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Issue #604 — Apr. 21, 2010

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 the American Idol Finale in L.A.

Steals & Deals

  • Deal Alert from SmarterTravel.com

Miles & Points

  • Delta Triples the Miles Between MSP and Chicago, Denver
  • US Air Offers Sign-Up Bonus for New Members

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, the_spartans provides the following sobering reflection on earning miles at the airlines’ mileage malls:

“Recent experience shopping through the various airline rewards sites has led me to make this post. While the number of miles per dollar spent is an important factor in my choice, one larger factor is far more important: the odds of actually getting credit for the shopping!

“I have noticed that some sites seem to be very dependable and give you your miles quickly (Delta is the best example in my experience). However, others seem to be a crapshoot. For example, in a recent experience with Continental shopping, I did not get credit for several purchases. Not only was it difficult at best to follow up on the mileage credit, but when I finally got a response, I was informed that it would take 90 days to confirm it through the retailer! This is after the required 6-8 week wait for them to even entertain the inquiry! And please note, I am always very careful linking through the shopping site to the retailer, not going to other browser windows, cookies enabled and all that good stuff.

“I would prompt all to consider this when shopping in addition to the number of miles. I would also love to hear feedback from others who think certain programs are more consistent/quicker in giving miles due…”

Anyone care to weigh in?

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.


Disappearing Delta Prices

“As I indicated to Delta staff (Eric, and Ms. Jan, a supervisor) and in email note, I am writing you with my concerns. They center on 2 issues:

“1) Price gouging. Price fare increases once logged into Delta website under my account number (I fly them frequently, and have been Platinum with NWA and now Delta over 10 years), that when I put in an itinerary and get an initial price, by the time I get to ‘purchase,’ the price has jumped, in various instances 15 to almost 300%!! My data are stored in their data base so I have very little to enter additionally to complete the transaction, less than 2-3 minutes, yet each in the past 2 days I am faced with increases, some just laughable, i.e., from $1165 to $2900 for same itinerary.

“To me, it is tantamount to ‘bait and switch,’ which I didn’t experience at NWA nor multi-domain agents (e.g., Travelocity or Expedia). A supervisor explained the volatile fluctuation of airline fares, but once a client logs in, that initially presented price should be held valid for a reasonable amount of time. This practice needs regulation. Could you address it and also let me know of the proper section of FAA to which I should address my concerns?

“2) Delta does not speak with a singular voice (in person or electronically) on the same issue. This pertains to an upgrade request I pursued for a flight tonight to EVV. On-line said there were 2 upgrades left; the in-person reps said there was none. This is poor communication at best.” [Gaetano G.]

[FrequentFlier.com replies - I'm not sure it will have any effect in the short term, but such issues should certainly be registered with the DOT. If enough similar feedback is received, they might make it an investigative priority. As a side note, we're seeing this complaint with increasing frequency.]

British Air’s 100,000-Mile Credit Card Bonus

“I signed up for this card… actually I signed up for two, one for me and one for my wife. We live in Tampa, Florida and fly to London fairly regularly. BA is the only airline offering direct Tampa to London (Gatwick) flights, so it seemed like a good idea. Having fulfilled all the conditions, we received each our 100,000+ points, good for 4 round-trip tickets.

“However, it turns out the deal is worth less than it would appear. BA, like other airlines, plays the game of restricting award seats.

“Although there are seats available during the non-summer months, there were no seats available during June, July and August, when I checked on April 18, 2010.

“I realize it is a busy time, but it would be nice if a few seats were made available for their award passengers.

“So, nice points… just don’t expect to use them in the summer for the Tampa to London route.” [Martin L.]

The Logic of Standby Fees

“Please let us know the rationale for considering charging a fee for standby for a flight.

“It seems to me that standbys are helpful to airlines as well as fliers because they fill seats that would otherwise be empty and free up seats that might generate extra revenue on later flights.” [Leise M.]

[FrequentFlier.com replies - Is desperation a rationale? Seriously, the airlines are assessing fees because they can, and because they need the extra revenue. And the numbers are big -- United in 2009 generated $1.1 billion from such fees.]

Free Travel and Erupting Volcanoes

“The next issue for the newsletter should be dealing with the volcano with the unpronounceable name. Having decided I can live with the uncertainty of an airline strike, I don’t think I can cope with the chance of either having my trip canceled at the last minute when my hotel deposits will be forfeit, my TGV tickets will be useless and it’s too late to make good alternate plans here or, worse, being stranded in Europe, having to pay for additional food and lodging and kennel fees for our dog, losing more time from work and perhaps be ingforced to fly home in coach (which would be incapacitating for me).

“But I guess the question for you is whether the airlines will refund the taxes I paid for my ‘free’ tickets or at least allow me to apply them to the same trip next year. AA told me when I booked that I could change the dates without penalty but there would be a charge for changing the route. Right now I’m leaning toward cancelling our trip to France for this year in the hope of doing it next year.” [Mary-Lynne F.]

[FrequentFlier.com replies - We put the question to American and, while they skirted the question regarding taxes and fees, they offered the following: "We're allowing customers to have their miles reinstated (i.e., cancel their award ticket and have the miles re-deposited into their account for later use) at NO CHARGE." Good news, that.]


Until next week…

Sweeps & Freebies

Win a Trip for 2 to the American Idol Finale in L.A.

Enter Coca Cola’s “American Idol” sweepstakes by April 30 for a chance to win a trip for two to Los Angeles to attend the American Idol Finale shows of Idol’s ninth season, including tickets on JetBlue, two nights’ hotel accommodations, and show tickets.

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[Visit FrequentFlier.com for more travel sweepstakes.]

Steals & Deals

Deal Alert from SmarterTravel.com

1) Frontier and Midwest Sales From $54 Each Way

To mark the upcoming merger of the two carriers, Frontier and Midwest have synced up on airfare promotions. Starting prices are $54 one-way or $118 round-trip, for travel to Denver, Las Vegas, Orlando, and Washington, D.C.

The sale expires on Friday, but travel is available through early June.

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2) $20 Discount From British Airways

British Airways is offering $20 off round-trip flights worldwide. The discount is available to registered users only, but there’s no charge to register.

Purchase by April 27, for travel through May 23.

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Miles & Points

Delta Triples the Miles Between MSP and Chicago, Denver

Through June 17, Delta SkyMiles members can earn triple miles for non-stop flights between Minneapolis/St. Paul and either Chicago (O’Hare or Midway) or Denver.

Registration is required.

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US Air Offers Sign-Up Bonus for New Members

Through July 31, travelers who establish a new US Airways Dividend Miles account will earn a 1,500-mile bonus.

To earn the extra miles, new members must enter promo code NM15 when signing up.

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