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Point Me to the Miles

Navigating the Path to Great Travel

Archive for the category “News & Updates”

‘Round the Blogosphere

 

Million Mile Secrets “points” out some great ways to prevent frequent flier miles from expiring, without even flying!

 

View from the Wing had a “suite” post on using points for getting suites and upgraded rooms.

 

In his musings on traversing Kentucky, Rapid Travel Chai mentions an interesting site for finding quality local places to eat, RoadFood.  His blog has always been a good source for unique tips and information, and has lauded me for being different, so it only feels natural salute him for it with this post.

 

Another favorite of mine, Live and Let Fly, has a great post on how (not) to deal with a delay.  A harrowing story that reminds us that one of the best things to travel with is not an iGadget, credit card or even elite status (though it doesn’t hurt), but a good attitude.  I may be demanding at times, but I really do make an effort to understand where people come from.

 

So if you are hoping to improve your travel by buying status, Wandering Aramean is still happy to report that you can do that on American, through the end of the month.

 

ThePointsGuy features a great read on taking “AAdvantage” of Round the World Tickets on American Airlines, courtesy of filmmaker extraordinaire Gabriel Leigh.

 

New Girl in the Air has an interesting analysis of the British Airway program.  Avios… I mean Adios!

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Round the Blogosphere

Deals We Like highlights Avis has a great promotion where you can earn 1,000 Hyatt points on qualifying rentals of 2 days or more.

Gary posted a funny, yet fitting Christmas video about the TSA.  A few bad apples, indeed.

Rapid Travel Chai had the pleasure of meeting Lee Abamonte, who also has a great blog.  In case you didn’t know, Lee is attempting to visit all 321 sovereign countries.

Just Another Points Traveler reports that it may be possible to receive 3,000 Club Carlson points for FREE.  Who doesn’t love free points?

Speaking of reports, Wandering Aramean provides an interesting analysis of the Indian Airline market. I personally don’t know a lot about it, but perhaps there’s something there of value.

When it comes to hotels, I’ve been fortunate, whether paying a very preferable $133/night at the Ritz-Carlton, or staying in a suite for absolutely nothing.  But I have been fortunate financially, in that staying at a name-brand hotel as never been a problem for me.  But in that light, I think When Double Wides Fly’s article on finding cheap hotels is a breath of fresh air.  To some folks, this may be very useful information.

Though it is a name-brand property, Frugal Travel Lawyer has a good review of her family’s affordable stay at the Hyatt House in Florida.

‘Round the Blogosphere

Rapid Travel Chai has a great post on playing Delta’s “Need” Help” kiosk slot machines…. You may not end up being a Mega Millionaire from it, but it is definitely worth a try!

As crazy as I am about miles and points, I love a good, clean, shenanigan. Which is why I appreciate Million Mile Secrets post on simple tips and tricks to gain access to shorter airport security lines.

Just Another Points Traveler has a way to receive 1,000 United miles, instantly.

Only using Chase credit cards for airfare purchases, according to Deals We Like, may be a good idea.

View From the Wing had a post that reminded me of the need to give back to others, just as travel, miles and points have given to us.

And I am looking for a new blog handle. I have been working with a web developer on improving my blog’s image, and have been informed that while puny, the current name of my blog doesn’t necessarily get the point across. I am considering “Get the Point(s),” but would love suggestions, so here’s what I am doing:

Comment on this post with your suggestion—or any suggestion for that matter, and if I like your idea, you will be duly awarded by me. And yes, I do mean a real award!

‘Round the Blogosphere

I really try to blog like the minority, the majority.  Thus the reason I haven’t mentioned the Starwood American Express offer for 30,000 points is that it has been beat to death on the blogosphere.  It’s a good offer if you are “Lucky” to get in on it, but the 35,000 point Starwood American Express offer is a more “Rapid” way to earn aspirational awards.

Of Course if you are looking for credit card churning “Point-ers,” you should know that the 75,000 points for AMEX Business Gold is an incredible offer, for today only.  It really is a “Gold-en” offer for spending $10,000 in 120 days (~$2,500 per month).

Speaking of Gold, all that glitters may not actually StarGold, but I prefer to “Live and Let Fly.”

If you will be “UsingMiles,”, Lufthansa Flyer has an offer for lifetime premier membership to UsingMiles.com.  I use AwardWallet to track all of my frequent flyer and hotel rewards accounts, but now may be a good time for switching.  Usually membership costs $30/year, but for the inevitable future, the user will have access to advanced features including expiring award alerts, award search, cash vs. points comparisons, and other unique features.

To help you “Wander” about using miles, there are some nifty availability search tools, including a new one to search for SkyTeam awards to Asia.

And as “Just Another Point,”some people just don’t get it when it comes to travel.  A very interesting rant, for sure.

Thank you for your time.  Should I offer to “Field” your questions?

United Raises Baggage Fees

Earlier this week, the Chicago Tribune reported United increased some of their baggage fees on for travel on international itineraries.

This charge applies only to the SECOND checked bag on trans-oceanic flights to Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India.

COMPARISON:
The article brings up erroneous numbers  for travel on Delta (which I will get to in a moment), but also mentions Spirit and Allegiant baggage fees.

One of the most common questions I get is “Will airlines start charging for carry-on baggage?”  In short, no, I do not think the legacy carriers will.

Allegiant, Sprit, and Southwest (theoretically) are all low-cost carriers.  In controlling the costs of flying with them, they generate more revenue for themselves by charging for things such as snacks, water, carry-on baggage, and even selecting your seat ahead of time.

Thus, Allegiant usually charges $35 for carry-on bags, $13 if pre-paid.  And Spirit currently charges or $35 for carry-ons or$30 at the time of booking, but those fees will rise to $40 and $35, respectively, by the end of the year.

Southwest famously broadcasts that they do not charge for the first two checked bags, but they charge $50, each starting with third checked bag.


ANALYSIS
:
I think this news can easily be over-hyped, as is common in the news for a number of reasons:

  • The article is misleading.
    According to their United’s website, it appears they do not charge a fee for the first checked bag on these routes.  Also, it is not always evident it is for the SECOND bag only.
  • This article and article by Fox News are both factually inaccurate.
    They say in journalism to always check your facts and references.  Although partially correct about Delta, neither one of them took the time to do that.Delta does not charge for the first bags on any of these international routes.  However, they do charge $75 for the SECOND piece of checked luggage to the Middle East, India, and Southern Africa, or $60 if checking in online.

    However, Delta does charge $100 for the SECOND checked piece of luggage on flights to  Europe and North Africa, or $80 if checking in online.

So not $100/$80 across the board.  It definitely doesn’t help that Delta groups regions   differently than United, as “Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and India” is one region.

  • This is obviously not taking into account baggage fee waivers.  Passengers with elite status obviously will be exempt, (for the most part–Delta and United Silvers only get one bag free) as will those who are traveling in a premium cabin.

    This may begin to change a little bit, as Alaska has started charging for baggage if passengers pay with miles or cash to upgrade to First Class.

    Also, this does not take into account the airline fee that credit cards provide, such as the $200 fee credit of the American Express Platinum card.  In fact, since it would be almost pointless to use it for Delta as long as I am an elite member, I hedged my bets by registering it for use on United this year.

REFERENCE:
For your information, I have included web links to the baggage fees for the larger carriers in the US & Canada:

Air Canada
Allegiant
American
Delta
United
US Airways
Southwest
Spirit

Randy Petersen Exectuve Travel Summit Wrap-Up: Loyalty Session Part 3-PointsPay

Introduction
Loyalty Session Part 1: Swift Exchange
Loyalty  Session Part 2: American Express
Loyalty  Session Part 3: Points Pay
Loyalty  Session Part 4: American Airlines
Loyalty  Session Part 5: Loyalty Debate
Hotel Session: What issues keep you up at night?

POINTSPAY:

“People use their miles to visit Australia, but they also use them to visit Grandma.”  For Points Pay, it’s all about the fact that airline and hotels removing value by cutting back on the costs of their loyalty programs.

However, today’s customers are savvy with technology, and expect to receive something that conveys worth.  PointsPay makes this possible by allowing customers to pool from miles and points, as a form of payment, at “any time, anywhere:”  (Interesting Video)

PROGRAM SUMMARY:

Thus, PointsPay enables airline and hotel programs to provide loyalty beyond their own program, by letting customers turn their miles and points into hard, cold cash.

LEVEL OF TRANSPARENCY:
This concept of full, fixed transparency where the customer ultimately determines the value of a mile or point contrasts American Express’s modus operandi of intimate, controlled transparency.

Yet it should be noted that this model is still distinct from Swift Exchange.  Whereas points are the final form of payment in the case of Swift Exchange, in this instance they transferred into an equivalent form of cash before being utilized.

ANALYSIS:
I think other travel bloggers would agree with me in saying that converting points to cash is generally not a good idea, especially if you value aspirational awards you couldn’t afford otherwise.  That said, you should let your miles work for you, not the other way around.  So if it meets your needs to buy that McDonald’s cheeseburger using points, go right ahead.

Then again, what am I going to do with those Spirit Airlines miles?

Degradation of Elite Status (?)

I originally intended to include the following in my ‘Round the Blogosphere post, but figured my “brief” thoughts might be taking up too much space:

An interesting article was published in the New York Times this past weekend on the degradation of elite status.  Like some of their other articles on travel, it does tend to blow things out of proportion.
Granted, the article has some fair points such as cutbacks on benefits for low-tier elites (ie Silver Medallions) and non-elites able to buy “once-reserved perks à la carte.”
But at the end of the day status still makes things more reasonable.  For example, my mid-tier Gold Medallion status on Delta has earned me upgrades 60% of the time, snack/drink coupons for when I am not upgraded, free checked bags, and an improved customer service experience.
Thus, I would agree with both  Gary and Brian that elite status is important.

The article at least included a neat chart, sans the mileage upgrade option:

Upgrade Maze, Courtesy of the New York Times

 

Upgrade Maze, Courtesy of the New York Times

‘Round the Blogosphere

The Points Guy recently posted on earning 1,500 Priority Club Points for taking 3 quizzes.  Do it, they’re free!

View from the Wing detailed a new tool for finding reliable flight data and availability, FlightStats.com.

Angelina of Just Another Points listed 80+ walking tours available around the world, for free or donation.  Very useful indeed.  When visiting New York recently, I did my own touring on foot, but it would have been informative and insightful to have someone with me that knows the city.

And Rick The Frugal Travel Guy has a great post on using another tool, Flight Fox, to assist with complicated bookings.

 

‘Round the Blogosphere

Generally you get what you pay for, and according to Indulge the Waderlust, this could mean a payday of 44,000 Club Carlson Gold Points.

And knowing how to haggle can save you money and as Gary of View from the Wing reports, can help you save on rental cars.

And speaking of negotiation skills, knowing your cruise rights might mean you never take no for an answer, according to Frugal Travel Lawyer.

Which reinforces the fact that a little preparation ahead of time is important.  Points Miles & Martinis reminds us the importance of checking the upgrade list before you fly, if you are an elite on Delta.

The same sort of thing happened to me when traveling with my family recently, so work keeping in mind.

Of course, reading Delta Points’ advice on his blog in general is valuable.  So too could entering his contest to win a Nook 7 Tablet this week.

And speaking of treasures, MilesQuest has found some interesting ones on E-Bay.

And hopefully, I don’t think make the same mistake again with post like I did with my Renaissance Tampa International Plaza post, like I just did.  It was just saved as a draft, when I thought I had already hit “Publish.”

Grr, sorry about that–it had been sitting there since Sunday night.

‘Round the Blogosphere

Gary posted an interesting read yesterday, about a Jetstar pilot so busy texting on his phone that he forgot to put the landing gear down.  Here is the account of how it went down, no pun intended, on a flight from Darwin to Singpore:

“Somewhere between 2500 feet and 2000 feet, the captain’s mobile phone started beeping with incoming text messages, and the captain twice did not respond to the co-pilot’s requests.
The co-pilot looked over and saw the captain “preoccupied with his mobile phone”, investigators said. The captain told investigators he was trying to unlock the phone to turn it off, after having forgotten to do so before take-off.
At 1000 feet, the co-pilot scanned the instruments and felt “something was not quite right” but could not spot what it was.
At this stage the captain still did not realised the landing gear had not been lowered, and neither pilot went through their landing checklist.
At 720 feet, a cockpit alert flashed and sounded to warn that the wheels still hadn’t been lowered.
At 650 feet, the captain moved the undercarriage lever “instinctively” but then a “too low” ground-warning alarm sounded as the plane sunk through 500 feet, indicating the landing gear was not fully extended and locked.
The co-pilot was confused by the captain’s action in lowering the wheels, as he was getting ready to do quite the opposite — to abort the landing and re-ascend to the skies, investigators said.
Neither spoke to each other about their intentions.
At 392 feet, the crew aborted the landing and powered up the thrust.
At this time the pilots had lost track of their altitude, thinking they were much higher, at about 800 feet.”
 

Between a texting pilot and fatigued co-pilot they completely lacked situational awareness.  Lovely.  In the words of Gary, “It’s one thing when passengers play Words with Friends with the aircraft door closed. It’s another thing when the pilot does it, on final approach!”

Makes you wanna fly Jetstar, doesn’t it?  This has been since added to pilot training as a Lessons Learned.

Frugal Travel Guy presented a solid way to keep track of credit card accounts.

And One Mile at a Time points out that there is a 40% discount on solid, long-lasting Tumi luggage.

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