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Use this link to follow us on Twitter and stay abreast of the latest in frequent flyer program news, opinion, and advice.
“Up Front with Tim Winship” Blog Entries
Among Tim’s recent SmarterTravel.com blog topics:
FrequentFlier Forum Topics
In the “Airline Programs” Forum, stevenryals is wondering if it might be better to be bumped: “How do people get bumped off a flight? I wouldn’t mind getting bumped if I’m getting this or that in compensation.”
Also in the “Airline Programs” Forum, AbbyG is facing the missing miles conundrum: “I bought several items online through AAdvantage’s e-shopping portal, and never got miles for some of them. As a result, I did not get the bonus that was offered. I’ve been all over the AAdvantage website and can’t figure out how to claim missing credit for e-shopping. Anyone know what I should do?”
Questions, answers? Post them to the Forum!
Take the Frequent Flyer Quiz
Think you’re a mileage know-it-all? Test your loyalty program acumen by taking the Frequent Flyer Quiz.
There’s no prize, except for the (priceless!) satisfaction of confirming your own expertise.
Feedback from the Frontlines of Travel
“i have been a frequent flyer for many years in my career as a journalist (which included several years of covering the airlines). i have been a high level elite member of several airlines ( i rotated often) never being truly loyal to any (reciprocity, i call it). at present i have a sizable amount of miles in a few airlines.
“i always flew 1st class (except on the very short runs in commuter jets), either using miles or revenue flights and using miles to upgrade. here are a few things i have learned during my years:
“1. flying has become so troublesome with the security, delays both pre-flight, post flight, and in flight, that it is no longer an enjoyable event, (i always used to consider the flying part as one of the best parts of my trip). One result is that i have sadly given up my 3 – 4 cruises a year (you have to fly to and from the cruise ports).
“2. during the last several years i accumulated and now pass on the following complaints”‘ about the airlines that are applicable. please remember that all of the flights were either first class (or business-first) and either domestic or international:
“a) american (domestic & caribean, mexico, central america) service terrible; food terrible; courtesy to passengers mostly bad; seats uncomfortable (yes, even business/first).
“b) delta (both domestic & international) : all of the above except a bit worse.
“c) continental (both domestic & international) more of the same except that the presidents clubs are better.
“d) united was so bad that i haven’t flown them in several years.
“e) british airways (international) god how i miss the concord. service; after that the first class was so bad i stopped flying them. the business class seats within europe are about the same size as our domestic coach seats. the b/a service on the phone (reserv, exec club, etc. are the worst among all the airlines. exception: their 1st class lounges are among the best.
“f) usairways b-a-a-a-d-. don’t even bother to discuss. (american west, i miss you).
“g) lufthansa first class; best in the world in every category except that the food needs improvement.
“memories: oh for the happy days of twa’s royal ambassador service – domestic and international.
“general warning: do not accept vouchers – they are so restrictive as to be all but worthless. demand cash instead.
“start burning miles. i think the future of award miles are heading for the w.c.
“the word of an airline employee is near worthless, protect thyself – use platinum amex to buy tickets. they will fight for you when you are wronged. remember that airlines are always your adversary.” [mort h. - nyc]
“Lured by a few thousand bonus miles, I switched my family’s wireless service using the United Partner “Mileage Plus Wireless”. This is actually two companies called InPhonic and Wirefly, which resell brand name wireless service and accessories using slow and inept call centers in India. The order was messed up so badly in so many ways that I am still trying to sort it all out months later; my service was not properly activated and I was improperly billed across the board. My daughters charger was broken, so I ordered another one (providing my credit card) and it never shipped. Weeks later, I ordered another from Amazon, which shipped immediately, and, after 30 minutes on hold, Wirefly (aka “MileagePlus Wireless”) told me that they could not ship because my daughter’s address did not match my billing address, so the order had been cancelled (although the Order Status on the web site showed it as still being processed).
“Do not use “Mileage Plus Wireless” for any amount of bonus miles. It is not worth it.” [The R-J family]
“my biggest gripe with airlines is—i go on a cruise to sydney and fly back one way—i am charged a round trip amount….the only exception is ba — they only charge one half the miles. if you fly to europe on united and return from montreal that’s 2 tickets…. sad.” [Abe R.]
“Just a line to inquire if I’m the only one who has noticed that American is working their MD80′s to death and we passengers are the victims. These planes have not music, no movies. Half the time the aircraft has something broken (often a bathroom is locked as its broken), and of course there’s that wonderful noise factor. I could understand using them on short flights but 4 hours to SFO from Chicago on one of these old planes doesn’t make sense to me.
“Every one of the American Flight attendants I talk to are fed up with these Jets and have told the company as much. But American continues to make us fly this junk. Frankly if I can’t get a 757 or 767 on the American route I’m flying I choose another Airline. Who at these Airlines makes these decisions, and are they blind?” [Richard P.]
“This is in response to the October 10th edition of the Crier. In “Rants & Raves,” Kerry complained about having15,000 US Airways miles expiring. I was recently in a similar situation, and since I don’t plan to fly US Airways much in the future, I simply wanted to get something out of my miles before they expired and became worthless.
“After doing some searching I decided to use points.com. Contrary to what Kerry may have been told, there IS an option for 15,000 miles. Kerry can swap 14,118 Dividend Miles for a $12 Amazon.com gift certificate. It can be done right on the points.com site and the swap is completed instantly. There may be other merchants on the site that don’t require a large amount of miles as well, so I would advise looking over the choices. $12 isn’t much, but at least it was put to good use!” [Janet L.]
“I thought your readers would be interested in the attached summary [too long to reprint here] of a recent nightmare my wife and I experienced at the hands of US Airways.
“When I contacted US Airways Customer Service about this unfortunate series of incidents they sent me two $250 e-coupons for a future flight. The e-coupons came with 17 restrictions and conditions. I returned the e-coupons with a note indicating that if they (US Airways) were really interested in apologizing for their errors, omissions and other monumental screw-ups an upgrade would be more appropriate and certainly more meaningful.
“They sent a short letter indicating their inability to accommodate my request. I corresponded once more, this time to their Public Information Officer. I never did receive a response. So much for public information, let alone customer service! My wife and I will never step foot on another US Airways flight. We continue to share this story with everyone and anyone who will listen.” [Jerry A.]
Until next week…
Win 2.5 Million Delta Miles
Enter Delta’s “Tickets for Life” sweepstakes by December 15 for a chance to win 2.5 million SkyMiles plus $25,000 in spending money. There are also daily 50,000-mile giveaways.
To enter, book a Delta flight on delta.com by December 15 and complete travel by January 15, 2008. An additional entry is earned by charging the Delta ticket to an American Express card.
It’s also possible to enter by mail, without making a purchase.
[Visit http://frequentflier.com/sweeps.htm for more travel sweepstakes.]
Deal Alert from SmarterTravel.com
1) Domestic Fares on United from $49 Each Way
United has joined Southwest and American in offering domestic sale fares for travel through mid-February. Fares start at $49 one-way or $98 round-trip, and destinations include Chicago, Las Vegas, New Orleans, and St. Louis.
Travel is valid from October 16 through February 13, 2008. United’s sale will likely end on October 29, the same day Southwest’s deal expires.
2) JetBlue Fares from $39 Each Way
Through Thursday, JetBlue is offering sale fares starting at $39 one-way or $78 round-trip. Destinations include Las Vegas, New York, Orlando, and Aruba. Plus, JetBlue will take off an additional $10 each way for early December flights on most routes.
Travel is valid from October 15 through December 12. Book by October 18, 11:59 PM MT.
Buy More Points from ATA
Through December 20, ATA Travel Awards members will receive 20% more points when purchasing them from the airline. So, for example, purchasing 250 points for $25 would net an extra 50 points with the bonus.
Delta Plans to Restrict SkyChoice Awards
Following up on a tip from Crier reader Brian B., Delta has confirmed that, beginning in December, SkyChoice awards will no longer guarantee last seat availability on all flights, as they currently do.
When the new policy takes effect, Delta reckons that 5% of the seats currently available when booking SkyChoice awards will be withheld.
Although Delta downplays the significance of that 5% decrease in available award seats, SkyMiles members aren’t likely to be so easily reassured.
And they shouldn’t be. Both practically and as a matter of principle, the move is a slap in the face of SkyMiles members and a bad omen for the program’s future.
Earn Double Southwest Credits for Hilton Stays
Through November 30, Hilton HHonors members will earn double Southwest credits (1.0 credit instead of the standard 0.5 credits) at participating Hilton family hotels.
To earn the bonus, request Plan Code Y1 or YY1.
Priority Club Offers Bonus on Points Purchase
Through November 23, Priority Club Rewards members will receive a 10% bonus on the number of points purchased.
Points may be purchased in 1,000 point increments up to 20,000 points per year. Price is $12.50 per 1,000 points when buying 1,000 to 5,000 points, $11.00 per 1,000 points for 6,000 to 9,000 points, and $10.00 per 1,000 points for 10,000 to 20,000 points.