World Of Hyatt Bonus Promo: Up To 1,500 Points Per Night

This year, I’m abandoning Marriott for Hyatt. Thus, I’m surprised that I missed this Hyatt promotion. It’s not terrible, although it comes with a few caveats.

Up to 1,500 Points Per Night

hyatt

Hyatt Regency Scottsdale at Gainey Ranch, one of my favorite properties

Hyatt’s newest promotion is offering you up to 1,500 points per night, depending on where you stay. These points are on top of the five points per dollar that you normally earn. You’ll earn 1,000 points per night at most hotels, although Hyatt Place and Hyatt House will get you an extra 500. Hyatt is clearly trying to grow those brands, since it lags segment competitors like Courtyard and Hampton Inn. The promotion runs from February 15-March 31. A six week period is a short one for the deal, but I take what I can get.

The biggest downside is that you only get the bonus starting with your second stay. Given how short it is, that makes it more difficult to rack up points. You also need to register, so be sure to do so, even if you don’t plan on staying at one of their properties. It doesn’t cost you anything.

 

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What To Do If Your Airline Strands You

Flying bankrupt airlines had long been considered normal. The airline business is so rough that many of the major US carriers have filed not just once but multiple times. Rarely does bankruptcy mean that the airline goes away entirely. It’s hard to kill an airline. There are too many jobs at risk, and aircraft owners don’t want their planes sitting on the ground. Likewise, a major shutdown could have an impact on the global economy. Many credit the lack of airport security for ending the recent government shutdown.

On rare occasions, though, airlines do completely shutter operations. Often, it’s a carrier that you may never have heard of. For example, in the fall, European operator Primera Air ceased operations suddenly. And this past weekend, Britain’s Flybmi did the same. Only a few hundred people were affected, but if you were one of those, the small number was no consolation.

What Should I Do If I Get Stranded?

opportunity cost

The good news is, it’s extremely rare for airlines to shut down immediately and strand passengers. In all likelihood, it’s something that you will never have to worry about. If you’re flying a major carrier, the chances are essentially zero. If you’re flying an ultra-low cost carrier, the chances are almost essentially zero.

The bad news is, there’s not a lot you can do if it does happen. With no advance warning, there are only so many steps that you can take ahead of time. Your vacation may be ruined, but at least you’re home.

  • Outside of being aware of some travel basics, it’s also a good idea to know who else is flying the route and when, especially if you are using a carrier that you’ve never heard of. True, your carrier may not shut down, but if it’s an ultra-low cost carrier, chances are that they don’t have a lot of spare airplanes hanging around, and if your flight gets cancelled, you may be stranded. You’ll want to be one of the first people to snap up any remaining tickets if it’s imperative that you get home on time.
  • If you haven’t left for your trip yet, contact your credit card company. You should be able to do a chargeback.
  • Contact the hotel that you were . going to stay at. They may be willing to waive the change fee.

On The Road…

So you’re at your destination, ready to head home and your airline announces that it is shutting down. What can you do?

  • If you are on a package deal, contact your travel agent, or the package company if you booked directly. Their are no guarantees, but there’s a reason that they use the word “agent.” They’re operating on your behalf and can do some work for their commission.
  • Contact your credit card company. You may be covered by trip interruption insurance. They can help you get home from there.
  • Look into “rescue fares.” Within Europe, there’s a formal program. Outside of Europe, airlines often have informal programs. And remember, many US discount carriers (Hello, Southwest.) don’t list on aggregators like Expedia.
  • Be nice to the employees (if you can find one). You’re frustrated, but it’s not their fault that the airline is shutting down. They don’t know any more than you do.

Remember, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever find yourself in this situation, but it’s better to be prepared.

 

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Weekly News: Delta Surveys, Marriott Dissatisfaction And Snow Monsters

It’s been a busy week for me IRL, so I’m still catching up on the news of the week. As usual, the travel world had its share of stories. Here are a few:

Delta Survey

Delta Airlines

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Earlier this week, I received a survey from Delta regarding their SkyMiles frequent flyer program. These are not uncommon, and they usually end up throwing a few points at you for taking them. I got 250. Most of the questions were the standard “How are we doing” type questions, but they did throw one curve ball:

delta skymiles

Let’s hope that you have good things to say

I’m not sure what it means that they’re considering offering points to refer your friends for a status match. I’ve seen promotions where you got points for referring a friend to sign up for a program (and spend), but never one that encouraged status matches, which are often targeted* to individuals. Clearly, though, Delta has some data that say that an elite customer, not surprisingly, is that much more likely to book with the airline where they have status, and the cheapest way to acquire those members is through other travelers. No word on whether they’ll 1099 you.

How Bad Has The Transition Been for Marriott

Hilton Hotels hosted their quarterly conference call two days ago and, based on the stock’s reaction, they’re doing pretty well. I wonder if that’s because of an inflow of Marriott refugees. According to CEO Chris Nassetta, Hilton grew its loyalty program base by 20% in 2018, to 85 million people. Mr. Nassetta speculated that they are coming from outside, noting “‘as long as they are great customers that we can get engaged with us, we don’t care.” Hilton has a lot going for it, with a decent credit card and an easy to achieve gold status, which I view to be the sweet spot for the program.

Coincidentally, I’m leaving Marriott/SPG after over 15 years with the program. Given the changes that Marriott is making, I view Hyatt as having a better elite program, particularly at the top end.

Note: I first saw this article on Flyertalk

Snow Monsters in Japan

snow monsters

Somebody wrote “Elsa was here” in the snow

Okay, these are just cool. I don’t think I’ll be visiting them anytime soon, but these frozen trees, nicknamed snow monsters, look incredible. I’d deal with a fear of heights to ride in that cable car. And they look just like Marshmallow from the movie Frozen.

Speaking of which, it’s back:

Even I have to admit that that trailer looks pretty cool.

 



*Beginner’s Hint: A “targeted” promotion is one that only goes to certain individuals. Generally, only the targeted individual can benefit from the offer.

 

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Miles And Taxes: Is There Any Reason To Worry (Probably Not)

Note: I am not an accountant. Nothing that I write below should be taken as tax advice. And if you’re getting tax information from a guy on the internet, you should probably rethink your strategy.

 

I got a question from a reader the other day asking if taxes could spell the end of the frequent flyer game. She’d seen on another blog that Chase was sending out 1099-MISCs (miscellaneous income that you received for performing services) for referral bonuses (points that a company gave you for referring a friend to their product). There’s a short thread on Flyertalk, as well, discussing the issue. Combine that with Doctor of Credit’s piece about American Express also sending out 1099s and you could get nervous that the government is going to start taxing frequent flyer miles.

What’s Going on with Tax Forms?

tax, frequent flyer mile

Your bonuses might get a bit more complicated this year

Banks have, in the past, sent out tax forms if you earned more than $600 in sign-up bonuses for opening accounts with them. This is the first time, though, that I’ve seen financial service companies sending 1099s for points that you earned by referring a friend to their credit card. Previously, it had always been tax forms only for cash, and only for opening a new bank account.

This year, Chase and American Express have stepped it up:

  • If you earn points from Chase for referring people to a credit card, they are valuing those points at 1c each, according to Flyertalk. The problem is, it doesn’t matter what kind of points those are. In other words, Chase values a Marriott Rewards point the same as its proprietary Ultimate Rewards points, even though the former is worth much less than the latter. Thus, any bonus of 60,000 points or greater, regardless of the type of points, is going to get a 1099.
  • American Express is valuing all referral points at a penny each, with the exception of Hilton Honors points, to which they assign a 0.67c value (I value Honors points at 0.4 cents each.)

It’s important to remember that these 1099s are only for referral bonuses. According to this article, you don’t have to worry about your credit card sign-up bonus being taxable if you had to spend a certain amount of money to get that bonus (e.g., “Spend $3,000 in the first three months and you’ll get a 50,000 point sign-up bonus.”).

Remember, consult your accountant on how you should value these points or what taxes you may owe.

Is This The End Of The Mileage Game? Probably Not.

laptop ban

My reader asked if the 1099s from Chase signal an end to the mileage game. If the bank says that referral points are taxable, what’s to stop them from claiming that all points, no matter how you earned them, are also taxable? If points or credit card rewards become taxable, that significantly degrades their value. The short answer is that you (probably) don’t have much to worry about. Here’s why:

  • Remember, financial institutions don’t want points or reward to be taxable, and that any attempt by the government to expand taxation of rewards would be met with a fierce lobbying effort, not to mention Congress-critters, who also like their rewards. If the points are less valuable to you, you’re less likely to use their product. My guess, and this is only speculation, is that somebody at the IRS made a few financial institutions nervous about differentiating between money that they were giving you, versus rebates on purchases, and that the banks decided to pass on the liabilities.
  • Absent a ruling to the contrary, credit card points and miles have always been viewed as rebates on your spending, not taxable income. That’s different from referral bonuses or straight-up account opening bonuses, which didn’t involve a purchase on your part.
  • It would be extremely difficult to put a value on points. Who is responsible for determining that value, the airlines or the IRS? If it’s the airlines, what happens if Delta sets its value at 1.5c and United sets it at 1.0c? And if it’s the IRS, what criteria do they use to establish the value?

The points and miles game is simply too widespread for the government to make a successful attempt to tax them. To the best of my knowledge, the IRS could issue a private letter ruling that would make miles taxable, but Congress would be all over that one.

For now, anyway, the greatest threat to the value of your points is devaluation by the points issuers themselves, not taxes.

 

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Why Air Travel Could Be A Mess Forever

Every week, Wall Street Journal author Scott McCartney does a piece called “The Middle Seat.” For lack of a better term, I’d describe it as a human interest story. Or maybe an airline interest story. I don’t know. But it’s usually an interesting and informative article.

Last week, Mr. McCartney did a piece called “How to Fix Air Travel? These Readers Have Answers.” Readers were asked for solutions to common airline problems, and they responded. And their answers taught me one thing: If passengers expect a solution to air travel frustrations, they will be disappointed. It’s not changing, and could be getting worse.

Fixing Air Travel: for Passengers, Or For Airlines?

delta one

What passengers want. You can get it, but it’s going to cost you.

I get it. Airline travel, particularly in economy, is horrible. And if you want to travel up front, the price is probably out of your range. Right now, there are two ways of looking at the dilemma:

  • Airlines are private enterprises and can charge what they want. As long as there’s enough space to ensure passenger safety, it’s not an issue. If customers don’t like it, they can go somewhere else. With air travel, you’re paying for speed.
  • True, airlines are private enterprises, but they still operate in an oligopoly. We will never have true competition, because more than 80% of seat miles are controlled by four airlines, and there are few new gates being built to accommodate competitors.

Regardless of your personal beliefs, the political and economic environment generally favor the first bullet point. Airspace is viewed as a free market, and airlines can choose what they want for ticket prices. If they want to add fees, they do. Wanna bring baggage? That’ll usually add another charge. Many of these fees started in 2008, when airline revenues declined double digits. It was a way to generate additional revenue without actually raising ticket prices.

There’s a case to be made for minimizing restrictions. We’ve tried regulation, and it didn’t work. After de-regulation, ticket prices dropped precipitously. On an inflation-adjusted basis, you’ll pay less now for a ticket than you did thirty years ago. True, there’s no deck of cards included, but you can bring your own. And it’s not like we haven’t seen new airlines. Southwest, for instance, is a largely post-deregulation phenomenon. It now flies more domestic seat miles* than any other airline. Southwest is known for charging no nuisance fees. Likewise, the single fastest growing airline today is Spirit. Unlike Southwest, Spirit is known for practically giving the ticket away for free and charging tons of fees.

The problem, of course, is that the above paragraph suffers from survivorship bias. Anyone remember Skybus or Independence Air? They existed for a nano-second in the history of the industry. Check out this (incomplete) list of bankrupt carriers and you’ll get an idea for the power that the legacy carriers have.

Wall Street Journal Reader Suggestions

While I’m sure that readers had numerous suggestions, some of which aren’t fit for print, the article focused on two pain points: boarding/carry-on bags and fees.

Fees

citibank prestige

I’ll start with the second one first: Fees. Bad news. They’re not going anywhere. In fact, if anything, there will be more of them. An airline executive once told me that the industry made a mistake by giving away too much for free. Not exactly politically correct, and probably reflective of the  reason that passengers hate the companies so much, but it definitely reflects the way that the airlines view customers: dollar signs with feet.

But there’s another group that likes fees: passengers. Okay, no passenger has ever said, “Wow, I love this airline, except they don’t charge enough fees.” On the other hand, the ultra-low cost carriers (Spirit, Frontier, Ryan Air) are the fastest growing segment of the airline industry. They bait passengers with ridiculously low fares and then dare you to fly for that much. Want a seat? Fee. Want a bag? Fee. Want a can of Coke? Fee. The average American only flies one or two flights per year, and they base their decisions almost entirely airfares. I have a feeling that a lot of readers would, correctly, state that they would never fly Spirit and will happily about another $25-50 to fly on a “real” airline. But I’m also guessing that my readers don’t represent the demographics of the average American.

One passenger said, “‘I get that the airlines want to maximize their revenue from weekly business travelers. But it’s a bummer their policies continue to penalize everyone else.'” I understand the frustration, but the airlines want to maximize revenue from everybody. I’m not sure how the passenger views payments as a penalty.

Baggage and Boarding

delta, alaska

The enemy?

The biggest problem here is that everyone wants something different. Elite members want to board first to get overhead space, while the credit card holder wants to know why they’re in boarding group one, but are still in the fifth to board because so many groups are ahead of them. Meanwhile, the ordinary passenger who doesn’t have the airline credit card or elite status finds themself last in line. And being last in line means no overhead space for bags. Which brings up another issue. Bags.

The reason, of course, that nobody wants to board last is a function of the airlines. In 2008, they started charging for checked bags. So in order to save money, passengers started bringing more carry-ons. Makes sense. Except the airlines aren’t equipped for a carry-on from everyone, so they end up checking the bags of the people at the end.

The extra carry-ons create another issue: time. Given the fact that passengers spend a good deal of time trying to shove a big bag into a small overhead compartment, boarding has now become a 45-60 minute process. Meanwhile, the flight attendants, who want to get out on time, are shouting into the to tell passengers to sit down. Which they can’t do, because of the outcome of the checked baggage policy. Some solutions mentioned are non-starters for the passengers. For example, try eliminating overheads altogether. You’d have a riot. Actually, you wouldn’t, since so few passengers would be willing to fly such an airline. if the airlines could find a way to guarantee that passengers’ bags would be waiting for them at the carousel, that might be one thing, but good luck fulfilling such a promise.

The most innovative solution that I’ve seen comes from Spirit. They don’t discriminate against anyone. If you want to check a bag? Fee. Carry on a bag? Fee. But what makes them really interesting is that they actually charge more to carry on a bag than they do to check one. Nudging passengers to check their bags speeds up, well, everything.

Solutions

Mr. Morgenstern did his own list of suggestions the week before. Sadly, they’re ones that we’ve seen before and that the airlines would be loathe to implement. Why is that? Because any increase in customer loyalty would more than be lost in lower revenue/higher costs. For instance, increasing leg room means pulling seats off planes. Fewer seats means higher costs, since costs are measured on a per seat basis. Likewise, coupon books, or paying a subscription for change fees, are non-starters. Airlines maximize revenue through dynamic pricing (He also suggests slowing down price changes.). There’s no way that they’re going to sell a coupon book at a price that would be advantageous for the customer. Presumably, the coupons would be subject to demand. By that point, the revenue management system would have lowered the price. And the airlines make too much money from change fees to offer a subscription service for them. There’s no way that those go away.

Overall

Sadly, the airline industry has become an adversarial system. A dollar in a passenger’s pocket is one out of the airline’s. It’s hard to come up with a solution that doesn’t result in fewer dollars for the airlines and their shareholders. Southwest has pulled off a customer-friendly product because it was designed that way. Either way, somebody’s going to have to take some pain. My suggestion is that the airlines make at least a few changes (e.g., guaranteeing that families can sit together) before the changes are thrust upon them. True, the industry has powerful lobbyists, but no politician has ever gotten less popular for speaking out against the airlines.

Why Air Travel Could Be A Mess Forever

 


*Beginner’s Hint: A “seat mile” represents flying one seat for one mile. For example, if a plane has 150 seats and flies 100 miles, it has flown 15,000 seat miles (150*100). 

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The Basics Of Miles Redemptions

The other day, a coworker asked me, “How can I use miles to get to Paris?” Now, most people who know me well don’t ask me questions like that. They know that it’s going to take about a half hour for the answer. She must have been having an off day, though, since she asked anyway.

It occurred to me that I speak a lot about redeeming miles, but rarely about the process involved. So in this post, I’m doing aspects of “Redemptions 101.” It may be a bit basic for some, but I’m hoping that others can use it as a resource. Today, I’m going to do airlines. At a future date, I’ll do hotels.

Mileage History

frequent flyer miles, redemption

Your ticket to anywhere

When frequent flyer programs first came out, they were simple. You earned miles, you redeemed miles. No off-seasons, no multiple-pricing schemes, etc. An award chart told you how much a particular flight would cost. Earning miles was just as easy. For every mile you flew, you (usually) got one mile of credit.

The programs were too successful for the airlines’ own good. Eventually, they realized that they could sell miles to other merchants, who could them use them to reward their customers. You know what happens then. They sold too many miles and couldn’t possibly redeem them all. They instituted black-outs, raised prices, started “peak season pricing,” etc. Eventually, Delta moved away from award charts altogether. Instead of being able to determine a fixed cost in miles ahead of time, the number would be dynamic. In other words, you would tell them what flight you wanted and they would then tell you the price in miles. It would be like a menu without prices. But even those adjustments, however, couldn’t clear up the backlog of outstanding miles. Just as consumers had become addicted to miles, airlines had become addicted to the profits.

So Delta did something different, which the other major airlines quickly followed: It changed its point of attack. Now, in addition to making award flights more difficult, it tied earnings to how much you spent. As you may know, there is a disconnect between ticket prices and distance flown. A short flight might be very expensive because an airline has a monopoly on the route, while a transcontinental flight might be dirt-cheap because of the competition. Why should I get fewer miles when I paid more money? The value got so distorted, in fact, that people would do mileage runs, or trips to nowhere/anywhere because they earned so many miles for such a cheap flight. I once flew to India, waited in the Delhi airport for three hours, and then flew back, simply because I earned so many miles for an inexpensive ticket. And then I did it again, three weeks later.

A few years ago, Delta changed its policy. Instead of earning miles based on distance, you’d earn them on spending. You’d earn a base number of miles per dollar spent.* Members with elite status got more miles, depending on their level. It didn’t stop the free flow of miles, but it did close the gap in terms of mileage value.

Redeeming Miles

miles, redeeming

They’re in the vault!

Congratulations! You’ve got your bank of miles, and now you want to redeem. Just call up the airline and book, right?

Not so much. The “price” in miles will depend on a number of factors. Those include (but are not limited to):

  • Who are you flying and how are their awards determined? You have to determine whether there is still an award chart (i.e., the menu) or whether the price of the award is variable. For example, let’s say you want to book an award from Boston (BOS) to Fort Lauderdale (FLL).

On Delta, the prices are dynamic. There is no award chart, so you have to find the flight you want and then you will be told how much it costs:

delta

The Delta chart. It could change on you at an instant.

On American, it’s easier. The company still has an award chart, so you have an idea of how much you will pay. At least you know the limits on how much it will cost, a courtesy that Delta doesn’t give you. For cheaper tickets, the prices aren’t too different. But do a search for international first class and you’ll find some big gaps. Sadly, I think that AA will go to a Delta-type system soon, so take it while you can.

American

One of four possibilities on AA

Airlines like JetBlue and Southwest are the easiest. Pricing is dynamic, which means that there is no award chart and it can change from minute to minute. But what makes it nice is that the price in miles is highly correlated to the price in dollars. A JetBlue point is worth about 1.5 cents, and a Southwest point is worth about 1.7 cents. Both of those exchange rates are for the cheapest fare classes. While it’s annoying that the prices change frequently, it’s nice that you can assess what the ticket is actually worth.

jetblue

The not-so-dynamic dynamic award chart

I’ve always worried that the major airlines are going to go to the same system that JetBlue/Southwest do, which would drive up the price of international premium class tickets significantly. Turns out that they don’t need to. They can simply use the system that Delta does. There is some method by which they come up with the award price, but we don’t know what it is.

Other Tips

  • When redeeming miles for international travel, remember to check to see if award availability on alliance partners is available. Most major airlines are one of the three global partnerships, or at least have other carriers where you can use your miles. You may not be able to find the information online. It may require a phone call.
  • Remember, you may have to pay taxes and fees on your tickets. For example, if you’re flying British Airways, particularly in a premium class of service, they’ll add fees that could push your total toward $1,000 per person (Hint: Use Iberia, instead.). Virgin Atlantic isn’t too much better. Bottom line: you may need to have your credit card handy.
  • Miles don’t earn interest. It’s fun to have a six, or even 7-figure balance, but airlines are free to change redemption rates at any time.
  • Virtually every airline allows you to use miles in some form to upgrade. If you already have a ticket purchased for cash, you can check with the airline to see what is available.
  • And just because you don’t have miles for a particular airline doesn’t mean you can’t get an award on them. Remember, certain banks offer proprietary currency that can be exchanged for miles. If you have Chase, Citibank or American Express points, check with your program to see what airline miles those points can be exchanged for.

 

 


*Low-cost carriers are generally newer to the scene and, having seen the problems that the majors faced, they did their programs based on spending from Day 1. Southwest originally gave you flights based on the number of segments that you had flown with them, but they, too, changed to dollar-based earnings.

 

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A Few Promotions Now Available

There’s always a promotion for something in the travel industry, and they’re worth signing up for. If I catch 25% of them, I feel fortunate, since it’s simply impossible to keep up with everything on offer. Still, there are a few around now that may be worth looking at.

Best Western: Stay Two, Get One

best western

You, too, will leap for joy with a free night at Best Western.

The biggest hotel programs tend to get most of the publicity, but it’s often the smaller ones that offer the best deals.

For those of you who are into Best Western, here’s a promo for a free night. Stay with them twice and you’ll pick up a freebie. There are a few restrictions, including the fact that the certificate expires 60 days after you receive it and you need to register.

One interesting point: In their FAQ, Best Western actually addresses the “why do I need to register” question, so a plus to them for candor.

Delta Partner Offer: Up to 10,000 Points

This one’s a little weaker, but again, it’s free, so register.

As you probably know, airlines partner with other businesses to generate revenue from mileage sales. Traditionally, if you access a partner through Delta’s web site, you’ll get miles. Every so often, they’ll give you an added incentive to use those businesses.

Currently, Delta is running such a bonus. You’ll earn 1,000 miles for every new partner that you use. By “new,” they mean that you can’t have earned miles from them since the beginning of 2018. Note that only certain merchants are participating, so be sure to check their restrictions.

Still, it’s free. You might as well sign up and at least have the possibility of a bonus.

Offer first seen at Rene’s Points.

Valentine’s Day Flowers Bonus

And finally, it’s that time of year again. Valentine’s Day is approaching, and you may need a florist. If miles are more important to you than flower quality, look online. Virtually every airline, hotel and other points business partners with e-distributors of gifts, but you’re not going to get the finest product. The distributors partner with local merchants and take a big chunk of the revenue as a commission. If you’re the town florist, who are you going to give your best product to? A regular, or the online merchant who takes your profits. Exactly.

 

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American Airlines Launches Premium Economy Awards

Many readers may have gotten an email recently from American telling them that Premium Economy awards are now available. I thought that it might be interesting to take a look at the segment.

Premium Economy

premium economy

The AA Premium Economy cabin

Premium economy (PE) is a long-haul product that fills the space between traditional economy and business class. It’s not as spacious or luxurious as the seat up front, but it offers bigger seats than coach and is often 2X2 seating.* Think of it as similar to domestic first class. In other words, civilized. Prices vary, but a good estimate is usually twice the main cabin.

US airlines have tried the service before. For example, American launched it in 2000-2001. Demand was strong, particularly internationally, and they hoped to target high-end coach traffic. Not great timing, and it was 15 years before somebody tried again.

Premium Economy Awards

American Airlines Premium Award Chart

American Airlines Premium Award Chart

It was inevitable that, once the airline started selling the seat, that it would also offer PE as an award. American categorizes its awards based on demand, so the actual mileage you pay will differ by day. On the plus side, unlike Delta, at least they have a published award chart.

In perspective, the prices aren’t terrible. The jump from coach to PE is 25-30,000 miles, although the difference in the South Pacific flights is a lot more. From PE to business class, it’s another 30-50,000 miles, so a bit more of a premium.

I’ve found Premium Economy to be a bit of a sweet spot, particularly on day flights. There’s enough room to move around and the service is definitely better. Overall, it’s not a bad way to go.

 


*Beginner’s Hint: Most airlines also offer a similar product, which goes by the name “Economy Plus,” “Economy Comfort” or something similar. This seat has a bit more leg room and a few other perks, but it is not nearly the upgrade that Premium Economy is. Since the names are similar, be careful of which product you are actually buying.

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Airline Earnings, Norwegian’s Saga, Free Uber Rides For Rams Fans

This week in the world of travel…

Airline Earnings

airline earnings

Keep your eyes off the flashing lights

Four times per year, airlines report their quarterly earnings to shareholders. Earnings periods often cause volatility, and this time around was no different. Here’s what we learned:

  • They’re still making lots of money. Not only did they generate billions of dollars in earnings in 2018 but they will also likely make more money in 2019. Why is that? In addition to rising fares, oil prices are down. For example, a penny change in the price of oil is worth approximately $35 million in annual income to American.
  • Hub flights will get pricier. An airline “hub” is a city where it has a dominant market share. Examples include American in Dallas and Delta in Atlanta. Flights with a hub as the origin or destination tend to be more expensive than the average flight, since a dominant market share means that an airline controls pricing. For instance, there are a lot of ways to get from coast to coast, but if you’re flying to Atlanta, you’re probably on Delta. How strange is airline pricing? Think of it this way: A flight from, say, Providence,  RI to Atlanta could cost more than a flight from Providence to the west coast with a connection in Atlanta. As airlines face increasing competition from low cost carriers, they’re retreating to cities where they know they can raise prices. Good luck to those of you who live in Charlotte.

The Norwegian Air Saga

norwegian air

Losing money on every flight but making it up on volume

Not this again. Norwegian Air, the small carrier that makes a big difference, is still alive. For now. Its fate has been going back and forth, but it’s once again solvent. There had been talk of British Airways taking over the carrier with the purpose of shutting them down, but that fell apart. Yesterday, however, they announced a private investment of $353 million, which would keep them flying. The consequences, though, were a significant drop in the stock price. More shares means fewer dollars of earnings per share.

The saga continues…

Free Uber After The Super Bowl

Uber is offering free rides home to residents of the losing Super Bowl team’s city. Simply call for a car within an hour of the game and they’ll pay up to $50 toward your fare.

That’s probably a good thing. I hear that traffic in LA is awful.

 

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And finally, you can apply for credit cards through the Credit Cards for Charity link above. All card proceeds are donated to charity, so please do well by doing good!

And Now, For Something Completely Different…

As you may know, when you get a credit card through this site, it generates a commission*.  Since that also creates a conflict of interest, I donate those commissions to charity. This year, readers helped to generate almost $3,000 for Cradles to Crayons.

Cradles To Crayons

Cradles to Crayons is a 4-Star Charity Navigator organization whose mission is to provide essentials for children. As they put it on their website, “Poverty is a year-round condition, and young children outgrow essentials like clothes, toys and books pretty quickly. As a result, our mission is not based on a “one and done” philosophy. We undertake four major initiatives each year to serve kids and families all year long.

C2C gives items like toys and clothing free of charge to families and have locations in Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago (as well as  an upcoming one in New York). They only give out new items, or ones that appear new, so that children can feel good about themselves. Don’t worry, non-new donations go to a different service partner.

It’s an outstanding place to volunteer and the folks who work there truly care. We’ve brought our kids in to help sort clothes and toys, and it helps them connect with other children who aren’t as fortunate. I’ve seen first-hand how dedicated the team is and that the money helps the people that it is supposed to help, so I feel very comfortable giving to them.

So thank you again for your visiting my site this year. I hope that next year will be even better!

 


*I do ask that, if you saw a credit card offer somewhere else first, that you get it from the original website where you found it. Thanks!

 

Want to subscribe? Just enter your email in the box above (and to the right) and click on the confirmation. GMailers, check your Social or Promotions boxes!

Follow me on Twitter @FFMiles101 or share with the Facebook button below.

And finally, you can apply for credit cards through the Credit Cards for Charity link above. All card proceeds are donated to charity, so please do well by doing good!