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Issue #635 – November 24, 2010

Happy Holiday!

To all our U.S. readers, best wishes for a great Thanksgiving. If you’re on the road, may your trip be safe and hassle-free.

Special Holiday Feedback Issue

As we normally do during the holidays, this week we’re publishing a shorter version of the FrequentFlier Crier newsletter.

For this holiday issue, we’re trying a new format, focusing exclusively on reader feedback: your comments on five of our most popular recent blog posts.

Next week we return to the usual format.

  • What Would You Do With One Million JetBlue Points?
    It’s quick and easy to enter JetBlue’s new travel sweepstakes. And the grand prize is one million TrueBlue points. Where would you go?

    I would visit family and friends all over the country until they no longer wanted to be my family and friends. [Carolyn Ehrlich]

    Yum! [Raffy]

    Presuming that I could use the points for my wife, also, I would treat her to seeing those parts of America where JetBlue flies. We would also visit friends we have not been able to see for many years. Truly a wonderful opportunity. [Jim Openshaw]

    There is a lot of this world that I would visit. [Marv Shiro]

  • British Air Credit Card Offer: 50,000 Bonus Miles
    This isn’t as rich as British Airways’ recent 100,000-mile offer, but it’s a solid bonus for a card that offers good value, especially with no foreign transaction fees.

    I applied during the 100k, got the card and got the bonus. Very disappointed to see the HUGE fees associated with actually USING the miles to London or Europe. But I may be able to use them on partner Cathay to Asia. [SJCDAL]

    I applied and was turned down. Letter said my credit numbers were not good enough. I wrote them with copies of our assets not listed on credit report, and then was approved. Good luck ! [Tom]

  • American’s New Hotel, Car Awards Offer Real Value
    Beginning today, members of American’s AAdvantage program can redeem their miles, or a combination of miles and cash, for hotel stays and car rentals. 

    Perhaps in the right situation one may simply prefer to use AA miles over revenue (perhaps cash is tight that month) for staying in a hotel or when renting a car. However unless one doesn’t care to use their miles for premium cabin int’l travel (where one maximizes their return value) the value in all this is pretty much a giant yawn. When you consider you are losing stay credit in your hotel program of choice, promotional opportunities and the like. The discount for all elites appears to be ongoing with no end date according to agents. To American’s credit they are certainly ahead of the stingy Delta folks and other such programs. It is a just barely fair value proposistion at the end of the day for informed members. Like most non flight mileage redemption opportunities not very compelling …… I would say book very carefully if at all before parting with your hard earned miles. Consider all the options! Cheers. [donh]

    I agree that this is a comparably good value, but please note that the value decreases significantly (below half a cent!) for overseas awards, especially for car rentals! [Ravindra Bhagwanani]

    I rented a car in Kona using miles a few years ago. It also required a cash fee so large that it made me wonder if using miles was really worth it. Last month, I used miles to fly from DC to Madison and back. Airline seats are getting tight. It cost me 12,500 miles one way and 25,000 for the return, 37,500 miles total. That seems like a lot of miles for a short trip, but saved me $400 on American or $225 on other airlines. [Stan Lum]

    I think we can expect American’s initial value proposition to wane over time here. They’re pretty aggressive in the car/hotel reward value but certainly that will no longer be the case in a couple of years. And anyone redeeming miles at 1.2 cents apiece certainly shouldn’t be loyal to a carrier for the miles and shouldn’t be using an airline co-branded credit card! [Gary Leff]

    Very satisfied with this expansion of AA redemption options. Just booked a stay in Paris over Christmas. The selection was adequate, I got the dates and location I wanted, and in a solid hotel. As an Exec Plat I got a 20% disc on # miles required. The cost in miles vs. cash came in at ca. 1.4 cents per mile — a value I’m happy with. I agree about Delta as well; their redemption levels and availability (talking about seats here) are insulting to their fliers. [Conyers Thompson]

    Because I have hotel points, I’m most interested in car rental awards. I certainly would redeem for a car if the value as redeemed is comparable to the value when redeeming for an Economy class flight. I’m really starting to value my AA miles more than I used to! [D_Lane]

  • New From United: Last-Minute Weekend Awards
    Mileage Plus members can save up to 40 percent on award trips with United’s new Weekend Saver Awards. Leave Saturday and return Monday or Tuesday. 

    I am a premier member with UA and have never had any problems getting reward seats when I need them. I will continue to fly with UA — it is my airline of choice!!! [Betsy Gerrity]

    I’ve outgrown reward programs. After many years as a Hilton Diamond, United 100k, etc. I just dropped out of all programs. INSTEAD, I now book the flights and hotels most convenient to me through a fairly sophisticated series of discount sites. The FF games may have been valuable before internet sites but now I pay what the FF people pay and the hassle I avoid is worth giving up the “free” flights (which, even if you can find them, are about as valid as a “free room” for big better suckers in Vegas.) Sorry suckers (and oh yeah, while you were reading this the airlines and hotels just decreased the pretend value of your award by increasing the points needed AND making fewer flights/rooms available). [LRL]

  • Can I Get to Hawaii Using Frequent Flyer Miles?
    Is a free first-class ticket to Hawaii a realistic expectation? We have some tips and tricks for successfully booking award trips.

    My girlfriend and I flew from LAX to Kauai, coach outbound, first class on the return. We were able to get the “medium” tier award on the way out, and the “low” first class award on the return. Each award was 70,000 miles. If you’re eligible to use the Delta “Pay with Miles” feature, you may have greater flexibility, and use fewer miles, than claiming an award. I used 150,000 miles to “purchase” two LAX-SYD tickets for my sons in June 2010. An award ticket was over 100,000 miles/each. [Chris Cooke]

    i flew to hawaii in 2009 in march on 65000 miles on delta i didnt use first class or restricted and the flight segments and seats and experience wasn’t bad at all, just long. [hector]

    We have not tried Hawaii, but have booked two tickets from the west coast to Rome with success using miles by going through the Delta agent. She was extremely helpful and worked through several options to make it happen. We even got reasonable times. Tried to do the same thing through another airline using points and they wanted us to take four days to get there and three to get back. [Paul]

    It IS doable — I’ve booked it in First Class 3 times!!! Twice on Delta, once on Continental (AmEx points)!!! It is easier if you speak to an agent – they can do things we can’t on the computer. Also, I was able to improve my flights on Delta using ‘Same Day Confirmed’ — for $25.00, I was able to change to more desirable flights with empty seats. Good luck! It’s soooo worth it! [Bonnie]

    I’ve called at 12:01 330 days ahead and had some luck. One time the agent said it wasn’t 12:00 yet and I asked where he was. He said Phoenix. I said, I’m in Boston and it certainly is. Oh, yes, he said, there’s a way to fix the computer. Please wait. And I did. And he did. And I got my seat! [Dee]