On Friday, I came back from my second epic Asian trip (keep in mind, any trip that lasts more than 10 days is “epic” to me), and all I can say is “Wow”! Visited Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Hanoi, Halong Bay, and Dubai (albeit for only 12 hours). Flew on Emirates, Malaysia and Korean—all for the first time ever, attended the first ever TBEX Asia Conference, met a tonne of cool people, and saw places taken directly from the postcards. The reports are coming, although I haven’t finished my other reports for France, Germany, Iceland, and even Barcelona, which I visited back in Spring (incert the palmface of your choice here). What can I say? Not much. Working on them.
And by the way, my first, last-year “epic” Asia trip started here, in case you missed it.
So what did I come back to? An eclectic mix of bad news, good news, and no news at all.
British Avios Devaluation
Every time you hear the words “we’ll be making some changes”, you know you’re about to get screwed. How badly? Well, it’s not terminal. Remember, this is only about the U.S. flights that are shorter than 600 miles and only on American and Alaska. Does it affect excellent Air Berlin rates to Europe? No. Fantastic LAN domestic options in Peru? No. Alaska flights to Hawaii from the West Coast? No. Intra-Europe flights? No. Domestic flights in Australia and Japan? No. And if you’re flying between New York, Boston, and Washington, I have one word for you: Amtrak. After everything is said and done—meaning, cabs and passing security—Amtrak will save you time and money. In most cases anyway.
What sucks for me in this devaluation is not the devaluation itself, but the timing. They just did another devaluation in the Spring, for Christ’s sake! It’s like more and more airlines are pushing the envelope, testing what they can get away with (remember ANA?) Of course, it was Delta that championed this double-dipping first, but it seems that others are only too eager to follow.
New 50,000 Citi Prestige ThankYou Offer with the Lower Annual Fee
The regular Citi Prestige offer is 50,000 points for the $450 AF after spending $3,000 in the first three miles. According to Doctor of Credit, there is a better offer available, although you have to apply in branch: 50,000 points for $350. You used to be able to get 60,000 points in branch, but you would’ve had to spend $15,000 in the first year. Lower spend, even at the expense of 10,000 points is much more preferable, IMHO. Please note that in theory you have to be a Citigold Account holder, however, people have been able to get this offer without a hitch.
Barclaycard Hawaiian 50,000 Miles Offer
This is not exactly new, but somehow this offer slipped my mind completely. If you log on to your Hawaiian account, you will be met with this offer, valid until Nov. 31, 2015.
There are two things playing against Hawaiian. First, the $89 annual fee is not waived, and second, they are not exactly the most generous airline in the world. Using Hawaiian miles on their own metal or partners often requires more miles than using the respective partners’ currency. Even flights to Hawaii are cheaper on American, unless you are looking for a long non-stop between JFK and HNL where spending an extra 5,000 miles is justified.
The only exception might be Virgin America, as you will more often than not pay less in Hawaiian than Elevate miles. Still, if you can’t find a way to put your Hawaiian miles to a good use, just transfer them to Hilton HHonors at 1.5 ratio. You will get 75,000 Hilton points for $89, which is not a bad deal at all!
New IHG PointBreaks List is Now in Effect (until 01.31)
This is the first time in a long time when I’m not covering Point Breaks in the details, and not because they suck (though they do!), but because I was on the road and just couldn’t stay awake long enough to look for diamonds in the rough. Well, there are some, no, not diamonds, but gold dust sprinkled around this mostly useless list. Here are a few places that I find interesting. Remember that even if you don’t have IHG points, you can easily get them at $0.07 or less using the infamous IHG trick: book a place, cancel, pocket the points at $0.07 each. There used to be a few other properties on the list, such as IC in Cairo and Holiday Inn in Bali that are gone now. Hoarders, you know who you are!
I have heard good things from a friend who stayed at this Oregon resort before it was re-branded Holiday Inn. The published price hovers around $100.
It’s actually a great hotel, very convenient to Mount Rushmore, Badlands Park, and other attractions. $100.
Manaus is not a pleasant city, but it is the place to be if you want to explore the Amazon. $60+
Nicaragua is a hot eco-tourism destination right now. $80
Lille is an old historic city, and you’re getting a central location, too. $100+
Good, near central location $70+
Bratislava is not really touristy, but if you’re traveling by train between Vienna and Budapest, it’s on the way. 🙂 $70+
Just 3 miles to the city center. $100+
2 miles from the city center. $70+
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