yvonne should be recognized.  In that same way that I feel it is my prerogative to report when a program doesn’t do well, I feel compelled to brag on a program–and specific agent, so I will definitely pass this along to my contacts within Marriott!

To The Exotic and Beyond

The Question

As a travel blogger and an award travel consultant, I like to at least think I’ve heard it all when it comes to exotic locations.  But a reader email and comment on my Award Booking page had me baffled and intrigued:

Reader Molly asked the following question:

I want to use miles/points for two to get to and from Antarctica. What airline is going to be my best bet for this?

Fascinating question, indeed.

I was asked a rather intriguing question the other day and I thought it would make a great blog post. The question? How can I travel to Antarctica?

What’s the Best Way to Get to Antarctica?

After much research, I have found out that there is no easy way to answer this question. There are many factors to weigh before making this flight.

Question #1 – Where Am I Leaving From?

There are several different destinations to leave for Antarctica. While this list is not complete, it does list the major cities from which you can fly.
  1. Capetown, South Africa
  2. Punta Arenas, Chile
  3. Australia (Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, and Melbourne)

Question #2 – How Do I Want to Travel?

There are many options for traveling to Antarctica. The most common way is by sea. There are also a few options for flying and landing on a air carrier that will then complete the journey by sea.

Question #3 – How Long Do I Want to Stay?

Do you want to see Antarctica without having to endure it’s harsh conditions? There are several options that are available for flying tours.  While this may not appeal to everyone, doing so would be the most comfortable way to do so, in my opinion.  And one of these provides a very, very unique experience–I’ll just leave it at that!
Would you rather stay overnight? There are several different groups that provide travel and then a camp like experience.
Want to explore Antarctica? No problem! There are options for this as well.


As you can see, there are several unique options for travel to Antarctica. Stay tuned, as further posts will delve deeper into these options!

MegaBonus Returns for Spring 2014!

It’s that time again, folks!  That’s right. The Marriott Mega Bonus is right around the corner again!  You could earn up to two free nights!

Marriott MegaBonus Returns

Marriott MegaBonus Returns

The Conditions:

To be eligible, you must register before March 31, and stay between February 1 and April 30, 2014.

You earn a free night at a Category 1-4 hotel after the second paid stay, up to 2 nights.


Marriott Hotel Categories

You can find links to each of these hotel categories, below:

Marriott Category 1
Marriott Category 2
Marriott Category 3
Marriott Category 4

What Defines a “Stay”?

  • consecutive nights (aka more than 1) spent at the same hotel
  • the stay must occur between February 1 and April 30, 2014
  • only one room per hotel is counted towards member’s stay

The Conditions:

As mentioned, the bonus nights earned can be redeemed for future stay at any participating category 1-4 Marriott hotel, in a single or double occupancy room.  And bonus nights cover the cost of room and applicable room taxes only.  Free nights earned are not transferable to another member, andexpire one year after date of issuance.

Please allow 3-5 business days after your second qualifying stay for the bonus to post to your Marriott Rewards account.

Is This a Good Deal?

No, in my opinion, this is a great deal!  Honestly, what other hotel program regularly allows you to earn a free night for every nights stayed?  Be sure to take advantage!

5 Things I Learned at the Chicago Seminars

Recently, I had the pleasure to attend the Chicago Seminars, which is a gathering for bloggers extraordinaire, frequent travelers, and those that want to stretch their money to be able to travel further.

Now, I know that attendees of these events are explicitly asked to not disclose any “tidbits” picked up  In keeping with that, I won’t share anything that is “secretive,”.

The more I attend events like this and Frequent Traveler University, the more the aim becomes interacting with new and old friends alike, rather than the acquisition of new knowledge.  Still, there were a few things I managed to learn:

1.  Use Tools to Automate Travel Hacking

I learned from dlouise37 that leveraging the points game, or travel hacking as it is referred to on occasion , can be automated through applications that mimic the actions you ask them to, such as iMacro.  Thus, by signing up for a bonus just once, you can automate the process to do the same for all of your family members and friends.

2.  A Great Way to Use Alaska Miles

A program that does not get much attention is Alaska MileagePlan.  I found out that you can redeem 70,000 Alaska miles to book a First Class ticket to South Africa, WITH a stopover in Hong Kong.

3.  Rental Cars

Travel bloggers, by nature, tend to focus on miles and points.  One subject that does not get a lot of press is how to save on rental cars.  But by booking through third parties like Car Rental Savers, Priceline, and even Costco Travel, you can save money on car rentals.  Also, EuropCar can be great for some  international rentals.

Costco Travel

You Can Save BIG on Car Rentals with Costco Travel

And as for the insurance rental companies always tout, it may be worth something.  I thought that rental insurance, such as the type that the American Express Platinum card provides might be worth it.

4.  Hands On Award Booking

Award booking, as I am well aware, can be an iterative solutions.  Which is why I was elated to find out that ANA’s award search tool can search for availability, one week at a time on a particular route!

5.  ExpertFlyer

Finally, I also learned that ExpertFlyer (a paid tool) includes built-in functionality to specify the routing on a particular revenue ticket.  Thus, you can effectively select and de-select which airports, cities, or zones you fly through.  In particular, this can be useful on mileage runs, where you can choose the most advantageous (longest) routing.

Two Years of Blogging & What I’ve Been Up To Recently

On this date, two years ago I started my blog!  I would like to thank my blog readers, who have had made it well worth it!

Over the last two years, many of you have been a stakeholder in my job search.  I reflect my experience being laid off from my job two years ago, with thankfulness and gratitude, as this ushered in a new season in my life that I do not regret.

I am thankful for the activities I have been able to experience, and for the ability to travel across the US, as well as taking a trip to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Tokyo this past summer.   (A trip report is long overdue…)

But I am thankful to God also for the opportunities that have presented themselves.  In addition to taking on a part-time job to make ends meet, I have been able to use my passion for miles, travel to support myself.

Recently though,  I was offered a job as QA Engineer.  Not a position that I originally considered in my job search, but as I have learned, life is about what you make of the path you are given!

So if you have noticed I have slacked off on posting, now you know why.  Now for some more mileage runs…

It’s About Time… The FAA Approves Electronic Device Use from Gate-to-Gate

The FAA announced today that handheld portable electronic devices can be used gate to gate, and do not need to be powered off during takeoff and landing.  The application of this will be carried out on an airline by airline basis, but this policy is expected to be rolled out by the end of this year.

A important note is that this precludes the use of laptops, as they are considered large enough to be a projectile item.

My first thought when I heard this news was poor Mr. Alec Baldwin.  I am sure he will be having some Words with his Friends…

Post Navigation


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 67 other followers