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Issue #622 — Aug. 25, 2010

CONTENTS

Up Front

  • Tweet, Tweet
  • American’s Hotel Booking Bonus May Be a Bad Deal
  • Biz Class to Europe: $1,375 With US Airways Mile Sale
  • Hate Bag Fees? Stay at an InterContinental Hotel
  • Southwest’s New Frequent Flyer Partner: Starwood

On Site

  • FrequentFlier Forum Topics

Reader Rants & Raves

  • Feedback from the Frontlines of Travel

Sweeps & Freebies

  • Win a 7-Night Jazz Cruise for 2

Steals & Deals

  • Deal Alert from SmarterTravel.com

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, traiviet poses the following highly provocative question in connection with the United-Continental merger:

As we all know about any airlines merger, it’s a negative for the customers.

So why would the DOT/government approve the transaction? Why doesn’t any authority try to block it?

Please explain.

It may be too much to expect an explanation — books could be written on the subject — but we certainly welcome comments from our readers.

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.


No Sympathy for Frequent Flyer Whiners

“Two comments from last week’s Rants and Raves:

“It gets so tiring to read poster after poster complaining that award tickets to the most desirable locations in an airline’s system, at peak travel season, with perfect itineraries, aren’t available at the entry level of miles. Face it, people: an airline is almost never going to give away a ticket for base miles (25-30k miles) when it knows it can sell the ticket for a lot more than those miles generated in revenue.

“Airlines sell miles in bulk to their credit card partners, etc. for varying amounts, but you can reasonably assume it’s somewhere near a penny per mile, not much more and occasionally less if the airline really needs the cash. If AA sells 30,000 miles to the card company for $300, why would they offer a ticket at that price (30,000 miles) when they know they can get more like $450 or more selling it for cash?

“The simple reality is: there are lots of seats available at the entry-level tier of miles, but not to high-demand locations at peak season and not at primo travel times. The only complaints I ever see about this seem to be inability to get to Hawaii, the Caribbean, Mexico, etc. for low numbers of miles. Small wonder.

“As for Elaine, the Priority Club member with the points-to-miles transfer: No sympathy whatsoever. The conversion rate on points to miles is clearly disclosed on Priority Club’s website, and even the smallest amount of research would have told her what the conversion rate is. She could have chosen to earn Alitalia miles from the start, instead of points — and she would have earned them at the conversion rate.

“These aren’t expert travel issues — this is the kind of stuff even a novice should be able to figure out.” [Kevin M. - Baton Rouge, LA]


“I understand as well as anyone all of the frustrations involved with redemption of airline miles, poor customer service, and devaluation of rewards. But sometimes I think that we are shooting ourselves in our own feet.

“In Elaine L.’s comments about the exchange of Priority Club points to Alitalia miles, she states that she was never informed that the conversion rate was 5-1, not the 1-1 that she expected.

“I’m sorry, but right on the first page of Priority Club’s Airline Miles/Credits webpage Alitalia is listed as one of the airlines for which the conversion rate is 10,000 points/2,000 miles. Unless Priority Club has changed their webpage recently, this seems like ‘notice’ to me. Not exactly ‘fine print.’

“People, the entire process of collecting and redeeming points is challenging enough. We don’t need to make it harder on ourselves by not noticing, observing, and following the guidelines that the issuers of points/miles lay out for us.” [Sean K.]

Redeeming Delta Miles

“I am a Delta Gold Medallion member. I recently called to convert 150,000 FF miles for tickets for my children in March 2011 to Nassau. Receptionist could not have been more helpful and actually found flight which would fit into 150K for three passengers.

“I read a lot of negative traffic on the difficulty of converting FF miles. Just wanted to share my very positive experience with Delta.” [John R.]


Until next week…

Sweeps & Freebies

Win a 7-Night Jazz Cruise for 2

Enter JazzTimes’ “The Jazz Cruise” sweepstakes by November 1 for a chance to win a seven-night jazz cruise, departing from Ft. Lauderdale, including a $500 voucher to cover airfare to the port.

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[Visit FrequentFlier.com for more travel sweepstakes.]

Steals & Deals

Deal Alert from SmarterTravel.com

1) New: Southwest and American Fall Sales From $54 Each Way

Just announced! American and Southwest have launched competing sales this week which, when combined, offer more than 2,300 discounted routes to about 70 cities, including Los Angeles, Orlando, and New Orleans. Southwest’s fares start at $54 one-way ($108 round-trip), while American’s fares go from $118 round-trip. Delta, United, and a few other carriers have secretly lowered their fares, too.

Travel through mid-December, but book tickets before these American and Southwest fares — and competitors’ low fares — expire on Thursday, August 26.

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2) $548 Fall Dublin Sale on American

Fly to Ireland this October with American’s latest sale featuring flights from a handful of departure cities to Dublin. American’s prices are often the lowest, with Delta and US Airways also offering cheap flights. Round-trip fares begin at $548.

Travel is available this October, but fares must be booked by Thursday, September 2.

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