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Issue #597 — Mar. 3, 2010


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 Barbados

Steals & Deals

  • Deal Alert from

Miles & Points

  • Double Miles-for-Dining
  • Bid for Frequent Flyer Miles, Elite Status, Tickets, etc.

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.

Proving that it’s not all about miles and points, in the “Miscellaneous Travel Topics” Forum, Lutherdavies wonders as follows: “Hello everyone. I am new to this forum and extremely excited to be here. I am looking for a rolling briefcase that can fit my 15″ laptop and also hold other accessories like power cords, mouse, pens, an iPod, etc. The reason why I am looking for a rolling briefcase is that they are easier to handle when running from one gate to another at the airport. Does anyone have any suggestions? I am looking for extremely good quality stuff and would prefer to go with a known brand rather than suffer the ignominy of a broken bag!”

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.

United Complimentary Upgrades

“While I am very excited that United is going to start offering complimentary upgrades, I am extremely frustrated with their lack of commitment to elite members who have purchased 500 mile upgrade certificates. I purchased a couple sets in fall 2009 of the certificates and found out last week that the cutoff for using them is March 2010. At that point they are no longer valid.

“Upon the surface, complimentary upgrades seem like a great idea and I do support them. However, unless you’re a Global Services, 1K or once in a blue moon, Premier Executive, upgrades are a thing of the past. Therefore, if I purchased upgrades with a 12 month validity period and UAL invalidates them (and makes it nearly impossible to get upgraded as a mere Premier member) I simply have thrown money down the drain.

“I would think that this invalidation with no compensation is illegal. Any lawyers want a class action lawsuit?” [Erik P.]

Booking Qantas Awards with American Miles

“After reading Jane’s rant [in last week’s newsletter], I wondered if I was not alone in my unsuccessful efforts trying to use my AA miles on partner Qantas. I am worried that I won’t get to use my AA points on Qantas at all for a trip my wife and I are planning to New Zealand.

“I called AA tonight, waited patiently as the agent looked through their availability for Business Class or First Class. Our trip is not until December but there are no Business or First class seats available at all in November or December. The agent explained that Qantas has not released any seats yet. I then asked the agent to find the first available Business or First Class seat for PHL to AKL (same route as us) beginning his search as of tomorrow (2/25) and the first Business class seat available was 3/31 (and there was only 1) and the first First Class seat was not even available. Period!

“The ticket agent said to me ‘Qantas rarely gives first class,’ then he went on to say ‘they don’t release first class at all, they keep it for their own passengers.’ I asked him if he ever booked a first class seat and he said once in a while they might release first class a day or two before the trip departs, saying ‘that’s the pattern I see.’

“It is definitely disheartening to have AA’s partners be stingy with their partner awards. I do love AA’s frequent flyer program — one way booking is superb. I have had extraordinary luck booking FCO-SFO for 30,000 one-way on 7/19 and CDG-CLT in Business one-way for 50,000 8/5 this past summer, which are busy travel times indeed. I just wish AA would do more to get more partner seats for its customers.” [Ned C.]

Until next week…

Sweeps & Freebies

Win a Trip for 2 to Barbados

Enter Johnson’s “Soak in the Secret” sweepstakes by April 30 for a chance to win a six-night trip for two to the Barbados Bougainvillea Beach Resort, including air, $250 spending money, massages, and facials.

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[Visit for more travel sweepstakes.]

Steals & Deals

Deal Alert from

1) Through Thursday: $47 Each Way on Southwest

Southwest has just put more than 1,300 routes on sale for travel into the summer months.

Featured destinations include Chicago, Orlando, and San Diego, among many others. Travel through late June, but book flights by Thursday, March 4.

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2) $380 Latin America Sale on American

Ride the world-renowned waves of El Salvador, scale the Mayan ruins of Guatemala, dive deep into Belize’s reefs, or zip-line across Costa Rica’s rainforests.

American’s sale to the region does not have a booking deadline, so it could disappear at any moment. Travel through the end of 2010.

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Miles & Points

Double Miles-for-Dining

This year has been a bit of a disappointment for dining-for-miles participants. Promotions-wise, there just hasn’t been much to whet the appetite.

The newly announced “All Double, No Trouble” promotion is a step in the right direction, albeit a modest one.

Members of participating dining miles programs will earn double miles when they dine at participating restaurants on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, between March 1 and June 30, and complete a survey about the dine within 30 days.

The promotion applies to members of the programs of Alaska, American, Delta, Midwest, United, US Airways. Hilton and InterContinental are in on this one as well. (Miles-for-dining is operated by Rewards Network on behalf of many airline and hotel programs, which explains why the promotions are often identical across programs.)

For VIP members, the offer doubles the earned miles from five to 10 for every dollar spent. While that’s not as generous as some previous promotions, and the bonus is limited to restaurant visits on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, it’s better than no bonus at all.

:: Alaska

:: American

:: Delta

:: Midwest

:: United

:: US Airways

:: Hilton

:: InterContinental

Bid for Frequent Flyer Miles, Elite Status, Tickets, etc.

The Kids First Fund is a charitable organization “founded to serve children who are orphans, handicapped, sexually abused, physically abused and pregnant teenagers. These children are the ‘forgotten’ members of our society. We concentrate our efforts in the places where the challenge is greatest; in the developing countries and economies of our world.” That’s according to Jay Sorensen, the organization’s founder and president.

Sorensen is also a travel industry analyst and consultant, so it’s natural that he turned to that industry for the 150-plus items to be auctioned off in support of Kids First.

This year’s 6th International Online Travel Auction for Kids went live on March 1 on eBay and continues until March 20. Among the current items: a round-trip JetBlue ticket (latest bid: $224.50), one-day Avis car rental ($10.00), round-trip SWISS ticket to Switzerland ($339.00), one-year AirTran elite status ($51.00), 10,000 Choice Privileges points ($37.00), and so on.

The auctions change weekly, so check back regularly for new items.

This is a great opportunity to support a worthy cause and get a great travel deal at the same time.

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