Monthly Archives: April 2012

Chart of What Airlines You Can Fly with Ultimate Rewards Points (Partners Included)

The blog Free Frequent Flyer miles noted last week that Korean Airlines does not charge a fuel surcharge when you use their points to redeem on Alaska Airlines or Hawaiian Airlines. This is noteworthy because Korean only requires 20k/40k for a domestic coach/first class roundtrip on Alaska (stopover permitted); and they only require 30k/60k for a roundtrip to Hawaii from the mainland (inter-island flights, though, are charged separately at 10k roundtrip). (FFM says to redeem you should call 800-438-5000, and then prompts 2, 4, and 0).

Why do I mention this? Because Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred into Korean Airlines, one of their partners I tend to forget about. But for those Alaska and Hawaiian awards, they can be a good deal.

Since I had forgotten about those partners, I thought it would be helpful if I compiled the full list of airlines you can fly on using Ultimate Rewards — in other words, all of the partners of the partners.

[table id=6 /]

STAR ALLIANCE AIRLINES: Adria, Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Blue1, Brussels Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Egyptair, Ethiopian, LOT, Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Spanair, Swiss, TAP Portugal, Thai, Turkish Airlines, United, US Airways

ONEWORLD AIRLINES: Air Berlin, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN, Mexicana, Qantas, Royal Jordanian, S7

SKYTEAM AIRLINES: Aeroflot, Aeromexico, Air Europa, Air France, Alitalia, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Czech Airlines, Delta, Kenya Airways, KLM, Korean, Tarom, Vietnam Airlines

Today Only (Sunday): Marriott Los Suenos Resort in Costa Rica for $109 (or less!) (STILL AVAILABLE)

(I know it says “Today Only” but the offer is still good as of Tuesday)

Today only (Sunday, April 29th) Expedia is offering the Marriott Los Suenos Resort outside of Jaco, Costa Rica, for $109/night for a mountain view room. Rooms at the resort are regularly $329 for mountain view. From what I can see, the $109 rate is available through next April.

The rate is only available at Expedia — Marriott.com is showing $329. They should match you with their Best Rate Guarantee (details here). Assuming that works, you’ll get 25% off the $109, which makes this an enormous steal at $82/night.

I’ve been to the resort, and it’s beautiful. The main drawback would be the extremely expensive breakfasts (though there’s a supermarket right down the road if you wanted to pick up a few things and keep in the room instead of spending $25/person.)

(Thanks to this FT thread).

Easy Way to Earn 2,000 Priority Club Points

Priority Club is offering an easy way to earn 2,000 PC points when you sign up for email newsletters from them (details here).

In short, you’ll get 500 points when you sign up for their shopping special offer emails and another 500 points when you register a credit card with them. You’ll get 500 points for signing up for cruise deals and a final 500 points for signing up for their dining program.

Offer is good through May 31st.

Today (April 26) Only: 50,000 Membership Rewards Points for Signing Up for Amex Business Gold Rewards Card (NOW EXPIRED)

This offer expires at midnight tonight (April 26th):

Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards points when you sign up for the American Express Business Gold Rewards card and spend $5,000 in 4 months via this link. (not an affiliate link). The regular offer is for 25,000 Membership Rewards points.

First year fee is waived for this offer, and it’s $175/year after that.

Earn 3x points when you purchase airfare; 2x on advertising, gas & shipping.

You can’t get this offer if you’ve had an Amex Open Gold Card in the past.

Targeted Offer: Earn Up to 25,000 Bonus United Miles When You Fly 4 Round Trips (Check Your Email)

I received the targeted email offer below from United (check your inbox!). In short, fly 1 round trip before July 15th and earn 5,000 bonus miles. Fly 2, get 10,000 miles. Fly 4, earn 25,000 miles. It says it’s only available to the recipient, so unfortunately I don’t have an offer code to share.

Promo is only good on tickets booked after you register and flights must be completed by July 15th. Flights July 3-5 don’t count. Flights also must be on United or United Express metal (codeshares operated by other airlines also don’t count).

Lufthansa to Drop First Class Cabins on Some Long-Haul Aircraft

Lots of travelers complain about the state of Lufthansa’s current business class offering (which I’ll be taking in a few weeks and regardless of what anyone says, it’s better than being stuffed back in coach eating a tuna calzone, which I have done on that airline), but based on the blogger reviews I’ve seen, everyone loves Lufthansa’s first class product.

Don’t get too used to it.

As part of a cost-cutting program, Lufthansa will be dropping first class cabins from its 747-400s and A340-300s and going with a 2-cabin layout.

At the same time, they are considering introducing Premium Economy onto other aircraft, which is good news (I think), assuming United ever allows premium economy redemptions.

No word on when they’ll be removing those cabins, but it sounds like it will be sooner rather than later.

Last Day to Buy United Miles at (the Still Expensive) 40% Off

United is offering a deal where you can purchase miles from them for 40% off the regular price through the end of the day today (April 25th). Through this link you can buy miles at 2.25 cents a piece (ie, $225 for 10,000). I’m not sure why you would do this, but if you needed to buy United miles to top off an award (and assuming you had none to transfer from Ultimate Rewards), this is better than paying full price.

Alaska Airlines Credit Card – This One Also Comes with Lounge Passes (Oops – Only for Canadians)

Card churners are quite familiar with the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card because of its churnability and its $99 companion airfare certificate that can be used even on first class fares. The current best bonus on the card is for 25,000 miles after first purchase (though last year it was up to 40k, and even last month was at 35k.)

I haven’t heard anyone speak of the Alaska Airlines Platinum Plus Mastercard (application here – not an affiliate link.) It’s also Bank of America, and has the same terms as the Visa Signature, but in addition to the 25,000 mile signup bonus and $99 companion ticket, you also get 2 FREE BOARD ROOM LOUNGE PASSES, a perk not available with the Visa Signature version of the card. Both cards do come with a $75 annual fee, though. I believe the 25k bonus is ONLY through the link I found above. (SORRY ABOUT THIS – IT’S ONLY FOR CANADIANS. MY BAD…CARRY ON)

In addition, I know people have been excited about new Chip & Pin cards – this one also has Chip & Pin, which provides an added level of security (and allows you to buy train tickets at kiosks in Amsterdam, from what I can tell.)

And since I’m talking about Alaska Airlines cards, I also never hear anyone mention the Alaska Airlines Visa Business card (application here). 20,000 miles on first purchase ($75 fee), but it also comes with the $99 companion certificate, which could be very, very useful if you’re a family of 4 and need 2 companion certificates to get wherever it is you were planning on going. (THIS IS NOT JUST FOR CANADIANS…)

3 New Links for Ink Bold 50,000 Point Bonus with Only $5,000 Spend (NOW DEAD)

The current best available offer for the Chase Business Ink BoldĀ® Charge Card is for 25k points after first purchase, then an additional 25k points after $10,000 in spend (application link here – I do get an affiliate bounty via that link).

Previously, they had offered 50k points after $5,000 spend. That offer now appears to be back via these 2 links (neither of these are affiliate links) (SORRY, THESE ARE NOW ALL DEAD):

1) I found this link and this link that offer 50k points after $5,000 spend in 3 months.
2) Million Mile Secrets offers this link with the same deal.

Since these “secret” links come and go quickly, it’s better to have 3 different ones available in case one disappears.

For those who can hit $5k in spend in 3 months, that’s a better deal than the 25k/25k link above. But if you have very low spend, getting 25k points after first purchase beats not getting those points at all.

A Couple of Notes about Last Night’s Flight to Amsterdam

In an attempt to be a nice guy and not spend an insane amount of money on a business class ticket over to Amsterdam I thought I would help my department’s budget by flying over here in coach and returning in business (via Frankfurt). That combo cost less than 1/3rd the price of a simple round trip to Amsterdam in Business.

Of course the moment I bought the ticket I started dreading the flight over, despite my choice exit row seat location on the United 757-200. It’s worth noting here that United has turned the coach rows in front of row 20 into Economy Plus seats on the 757-200s (which fly primarily, though not entirely, to Europe). This makes a gigantic difference in comfort, as the seat pitch on the former Continental’s jets are optimized for extracting information from prisoners of war rather than passenger enjoyment on a flight over 90 minutes. Also worth noting here that the addition of that legroom in those rows means that you should never, ever choose Row 20, known as the non-reclining Exit Row (NRER), since the rows in front of it now have ample legroom. Every Continental frequent flyer has found themselves debating whether to subject themselves to Row 20, a highly subjective and personal choice for all. In my case, flights under 3 hours can be enjoyed in Row 20, as the extra legroom trumps the recline. Though I suppose I could be convinced otherwise.

This brings up the Trade-Off Game many have played where you have to figure out what seat-related tradeoffs you are willing to make. To wit: would you take an aisle seat in NRER over a middle seat in the Reclining Exit Row (RER)? Would you take a middle seat in RER over a window seat in a regular row? Aisle seat in RER versus aisle seat in regular row, but you know the middle seat will be open? If I were to post this as an open question on Flyertalk, I’m certain we would end up with Talmudic-length discourse on the topic. I will spare us thereof.

In any case, I had been stalking the seat map leading up to the flight and I had an empty seat next to me when I checked it just prior to boarding. Having an empty seat next to you is in many ways better (in case you wanted to know my opinion) than extra legroom, as you have width to spread out, plus you can angle your legs over into the middle seat’s legroom area (MSLA). But the seatmap means nothing when 6’7″ gentleman lumbers up and aisle and sidles into 21E. Given his height, I couldn’t fault him for this move but I knew that meant I would not be sleeping much on the flight. This turned out to be true because, also in part, I had run out of Ambien and was carrying Melatonin (which my brother swears works well, but about which my brother is incorrect).

I will now pose a question. That question is this: What is wrong with this service schedule for a 6:05pm departure to Amsterdam on UA 70? (All times Eastern):

6:05pm: Pull away from gate
6:30pm: Wheels up
7:00pm: Drink Service
7:20pm: Meal Service
8:15pm: Lights out
11:00pm: Announce over loudspeaker that duty free service will soon be shuttering
11:30pm: Lights on
11:40pm: Breakfast Service
1am: Landing

If you guessed “why in the name of Jeff Smisek would they turn the lights on 3 hours after they turned them off to serve me a croissant in the middle of the night?” you are correct. (You would have gotten half credit for, “why would they make an announcement about duty free service when approximately 92% of the passengers were sleeping?”)

My cab driver on the way to my hotel was a chatty feller who put on Europe’s “The Final Countdown” at full blast and started asking me questions, some of which pertained thereto. A snippet from that exchange:

Cab Driver: Do you like this kind of music?
Me: 80s metal? Sure. Why not.
Cab Driver: (Sings along with Final Countdown)
Cab Driver: (Puts on “I was made for loving you” by Kiss). You like?
Me: Kiss? Sure. What’s not to like? (I actually hate them with all of my soul, but I didn’t feel I needed to get into that).
Cab Driver: They gay?
Me: I’m sorry, what?
Cab Driver: They gay? They homosexual?
Me: (Thinking perhaps I’m in a dream of some sort). I don’t think so. Gene Simmons talks an awful lot about how many women he’s slept with (maybe he wasn’t referring to Gene Simmons? I’ve certainly never heard anyone posit that Paul Stanley was gay. Or the other 2 who now rotate based on their current state of addiction. But then it gets into my brain that if Gene Simmons WERE gay, and was covering that fact up, wouldn’t the best way to cover it up be to talk in-freaking-cessantly about how many women he’s had sex with? Perhaps he doth protest too much?)
Cab Driver: They not gay?
Me: They’ve never told me they’re gay, no.
Cab Driver: You like this Lionel Ritchie? “Hello….is it meee you’re loooooking forrrrrr????”

And then we arrived at the Marriott Amsterdam….