Monthly Archives: March 2012

Days Now Appear to Be Numbered for Chase Sapphire Preferred 50,000 Point Bonus

This will be all over ye olde blogosphere (if it isn’t already), but we blogger types just got a note from our affiliate company letting us know that the Chase Sapphire Preferred deal will be changing on Tuesday. Normally I would say this is nothing, but given that Chase’s own site is now only offering a 40,000 point bonus after $3,000 in spend, I am going to go out on a limb and say that the 50,000 point bonus you’ll get on my banner below (at least until Tuesday) will go away.

That said, I stand by my earlier advice: this SHOULD NOT change your churn schedule. Repeat, this SHOULD NOT change your churn schedule. If it’s been 90 days since your last churn and you haven’t gotten this card, you might want to consider it (I don’t need to go over the benefits…it’s been written everywhere a billion times). If not, I absolutely would not risk having too many inquiries just for the extra 10,000 points. Seriously. Deep breath.

(Disclosure: I have an affiliate agreement with Chase).

EVA Airways to Join Star Alliance in 2013

Taiwan’s EVA Airways will join Star Alliance in 2013, further filling out the group’s presence in Asia. The carrier will join Air China and (later this year) Shenzhen Airlines as Star Alliance airlines in China.

For those of you looking for another Aegean Airlines situation with some crazy easy way to earn Elite Status, you’re out of luck. Their earnings and redemptions values, as well as their Elite tiers, are not good (ie, less than 100% earning on most coach fares).

LOT’s First 787 Route in the US Will be to Chicago

LOT Polish announced that its first 787 route to the United States will be to Chicago in January of 2013. Why might you care about this?

1) You might not care about it, what the hell do I know?
2) If you are me, you would care about it because LOT offers pretty reasonable business class fares to Europe, which is helpful when I fly to Amsterdam for work. This particular route won’t help me (EWR-ORD-WAW-AMS seems excessive), but they’ll be launching New York 787 service later in 2013. And the 787 will feature an upgraded front cabin, with lie-flat seats.
3) If you’ve flown LOT you’ll know that it’s a time-warp — it’s as if you’re flying to Europe in 1986. And I don’t mean that in a good way (?). On a plus note, they do have this gloriously weird animated safety video.

Report: Singapore to Add Coach Cabin to Nonstop Service to New York and Los Angeles

Singapore Airlines launched its all-business class service to Los Angeles and New York a few years ago and has apparently been trying to staunch losses on the route ever since. (Curious about what it’s like? Check out The Points Guy’s recent trip report.) Virtually every airline that has tried single-class long haul service has struggled mightily or simply failed, as carriers are too reliant on one type of passenger throughout the year.

With that in mind, this report suggests that Singapore Airlines will add a coach cabin to their A340-500s on the NYC and LA routes in the near future. This would likely be an Economy Plus product with 37″ of pitch (which is roughly what you get in a domestic first class cabin). For you miles freaks, I have no idea if this would be available as a regular coach redemption, though I would assume it would.

You may remember Thai Airways’ not-long-for-this-world nonstops from New York to Bangkok, which also featured an economy plus-type product with a similar pitch.

Drunk Passenger Fights Crew When She’s Refused A Drink

After flight attendants refused to serve alcohol to an already inebriated passenger on a US Airways flight Tuesday from Charlotte to Ft. Myers, the passenger attacked crew members and had to be physically tethered to her seat.

She apparently “kicked, spit on and cursed at” crew members and was arrested and charged with battery and interfering with the operation of an aircraft when the plane landed in Ft. Myers.

The moral of the story, of course, is to bring your own alcohol on a plane, as who knows if the flight attendants will refuse to serve you.

An Aside about Radio Reporter Scott Braddock

A quick timeout from the airline world…

I’ve been lucky enough to be interviewed about airlines quite a bit over the years. Recently, I’ve done a bunch of live interviews with a Texas-based radio reporter named Scott Braddock. My interactions with him have been great — he’s funny, knowledgeable, and actually listens to the answers of the questions he asks. While that may seem like an obvious requirement of a reporter, I haven’t found that to be the case.

I also know that he’s well-respected in his field, from what I’ve read he’s a “reporter’s reporter” – fair and inquisitive, showing no bias.

A few months back Scott moved his family from Dallas, where he had a show on KRLD, to a new news station in Houston – News 92. Scott hosted a daily show there, and I’ve been speaking with him regularly at his new home station.

Last week Scott filled in for a friend at a public radio station in Houston and hosted a show where he played clips of an interview he did with a woman who had recently undergone an abortion under new procedures outlined by the State of Texas. By all accounts the interview was objective and non-political.

Scott returned to his station last week and was summarily fired. Station management said it was because he had appeared on another radio show, though Scott has no contract stipulating this, and the other show was on a public station and effectively served as an advertisement for his own show on News 92.

The Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle, and the Texas Observer have all written that the firing was politically motivated.

Here’s the thing: this had nothing to do with Scott’s views on abortion. How do I know this? Both the groups Texans for Life and Gulf Coast Planned Parenthood – who I am going to guess have never agreed on anything – have both come out in support of Scott and asked the station to re-hire him.

This is a pathetic story about how a company has squashed the voice of a reporter doing his job. I hardly consider myself part of the media, but once companies are able to fire reporters because of the stories they cover, we are all in trouble.

If you live in Houston, consider calling News 92 and letting them know how you feel. Anyone who writes or reports for a living needs to feel that they can cover any story without fear of retribution.

That is all…I will now return to telling you how awesome the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is.

United Explorer Card 60,000 Miles Bonus Now Widely Available

The United Explorer Card bonus offering 50,000 miles after the first purchase (and 10,000 more after $25k in spend in a year) has been around in some form (on and off) for a while, though either it has been targeted, or people have had to have some miles in their account to be able to view the deal.

All of that nonsense is gone (for now). Visit theexplorercard.com/60bonus to apply – it’s a non-affiliate, non-targeted link that is available to everyone. The offer is good through May 31st.

Remember that the United Explorer Card, which has the first year fee waived, offers free first checked bag, 2 club passes, and priority boarding.

A friendly reminder that you can generally apply for 1 Chase card every 30 days, and I suggest bundling your apps together so you’re waiting 90 days between apps.

(Thanks, Slickdeals)

Review of Opportunities to Maximize Ultimate Rewards Points

There was a bit of a feeling that the world was coming to an end when Chase lowered the official Chase Sapphire bonus from 50,000 points to 40,000 points.

But, as I wrote at the time, this is by no means the end of the world, even if the affiliate links drop to 40k as well. Why? Because there are plenty of ways to continue to earn large bonuses in the program. I thought it would be helpful to compile those here:

– The Chase Ink Business Bold card (application here) is offering 25,000 points after first purchase, then an additional 25k points after $10,000 in spend in 3 months with the first year fee waived. T

– The Chase Freedom card is offering 30,000 points after $500 in spend in 3 months (OFFER NOW EXPIRED). If you have a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Bold® Charge Card card you can transfer those points into Ultimate Rewards.

– If you DO have the Freedom card, remember that the Q2 spending bonuses on Grocery Stores and Movie Theater purchases kick in on April 1. You’ll earn 5% cash back (on up to $1500 in purchases) all quarter. You must register here.

– Another perk of the Freedom card: If you have a Chase personal checking account and a Chase Freedom card, you’ll earn 10 bonus points on every purchase plus 10% extra points per $1 spent. And if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred card, those Freedom points can be transferred into Ultimate Rewards. Solid deal. Details here.

A similar offer is available for Chase business checking account holders — they can earn a 20% Ultimate Rewards bonus on their credit card spend if they have the Chase Business Ink Bold® Charge Card card through the Chase Exclusives for Business program. Details here. (This offer has apparently expired – I apologize for not updating earlier)

So yes, that initial bonus will likely be shrinking a bit, but there are plenty of opportunities to still get a bunch of Ultimate Rewards points through these programs.

(Disclosure: The Chase cards are affiliate links.)

Spirit Airlines’ Fantastic New Fare Display

Say what you will about Spirit Airlines (and based on the comments on this post you will say quite a bit), they are certainly innovative.

Recently they have introduced a new fare display that’s better than that of any other airline out there. Check it out:

Spirit gets knocked for being customer unfriendly because of their fees, but I’ve always said that’s total nonsense, as they’re quite upfront about it. This fare display is more customer-friendly than any I’ve seen anywhere else. I love the color-coded calendar, quickly showing you how changing your date of travel can save you money (or cost you money, as the case may be). The web-dork side of me thinks that is just a brilliant piece of information architecture.

Below, they break out the base fare and the fuel, plus government taxes (you can hover over the taxes to get the individual tax breakout). No, I don’t know why the $9 Club fare has no fuel charge. Whatever. I love that they tell you the percentage of your fare that goes toward taxes.

Are their seats cramped? Definitely. Do they seem to have some customer service issues? Apparently. But are they more upfront about what your ticket really costs than any other airline out there? Absolutely. Plus, they quickly and easily show you how to save money on different days.

Really, really well done.

$600 Roundtrip Fares from New York to Berlin During the Summer

Some reasonable summer fares to Europe are starting to trickle out….

This FT thread found a $596 roundtrip fare (taxes included) from Newark to Berlin in June, July and August — about half the price everyone else is charging. Looks like an Air Canada fare, though you’ll be flying on Lufthansa through Frankfurt. I’m also seeing it for $644 on SWISS. Fares to Dusseldorf are similar.

(Before anyone freaks out, this isn’t an FD-trick fare*)

* It’s not even worth explaining what that is if that is meaningless to you, as those in the secret society who DO know about it won’t let anyone talk about it. They’re like freemasons. The first rule of FD Club is don’t talk about FD Club.