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Issue #639 — Dec. 22, 2010

CONTENTS

Up Front

  • Tweet, Tweet
  • The Top 10 Miles-and-Points Events of 2010
  • For US Airways Loyalists: Lifetime Elite Perks
  • Delta Lays Claim to ‘Most First Class’ Title
  • Starwood Offers Bonus for 1st-Quarter Stays
  • Foreign Transaction Fees Are an Endangered Species

On Site

  • FrequentFlier Forum Topics

Reader Rants & Raves

  • Feedback from the Frontlines of Travel

Sweeps & Freebies

  • Win a Trip for 2 to Venice, Italy

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.

The Top 10 Miles-and-Points Events of 2010

Reviewing the loyalty program highlights of 2010 is likely to be heartening for travelers. Surprisingly, the year’s most significant developments were mostly positive.

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On Site

The FrequentFlier Forum – Hot Topics

As always, there’s plenty of activity on the FrequentFlier Forum, where fellow travelers discuss airlines, hotels, credit cards, and frequent flyer miles.

This week, fairycastle reviews the Citi PremierPass Elite credit card, as follows:

3 years ago when I got this card it looked like the most lucrative way to earn miles and fly at a discount. If only I could use those miles.

To rack up miles, one is supposed to get the equivalent of the airline frequent flier award in addition to the usual point per dollar. It never shows up on my statement and I have to hound them down after every flight to get the credit. The points go to a ThankYou rewards account. You can use those points for travel. Hypothetically. The price of the ticket determines the required points. Their travel dept. finds a price that is so usurious, and requires heaps of pts. per dollar that I just buy a ticket outright.

Finally, the Companion Ticket feature looks fantastic. I have tried to use it about 8 times and have never come away with a ticket. They determine your itinerary, based on the cheapest fare out there. So, they might route you to San Diego for a ticket from NYC to Miami (typically a non-stop). Really! There are no Blackouts, but you get a seat only if there is availability from their inventory. Of course, they never have availability when I want to fly. Also, it’s only for lower 48. I wanted to cash out and find a card that delivers on its promises. 125,000 miles would net me a whopping $125. Stay away! They are slippery.

Questions, answers, tips, observations? Join the conversation!

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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.


The Best Airline Program

“Can you tell me what is the best airline awards/executive club to be a member of? I am with both British Airways and American Airlines… out of the two which is the best to be a member of?” [Andy]

[FrequentFlier.com replies - This is a topic that's simply too complicated to adequately address in this space. There is no single best program, and what will work best for your circumstances depends on multiple variables. For instance, if you live in the U.S., American's program is likely to meet your needs better than British Airways'. For a more in-depth discussion, read our "How to Choose a Program" article.]

Managing Multiple Mileage Programs

“Hi, just came upon your site. Looks very useful and interesting. I’m always at a loss in using my FF miles to their full potential despite having gathered quite a few over the years (including a fair amount on TWA a while back that simply vanished into thin air…)

“In any case, I am wondering is there a particular service or iPhone application that you recommend to keep track of FF miles and expiration dates and the whole lot?

“Any tip would be much appreciated.” [Yonni H.]

[FrequentFlier.com replies - There are several so-called mileage managers in the marketplace, including MilePort (which we're affiliated with -- see ad above). A couple others to consider: AwardWallet.com and MileageManager.com.]

The Curious Case of the Disappearing Ticket Taxes

“How does a passenger obtain a refund for taxes and fees charged on a cancelled non-refundable e-ticket that will never be re-booked/used?

“In my (very rare) case, Continental’s re-booking fee of $150 was more than the price of the fare (and nearly the same even adding in fees and taxes). So, there’d never be a reason to re-book during the one-year window.

“Specifically, the fare was $129.30. Total fees & taxes: $29.60. Total Price: $158.90.

“Now, how can Continental charge (and, according to the reservations phone agent) keep for itself federally-imposed taxes — and/or fees — for a flight(s) never taken?

“Even if imposing the taxes are legal (with/without the contract of carriage), one would think the Feds would take a very dim view of Continental (or any airline) effectively seizing federal revenues for itself. (How do you spell f-r-a-u-d?)

“And, if this is a normal way of doing business by airlines, the money annualized must be enormous.

“Mission Impossible?” [Ed N.]

[FrequentFlier.com replies - This is an interesting question, best addressed by a tax expert or a fares expert, or someone with expertise in both. We, unfortunately, have expertise in neither. Perhaps one of our readers could shed some light on the subject...?]


Until next week…

Sweeps & Freebies

Win a Trip for 2 to Venice, Italy

Enter OK! Magazine’s “Venice” sweepstakes by January 10, 2011, for a chance to win a three-night trip for two to Venice, including air from New York and three nights at the Hilton Molino Stucky Venice hotel.

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[Visit FrequentFlier.com for more travel sweepstakes.]

Steals & Deals

Deal Alert from SmarterTravel.com

1) New Southwest Sale Ignites Fare War! – Flights From $39 Each Way

Southwest just announced a systemwide sale on nearly 1,900 routes, and now the low-cost king is seeing a lot of competition. It’s gotten so heated that JetBlue trumped Southwest’s price on the lowest-priced route (JetBlue at $39 one-way vs. Southwest at $41 one-way).

Prices are for travel through late April, but bookings must be made by December 27.

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2) $418 Worldwide Sale on Delta

Delta’s new international sale features discounted winter and spring fares to exotic destinations in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Round-trip flights start at $418.

Fly through spring 2011, but book flights by Monday, December 27.

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