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Issue #610 – June 2, 2010

CONTENTS
Up Front

  • Tweet, Tweet
  • Those Travel Sweepstakes We Feature Every Week …?
  • Biz Class to Europe for $1375 in US Airways Frequent Flyer Miles
  • Q&A: No United Miles for My Singapore Flights?
  • From Marriott: $25 Back on Weekend Nights
  • Buy More American Miles? Or Hide Your Wallet?
  • US Air Offers Bonus for Car Rentals, Hotel Stays
On Site

  • FrequentFlier Forum Topics
Steals & Deals

  • Deal Alert from SmarterTravel.com
Sweeps & Freebies

  • Win a Trip for 4 to Southern or Northern California
Reader Rants & Raves

  • Feedback from the Frontlines of Travel
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UP FRONT
Tweet, Tweet

Just a reminder: 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.

You Know Those Travel Sweepstakes We Feature Every Week …?

We’re fond of pointing out that someone has to win those free trips and frequent flyer miles, so it might as well be you. Well, it was one of you:

Several months ago your newsletter featured a sweepstakes by Marriott Vacation Club offering a prize of a million Marriott Rewards Points, a half-million airline miles (my choice of major airlines), and a $50,000 Visa debit card. I followed your link and entered the contest. Thanks to you, I won and am now trying to talk my wife into a trip around the world to celebrate our 25th anniversary. Keep up the great work. [TJ Weaver]

We began regularly featuring travel sweepstakes in June of 2001. So, nine years times 50 issues a year equals 450 issues. One winner in 450 issues isn’t bad.

Congrats and happy travels to TJ! And to everyone else: Keep trying. I know we will.

“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, Flying Texan adds the following to the discussion of best programs for award availability:

“… IMHO, stick with what works for you, the programs can never be applied universally: ‘I have accumulated 1.3 million AAdvantage miles, but what works for me (American) may be totally opposite to other travelers for so many reasons.

“Living in Continental’s hub (Houston) means many travelers switch flights in Houston, hence less rewards seats. Just my hunch. I am willing to change planes (many wouldn’t) in exchange for getting to my destination. I have gone to many places (Australia, Europe, South American) paying with miles and have never been disappointed by American. Others wouldn’t touch AA, or live in cities with more Delta, NW, US Air flights, than I would ever see in Houston. Just read who’s generous with reward seats in your area and stick to that carrier.’”

Questions, answers, opinions? Post them to the Forum!

:: More

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STEALS & DEALS
Deal Alert from SmarterTravel.com

1) Fare War: $49 Each Way on Southwest, Frontier, Alaska

Southwest set it off on Tuesday morning with its latest systemwide sale, and now Alaska and Frontier are also offering summer promotions of their own. Combined, find more than 1,300 discounted routes to major domestic cities including Orlando, Las Vegas, Kahului, and Anchorage. Each of the sale providers offer one-way pricing, and rates start at $49 one-way or $98 round-trip.

The sales’ expiration dates vary, but they are all valid for travel in June, July, and August. Purchase by June 3 for Southwest, by June 10 for Alaska Air, and by June 4 for Frontier flights.

:: More

2) $560 R/T Latin America Sale on Aeromexico

Aeromexico’s latest Latin America-specific sale features summer flights to Lima, Peru; San Jose, Costa Rica; and San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Round-trip fares start at $560.

Travel is available from early to late June, but book fares by June 7.

:: More

 

SWEEPS & FREEBIES
Win a Trip for 4 to Southern or Northern California

Enter Southwest Airlines’ “California – The Game” sweepstakes by June 27 for a chance to win one of two grand prizes: 1) a five-day/four-night Southern California trip for four, including air, a $500 gift certificate towards a rental car, tickets to Universal Studios, hotel, etc.; or 2) a five-day/four-night Northern California trip for four, including air, a $500 gift certificate towards a rental car, hotel, etc.

In addition to the grand prizes, seven pairs of Southwest tickets will be given away.

:: More

[Visit FrequentFlier.com for more travel sweepstakes -- Updated this week.]

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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.


“SkyMiles Has Become a Fraud and Hoax”

“I have been trying since Delta went to its three tier award ticket system to find a ‘low’ ticket for travel between RNO and either KOA, OGG, or EYW. I have not found a standard ticket to any of the three destinations, ever.

“I have used their calendars to go to every month in a year that is eligible for redemption and I cannot find a single day that has the ‘low’ award. I have called Delta, somewhere in Southeast Asia, and I have sent emails to complain. All to no avail.

“Delta used to be my airline of choice when I had a choice. Now, since their award program has become a ‘bait and switch’ program, I have not and will not use them again. SkyMiles has become a fraud and hoax.” [Robert B. - Minden, NV]

United Miles for Singapore Air Flights

The following is in reference to a recent blog post regarding the confusing rules for earning United miles when flying Singapore Airlines.

“While your articles on Singapore Air, Booking Class and FF miles go part of the way to explaining what’s going on, there’s a little more that I think is key to the consumers’ understanding of what’s going on and how they can (or in some cases can’t) figure out how many miles they will earn for a given flight.

“First, Fare Basis Codes and Booking Class are actually different. While they often both start with the same letter: Y, B, M, etc., they don’t always. That combined with the fact that airlines also may play fast and loose with the terminology/nomenclature, make ‘informed’ discussions and research on the subject next to impossible at times.

“Second, say you book a ticket on United and the itinerary includes a segment operated by SAS. You pick your travel site wisely, one that gives you all the fare and booking rules and codes/classes and such (this can even include the airlines websites which give more info at the really low level than they used to, but they’re still generally not complete, if even correct), you check your Booking Class against the FF program requirements and you know just what miles you should be credited with. You purchase and fly your itinerary and you find that you’re not credited what you thought you should be for the SAS segment. Upon several phone calls, getting bounced from United to SAS (because “it’s up to the operating airline to award the miles”) and back again (because “United is the one that must request the miles be credited”) you might or might not stumble upon someone on the SAS-side that looks up your PNR (Passenger Name Record) in their system, with their Record Locator, not United’s, and SAS tells you you didn’t earn miles because the Booking Class was “x”. You look at your ticket (well, you look at everything you can find online from where you bought the ticket, United, your boarding passes and wherever else since we all know we rarely get actual tickets anymore) and you find a different Booking Class.

“Hmm, why are the Booking Classes different? Because you booked on United and got United’s Booking Class, which may or may not match (not match more often than not in my experience, especially with lower fare tickets) the Booking Class’s in SAS’s PNR. Since it’s up to the operating airline to award the miles, you’re subject to SAS’s Booking Class for your miles, not United’s.

“The best part of this is that no one at United can figure out what SAS’s Booking Class will be, whether before the ticket is booked or after. The only way to find SAS’s Booking Class is to purchase the ticket, wait until it is actually ‘ticketed’ (generally very quickly, but not always) and then call SAS (oh yeah, and find someone who will find your PNR in SASs system with only your name; SAS has claimed to me that they can’t look up PNRs by name, yeah, right�; sometimes United can get the SAS Record Locator if you find an agent that knows where to look in the United PNR) to find out what SAS’s Booking Class really is. If it isn’t to your liking, depending on how it was purchased, you may be able to cancel within 24 hours. You can also do this without actually purchasing/ticketing if you can find an entity that will put your booking on hold instead of requiring immediate purchase (travel agencies can often do this but most online sites, like Orbitz, do not) as the SAS PNR gets generated when someone ENDs the United PNR, even if the PNR isn’t purchased.

“The bottom line is that Booking Classes in PNR’s that include multiple airlines are not necessarily indicative of the Booking Class within the individual airlines’ PNRs for that travel (other than the Booking Classes for the validating airlines’ flights, the one who’s ticketing code is the first three digits of the ticket number; oh yeah, and figuring out who the validating airline is can also be a chore as it’s usually the over-the-water airline, but definitely not always so). So even if you do all your homework, it may have all been for naught because who has time to call multiple airlines to find out their Booking Class for individual segments.” [Terry E.]


Until next week…

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