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Issue #539 — Jan. 21, 2009

CONTENTS

Up Front

  • “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 Paris

Steals & Deals

  • Deal Alert from SmarterTravel.com

Miles & Points

  • Hilton Reprises Member-Get-a-Member
  • Northwest Nixes Saturday-Night Stay Requirement on Awards
  • 250 Priority Club Points for Your Time
  • Bonus United Miles for TD AMERITRADE Accounts

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.

“Up Front” Blog Entries

Following are some of Tim’s recent blog posts:

On Site

The FrequentFlier Forum – Hot Topics

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

In the “Airline Programs” Forum, jamomom posted the following regarding Delta’s new mileage expiration policy: “In my statement newsletter email received on Jan 13th….

SkyMiles Mileage Expiration Policy Changes

On January 1, 2009, the SkyMiles program mileage expiration policy changed from a two-year policy tied to the end of the calendar year to a rolling 24-month policy for all SkyMiles members. Miles will expire 24 months after a member’s last qualifying activity rather than at the end of the year. To ensure a smooth transition to this 24-month policy, miles will not expire earlier than April 30, 2009. You can check your February online statement or log into your SkyMiles account beginning February 1, 2009, for your updated expiration date.

An example of the 24-month policy: if a member’s last qualifying activity took place on August 31, 2009, the member’s miles will expire on August 31, 2011 – not on December 31, 2011.

And in the “Credit Card Programs” Forum, joelmeu adds another credit card offering a 2% rebate, a new American Express card linked to Fidelity Investments. Could it be time to get rid of that old airline card?

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

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Reader Rants & Raves

Feedback from the Frontlines of Travel

We welcome reader feedback on issues related to travel generally and frequent flyer programs in particular. Please use this link to submit comments.


More Foreign Programs, Please

“I value the work that you do and the information that you post on your sites.

“I just wanted to second Tania M.’s sentiment [in last week's newsletter] about more coverage of foreign carrier mileage programs. With the various alliances out there, I have discovered that for certain travelers it might be better to accumulate their miles on a foreign partner airline than on their U.S. counterpart. The benefits accruing to some of the foreign programs have eroded much more slowly than the breakneck pace at which domestic carriers are now cutting value.” [Jeff S.]

[FrequentFlier.com replies - It's true that foreign carriers have been somewhat slower to strip value from their programs. On the other hand, they have historically lagged behind the U.S. airlines in the overall generosity of their programs. One possible scenario is that U.S. and non-U.S. programs will meet in the middle. Time will tell.]

Virgin Atlantic’s Frequent Flyer Fees

“Regarding ‘More Foreign Programs, Please’: Virgin Atlantic is one of my favorite international airlines, too. However, when I recently tried to book a frequent flier award in coach on the JFK-to-LHR route, the tax, fees and surcharges totaled over $330, while they were under $110 on American. Can anyone explain that?” [Karen R.]

[FrequentFlier.com replies - While we tend to focus on the nuisance fees imposed by the U.S. carriers, non-U.S. airlines have in some cases been worse offenders. This is particularly true in the area of fuel surcharges assessed by foreign carriers for both paid and award tickets. My guess is that a significant portion of the Virgin Atlantic fee was, indeed, a fuel surcharge.]

Link to New Airport

“Thanks for the terrific site. One more airport to add: Lehigh Valley International (Allentown, PA): www.lvia.org.” [Jeff]

[FrequentFlier.com replies - We've added it to the Domestic Airports page. Thanks for the suggestion.]

Outdated Sweepstakes Info

“All the sweepstakes listed on your website expired in 2008. What’s the story?” [Peter K.]

[FrequentFlier.com replies - Apparently we mistakenly posted an outdated version of the current Sweepstakes page during our most recent edits. The correct, and recently updated page has been restored.]


Until next week…

Sweeps & Freebies

Win a Trip for 2 to Paris

Enter Zagat’s “Perfect 30 Giveaway Game” sweepstakes by October 5 for a chance to win a four-day trip for two to Paris, including air, hotel, and three meals per day. Other prizes include gift cards and Zagat-related items.

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[Visit FrequentFlier.com for more travel sweepstakes.]

Steals & Deals

Deal Alert from SmarterTravel.com

1) Spirit Sale Fares From $68

Spirit’s latest offer features flights starting at $68 round-trip. Cities include Ft. Lauderdale, Myrtle Beach, Montego Bay, and Nassau.

Travel is valid on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from January 27 through June 18. Book by January 26, 11:59 PM ET.

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2) Europe, Asia, and Australia Sale Fares on United From $338

Destinations in Europe, Asia, and Australia are on sale from United. Fares start at $338 round-trip for travel into March or April, depending on the route.

Validity dates and other terms vary by destination. Book by January 26, 11:59 PM ET.

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Miles & Points

Hilton Reprises Member-Get-a-Member

Through the end of this year, Hilton HHonors members can earn bonus points by referring new program members who subsequently complete eligible stays.

Members earn 1,000 points each time a member referred by them stays at a Hilton Family hotel, up to a maximum of 25,000 bonus points. The referred member is also eligible for a bonus: 1,000 points after completing two stays.

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Northwest Nixes Saturday-Night Stay Requirement on Awards

As of January 15, Northwest PerkSaver award tickets no longer require a Saturday-night stayover.

While the requirement has been dropped for Northwest and Delta flights, it remains in effect when redeeming Northwest miles for award travel on Continental.

Separately, Northwest has announced that consumers with miles in both Delta and Northwest’s programs will be able to combine miles from the two programs beginning in February (exact date TBD).

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250 Priority Club Points for Your Time

Priority Club members can earn a quick 250 bonus points by completing an online survey by February 28. The bonus may be earned only once per member.

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Bonus United Miles for TD AMERITRADE Accounts

Through March 31, United Mileage Plus members who open and fund a new TD AMERITRADE account can earn bonus miles as follows: 5,000 miles for a $2,500 account, 15,000 miles for a $10,000 account, and 25,000 miles for $50,000.

Be sure to read the fine print here, including “not valid for IRA or other tax-exempt accounts,” and “account must remain open with minimum funding for nine months.”

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