Tuesday, May 29, 2012

$60 Off a Lufthansa Flight

My colleague Justin sent me a link for $60 off a Lufthansa flight.  It's good for travel from August 12 to September 12 and must be redeemed by the end of May.  Good on Lufthansa and their code share partners United, Air Canada, and Austrian.  Travel must originate in the USA. 
Lufthansa A319 at FRA

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Star Alliance Transfer Passenger Survey at EWR

The Star Alliance wants to know about your international transfer experience.  They are not interested in anything else (at least at the moment).  The Star Alliance has been trying to simplify global travel for passengers on member airlines for the last 15 years and they have become very good at it (long queues at LHR aside).  It’s a good sign that they are collecting passenger feedback about the process.  The questions were all multiple choice for international transit customers.  An interesting find at EWR; way better than the Met store clearance table.

Star Alliance Survey Machine

Star Alliance Survey Display

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Why Fear of Overbooking?

The Sydney Morning Herald (I’ve been hooked on it since first reading it in Sydney) has one of the best travel sections in the world; much better than travel magazines or the NYT.  I enjoy taking a read though their articles and sometimes browsing reader comments (unlike any story remotely political, there is some decent information to glean).  One story talked about how Southwest doesn’t suck as much as other US carriers.  I disagree, but will save that for a later time.  The interesting bit was the comments.  There was an engaging discussion on which US airlines frequently bump passengers and suggestions to avoid them.
US Airways A321 Spending the Night at PHX
Why are people so afraid of bumping?  I understand the obvious, missing the flight and having travel plans thrown in a blender, but it shouldn’t be a large enough concern to avoid airlines that do it frequently (they all do it to some extent).  Also, flight delays or cancellations happen, so it is best to add some padding to travel planning if that were to happen (always fly in the day before your cruise ship departs).  This padding will also help mitigate the impact of an involuntary displaced boarding (IDB or bump).
United Jets at EWR
Bumping can be very lucrative if travel plans are made with padding.  United offers $400 in travel vouches for volunteering for a bump; US Airways gave me $250 for a 90 minute delay.  They will rebook you, sometimes in paid first (bonus miles), provide a meal voucher if the delay is long enough, and buy a hotel room if it is an overnight delay (Westin LAX for me).  These vouchers can add up to several thousand dollars in value if you are bumped several times in a year.  Other airlines provide different amounts of compensation, but they all make it worth your while to take the later flight.  Bumps can be a great way to extend your travel budget and add variety to routine flying.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

JP Morgan Palladium Card Events

The JP Morgan Palladium card always does things better and last week they out did themselves.  JP Morgan mailed me an invitation for a series of receptions at Christie’s in New York.  The event I attended was wonderful.  About 250 other people joined me for a function focused on Latin American painting, just casually looking at works with appetizers and drinks (amazing DeLeĆ³n Tequila).  All of this was free and not open to the public; a truly exclusive event.
Christie's New York JP Morgan Palladium Card Event
Other credit cards, from Chase and others, offer what they term “exclusive” events.  A typical event would be a wine tasting or dinner that would cost about $150 a person.  More of a gimmick than an actual benefit.  I’ve never signed up for one of those events, but they provide an excellent contrast to make the JP Morgan Palladium card look better.  The Palladium card is the best credit card and I am thrilled to have one.

(I'd like to thank Mary from Pies Etc. for the picture; her superior eye and iPhone 4Gs are appreciated.)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Malev Airlines

Malev Airlines had good looking airplanes and I liked how their vehicles were similarly painted, purple nose and all.  That didn't keep them from folding.  It's my blog so I'll post a picture of it just because.
Malev Airline 737
Also, the predictions that Budapest would lose its air service have not come true.  It's still one connection to anywhere in Europe.  It's not a large enough city to support a flag carrier, but it will certainly support many flights from discount and full service carriers.  Nice place to visit too.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Even United Knew I was Flying for Miles

I flew DEN-PHX-CLT-SJU-CLT-DEN without leaving the airport.  I found a $275 fare and jumped on a plane to fly just for the miles.  United even saw that; rather than saying I had a round trip to San Juan, my reservation was labeled as Denver to Denver.  I found it funny.
Flying for the miles

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Iceland Air Lands in Denver

The first international low cost carrier (LCC) is starting service to Denver.  They are promoting the new service with billboards around town and by giving away free tickets on Twitter.  The prices to Iceland aren’t that great.  I ran a couple test dates and nothing came back remotely low cost.  I can fly to Barcelona for less if I wanted.  Unless there are some significant discounts sometime, I don’t plan on booking.  The advertising does suggest you fly onto Europe and use the free Iceland stopover.  It definitely caught my imagination, but the high fares brought me quickly back to reality.
Iceland Air 757 at FRA

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

JP Morgan Palladium Card Partners With Harry Winston

The JP Morgan Palladium Card has partnered with Harry Winston.  I found the best direct mail piece ever on my doorstep that has a presentation box and two Harry Winston catalogs.  Also included were an introduction letter and a $1,000 gift certificate for use with the Palladium Card.  This could be one of the best credit card benefits ever, especially if Harry Winston has anything for about $1,000.

This could also be the most expensive list purchase in history.  Chase could have sold their customer names to the partner.  I’m not sure what happened behind the scenes, but I doubt Chase isn’t making money on this with or without incremental sales at Harry Winston.  I’d like to see more of these offers, but not too many and always for high market brands.  Something free should always be included; a percentage discount would just be a bother.

I’m interested to see what comes next and what is the cheapest thing Harry Winston sells.

Update 5/14/12:  I stopped in this week to see what the $1,000 gift card could buy.  There is a $2,000 pen and a $2,300 necklace.  The pieces on display were stunning.  I was willing to spend a few hundred dollars on something, but the gift card didn't make anything less than four digits.  

Monday, May 7, 2012

Still Better Than The Office

My morning started at 3:30 with a call from United EasyUpdate saying my flight was delayed.  The original estimate was 20 minutes.  It turned out to be an hour.  Still, could be worse, I could be in the office.
United Express In Paint From Two Brands Ago

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Spirit Brings Low Fares to Denver

Spirit Airlines is launching Denver service to irritate Frontier, the newest ultra low cost carrier.  A benefit to me is Spirit is bringing super low prices on the DEN-ORD route.  The incumbent carriers aren't even close.  I really hope the Southwest Effect happens and United lowers their fares in light of new competition.  If not, $170 savings might get me on a Spirit flight.
Look at that low fare - or  - Look at those two high fares

All this over $198? Really?

There is way too much fuss over Spirit Airlines not refunding a non-refundable fare of $198.  Someone is told by their doctor they are too sick to fly.  Spirit doesn't offer a refund in this instance; a similar policy to many airlines. This person complains to every news station on earth and gets airtime because it is a touching human interest story.  People buy cheap fares with cancellation restrictions are gambling that they will use the ticket.  Customers can always pay  several times more and have a fully refundable ticket.  That's the economic trade off people take.  If you lose, too bad, it's a risk that was knowingly taken.  Spirit is right to stick to their policy and treat everyone the same.
Too much fuss over $198