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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, LGW2CLT is looking forward to his new elite perks. But for how long? “So I just logged into my Dividend miles account and lo and behold I have preferred status!!! Wasn’t expecting, nor trying for this necessarily, but in 2009 I had to travel UK/US a lot for family emergencies. I stuck with US Air last year mainly b/c AA changed their direct flight to Heathrow… bleah, and the prices were always about the same.
“Here’s my question… can’t find it on the US Air website… how long does my preferred status last? (I want to make sure I get to take advantage of it before it goes!)”
Also in the “Airline Programs” Forum, PolScrib is racking up United miles: “[A]t least here in Northern California, we can purchase gift cards in Safeway, and using our club card, receive half a mile per dollar — on top of whatever your credit card gives you.
“And there are no activation charges. So, things we would regularly use in our normal activities such as Shell or Chevron now provide us with additional miles.”
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.
Claiming Miles Earned Before Signing Up
“Can I claim the miles from a flight I made BEFORE I became a member of a program, such as SkyMiles?
“I took a trip within the last 12 months that I would like to credit, after the fact, to my new account.” [Arielle W.]
[FrequentFlier replies - This is from Delta's website: "Upon request at the time of enrollment, mileage credit will also be awarded for travel flown up to 30 days prior to enrollment." So if the flights in question were within 30 days of your membership sign-up, they can be credited to your account.]
Body Scanners and Radiation
“Who do the airlines think they are kidding? Those body scanners are computerized x-ray machines. You get irradiated every time you walk through them. Now granted, the dose you receive is small — but how many times are you going to go through them every year…
“Someone needs to tell the traveling public the truth — yes, they will find hidden items under clothing AND they will radiate EVERYONE — pregnant women, small children, people with various sensitive diseases and who knows what else.
“I will not walk through one — strip search here I come. I work in a medical field that exposes me to radiation while working with patients and I just will not expose myself to more radiation. Good luck with this one.” [Barbara, aka Vocal NucMed Tech, BA, RT(N), CNMT, FASRT]
Merging Delta and Northwest Accounts
“Am I understanding correctly that frequent flyer miles earned on Delta have been reallocated to Northwest frequent flyer miles? If I had 20,000 NW miles and 13,000 on Delta, would I now have 33,000?
“Thanks for the clarification.” [Jane M.]
[FrequentFlier replies - Delta has acquired Northwest, so all your Northwest miles should have automatically transferred to your Delta account, assuming you had one. If your Delta account does not show that your Northwest miles have been transferred, contact Delta to have the situation corrected.]
American’s Award Fees
“I was just noticing that my American miles redemption now charges a $20-50 ‘Award Service Charge.’
“This is new, I am sure. What is up with that?” [Toka]
[FrequentFlier replies - Among American's award fees: phone fee (when booking by phone; rush fees (for tickets booked within 21 days); cash co-payments for upgrades. Bottom line: It's tough to get a truly free ticket.]
“What is it with Dulles airport in D.C.??
“Long lines to go through passport control. Must have been 6 or 700 people in line. I would have missed my flight two hours after I arrived in line if I had not been able to go where disabled and crew went.
“Not to mention bussing and being herded like cattle.” [Ketil R.]
Contacting Continental – FAIL
“‘Your wait time will be longer than 30 minutes,’ ‘We are unable to answer your call at this time.’
“These two messages are the perpetual answers when trying to reach the OnePass awards center for Continental. This makes trying to transfer miles to AMTRAK almost impossible even though it is a part of the program. This is not a one time situation. I have phoned the toll-free number over 30 times across the last two weeks, varying the time of day does not help. Trying the standard direct dial number is equally as frustrating.
“Continental has a fine airline, goes most of the places I want with reasonable fares but their award program customer service fails miserably.” [Richard L.]
Until next week…
Win a Trip to Kiawah, Key West, or Nassau
Enter American Eagle’s “25th Anniversary” sweepstakes by February 28 for a chance to win one of three prize trips: seven nights at The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort; six nights at the Southernmost on the Beach Hotel, Key West, Florida; or three nights at the Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort in Nassau, Bahamas. All trips are for two persons and include air.
[Visit FrequentFlier.com for more travel sweepstakes.]
Deal Alert from SmarterTravel.com
1) More Than 250 Routes From $29 Each Way on JetBlue
With over 250 routes on sale, JetBlue’s 2010 inaugural sale features travel to U.S. and Caribbean destinations including New York City, Orlando, Kingston, and Nassau.
Fares start at a low $29 one-way or $58 round-trip, and travel at these prices to most destinations is valid through February 10.
2) $288 Fares to Honolulu and Maui From Hawaiian
Thaw out on a Honolulu or Maui beach while gazing at the serene sunset with Hawaiian’s latest winter sale. Departures are available from Los Angeles, Phoenix, Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle, plus others.
Book fares by Thursday, January 14, for travel from January through mid-March. Prices start at $288 round-trip.
British Airways Kills Credit Card Promo, Again
British Airways’ 100,000-mile credit card offer was launched in November, terminated in December, then revived on January 7, only to be terminated yet again on January 11.
So for now, if you’ve lost track, the offer is off.
While this here-today-gone-tomorrow tactic isn’t technically bait-and-switch, it’s likely to feel like exactly that to many consumers. And if it’s not rank sales gimmickry, it’s marketing incompetence.
I’ve requested comment on the promotion’s troubled history and guidance on its future, if any, from representatives of British Airways and Chase, the card issuer. So far, no reply.
The link is to the landing page of the current offer.
Marriott Extends Elite Rollover Nights
Marriott is extending its elite rollover promotion for stays in 2010.
So, any nights earned in 2010 that are over and above a member’s elite-qualifying threshold will be carried over to 2011 and count toward earning elite status for 2011.
So, for example, if you stay 60 nights in 2010 — 10 more than the 50 required for Gold status, but too few to qualify for Platinum — you’ll be awarded Gold status and have the extra 10 nights applied toward reaching status for the next year.
Sign Up & Fly to Earn Up to 25K US Air Miles
If you’re not already a member of US Airways’ Dividend Miles program, sign up by January 15 and fly eight segments within 90 days and you’ll earn a hefty 25,000 bonus miles.
There’s also a 500-mile bonus for new members who fly up to seven segments within 90 days.