Got any Club Carlson-related stays coming up in the next 9 weeks? If so, you might be in line for a nice chunk of bonus points. From now through July 21, 2013, every 2-night or longer stay will earn 10,000 bonus points, in addition to the 20 points/dollar which comes with the program. Registration is required and must be completed prior to check-out to earn the points.
As best as I can tell there is no maximum on the number of points which can be earnt through this promo, other than the limit in the number of days between now and when it expires.
Welcome to episode 25 of the PointsHoarder podcast, where we will – once again – take you on a journey of random musings intermixed with vaguely useful information in the world of points and travel. This week’s episode includes some good news on a few fronts.
American Airlines has announced their Elite Awards for 2013 and they’re accessible to more customers than ever. Not quite as squee-worthy as the attention they received, in my opinion, but still a nice benefit rolled out.
Alas, there were also a few cuts in the points world over the past couple weeks. All four major carriers in the USA have upped the change fee on domestic flights to $200 (AA was still holding out when we recorded but they since joined the others) and Hilton finally got around to cutting the value of their AXON awards which co-branded AmEx card holders have access to. Both rather significant downgrades, unfortunately. Not surprising, but still downgrades.
Also, both Stephan and I took flights in Turkish Airlines‘ Comfort Class (premium economy) on the 77W in the past couple weeks and we offer up our comparative views on the product. Here’s a hint: it is comfortable.
All that and more in this week’s episode. Give it a listen and let us know what you think.
Two big bits of news in this weeks episode, though that doesn’t stop us from talking about a bunch of other things, too. Perhaps the most significant event was the landing of a Lion Air 737 short of the runway at Denpasar, Bali. The plane came to a rest in the ocean, on the rocks adjacent to the airport; all the passengers and crew survived the crash. And, thanks to the on-site experience of our Producer, we have additional insight about the crash site and how much worse things could have been.
The second significant bit comes for travelers looking to find award seats on Emirates flights. Thanks to the new partnership between Emirates and Qantas finding the seats is easier than ever. The Qantas website now shows the Emirates award options, and that means both searching and alerting on the award seats are easier.
Delta is changing their policy for same-day changes on flights and that has a number of people concerned. How bad are the changes and just who is winning or losing? You’ll have to listen to find out what we think.
We also talk about the recent banter between executives at Virgin America and United Airlines discussing the recent significant increase in capacity and decrease in fares between Newark and both San Francisco and Los Angeles. Is it inventory dumping or just a reasonable response to market demands? Probably a little bit of both, though each side sees it a bit more extreme.
Finally, Rolo and Seth discuss their recent experiences on the Thai Airways A380 in first class. Mostly agreement on the seat, service and food quality, though a few differences in the overall reviews.
Give the latest episode a listen let us know what you think.
Both Delta and Hyatt confirmed changes to their elite benefits today, confirming changes which had been rumored over the past several week.
Hyatt’s change means that Diamond Elite guests now get a choice of 1,000 bonus points or a local F&B amenity upon arrival at all properties worldwide, not only in the US, Canada & Caribbean. More points is always good, right?
You can only be rebooked in the same class of service as your original flight.
You may request a day-of-flight change any time prior to the departure time of your original flight
Your requested flight is same-day confirmed eligible if the departure time(s) fall between 12am (on the same day as the originally booked ticket) and 2am (the following day) to account for overnight flights.
Award Tickets are same-day confirmed eligible.
Origin, destination or co-terminal (LGA to JFK) changes are not same-day confirmed eligible.
You can use the same-day confirmed option for travel within the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands on Delta and Delta Connection® flights.
And, of course, the fee structure:
Silver Medallion members, general SkyMiles members and non-members:
$50 USD Same-Day Change Fee — If your requested flight is same-day confirmed eligible
Applicable Change Fee — These fees vary based on your ticket and its fare rules, and will be due if you have a restricted fare and your requested flight is outside of same-day travel eligibility. Change fees are dictated by the fare rules.
Diamond, Platinum, and Gold Medallion members:
$50 USD Same-Day Confirmed Fee Waived — If the requested flight is same-day confirmed eligible and falls within 3 hours before or after the original ticketed departure time.
$50 USD Same-Day Confirmed Fee- If the requested flight is same-day confirmed eligible and falls outside 3 hours before or after the original ticketed departure time.
Delta’s new policy is decidedly middle-of-the-pack at best in terms of benefits for top elites. And the need for the same fare class to be available can be quite limiting, though United has a similar policy and mostly addresses that by opening up most fare buckets close to departure. This is going to be an interesting one to watch.
Partners are a key factor in maximizing value of points. This week’s episode talks about, among other things, two significant bits of partner news. First up, Alaska Airlines is finally offering one-way awards on partners; that’s a big upgrade in the MileagePlan program. The other major deal is that the Emirates/Qantas partnership is now online and, according to the people at Qantas, the benefits are huge to them. Oh, and some news on the American/US Air partnership/merger progress, too.
We also talk about new capacity at Narita and Trenton shutting down for a couple months, meaning Frontier has to cease operations during that time. Whoopsie.
I also managed to get a shameless plug for one of my new efforts into the show; check out Hack.Travel.
Hilton’s Q2 2013 earning promo is now open for registration, offering members up to 10,000 bonus points per week for stays between April 1 and June 30, 2013. The bonus points are earnt at a rate of 1,000 per night for weeknight (M-Th) stays and 2,000 per night on weekends (F-Su). Note that in the Middle East and Africa regions the weekend is Thursday through Saturday. There is no cap on the number of points one can earn in the promo period.
Certainly not the most generous of promos around and different from the double points/miles promo last quarter. Would this promo be more useful to you than the last one? Seems that the cutoff point is $100/night as to whether it is or not. More expensive rooms would fare better with double points while cheaper rooms benefit from the fixed earnings. And on weekends that number goes up, while room rates often go down.
Welcome to episode 22 of the PointsHoarder podcast. Some of our listeners were asking our opinions of the recent hotel program devaluations and if that is changing our approach to holding our points versus burning them all. Not surprisingly, we all have similar views on the topic – burn more than not – though some of us are more successful at it than others. The high point of the group was over 800,000 points in a single account while the low point (me) was around 2,000 in my main program.
Beyond that, we also talked about the new Virgin America/Singapore Airlines partnership and how it can be useful. There are some very good deals on cheap awards intra-Asia and also from the USA to Asia, assuming you’re willing to fly in economy. The earning rates aren’t great, but if you get in to the credit card churning and manufactured spending game you can have some fun with the Virgin America credit card. Pending award inventory opening up, of course.
There was also some talk about the TSA changing the rules for carry-on screening starting at the end of April. Bats, golf clubs and small pocket knives will once again be permitted on board. Rational or ridiculous? Give a listen to hear our views.
Delta has announced that they are ramping up production of their oil refinery and they expect it to actually be profitable soon. Our Houston-based oil & gas expert has a few thoughts on that development.
Reviews of new lounges (EZE), discussion of new planes in service (British Airways A380) and some discussion of upcoming frequent flyer conferences round out the episode.
Club Carlson has a new promotion out this month offering a 25% discount on redemptions in China through April 2013. From the promo email:
Enjoy 25% Gold Points® savings on standard Award Nights at participating Radisson Blu and Park Plaza® hotels in China. Book and complete your stay now through April 30, 2013 and save your well-earned points for more rewards. Book your Award Night using promotional code 25REDEEM to redeem fewer points for these select hotels. For example, you would need just 21,000 points to redeem a night at a Category 3 hotel in China instead of the standard 28,000 points.
Sheraton hotels are offering a bonus promo of 1,000 extra points for any rooms booked on the Club levels at their hotels through May 31, 2013.
Bookings made online at Sheraton.com/club or through Starwood’s Customer Contact Centers are eligible. If booking online, look for rate plans DAILYFS or SICLUB to auto-populate. If booking through the Customer Contact Centers, please ask for Promotion Code CL1.
This can be an easy way to get some extra points cheap, but only if the price differential from the regular room to the club justifies it. For SPG elites that is an even more pronounced concern as the other club benefits – complimentary breakfast, high-speed Internet, etc. – are generally included in their status-based benefits at the hotels.
Not necessarily the best deal out there, but worth looking at the prices, just in case.
Wait, what was that? Everyone already knew that American Airlines and US Airways were going to merge? Well if that isn’t the most anti-climatic “big” story of the year then I don’t know what to say. Strangely, however, we managed to talk about it for a decent amount of time. In addition to the general merger details we talked about route maps, ownership stakes, mistake fares which seem to be associated with the announcement and odds that the legacy US/HP unions still manage to bollocks the whole thing up.
On a more unfortunate note, we also discussed the recently announced devaluation of the Marriott Rewards program and the news that Icelandair and Alaska Airlines will be terminating their partnership.
Good news came from Hyatt (new promo) and SPG/Delta and their Crossover Rewards program which very well may be the first announcement in some time of an “enhancement” to a loyalty program where all parties win. If you can think of a group who didn’t let me know in the comments and you could win something (no idea what because I just thought of this idea but I’ll try to make it interesting).
Oh, and I went to Istanbul for dinner while the rest of NYC braced for a blizzard. That was a fun time. Continue reading →