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Issue #563 — July 8, 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 100 AirTran A+ Rewards Credits

Steals & Deals

  • Deal Alert from SmarterTravel.com

Miles & Points

  • Delta, Northwest Offer 1-Mile Upgrades
  • Earn Delta, Northwest Elite-Qualifying Miles for Hilton Stays
  • Marriott Offers Elite Credits for Meetings
  • Priority Club Free Night Offer Extended

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, Max Bialystock posted the following lament: “I’m embarrassed to be Irish.” (Hint: Ryanair is involved.)

And in the “Hotel Programs” Forum, DJHerm has info on a Choice Hotels promotion: “I’m staying at a Choice Hotel for business off and on throughout the summer, and noticed this promotion when checking in the first time. Not sure as to how good this offer is as I don’t usually stay at Choice Hotels and don’t know much about the Choice Privileges program, but I’ll take it: Stay 3 separate times. Earn a free $50 cash 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.


Devaluation of Delta Miles

“Dick M. writes in [last week's] ‘Rants & Raves’ that Delta’s frequent flyer miles are worth much less. Some two and a half years ago I flew Atlanta to Manchester U.K. non-stop business class for 90,000 points. And now it’s 200,000.

“My points have devalued by more than half. Is it not the same as saying to someone ‘OK, I know I owe you $200 but I’m only going to pay you $90 and there is nothing you can do about it because it’s legal’?” [TL]

Delta – ‘Frequent Flyer Program a Joke’

“We normally fly to Asia in business class using miles on Delta and/or their partners. The least we’ve ever had to pay for these tickets was 90,000 miles — the most was 120,000. Our last trip was in January of this year on tickets that were 120,000 miles each.

“When I tried to get seats for another trip this year, I tried for 7 consecutive months (through both high and low seasons) and could find nothing for less than 240,000 miles. We are very flexible and could travel virtually any time.

“We are so disgusted that Delta would double the mileage required for the same flights that we took less than 6 months ago. We both have elite status and each of us has 600,000 miles in our Delta accounts.

“Delta, you just lost two very good customers.” [Wendy]

Booking Hotels on Hotwire

“It is fitting (and I didn’t notice at first when diving into the article) that
Hotwire is advertising on your page. Glad to see it!

“In this instance, the ad was for rental cars. However, since using them nearly exclusively for hotel bookings in the U. S. and the U. K. in the past few years, I’ve all-but-dropped any branded hotel award programs. With Hotwire, the money savings are uniformly generous at any rating level. Worth far more to me than accumulating “free” nights. And, to good customers, if you don’t like the star-rating assigned to the brand they pick for you within a star category, they will bend the rule and let you cancel and rebook with them (so long as you don’t abuse the privilege). (The Crowne Plaza at Heathrow is a specific example. Rated at 4-stars for that one location, but listed at 3.5 in general category — and it’s awful.)

“I have also had hotel vendors adjust the charge (i. e., not put it through and they notify Hotwire) if you have to cancel, say, due to weather. No quibble from anyone.

“Bear in mind, I don’t stay at the very high end (e. g., Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons) that, so far as I know, aren’t offered on Hotwire.

“But, I do stay often at Holiday Inn — e.g., in the U. K. where they are really hotels as you know — and they often honor the Priority Club card for in-house amenities (free buffet and cocktails at Ronkonkoma, Long Island) even on discounted bookings through Hotwire.” [Ed N.]

Delta Bait-and-Switch?

“Is it bait and switch?

“I tried using my Delta SkyMiles Companion Flies for $99 certificate and researched the availability and timetable for the city pair I wanted. I applied the fare filter to the round-trip I wanted to take and made my selections. I called to redeem and was told the flight combination I selected was not available in the fare class. The representative said the web site was incorrect and his computer system had the correct information.” [MKP]

Sweepstakes Restricted to U.S. Residents

“I’ve mentioned this to you before (a year or so ago) but it still annoys me that virtually all the contests you have in the Crier are open only to legal residents of the U.S. and not Canada. This bothers me because so many of the products and services the sponsors offer are available to Canadian residents. Take for instance the Marriott contest on right now. There are many Marriott label hotels up here and when I travel in the US, they are my first choice for accommodations. Yet, like most others, their contest is open only to U.S. people.

“Anyway, I do realize there is not a whole lot the Crier can do about it so consider this to be must me venting a little.” [Don W. - Calgary, Canada]

Northwest Lifetime Elite Status Matched by Delta?

“As an NWA Elite with almost 2 million lifetime miles I am interested in the new combined NWA and Delta program. Will I now get a lifetime Elite membership with Delta because of my lifetime NWA mileage?

“The correspondence keeps saying that both program rules will be honored but hasn’t actually been specific about this one.” [Deborah W.]

[FrequentFlier.com replies - Sorry, I don't know the answer to this one, and it's too late to call Delta on your behalf. My suggestion for this and related questions: call SkyMiles at 1-800-323-2323. The airlines have done a good job of training us consumers to rely solely on their websites for program information, bookings, etc. Sometimes it's best to just pick up the phone.]


Until next week…

Sweeps & Freebies

Win 100 AirTran A+ Rewards Credits

Enter AirTran’s “Mark’s A+ Rewards Credits Giveaway” sweepstakes by July 15 for a chance to win 100 A+ Rewards credits — enough for six round-trip AirTran or five round-trip Frontier domestic tickets, an AirTran companion pass valid for one year, or one round-trip ticket anywhere in the world.

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[Visit FrequentFlier.com for more travel sweepstakes.]

Steals & Deals

Deal Alert from SmarterTravel.com

1) Southwest Sale Fares from $30 Each Way

Southwest has announced a huge new sale, with close to 3,000 routes on sale until Wednesday. Fares start at $30 one-way or $60 round-trip for travel in September, October, and November. Featured cities include Austin, Chicago, Las Vegas, and Orlando.

Travel is not valid on Fridays or Sundays. Book by July 8, 11:59 PM PT.

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2) Mexico and Central America Sale Fares on Delta From $378

Delta has announced a new sale featuring flights from Atlanta to cities in Mexico and Central America. Fares start at $378 round-trip, and Belize, Costa Rica, Los Cabos, and Puerto Vallarta are featured.

Travel is valid from July 6 through October 31. Book by July 20, 11:59 PM ET.

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Miles & Points

Delta, Northwest Offer 1-Mile Upgrades

Within the past few days, many members of the Delta and Northwest mileage programs received an email similar to the following:

We’re so convinced that you’ll love our BusinessElite service, that we’re offering a one-way international upgrade for only one mile.

You can now upgrade to our award-winning BusinessElite cabin for one mile each way when you fly internationally on a paid Y, B or M Economy fare between June 30 and September 15, 2009.

Availability is limited for these premium seats, so hurry! Call Delta Reservations at 1-800-323-2323, or the phone number listed on the back of your SkyMiles membership card, now through July 13th to confirm your upgrade, or to purchase a ticket and take advantage of this fantastic offer. Be sure to provide your SkyMiles account number and PIN when prompted.

Then sit back, relax and enjoy our full range of premium BusinessElite products for a comfortable, relaxed and productive in-flight experience.

Terms & Conditions

Eligible Fares/Booking: All taxes, fees and blackout dates are governed by the rules of the Y, B or M economy class fare purchased. Additional upgrade tax may apply. SkyMiles members can request a one-way upgrade Award for 1-mile for paid tickets purchased in Y, B, or M economy class between the continental United States, Alaska, and Canada and any international destination that offers J class fares (BusinessElite) where upgrade class of service is available on Delta or Northwest-operated flights only. SkyMiles members must call a Delta reservations representative for upgrades. Tickets: Must be purchased and upgrade requested no later than July 13, 2009. Travel Period: Travel must be completed by September 15, 2009. Restrictions: Availability of one-way upgrade inventory is limited and may not be available on all flights. Some markets may have more availability than others. Members may reissue existing tickets to be eligible for upgrade offer, but will need to pay applicable fees. Customers may combine this upgrade Award with other one-way upgrade Awards. Upgrades not available on Air France and KLM or any other SkyTeam or codeshare partner operated flights. Tickets are nontransferable. SkyMiles accrual will be for class of service originally purchased. Miscellaneous: All SkyMiles program rules apply. To review the rules, please visit delta.com/memberguide. Fares, taxes, fees, rules, and offers are subject to change without notice. Other restrictions may apply. Please refer Delta reservations representative to 970222.

(Normally I would summarize the offer and include a link to the airline’s website for full details, but so far I’ve been unable to find this published on Delta or Northwest’s websites.)

Be sure to check around before committing to this — you might be able to purchase a confirmed restricted business-class ticket for less than the required full-coach fare.

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Earn Delta, Northwest Elite-Qualifying Miles for Hilton Stays

Between July 15 and October 15, Hilton HHonors members who opt to earn airline miles and have selected Delta or Northwest as their preferred airlines, can earn bonus miles and elite-qualifying miles for Hilton stays of two or more nights.

Members who choose variable miles will earn one bonus mile plus an elite-qualifying mile for every dollar spent, up to a maximum of 5,000 miles. Those who choose fixed miles will earn 500 bonus miles plus 500 elite-qualifying miles per qualifying stay.

Registration is required.

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Marriott Offers Elite Credits for Meetings

Beginning July 15, Marriott Rewards members can earn 10 elite nights for each qualified Rewarding Events meeting — enough to qualify for Silver elite status.

Rewarding Events are defined as groups occupying 10 or more rooms for one or more nights, or catered events such as receptions, weddings, etc. So this is equally applicable to family reunions and business conferences.

Rewards members already earn three points for every dollar spent on the cost of Rewarding Events, up to a maximum of 50,000 points per event.

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Priority Club Free Night Offer Extended

Priority Club’s free-night offer, originally scheduled to run through July 3, has been quietly extended through August 15.

Once again, the offer: one free night after staying two paid nights at InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Express by Holiday Inn, Staybridge Suites, or Candlewood Suites hotels, up to a maximum of four free nights.

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