Friday Mish-Mash: US Air Crash, Marriott Rumors, Taliban Video, etc


US Airways Plane Crashes in Philly. No Injuries Are Reported

A US Airways Airbus A320 crashed during takeoff at Philadelphia International Airport within the past hour.

Flight 1702 was on the runway taking off en route to Fort Lauderdale when a tire blew out, a US Airways spokesman told Frequent Business Traveler.

There were no injuries were reported, according to the airline.

A witness to the crash, posting in the FlyerTalk discussion forum, said that, at approximately 6:26 p.m. local time, he saw the plane “get 30-50 feet in the air, then come down and bounce on the runway, then be airborne for another 2-3 seconds, then land with more weight towards the front landing gear.”

The front landing gear then collapsed and sparks were visible on the runway.  The plane then skidded further on the runway with light white smoke visible for at least 10 minutes thereafter.

A passenger, Dennis Fee, posted a photo of the evacuation on Twitter, writing “Plane just crashed. But we are ok.”

In the picture, passengers were seen carrying bags off the plane during the evacuation, disregarding crew instructions to “leave everything” behind

Marriott Rewards Rumors Mill

Folks, the new trend is in town, and it’s disgusting!

According to this Loyalty Traveler’s post, Marriott Rewards is about to drastically devalue their loyalty program. Drastically, I tell you, and don’t you grammarians dare going after me for split infinitives!

Wait, did I say “new trend”? Of course, I meant the old trend. There is nothing new about this trend, unfortunately.

Here is what’s going to happen according to Loyalty Traveler who, in turn, had found the rumors of the upcoming doom in this Marriott Rewards Insider Thread where a user called takethehighroad (why couldn’t I come up with a cool nick?) made the following statement.

I recently spoke with someone who works at Marriott and he said there may be radical changes coming to MR that will be announced later this Spring and take effect in 2015.   The changes being discussed include:

  • The points required for award stays will be increased by at least 5,000 points per night across all levels and the 5th night free will disappear.  Category 10 will be added and require 60,000 points per night (read mass devaluation),
  • a new level will be announced above Platinum and the requirements will be formally revealed. (i.e. everyone will know how to achieve PP, if that is what it is called)
  • New benefits for Gold, Plat, and the new PP will be announced.  These will include things like confirmed suite upgrades (for the new PP), instant upgrades using online check-in, free breakfast (including resorts for the new PP ), free parking, and free “lifestyle events,” at the hotels during your stay,
  • The offerings in the concierge lounges in NA will be enhanced and will include free beer, wine and spirits where local laws permit.
  • However, Concierge lounge access will be eliminated for Golds and Plats unless upgraded to the concierge level rooms.  (Gold and Plats will continue to receive free continental breakfast in the restaurant or points.)
  • MR is looking at different models for awarding elite status including annual hotel spend, instead of nights stayed (similar to Delta’s and United FF requirements for elite status).  Spend in bars and restaurants will be included.  Deeply discounted rates, such as Government Rates, group and convention rates,  and special promotion rates will not count towards the spend requirement.

Now, we’ve been through some traumatic experiences before. Last year, I brought you Hilton HHonors Armageddon. Oy!

Then there was Club Carlson Category Changes (Radisson, Park Inn, Country Inn): Good News for a Change (pun intended)!

Then just a couple of weeks ago Monday Mishmash: Manufactured Spend, Club Carlson and SPG Changes, New Alaska Card, etc.

For some reason, however, I’ve never felt compelled to write about Marriott Rewards, even though they devalued their points badly last year.

The reason why I’m shaking my head in disbelief right now is that if true, that means Marriott is about to bring us some very bad news second year in the row. At least, Hilton giveth something, not just taketh away. Yes, they devalued their most luxurious properties, but at the same time they reduced levels for  a lot of mid-tier hotels. SPG badly devalued their program last year, but this time arond, they’ve kinda made up for that. Club Carlson did the opposite. They’ve devalued their program this year, but a year ago, the changes were generally good.

So what the hell are you trying to achieve, Marriott? You wanna piss off as many people as you can reach? Are you becoming Delta envy?

Let’s heed Rick’s advice, though, and see what happens when it happens.

Take all these proposed changes with a wink and a nod or perhaps a stiff drink since at this time these changes are only a rumor and not directly from Marriott.

However, if the rumors turn out to be true, that really sucks. Marriott Rewards is extremely weak already. If they really go ahead with this nonsense, I say the hell with them. Burn and run!

United cracks down on oversized carry-ons

According to the article quoted in the title, United is going to end the practice of sneaking in oversized bags unfit for the overhead compartment. Since I try to avoid checking my bags, no matter whether I pay for them or not, I’ve always felt that United has been more lenient in this respect than other airlines. But apparently, they have had enough.

United Airlines is getting tough on passengers with oversized carry-on bags, even sending some of them back to the ticket counter to check their luggage for a fee.

The Chicago-based airline has started a push to better enforce rules restricting the size of carry-on bags – an effort that will include instructing workers at security checkpoint entrances to eyeball passengers for bags that are too big.

In recent weeks, United has rolled out new bag-sizing boxes at most airports and sent an e-mail to frequent fliers, reminding them of the rules. An internal employee newsletter called the program a “renewed focus on carry-on compliance.”

While I loathe baggage fees as much as the next guy, I’m with United here. I hate it when I board the plane to find all the bins taken by other people’s luggage. Come on already: if you can’t pack a bag — check a bag, for Christ’s sake!

American and JetBlue frequent-mile partnership is going to end on April 1

AAdvantage members used to be able to earn miles for some JetBlue flights originating from the East Coast. Similarly, TrueBlue members were credited on some American international flights. Due to the merger with US Airways, it’s been expected from the beginning that this partnership would die sooner or later. Well, apparently it’s dying sooner. The good thing is that since I rarely buy revenue tickets anyway, I didn’t have to cry.

A Dude Gets Banned for Life from a Hilton Hotel 

OK, so I know this is old news, but I have a pathetic but logical excuse. I haven’t seen it until today. So if I’m the only one who’s laughing, please don’t hate me. Consider it my unique form of self-therapy.

So one Jason Payne is booking a room online and answering a bunch of questions. One of those questions is whether or not he’s traveling with pets, and the dude comes up with the only possible answer.

There’s a large trouser snake in my trousers. Hope that’s OK

The joke, according to Mr. Payne, was received very well at the reception desk, as “the woman at the reception just suddenly burst out laughing hysterically and appeared very amused”. A few days later, however, his luck would take a turn for the worse. He received a letter from Hilton Basinstoke hotel manager Cathryn Wurst banning him from ever staying at her property again.

As you will understand, the booking comment made on your booking: “There’s a large trouser snake in my trousers. Hope that’s OK” is neither appropriate when making a hotel booking, nor is it funny.

I respectfully disagree. Yes, it was inappropriate. And yes, it was funny. Ms. Wurst continues:

As a hotel, like any other employer, we do not accept this kind of harassment of our team members and I would therefore like to let you know that we will not be able to accept any future bookings from yourself.

While I find such a drastic response to be enormously idiotic, I’m sure it makes a lot of sense to Ms. Wurt and Hilton lawyers. My prayers are with Mr. Payne, but I’m sure he will survive. There are fates much worse than being banned from Hilton Basinstoke Hotel. Where the hell is it anyway?

Wyndham to Give Away 10 Million Rewards Points

In celebration of Whyndam Rewards 10th anniversary, they are giving away 20 free nights (Grand Prize), as well as 100 free nights monthly for 10 lucky winners. You can enter once daily until Dec 31, 2014.

I really dislike Wyndham Rewards. Devaluing your program without giving your members any grace period whatsoever is seriously far out. This kind of behavior doesn’t just take loyalty out of a loyalty program. It also puts a bullet in the back of its head, and dumps it’s corpse in a ditch. Good job, Wyndham!

So why would I post this Wyndham promo here? Because I can. Well, that and also because it doesn’t take too much work, and you can even win something. If you are a Wyndham member, you can as well get something for free, I guess. I’m not, so I won’t start now because of some stupid promotion.

And finally see what happens when…

Taliban Interview Goes Wrong

You absolutely and I mean, absolutely, must watch this video. If you don’t, you’ll never be able to forgive yourself.


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