Thursday, January 31, 2013

US Airways Is Selling Miles For Cheap Again

US Airways is running a 100% bonus on purchased miles again, up to 50,000 free miles.  If you want to fly around the world in business class, 90,000 miles will cost $1,575.  I wouldn't buy miles to hold onto them, but only buy them to top off my account for an award I'd want to book soon.  These promotions happen every month or two.
You Don't Have to Fly US Airways When Burning Their Miles

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Taking a Few Pictures Along The Way

I brought my good camera and lens on my mileage run last weekend and got two dozen fun pictures that will make their way into future posts.  I played with the zoom and was able to catch some fun details.
US Airways Flight Deck Crew at PHL

Friday, January 25, 2013

Double Free Night Credits Bonus at Omni Hotels

I signed up for every hotel loyalty program I could find as part of a research paper I am writing for class (8 weeks until I graduate!), including Omni Select Guest.  Today I found an email promotion for double free night credits on all stays before April 1st (not sure if it's a targeted promotion).  This isn't a status fast track bonus, but just a free night award fast track.  Even though I have no plans to stay at an Omni (I need SPG stays), I signed up.  You never can know travel plans for sure.
There's an Omni hotel in San Francisco

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Lufthansa Slim Line Airbus Seats

Slim line seats are coming to the US, Southwest is adding narrow seats and extra rows on their jets.  Lufthansa (and Swiss and Austrian Airlines which they own) has updated their Airbus fleet with these seats.  They are super skinny and have almost no padding. They are fine for a one or two hour flight, but I wouldn't want to be stuck in them for longer than 2 hours.  I do like the seat pocket redesign that provides more knee room.
Lufthansa Slim Seats
Leg room and seat back design
Center seat blocked for business class

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

First Mileage Run of 2013

I'm taking my first flights of 2013 this weekend and am flying just for the miles.  I found and booked a cheap fare to PHL with an out of the way stop in each direction.  I'm not going to leave the airport in PHL, just get on the airplane I took in and go home. The primary purpose of this trip is to inexpensively boost my elite mileage total.  I also hope to do some reading and work on homework.  One day I'll have a job that gets me 1K status with work travel (again).
United A320

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Delta Regional Jet Coach

Frontier (nee. Midwest Airlines) used to run a hub in Milwaukee that would take you to most big and mid sized cities east of the Rockies.  I heard they had cut back service, but I didn't know it was so extreme that you couldn't even get a flight from New York to Milwaukee. The only option out of LGA was Delta on a CRJ700.  I dislike the CRJ family of aircraft because they feel cramped. Add a fat guy (there is no way to report someone who needs to buy a second seat, but oh how I wish I could) and there is no space at all.  Two miserable hours after take off I landed and rejoiced at being able to move my arms and legs.
Delta Connection Coach Seats
Delta Connection Coach
Delta Connection CRJ700

Friday, January 18, 2013

Delta Includes a Minimum Spending Amount For Status

Rip on Delta Week continues with a huge program change. To have Delta status in 2014, you need to spend a minimum of $2,500 with Delta.  Partner flights not booked with a DL1234 flight number and taxes don't count.  This is a seismic shift in elite program rules and it defines loyalty as a monetary transaction.  Loyalty is much more complex than spending money with a company and Delta is missing the point.  Current Delta Elites should just status match over to Alaska, they'll still get Delta upgrades, plus get American upgrades and respect.

Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) – Coming Next Year
Beginning January 1, 2014, SkyMiles members residing in the United States (excluding Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) will earn Medallion status through a combination of miles or segments flown and their annual spending on Delta flights, which will be measured by Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs).
  • The threshold ranges from $2,500-$12,500 MQDs depending on Medallion level.
  • Alternatively, Delta SkyMiles Credit Cardmembers can be waived from the new Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) requirement if they make at least $25,000 in Eligible Purchases within the calendar year.
  • MQDs are the total of the SkyMiles member’s spend on Delta-marketed flights (flight numbers that include the “DL” airline code), inclusive of the base fare and applicable surcharges, but exclusive of government- imposed taxes and fees.
Delta Taking Customers To A Cold And Lonely Place

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Delta's Award Booking Website Is Pathetic

I picked up the Delta Amex with a good sign up bonus and wanted to know how easily I can spend my new miles. I tried making a test award booking (all the steps to book, but cancel on the checkout page to see miles and fees) and after a few searches with NO low level awards, I found a city and date combination.  Except when selecting the return flight, I saw the error message below instead. Thanks Delta, I wasn't going to spend my miles, but you made sure of that.
Delta.com Error Message
I do have more respect for United.com's award booking tool, it looks even better now.
United Express CRJ-200

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013

All Messed Up - Airline Terms

Sometimes you overhear things when at airports and I learned a new term, "all messed up." I thought the technical term was irregular operations or IROPS. The United employees at O'Hare seem to prefer saying "all messed up." I was expecting the slang to be worse and have bad words, but this was happily G rated.
All Messed Up - ORD Example

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Best Airport Food - BBQ Edition

Airport food isn't always terrible; there are actually places good enough to visit if they weren't in an airport.  My favorite airport BBQ place is Carolina Pit BBQ in Charlotte airport.  It's between the B and C concourses and worth the walk from whatever gate you are at.  The pulled pork and brisket are outstanding! Hush puppies and fried pickle spears are also great.  The one downside is they are closed for breakfast. 
Best Airport BBQ
Yes, I know DFW has six BBQ places in the airport, but it's all Texas style (grill the meat and then add sauce). I enjoyed the sauce bottle I purchased from the one by the United gates, but the food served was flavorless. If you have the time to get to A gates, go to Pappadeaux's, it's outstanding Cajun grub.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Book It While You Can

I was playing around with fares to get to LAX in April (I'm shooting the Grand Prix of Long Beach) and found DEN-IAD-RDU-IAD-LAX for $215, about 4.5c per elite mile. It was an outstanding deal, but I was hesitant to book a 12:30AM arrival.
It Won't Be There Forever
United solved my conundrum today because the fare is gone. I'm kicking myself now for passing on a great deal (only $116 more than the direct).

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

More Pictures I Like

I took my new camera (Nikon D7000 with my not as new Nikkor 70-200mm 2.8 lens) on my Christmas trip to see the family and kept it handy on the flight back.  I grabbed some fun (mostly US Airways) pictures along the way.
US Airways A320
US Airways A321 Take Off
US Airways 767-200

Monday, January 7, 2013

Blue1 - Best Looking Birds in the Air

Blue1, a regional carrier owned by SAS, has the best looking airplanes.  The 717 isn't a sexy shape, but the Blue1 paint on it looks outstanding. Too bad it's part of SAS and in a bad financial state. Pluna used to have the best looking planes until they folded last year; I'd hate to see the new best looking airline fold too.
Blue1 Jet in Helsinki

Sunday, January 6, 2013

United Airlines 777 Rear Facing Business Class Seats

I always wondered what the rear facing business class seats on United were like, so I grabbed one (with an upgrade) last month on a flight from Denver to Chicago to find out; I didn't want a longer test in case I didn't like the feeling. I really didn't notice a difference in flight.  The bigger issue with seat 9A was a missing window and claustrophobic feeling.  The forces experienced at take off and landing are reversed too; it wasn't uncomfortable, but just felt a little off.  
United Airlines 777 Seat 9A Rear Facing Business Class Seat

Friday, January 4, 2013

Sunrise at Savannah Airport

I've always enjoyed watching the sunrise at an airport (EWR post, IAD post) and I saw a beauty last week in Savannah.
Nice Sunrise at Savannah Airport (SAV)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Chase Freedom Rewards Poor Values

The Chase Freedom card is my oldest credit card because it has no annual fee and provides consistent value.  The 5% bonus categories are usually great deals and Chase will send me a check (or statement credit or direct checking account deposit) with my rewards.  The program also lets you destroy value with gift card rewards.  3,000 points earns a $30 check or a $25 gift card.  Even if gift cards were 2,500 points, you still lose out because you aren't earning points on that purchase.
Cash Back Via Check or Direct Deposit
Gift Card Values

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year - Back to 0's

It's January 1st and all the status balances have reset. It's tough looking at 0's across the board.  I wish United and SPG were like Delta and rolled over qualifying points above those needed for the status level reached.

SPG Totals
United Totals
American Totals
Hyatt Goose Egg
US Airways 0's