I’ve written several times about how the Loungebuddy app, here, here and here.  Loungebuddy is a neat little app that points out all the lounges available in whichever airport you find yourself in, including USO lounges.   It automatically knows which airport you are in and can be programmed with your flight info to let you know the options along the way.  This includes knowing which lounges that are available to you based upon status or affiliated membership.

Their latest deal is the ability to book a discounted same day pass at Alaska Airlines lounges in Anchorage, Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles or at Minute Suites at DFW, Philadelphia, and Atlanta.  The passes can be booked at the same rate as walk-up prices, but through the convenience of your mobile device.  Lounges are a great deal, especially when there are weather delays or other irregular operations (Irrops).  That’s because the agents in the lounge are typically the better ones and can find you a better booking much easier than hanging on the phone for an hour.  Plus they speak English as a native language!

They also have some deals at UK lounges, so if you are passing through Old Blighty, check out that deal as well.  If you have Apple Pay, they are also getting set up to use that.

If you have never tried the Alaska Boardrooms, they are better (IMHO) than the typical lounge and offer both soup and pancakes.  No, not at the same time!

And no I don’t know how to pronounce Minute Suites.  Minute (small) or a unit of time.  I’m going with the latter.

 

Posted by glenn | No Comments

“Tis the season for giving and a new cause (to me) for charity is Tripit’s effort to raise one million miles for the San Francisco Make-a-Wish Foundation.  Here is their webpage explaining the cause and how to donate.  Note that they only accept United, US Airways, and Delta miles.  Yeah, I know, weird that they will accept US Airways, but not American Airlines miles since they are the same company.  Most wishes include travel and it would require an estimated 2.5 billion airline miles to grant the 50,000 tickets required to match everyone’s needs!

I think we are all aware of Make-a-Wish, but for those of you not familiar with Tripit, let me explain.  Tripit is my favorite app for tracking all my travel plans, flights, hotels, and rental cars.  Where I used to have a planner full of various reservations, it is now all on the handy Tripit app.  They will also send you alerts if the plane is late, which baggage carousel to go to, or even if your fare drops enough for you to get a small rebate.  There are two versions basic Tripit which is free and Tripit Pro which I have and costs a reasonable $45/ year which I more than make back in those fare drop alerts.  You can find more info on Tripit here or go to the iTunes Store.

So get over there and donate some miles, especially if you have one of these accounts where you accumulated them but probably will never get enough for an award.  Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukah!

 

Posted by glenn | No Comments

United has been trying very hard lately to disenfranchise it’s Mileageplus members. First, it mirrored Delta by adding PQDs in addition to PQMs or PQSs to achieve status with them (although some can still achieve status without PQDs). Then, it devalued it’s redemption rates on partner carriers.

 

I guess they figured in addition to insult and injury, they want to kick our dog too! They’ve teamed with Orbitz to sue the website Skiplagged, through which you could potentially achieve lower airfares by way of hidden city ticketing. For example, I’ve flown from San Diego to LA cheaper by booking SAN – LAS with a stopover in LAX, then getting off in LAX; it’s much cheaper that way than just booking SAN – LAX.

 

There is nothing inherently illegal about getting off at a layover city; however, according to the LA Times, “United and Orbitz accuse the site’s founder, Aktarer Zaman of New York, of “intentionally and maliciously” interfering with their operations and promoting “prohibited forms of travel,” according to the suit.”

 

Mr. Zaman took to Reddit today to do an AMA, explaining his site and his position, and to drum up popular support for his position. Good for him! Skiplagged benefits the consumer with lower prices, and performs nothing illegal. United has consistently, and especially over the last year, demonstrated that they care nothing about the loyalty of the average consumer. I will certainly be taking my business elsewhere.

 

Posted by glenn | 7 Comments

Over the three years of writing this blog, I have written more than a few times about Veterans Advantage and the discounts that veterans can get with their membership.  I evaluated the 5% off on United and Lufthansa flights, car rentals, and other discounts such as Ford vehicle discounts.  I also use the 20% CVS store coupon all the time.  Needless to say I earn back several times the $60 annual fee every year.  You can even reduce that to $40 or $50/ year with multi-year signups.  Scott and company keep finding new benefits and this new one should be big for a number of you.

Scott-Id-black-shadow2newJetBlueLogo

They now give 5% off on all jetBlue flights both domestic and international!  That’s over 85 destinations in the U.S., Caribbean, and South America.  Additionally, members get the $25 telephone booking fee waived.  Here are the details on their website.  Here is jetBlue’s page on all their veterans benefits.

VetsinBlue

If you saw the news back on Veterans’ Day a couple of weeks ago, jetBlue are really going all out to support veterans, first with a special livery for one of their planes named “Vets in Blue” and now they have sponsored a new USO Center at JFK.  It is located in Terminal 5 directly across from Baggage Carousel 2.  I have never been to JFK, so some reader will need to check it out and let us know how great it is.

Disclaimer: We receive nada from Veterans Advantage for any of the reviews we do.  Just reporting on good stuff for you.

Posted by glenn | No Comments

For those of you chasing United elite status, I’m sure the news of their PQD (premier qualifying dollars) requirement was disheartening. In addition to PQM (premier qualifying miles) or PQS (premier qualifying segments), you now must spend a minimum amount of money to reach a certain tier of status with them.

 

There are ways around this though. Frequent Miler had a post about how to manufacture spend your way to their status, via Marriott and status matching. There is, however, another way to get status – the old way, without PQDs. I was reading a post by Scott at Milevalue, and I happened upon this:

 

“For 2014, the PQD requirement only applies to members whose primary address on their MileagePlus account is in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia. Members who use U.S. military or diplomatic addresses (APO, DPO or FPO) are exempt from the PQD requirement.”

Make your address on united.com an address outside the United States, and the PQD requirement vanishes!

Boom! Now, this only applies towards 2015 status at the moment; I don’t know if that’ll be the case for 2016 status. However, if you’re stationed abroad or have a non-US address, make sure to change from a US address to eliminate the PQD requirement.

Posted by glenn | 2 Comments

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed my trip report to SE Asia so far, although thus far it’s only been the two flights. I have to apologize for how long it’s taking me to post it, I’ve had a really busy month in the ER lately, so I guess that’s a reasonable excuse. BTW, I should’ve mentioned this earlier – thank you to my beautiful wife Gayle for all the pictures. I am not a photographer at all, and she is very talented!

hk6

When we arrived to Hong Kong it was about 6pm, and as I’m sure all of you who’ve visited HK, it was immediately apparent how their airport and infrastructure make ours look like a third world country’s. The airport and the train to HK island are beautiful, clean, and efficient; the train comes about every 3 minutes without fail!

hk11

This post is just about the Hong Kong Intercontinental, but HK is probably my favorite city in the world, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t post some pictures from the gondola to Lantau island to see the giant Buddha, or from High Tea at the Peninsula Hotel, or from the world’s largest floating restaurant. Part of the reason we love HK so much, other than the city itself, and the wooded running paths throughout it, is because we have a bunch of friends that live there, and take us to breathtakingly good Szechuan restaurants that aren’t reviewed anywhere. I would tell you where we ate, but I don’t know the name of the place, and don’t exactly remember where it was (too much wine!).

hk1

 

 

(the lobby of the Peninsula, packed for High Tea)

hk4

(on the gondola to Lantau Island; not good if you’re afraid of heights!)

hk5

hk2

(on our way to the world’s largest floating restaurant)

hk3

(Jumbo Kingdom, the world’s largest floating restaurant)

 

Of note, there are two Intercontinentals in HK, the Icon HK and the Icon Grand Stanford; we stayed in the former (and the former is only 45k IHG points per night vs 50k for the latter).

 

The first two nights we booked at the Best Western Harbourview, on discount fares. It was ok, but we were really excited about the Icon, as we’d read great reviews. Plus, rooms there are only 45k IHG points, which to me is a steal, considering the location right on the harbor in Tsim Sha Tsui (totally off topic, check out this hilarious stand-up about Tsim Sha Tsui!). So we packed up early, took the subway (which is I think the best subway in the world), and got there around noon. I’m Platinum Elite thanks to my Chase IHG card, which includes noon check-in.

 

We arrived in the beautiful open lobby, with views over the harbor, and were greeted warmly by 3-4 different people. There wasn’t much of a line, but they ushered me to other side of the main desk because I’m a Platinum. I’d booked a normal room, but they offered me choices of upgrade – either a normal room albeit with a harbor view, that was available immediately, or a deluxe junior suite, that was on the side and looked over the Eastern Harbor, but that wouldn’t be ready for an hour. We were in no hurry, so we chose the latter.

hk7

 

hk8

We hung out in the lobby for an hour, snapping pictures of the harbor, and they gave us complimentary drinks. At almost exactly an hour later, the associate arrived to take our bags (despite our protests) to our room with us. When we walked in, we were VERY pleased:

hk10

 

hk9

hk12

It was huge, and beautiful, with the windows next to the bed overlooking the harbor. The coffee table had a basket with fresh fruit, there was a huge walk-in closet to store our stuff (which wasn’t much), and the bathroom was huge and had a spacious tub, rainfall shower, and amenities by Salvatore Ferragamo. We had dinner plans that night with one of our friends, but were almost disappointed because we just wanted to stay in the room!

 

I didn’t check out the spa facilities or gym, and it was slightly too chilly to go in the pool. The next morning, after an early run around a nearly empty Tsim Sha Tsui, we checked out the breakfast buffet, and it was huge, delicious, and fantastic (although expensive – $35 each). They never let my coffee mug go empty either – a big plus! After breakfast we gathered our bags, and headed to the train to go to the airport, for our next leg HKG – SIN – HKT. Although we wanted to stay in HK, we were very excited about hanging out on the beach in Thailand! This hotel stay was, so far, my favorite IHG hotel stay ever!

 

 

Posted by glenn | 6 Comments

A thread on Flyertalk caught my eye the other day and I thought you may be interested.  It seems that Marriotts are now enforcing the actual rules when it comes to allowing customers to use the Federal Government rate.  It’s not that people with no association to the military are trying to use that discounted rate.  These are military contractors who are typically are required to bill the Government no more than Per Diem for their travel.  However, hotel chains usually have a separate rate for Federal Government contractors which is sometimes higher than Per Diem.  You would think that the hotels would know those rules and match the Per Diem rate, but maybe they think they could get a few more bucks from contractors.  So they contractors try to slip one by and often do.

I have to admit that I am very rarely asked to show ID to provide that I am military when staying at a hotel booked under the Government Rate which clearly specifies that you need to show a valid ID.  Laziness on the part of the check-in staff?  Maybe, but maybe they just look at me and think “this guy’s got to be military with an excellent haircut like that”.  Sounds like I’ll be showing my ID from now on, at least at Marriotts.  It will be interesting to see if other hotel chains follow.

Why does this affect you?  Well just like each flight only has  a certain number of seats available for 25,000 miles, hotels only set aside a certain number of rooms per night at the Government Rate.  If someone books all those rooms you are out of luck.  I know that I have sometimes had to get a room far away from where I wanted due to no Federal Government rooms being available.

Read the whole thread here and let us know what you think.

Posted by glenn | 2 Comments

I’ve written before about Travelpony, which is kind of a social media hotel discount website. I’ve used it twice, once at JFK and once in Hong Kong, getting deep discounts through a combination of an already discounted price and promotional credits.

They’re now offering a $35 credit to new users through the end of the year, if you use my referral link. That’s better than the $25 it had been! I don’t use this site when staying at a major chain hotel, as you won’t accrue loyalty points when it’s booked through Travelpony. When it’s a smaller chain or non-chain hotel, however, this can bring huge savings. Check it out!

Posted by glenn | One Comment

Alright guys, I’ve gotten a couple emails asking for referrals for free stuff (I know you love your free stuff!), and there are a couple of these promos ending soon, so I figured I’d put them out there. Full disclosure, I get referral bonuses for many of these, so if you don’t want to use my links, feel free not to, but if you do use mine, I highly appreciate it! Once you sign up, make sure to give them to family and friends.

 

-First off, the $30 signup bonus for first time Uber users ends in a week, on the 23rd. If you haven’t signed up for Uber yet, use my link to get a free ride up to $30.

 

-Silvercar is a really cool rental car concept that I used once in Dallas and it went swimmingly. They only rent out silver Audi A4s, and only in the following cities thus far; Austin, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix, and San Francisco. If you’re interested and want a free $25 off your first rental, sign up using this link. \

 

-If you like the app Hoteltonight, but would like to use it in Asia, I suggest trying the very similar app Hotelquickly. It’s the same concept – highly discounted hotel rooms when booking for that same day. I used it to book a room in the Best Western Harbour View in Hong Kong for $70, and with the $15 credit I had from using a referral, it was only $55. If you download the app, use my referral code ASHEE1 for a $15 credit.

 

-I use cashbackmonitor to decide which shopping portal to use whenever I shop online – it takes barely any time and adds valuable points or cash back on the majority of my online purchases. I usually use portals for airline miles, but oftentimes I get a better rate on cashback, and it’s usually through Topcashback. If you are new and sign up through this link, you get a free $10. I’ve gotten $196.62 back so far this year, and never had a problem with redemptions.

 

-No purchase fees for American Express gift cards. If you purchase Amex GCs for manufactured spending (this is not something I do with any frequency, but I know a lot of our readers do), use the code OCT14FC to get 100% off purchase fees, good until 2/28/2015.

 

Free credit scores

There are many ways to check your credit scores for free. I use Creditsesame most often, or maybe Creditkarma. There are also free scores by using credit cards, such as your Transunion score when using Barclaycard cards, or your Experian score when using US Bank cards. Doctor of Credit is a great blog to add to your RSS feeds, and in addition to everything else, he gives several ways to get your credit scores for free, but here is an interesting one – getting it through Lendingclub. If you’re a lendingclub user, you’re golden. If you wanted to join, and want $25 credit, email me and I’ll send you a referral link. Also, if you’ve used a credit card at Home Depot in the past year, you are entitled to a free year of credit monitoring – check it out on this page.

Posted by glenn | 4 Comments

I sometimes think to myself that I have too many credit cards. I have over 20, in addition to other various cards like Amex Serve, Chime card, etc. Just out of curiosity, I wanted to know who had the most. I’d heard rumors of guys having over 30 on Flyertalk, but I wanted the real answer.

 

To my utter shock, the Guiness World Record for most credit cards goes to Walter Cavanaugh, of CA, who in 2005 had 1,497 credit cards, dating back to the 60s. That adds up to a total credit line of $1.7 million dollars! Can you imagine his credit report?!? He says he’s only been denied for a card once! I usually get denied several times per year, for too many credit inquiries.

 

He has a wallet that holds 800 of them and weighs 38lbs! He also says he has perfect credit and only uses 1-2 cards on a daily basis.

 

Here is a video the news made about him.

 

My questions to him are:

-How do you not get dinged for too many credit inquiries? Do you engage in serious bumpage?

-Do you have a master spreadsheet to keep everything organized? My spreadsheet is already complex; I can only imagine his.

Posted by glenn | 8 Comments

Currently United has a promotion where they will give a 20% mileage bonus on any hotel points that you want to convert to UA miles.  Sounds OK until you realize the conversion rate is not in your favor.  I dug into this and comprised the following chart for converting hotel points into miles for the various hotel chains and the three major U.S. airline programs.  Multiple lines are listed for some exchange rates per the hotel program.

Hotel Chain AA UA DL
Best Western 5k=1k NA NA
Carlson 2k=200 2k=200 10k=1k
50k=5k 50k=5k
100k=10k 100k=10k
Choice 5k=1k 5k=1k NA
Hilton 10k=1.5k 10k=1k 10k=1k
Hyatt 5k=2k 5k=2k* 5k=2k
InterCon 10k=2k 10k=2k 10k=2k
Marriott** 10k=2k 8k=2k 10k=2k
20k=5k 16k=5k 20k=5k
30k=10k 24k=10k 30k=10k
70k=25k 56k=25k 70k=25k
140k=50k 112k=50k 140k=50k
Starwood*** 2.5k=2.5k 2k=1k 2.5k=2.5k
Wyndham 6k=1200 6k=1200 NA
16k=3200 16k=3200 NA
30k=6000 30k=6000 NA
Accor NA NA 4k=2k
*= Bonus 5k miles if redeeming 50k points
 **= Can convert 1UA mile to 1MR Point
 ***=Earn 1 SPG Point for every $ of DL airfare

 

So this chart only tells you that you are going to get less miles for the number of points with SPG being a notable exception for AA and DL.  But still how do you compare the value of a hotel point against a mile?  Fortunately, I already did a detailed analysis of the value of a hotel point here.  For brevity, the values were: Marriott = $0.0056/pt., Starwood $0.0124/pt., Hyatt $0.0091/ pt., and Hilton $0.0039/pt. based upon Average Daily Rate and the number of points for an average room.

How about the value of an airline mile?  Well, the old wisdom used to be $0.02/ mile, but the reality is that the average is more like $0.015/ mile these days.  Use whichever one you think is more accurate based upon your experience.

Now let’s compare  70,000 Marriott points = $392 or you convert those to 25,000 AA miles = $375.  So let’s call that even and you could use the points for a hotel stay or an airline flight depending on what you need more.  Let’s keep exploring.  UA and Marriott have made a tie-up and part of the reward is that they give a 20% better exchange rate.  So 56,000 Marriott pts. = $313 or 25,000 UA miles = $375.  Ok, now that is a good deal.  If you take advantage of the current UA deal, you would get an extra 20% on top of that so 56,000 Marriott pts. = 30,000 UA miles = $450.

Compare your hotel points to miles and see what you come up with.  Remember, you can convert hotel points to miles, but not vice-versa with one key exception.  United allows conversation of 1 UA mile to 1 MR point.  Where you can multiple this return is that Marriott (and Hilton/ Starwood) gives you a fifth free night for redeeming four in a row.  Thus, you can get an extra 25%.  So let’s say you redeem 100,000 UA miles ($1500) for 100,000 MR points ($560) and get another $140 for free.  Not the greatest deal, but if you have accumulated a boatload of UA miles from CCs or a lot of flying, it may still be worth it to you to save the cash.

 

Posted by glenn | 3 Comments

« previous home top