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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.
Following are some of Tim’s recent blog posts:
The FrequentFlier Forum – Hot Topics
As always, there’s plenty of activity on the FrequentFlier Forum.
In the “Airline Programs” Forum, Max Bialystock is enjoying the benefits of Continental’s recent move to the Star Alliance: “Wifey and I used Continental FF miles to book award seats. We wanted to go from Chuck Yeager Airport (Charleston, WV) [to Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ)] but there was ZILCH available.
“Pittsburgh works just as well, however, as point of departure. You’ll never guess the way it worked: absolutely NO available Continental seats. But (new) partner Air Canada will accommodate us at the 35,000-mile redemption level. However: this means going in the WRONG direction to Toronto, then catching a non-stop to MBJ from there, on the outbound.
“On the RETURN, we leave MBJ rather late in the afternoon. Four hours non-stop from there enroute to MONTREAL this time, and an overnight there. WE take what looks to be the first Air Canada flight out the next morning — to TORONTO. Then Pittsburgh, on that following day.
“Weird. But at least it can be done. Good thing Continental has this new partner, because trying to use our own Cont. FF miles on Continental Airlines turned out to be a giant fiasco… The GOOD news is, our trip is ON!.”
And in the “Credit Card Programs” Forum, there’s a good discussion of the new British Airways credit card, featuring 100,000 bonus miles for signing up and charging $2,000 within three months. SSheinfeld points out that, “while this is a great offer, let’s not forget the outrageous fees one must pay for a ‘free’ BA flight. My last award ORD-TLV in World Traveller Plus cost over $300/person.” And Flying Texan wonders, “Does anyone know the tricks for BA awards? I know that they partner with American, maybe less fees if award travel is with a partner.”
Questions, answers, opinions? Post them to the Forum!
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.
Continental Vs. United
“I love your publishing and it has been very helpful over the last few years.
“I am now qualified in Continental and United for their premier status. Which of the two should I be putting all my miles on for 2010, Continental or United? Which one will afford me better service and better return for my miles?” [Bob H.]
[FrequentFlier.com replies – Congrats on reaching elite status. I would suggest you choose the carrier whose routes are the best fit with your travel patterns. That ensures you earn miles, and enjoy elite perks, with as little extra effort as possible. As to the relative strengths of the two airlines on your list, I’ll leave it to our readers to weigh in with their experiences and preferences.]
British Air, Heathrow, Fawlty Towers
“I nearly fell off my chair laughing when I read Allen L.’s rant today about BA and Heathrow. Here are five reasons why I fly BA and Virgin Atlantic over any U.S. airline also flying the route:
~ Terminal 5 Heathrow is BA’s brand new, state of the art home in London
~ BA Executive Club is one of the best mileage schemes around, with good availability of seats and single tier charges for seats and routes that are way more transparent than any of the U.S. carriers
~ How many U.S. carriers give complementary lounge access when flying in a premium seat, even on air miles?
~ Alcoholic drinks are still free on BA and Virgin, even in economy/coach class
~ When I collect my bags at any European airport, I don’t have to do so in a public area where my bags can be stolen before I reach the belt, unlike virtually every U.S. airport for domestic flights
~ Business class gets you a real flat bed seat, unlike many routes with U.S. carriers e.g. compared to LAX to LHR with United
“I’m sure rudeness is directly related to customer attitude! Try watching BBC’s Fawlty Towers ‘Waldorf Salad’ episode if you want to understand how Brits see Americans in the context of customer service.” [Phil B.]
British Airways’ Advance Seat Assignments
“Not promoting any specific travel agency, but there are many — mostly larger — that are able to assign seats in advance without charge.
“One of the drawbacks of buying your tickets online is lack of service. Going with a travel agency gets you service — even if they do charge you a service charge ($120 seat charge vs $50 travel agency fee).” [Walter S. – Lafayette, NJ]
Until next week…
Win 1 Million United Miles
Enter FTD’s “Win a Million Miles” sweepstakes by December 20 for a chance to win one of five prizes of one million United miles each.
[Visit FrequentFlier.com for more travel sweepstakes.]
Deal Alert from SmarterTravel.com
1) U.S. and Caribbean Sale From AirTran, From $39 Each Way
AirTran just announced a winter sale with prices starting at $39 one-way or $78 round-trip. Domestic and Caribbean destinations are available, including Boston, Miami, Cancun, and Nassau, among many other cities.
Travel is valid through mid-February, but book fares by Thursday, November 19.
2) $248 Thanksgiving Sale From United
United has posted its own last-minute Thanksgiving holiday sale, but it has one-upped Southwest’s sale by listing reasonable fares. Fares start at $248 round-trip for travel from Friday, November 20 through Wednesday, December 2. Destinations range from major hubs like Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., to smaller airports such as Palm Springs and Rock Springs.
United hasn’t listed a booking deadline.
Alaska Offers Bonus for Purchased Miles
Through December 31, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members will receive a 30% bonus when purchasing miles on the airline’s website.
The predictable caveat: Unless purchased in very small quantities, or at highly discounted prices (see US Airways’ current 2-for-1 offer), buying miles rarely makes financial sense.
Continental and United Will Offer Reciprocal Elite Benefits
Beginning some time in 2010 (date TBD), elite members of Continental OnePass and United Mileage Plus will receive reciprocal complimentary upgrade benefits in the other program. Upgrades will be cleared as follows:
~ Continental and United elites flying on United will be upgraded to the next class of service in the following order (from first to last): United Global Services and United 1K, United Premier Executive, Continental Platinum, Continental Gold, United Premier, Continental Silver.
~ Continental and United elites flying Continental will be upgraded to the next class of service in the following order (from first to last): Continental Platinum, United Global Services and United 1K, Continental Gold, United Premier Executive, Continental Silver, United Premier.
In addition to the space-available upgrades, Continental elites will have complimentary access to United’s Economy Plus seating, and United elites will have complimentary access to Continental’s Premium Seating.
30 United Miles Per $1 Spent at FTD
Mileage Plus members who shop at FTD.com will earn 30 miles per dollar spent on flowers and gifts, plus 300 bonus miles. There’s no published deadline for this offer, but it seems to be keyed to Thanksgiving so it likely will be terminated some time thereafter.