As you know (or not) I don’t normally repost info that can be found in major blogs unless I can add something substantial to what has already been said. I used to run some weekly digests, which I quit because it wasn’t — I don’t know — satisfying.
And yet, after 1.5 years of the pandemic, the planet is starting spinning again. From new eye-popping credit card bonuses to massive flight cancellations to hotels finding even more ways to screw their customers — the latest weeks have been, err, eventful. So I’m going to try and bring you a substantive digest of the most important and interesting stuff from the travel and travel-related blogosphere every weekend until I get bored again.
Before I forget: I always try to link or attribute to the primary source whenever it’s possible. When I can’t find the primary source (or the info is insufficient, like in some press releases), my links or HT go either to:
- the blogger or author where I read it first or
- the blogger or author with the best quality write-up.
And yes, the latter is very subjective. Please, don’t hate me.
Chase and Air Canada Aeroplan
Before very recently, there were only two credit card programs — AmEx Membership Rewards and Capital One Miles — that allowed you to transfer points to Air Canada (well, there is also Diners Club, but it’s been closed to new applications for years). Now cardholders with Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, and Ink Business Preferred also have an option to transfer their points to the Air Canada Aeroplan. This makes the Ultimate Rewards even more valuable, although to me it was already the most valuable credit card rewards program, even before that addition.
Chase and Air Canada have also partnered up for a new credit card that would be launched in the near future. You can register today to reserve an additional 10,000 miles to the upcoming card’s welcome bonus. There is no downside or obligation to apply for the card, so I don’t see why not register just in case.
Yet another Delta “flash” sale, this time to Europe. No Business Class, but the 34,000-mile per RT redemption is stunningly low if you’re willing to tough it up in Economy, LOL.
Spirit can’t figure out how to keep flying planes
Spirit, the airline Americans hate to fly and love to hate, is still nixing flights on an epic scale after days of massive delays and cancellations. But at least the CEO is sorry. That’s comforting (not).
Did you know that Alaska miles can be redeemed on Qatar now? Did you also know that the redemption rates are abysmal? What do these two facts add up to?
Not. Real. News.
Speaking of Alaska, Frequent Miler posts about the 67,000-mile bonus for the BoA Alaska personal card and the 60,000-mile bonus for the Alaska Business Card. That’s 2,000 miles more than the regular 65,000-mile bonus. Well, a mile is a mile; I wouldn’t throw them back, would you?
Keep in mind that in order to get the full 67,000-mile bonus you must spend $8,000 in total in six months. Also keep in mind that getting the Alaska Business Card may be harder than it seems. I’ve gotten denied recently despite having a “legitimate” business and very few new personal cards in the last two years.
People buying intra-Europe flights know that paying for Business Class within Europe is more often than not a waste of miles or money, since most European airlines just block the middle seat in the front section and call it
a day Business Class. I know of two exceptions: Aeroflot and Turkish, which fly real business class in Europe similar to domestic First in the U.S. So I was surprised when Head for Points pointed out an even better option if you happen to fly to / from London.
Over a year ago I posted a story about TU-114 — the first (and oh so beautiful!) modern era aircraft with lie-flat seats. Here is a little bit of aviation history from Simply Flying about another Soviet gem, TU-144. That supersonic flew its inaugural flight two months before the Concord. I guarantee you’ll love the pictures!
This week Amtrak has delivered the good news and the bad news. Here is the good news.
And here is the bad news.
Actually, they discontinued transfers to Choice back in May, but transfers to Hilton, according to Greg, the Frequent Miler, were available until recently. It’s not that there was any value in it (and it was difficult to use anyway), but axing benefits without as much as the courtesy of prior notice is really, truly disturbing. Which is why every time I read a comment on the internet that starts with “I’ve been a loyal <insert the name of the “loyalty” program> member”– I can’t help sighing.
Just kidding. 🙂
Hotel chains are often caught between guests who can vote with their feet and the franchisees who can vote with their feet too. However, when franchisees refuse to provide the elite customers with benefits they (the customers) are owed due to their elite status, and the headquarters says, well, too bad — that issue has a name: Marriott Bonvoy. Here is a good read from VFTW for every “loyal” Marriott fanboy .
I might disagree with Gary on a lot of things, but this article is right on point. Treating one’s franchisees as customers is wrong on every level.
Hyatt adds an option of redeeming points for vacation rentals, by DanDeals. The listings seem to be limited to Hawaii and Colorado, but hopefully they’ll keep extending to other states and perhaps countries.
Do you want an overwater bungalow for ~$300 total with breakfast? Here is an excellent find by God Save the Points, in the Maldives.
The rate above includes all taxes, and they have a half- or full board for not much more than that. I’ve never heard of the Standard Hotels, but I like what I see. If I were into this kind of vacation, I’d probably be all over it (as much as I hate paying cash for travel, LOL).
Remember how a year and a half ago we dreamed about the world reopening, and how the new vaccine would be available, and how we’d quickly achieve that herd immunity and defeat the virus and go back to our lives and sing kumbaya and play with unicorns and celebrate our resilience, our science, and the vitality of the human spirit…
Could any of us have imagined back then that there would be a great, safe vaccine available to everyone for FREE and yet 100 millions of grown-up, technically sane people would refuse to take it for no reasons, other than JUST ‘CAUSE?
In any case, it seems that the time for “pretty please” has passed. While the federal mandate doesn’t seem to be in the cards, antivaxxers are about to get pushed harder and harder to do the right thing.
In New York.
N.Y.C. Says No Soup For You Without Proof Of Vaccination, by Miles to Memories.
In LA probably soon.
In Cancun and elsewhere in Quintana Roo.
Cancun Hotels, Restaurants And Bars Now Require Vaccination Or Testing by God Save the Points
For entry to the U.S.
By private companies.
We will get there eventually. As soon as the CDC gives a full approval to the vaccines, the push will become too hard to ignore, I hope.
George of the Travel Blogger Buzz fame doesn’t need an introduction. He is a devoted hobbyist and bona fide financial guru who runs a great eclectic blog, which is only partially related to travel. He has a knack for finding some obscure, fascinating things you won’t see anywhere else (or if you do, you’ll have to search in too many places). You should subscribe for it or check regularly because unlike yours truly, he’s ruthlessly efficient and usually posts three times a week. Here are some articles from this week I especially liked.
And there are more. Very highly recommended!
A small disclosure. George did commission a few articles from me in the past.
But he didn’t ask me to write this. 🙂
Of all “best road trips” posts I’ve perused, I really liked this one by John Munson. I liked how the material is organized and the route pictures are nicely done.
Visible is a little-known (for now) cell service provider working on the Verizon network. I have this service, which is why I noticed this article from Danny, the Deal Guru.
Visible has an ingenious marketing scheme. They don’t give discounts for family plans. Instead, you need to sign up three other friends or more, and each of you get unlimited service for $25 a month. Plus there are usually other incentives, too. I think this is still the cheapest unlimited post-pay plan money can buy.
I have this plan and it works fine. There are occasional outages, but they’re quite rare, and all it takes is to restart the phone to resume the service. To be fair, I’ve had occasional issues (in Brooklyn) with all providers I’ve been with before, including T-Mobile and Sprint, so that’s not surprising. However, setting up my service was a maddening experience. They mixed up the name of my mom and my daughter, and that caused a huge problem; it took a BBB complaint to make them pay attention and resolve the issue. If you get an uncomplicated setup, it all works smoothly from then on, if not — be prepared.
I thought this post from Miles to Memories was worth paying attention to. We know that the AA family of Citi cards has the 48 months restriction already. So it’s not impossible that this is the direction the Citi Premier is moving in. I guess we’ll see.
And now just for fun
Do you know Russian director Ilya Naishuller? Of course you do (even if you don’t); he made Nobody and Hardcore Henry. But before Nobody, there was a mind-blowing short video clip Kolschik, the winner of the Webby Award.
The song is in Russian obviously, and you can turn on the English subtitles if you want to, but there is no need. The lyrics have absolutely nothing to do with the video, and the only Russian word you need to know is “bribe” as it appears on the marked bills in the fluorescent light.
Note: the clip is fairly bloody, so don’t watch if you’re averse to violence.
Otherwise, click “Watch on YouTube.”
Ok, so this was long. It won’t be always that long. But let me know if you’d like me to add or remove something anyway in future digests. I need your input.