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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, marcnyc reports as follows on his attempts to book a Christmas award trip to Jakarta:
After spending hours on the phone with Delta and American Airlines, I found the following two solutions:
Delta: 100,000 miles + $293 taxes from JFK to Jakarta through Los Angeles and Guan Jo China
AA: 80,000 miles + $76 taxes + $20 call center fee from JFK to Jakarta through Tokyo
Of course I picked the latter because:
a. it was less miles
b. it was cheaper
c. it was a 2 leg flight, rather than a 3 leg flight
It was very hard (impossible in fact) to find something on the specific dates I wanted to fly (Dec. 17 – Jan. 2) so I had to settle for the closest dates that were available (Dec. 14 – Dec. 31)… it seems to always be easy to fly on New Year’s eve because nobody wants to fly those days… last year I went to Thailand and Cambodia on miles (with Delta) and we also left on Dec. 31 and spent one night in Tokyo (same as this year)…
One interesting fact I learned on the phone with AA is that they opened Xmas 2010 award seats up 5 months ago (I guess that would mean February) so maybe there’s a pattern of opening up award seats 11 months ahead, which is a good thing to know when trying to plan ahead for award flights in periods with so many blackout dates.
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.
Carry-On Bag Policies
“This past week, Sam T. responded to baggage frees and mentioned airline enforcement of size restrictions.
“As a 300k-mile flyer last year, I go both ways on these size restrictions. Nothing frustrates me more than watching someone hopelessly try to stuff a bag twice the size of the bin while arguing with the flight attendant that they ‘use this bag all the time.’ Don’t even get me started on the guitar carrying passengers who take up space for 3 bags plus their regular carry on — I understand the guitar is fragile, but all passengers should still be held to the same restrictions as anyone else.
“At the same time, I carry on a bag that is your standard size and comfortably fits in a 737 overhead bin. It barely fits in the sizers the airlines ‘use’ to check their regulations. On a 757, the overhead bins are significantly larger and my bag can swim inside them. Having the same carry-on size restrictions on all airplanes makes absolutely no sense when the overhead compartments aren’t all the same size. Perhaps this is the root of many of the carry one issues, but good luck seeing the airlines ever implement a baggage sizing policy that reflects real world scenarios.” [Jeff S.]
Re-Hire the Editor!
“Don’t let Robert W. bamboozle you: ‘either’ can legitimately be used with three (and more) disjuncts. It is not only common in ordinary speech, but any of the finest authors and orators you can locate will have done it.
“Even Fowler admits that in conversational English it is often unavoidable, and cites Shakespeare: ‘They say there is divinity in odd numbers, either in nativity, chance, or death.’ (Sonnet 60)” [Jeff P.]
Getting What You Pay For
“… You DON’T get ‘exactly what you deserve’ when you buy an airline ticket. Children, often 1/5th the weight of adults are charged exactly the same. Bags going cross-country are charged the same as going 200 miles. $2 for water bears no relationship to cost — especially when you’re not allowed to bring your own through ‘security.’
“To claim you get exactly what you pay for would imply that the airlines charge everyone exactly the same thing, when we know that’s grossly untrue, i.e. some pay 5X the cost just based on arbitrary distinctions of advance purchase, company discount codes etc. Airlines manipulate frequent flier programs to become profit centers by taking huge advance payments from credit card companies, then charging all kinds of fees and restricting redemption to the point of making them valueless.
“Airlines have switched the burden of booking [while eliminating travel agency commission costs] to the passenger — making everyone spend hours on their [often] unwieldy websites comparing and inputting information, then charging exorbitant fees to book/change trips when the airline did no additional work. Not to mention being told to show up hours in advance to check in at a kiosk [saving the airline further] while actually increasing congestion because of more people spending longer times waiting.
“If I buy a nonrefundable seat on a particular plane — getting exactly what I paid for — why shouldn’t I be able to give/sell that to someone else to use without a fee? Southwest is one of the few airlines that doesn’t attach a fee to make changes [yet they charge you full fare if you want to standby for a seat that would otherwise be empty... go figure].” [Brent]
Until next week…
Win a 7-night Royal Caribbean Cruise for 2
Enter JetBlue’s “Perfect 10″ sweepstakes by August 31 for a chance to win one of 10 seven-night Royal Caribbean cruises for two, including JetBlue flight certificates.
[Visit FrequentFlier.com for more travel sweepstakes.]
Deal Alert from SmarterTravel.com
1) Southwest From $56 Each Way – Travel Through Fall
Alongside its recently released Labor Day sale, Southwest has another sale featuring late summer and fall travel. More than 2,500 routes spanning 60 cities are available, including Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, and Orlando. Find flights from $56 one-way, or $112 round-trip.
Travel early September through mid-November, but book by Thursday, July 15.
2) $560 Air France Fall Europe Sale
Wait for the weather to cool down in Europe and the prices cool off, too. Air France’s latest sale features late summer and fall flights to Dublin, Milan, Paris, and others starting at $560 round-trip.
Fares are valid for travel this September through late October. Book by July 28.