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Issue #608 — May 19, 2010

CONTENTS

Up Front

  • Tweet This!
  • Which Rewards Programs Are Most Rewarding?
  • Frontier Will Sever Frequent Flyer Ties With AirTran
  • AirTran to Midwest’s Best Customers: We Want YOU!
  • Marriott Offers a Free Night After Three Stays
  • This Summer, Buy-One-Get-One-Free at Omni Hotels

On Site

  • FrequentFlier Forum Topics

Reader Rants & Raves

  • Feedback from the Frontlines of Travel

Sweeps & Freebies

  • Win a Trip for 2 to Paris, Rio, Florence, or …

Steals & Deals

  • Deal Alert from SmarterTravel.com

Miles & Points

  • Earn 27,500 American Miles for 5 Hyatt Stays
  • US Airways Lowers Fees to Change Awards, Redeposit Miles

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.

Tweet This!

Up until now, we haven’t been very active on Twitter. With blogs and newsletters and columns and forums, there just weren’t enough hours in the day.

But this week, we deployed new software on the site that makes publishing new blog posts to Twitter a quick and simple matter.

So if you’re not already doing so, use this link to follow us on Twitter and stay abreast of the latest in frequent flyer program news, opinion, and advice.

On Site

The FrequentFlier Forum – Hot Topics

As always, there’s plenty of activity on the FrequentFlier Forum.

In the “Credit Card Programs” Forum, KimberlyCH contributes the following to the ongoing discussion of how credit card churning affects one’s credit rating: “The degree to which opening and closing a credit card will affect your credit score depends on how closing that particular credit card will change the amount of unused and available credit you have.

“It might hurt your credit score if it significantly affects your debt to credit line ratio. Your debt to credit line ratio is the sum of the total amount of debt that you have measured against the sum of your available credit across all of your credit card accounts.”

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’s New Upgrade Fees

The following is in response to Martin G.’s criticism of United’s new upgrade fees in last week’s newsletter:

“In many respects this is a vast improvement over the old system where you were required to purchase a much higher class economy fare in order to be eligible to upgrade.

“If you were waitlisted and didn’t clear, there was no refund and you lost the premium paid for the ‘privilege’ of possibly being upgraded. This could amount to a loss of several hundred dollars per ticket over the lowest available economy class fare available. Now you don’t pay anything until you actually clear the list.” [Hal H.]

Stop the United-Continental Merger!

“Any specific suggestions you’d care to mention on how the public can protest the proposed merger to the government would be welcome.

“As mentioned before, I see some real anti-trust/monopoly/restraint of trade issues here.” [Ed N.]

[FrequentFlier.com replies - I'm always in favor of consumers' making their opinions known, but when the DOT and DOJ review the proposed merger, they'll be considering input from the airlines, their trade associations, economists, and lawyers -- not from the traveling public. Probably the best way of insinuating your concerns into the conversation would be via your representatives in Congress.]

Delta Awards, Not

“I saw your blog on SmarterTravel regarding frequent flyer awards on different airlines and just wanted to say that Delta’s terrible ranking was well deserved.

“Comparing my experience to my friends’ and co-workers’, Delta is among the very worst unless you’re prepared to pay more miles for awards with fewer restrictions. So in effect, Delta has raised the price we pay for awards, even though the prices of entry-level awards remain the same.

“Clever!” [Samuel L.]


Until next week…

Sweeps & Freebies

Win a Trip for 2 to Paris, Rio, Florence, or …

Enter Spiegel’s “Dream Getaway” sweepstakes by June 14 for a chance to win a trip for two to one of the following six destinations: Paris, France; Rio De Janiero and Iguazu Falls, Brazil; Canyon Ranch Spa in Tucson, AZ; Tanzanian Safari in Africa; New York City, NY; or Florence, Italy. All trips include air, hotel, etc.

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[Visit FrequentFlier.com for more travel sweepstakes.]

Steals & Deals

Deal Alert from SmarterTravel.com

1) Fare War! $44 O/W Sale: American, AirTran, JetBlue, More

When AirTran announced its newest sale yesterday, we knew it was only a matter of time before other carriers would respond. This morning, American officially matched AirTran’s offer, while JetBlue and Spirit are competing with unannounced everyday low fares on many routes. Travel this spring, summer, or fall at sale prices.

AirTran’s sale features more than 1,500 domestic and Caribbean routes to about 70 cities, including Los Angeles, Orlando, Montego Bay, and Nassau. American’s sale for the same travel dates includes domestic destinations such as Dallas, Chicago, and New York City.

Both sales end Thursday, May 20.

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2) Fly to Multiple Cities in Asia for $1,599 With the All Asia Pass

Cathay Pacific’s All Asia Pass allows travelers to fly round-trip from the U.S. to Hong Kong and visit up to four other destinations in Asia starting at $1,599.

Departures are valid Mondays through Wednesdays, August 17 through December 1. Summer departures are available from May 18 through August 16, though they come with a $500 surcharge.

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Miles & Points

Earn 27,500 American Miles for 5 Hyatt Stays

Between May 3 and July 5, Hyatt Gold Passport members can earn 3,000 AAdvantage bonus miles for each of the first five Hyatt stays, plus an additional 10,000 bonus miles for the fifth stay, for a total of 25,000 miles for five stays.

A maximum of 25,000 bonus miles may be earned during the promotional period. The bonus miles are in addition to the 500 miles per stay normally awarded, so a total of 27,500 miles can be earned for five stays. Gold Passport members must choose to earn AAdvantage miles for their stays.

Registration is required. Call 1-800-228-3360 and cite promotion code AA25K.

(This offer is combinable with Hyatt’s Big Welcome Back promotion: a free night or 5,000 bonus points after every two qualifying stays through June 30.)

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US Airways Lowers Fees to Change Awards, Redeposit Miles

With no advance notice or explanation, US Airways has reduced the fees it charges Dividend Miles members to change award tickets and to cancel awards and redeposit miles. Previously, the fees were $150 for domestic awards and $250 for international. Now the fees are $150.

This is the same airline that charges an “award processing fee” between $25 and $50 just to issue an award ticket, and that in 2009 gave away an industry-low 4% of its seats to mile-redeemers.

Does this signal a change in US Airways’ consumer-unfriendly frequent flyer program policies and practices? It’s too soon to say. While welcome, this improvement is just one among many that are needed.

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