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Issue #526 — Oct. 22, 2008

CONTENTS

Up Front

  • Help TripAdvisor Donate $1 Million to Travel Non-Profits
  • “Up Front” Blog Entries

On Site

  • FrequentFlier Forum Topics

Reader Rants & Raves

  • Feedback from the Frontlines of Travel

Sweeps & Freebies

  • Win a Trip for 2 to New Orleans

Steals & Deals

  • Deal Alert from SmarterTravel.com

Miles & Points

  • Double American Miles for New Brazil Flights
  • Marriott Reconfigures Rewards
  • Starwood Discounts 2nd Night

Up Front

Tweet, Tweet

Use this link to follow us on Twitter and stay abreast of the latest in frequent flyer program news, opinion, and advice.

Help TripAdvisor Donate $1 Million to Travel Non-Profits

Our sister site, TripAdvisor, is embarking on a mission of democratic philanthropy. The travel-review site will be giving away $1 million, to be divided among five worthy travel-related non-profits. Readers can vote on which organization receives the largest share. The remaining organizations’ shares will be determined by vote as well, with each guaranteed a minimum of $50,000. On its website, TripAdvisor writes, “Think of the $1 million as a pie. Each organization’s slice of that pie depends on how many votes it receives.” Voting runs through November 9.

:: Vote Now!

On Site

FrequentFlier Forum Topics

As always, there’s plenty of activity on the FrequentFlier Forum.

In the “Airline Programs” Forum, nako has the following to report about American’s elite challenge: “Based on posts elsewhere, it appears that AA has instituted a charge for those persons wishing to sign up for Gold or Platinum challenges. The Gold challenge now costs $80, effective today, and the PLT challenge now costs $150. All other requirements (5k/10k Q-points in 90 days, etc.) remain in effect as they were before today.” A fee for expedited elite qualification… given the airlines’ recent fee-for-all, it’s no great surprise.

Also in the “Airline Programs” Forum, Kohoutek has details and a link to a miles-for-dining promotion for Delta SkyMiles members which awards 1,000 bonus EQMs (elite-qualifying miles) for spending $200 at qualifying restaurants by December 15. It’s extremely rare to earn elite-qualifying miles for dining.

Questions, answers, opinions? Post them to the Forum!

:: More

Sweeps & Freebies

Win a Trip for 2 to New Orleans

Enter the Weather Channel’s “When Weather Changed History” sweepstakes by November 26 for a chance to win one of 10 trips for two to New Orleans, including airfare, hotel accommodations, and tickets to the jazz festival.

:: More

[Visit FrequentFlier.com for more travel sweepstakes.]

Steals & Deals

Deal Alert from SmarterTravel.com

1) Europe Sale Fares on Delta From $458

Flights from New York to Europe are on sale from Delta. Fares start at $458 round-trip, and Amsterdam, London, Kiev, and Shannon are included.

Travel is valid Mondays through Thursdays from November 1 through April 13, 2009. Book by November 3, 11:59 PM ET.

:: More

2) Hawaiian Sale Fares From $320

Flights to Maui and Oahu are on sale from Hawaiian. Fares start at $320 round-trip, and travel is valid through early December.

Travel is valid through December 12. Book by October 24, 11:59 PM ET.

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Miles & Points

Double American Miles for New Brazil Flights

AAdvantage members will earn double miles on American’s new flights between Miami and Salvador de Bahia, Recife, and Belo Horizonte from November 2, 2008, through February 15, 2009.

Registration is required.

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Marriott Reconfigures Rewards

Marriott has announced a number of changes to the Marriott Rewards program, effective January 15, 2009.

First — since it’s the feature Marriott is most aggressively touting — is the elimination of blackout dates. Unfortunately, there’s less here than meets the eye. Capacity controls remain in place, and some hotels are exempt. (See the link above to my Up Front blog for a full discussion of this.)

Second, Marriott has introduced a new, more expensive award tier, Category 8, raising award prices for 14 hotels.

Third, for every four-night stay redeemed, members will receive a fifth redemption night free for that stay. The fifth-night-free feature replaces the volume discount offered under the current award chart. In most cases, the new award levels are higher than the current Standard levels.

And finally, Platinum Elite bonuses will increase from 30% to 50% percent of the points earned during stays.

In all, the changes amount to an increase in award prices, in exchange for a vague promise of fewer restrictions on award availability.

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Starwood Discounts 2nd Night

Through March 31, 2009, Starwood customers will receive a 50% discount on the second night for all eligible stays.

The discount is based on the best available non-restricted rate. Hotels require a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday arrival. Resorts require a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday arrival. Hawaii has no arrival day restriction. Important condition: Better Tomorrows rates are prepaid and non-refundable. So even if you are unable to complete a booked stay, you will be charged anyway.

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