Monthly Archives: February 2012

One Day Only: 75,000 Membership Rewards Points for Amex Business Gold Rewards Card

I only have a second, so here’s the deal:

Apply February 29th ONLY for an American Express Business Gold Rewards Card at THIS LINK and you’ll get 75,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $10,000 in 120 days.

If you’ve had the card before (as I have) you are not eligible.

First year fee waived, $175 thereafter.

(For those who care, I don’t get an affiliate referral for that link).

(Thanks for the heads up, every other blog…that’ll teach me to go get my teeth cleaned and not check Internet for 10 minutes)

Download Our Credit Card Management Spreadsheet

I’ve mentioned a few times that if you are getting involved with churning credit cards you will need to keep a spreadsheet to get a handle on your spend, the bonuses, when to cancel, etc.

A number of readers have asked me for a spreadsheet they can use to just that. A reader who is taking advantage of my free credit card churn planning service (plug) sent me all of his credit card data in a fantastic spreadsheet.

The spreadsheet includes space for you to fill in all of the info you need — credit card name, annual fees, bonus miles, spend required, opening date, and more. It automatically calculates the date when the annual fee kicks in, as well as the date you should cancel (11 months out) if you choose to do so.

You can download the credit card management spreadsheet here.

If you have suggestions for improvements or changes, let me know and I’ll update the spreadsheet.

(Thanks, Jim!)

Do NOT Park at EZWay Parking at Newark Airport

I know that people are always looking for a deal on parking at Newark Airport, and there are a number of lots there that charge $8/day (which is a great deal).

I have parked at EZ-Way before and not had a problem. We pre-paid 1 day in advance. However, when my wife went to retrieve our car today, they told her that they would not honor our rate. He then treated her with absolutely no respect, and raised his voice in front of our children. I was not there, but I am beyond livid.

May I recommend ABC Parking (which is right around the corner) and charges generally around the same rates. I know I will certainly never park at EZWay again.

Coast-to-Coast on United in First Class with No Food

A quick note about my United flight yesterday from Ft. Lauderdale to Palm Springs (via Houston):

I am not one to complain about first class service – as has been discussed here pretty extensively, I’m just happy for the additional legroom. And that’s still true, but I wanted to point out one odd thing about my trip yesterday — I was upgraded on both legs, and there was no food at all available from Ft. Lauderdale to Houston, and there was only a selection of snacks (ie, chips) from Houston to Palm Springs.

That’s correct, I flew in first class across the country and I was offered some potato chips.

There was some outrage in the cabin on the first leg, because there was literally no food at all – no pretzels, no nuts, nothing. It was a 215pm departure, so I can completely understand the lack of a meal. But I did find it odd (as did others) that there was not a morsel of anything to be found.

The second leg – a 3 hour flight on a regional jet – departed at 615pm, which is certainly a mealtime for most people.

This wasn’t an issue for me – I always pack my own food when I fly, which ensures I’m never disappointed by the selection.

But I was thinking about this: United charges $1,897 round trip for this flight. or nearly a $1400 premium over coach. I’m pretty sure that almost nobody believes the extra legroom is worth $1400 (and that’s all you’re getting, as both coach and first class received the same soda selection). Which can only mean this: United has decided that domestic first class is simply a freebie they throw at customers with Elite status. It’s not meant to be purchased (NYC/BOS/WAS to SFO/LAX excepted).

I give Spirit Airlines credit in this department — they sell essentially the same product and call it “Big Front Seat,” since all you get is a big front seat. United was offering the same, but calling it first class. Calling it “first class” has become an outdated misnomer. Funny enough, their “BusinessFirst” product, which by its name suggests a lower-level of quality, is actually the better product, with lie-flat seats and full meal service.

Perhaps the issue here is just the name — or the promise of what to expect when sitting in the front cabin. My flights were perfectly comfortable, and had they simply said that I was being upgraded to the Elite Cabin (or whatever), I would’ve been perfectly thrilled (and I was perfectly thrilled, since I brought food with me). But I don’t think it’s unreasonable for someone paying $1900 to fly across the country to be, at the very least, told that there would be no food at all during the 5 1/2 hours of flying.

Virgin America 20% Off Coupon for Spring Travel

Virgin America is offering a coupon for 20% off a flight Between April 11 and June 13. Here’s how you get the Virgin America promo code sent to you:

1) Go to this page

2) Fill out the short form

3) Get promo code in your email

4) Book your trip

Offer is good until February 29 or until they’ve sent 35,000 codes.

How iPads Have Changed The Lives of Parents Who Fly with their Kids

Just a quick note: I flew down to Florida with the girls (no wife) on Wednesday. We’ve flown with them lots, but I haven’t had the joy/opportunity of/to fly with them alone.

When we all flew together in December, I told Scarlett (age 5) to stop kicking the seat in front of her 17 times. How do I know? Because I counted and told her each time (ie, “That is the 13th time I’m asking you to stop kicking the seat in front of you.”) In her defense, at that age their feet stick straight out, and they’re pretty much bouncing all the time, so it’s not so much as they’re kicking the seat inasmuch as the seat is in the way of their foot that is constantly bouncing. Small consolation to the person in front of us, but there ya go.

I brought iPads for both the children on this trip, hoping that would help at least part of the 3 hours fly by quickly. I remember flying down to Florida to see my grandparents on Eastern L-1011s and trying (barely) to watch the movie on the screen 17 rows in front of my while sticking plastic tubes in my ears (space age!).

Scarlett took the iPad and watched movies for 3 straight hours (while plying herself with snack after snack). Sage pooh-poohed the iPad and watched a movie on her seatback ($6 well-spent). For people who travel with children, how much easier has it gotten over the past 2 years or so? Just a few years ago you had to pack a crate full of stuff to keep a 4 or 5 year old entertained on an airplane. An iPad filled with movies and games pretty much does the trick (fine, I’m a terrible parent. Sue me.) It makes everyone’s life on the plane vastly more pleasant.

I’ve also noticed that when I fly alone, I’m thinking about legroom and service and eating and all the other nonsense we bloggers tend to blah blah blah about. But honestly – the girls wanted me in the middle seat (horror!) and I gladly took it. I never noticed the pathetic 31″ pitch (no exit row with 3 year olds), and I took no food nor drink from the flight attendants. I don’t even remember if they came around to ask me. I was so thrilled that neither of the 2 were complaining about being bored or having to go to the bathroom 37 times, that it was the best flight I’ve had in a very, very long time (business class to Europe included).

I know that if you don’t have children this makes no sense whatsoever. But for those with kids, is there anything better than knowing your kids are occupied when you’re flying? (Read: that they’re not torturing you about boredom?) Thanks, iPad!

A Review of the Westin Diplomat in Haiku

Why read a 2,000 word review of the Westin Diplomat when 17 syllables will suffice?

High-floor rooms – great views
Elevators stop all floors
Makes 12 stops then mine

About the Continental OnePass Credit Card Going Away…

You may have read on every single site on the internet about the Continental OnePass credit card disappearing and how now is the last time you can apply, etc.

I wanted to give a shout out to Daraius at Million Mile Secrets for having an extremely level head about this whole thing. As he writes here, applying now could prevent you from getting a larger bonus in the future. You can read the details in that post, but I wanted to call it out as a smart way of thinking about why skipping this offer may be the best move for you.

See top reasons for choosing a Continental Airlines credit card at

SkyTeam Launches Pass So You Can Fly Around Africa

Some good news for people planning trips to Africa: SkyTeam has launched its Go Africa Pass, which will allow you to fly around the continent on Kenya Airways when you book a roundtrip SkyTeam flight to Africa, or a SkyTeam flight to Africa as part of a round-the-world itinerary.

You need to book your first African flight 3 days before the international departure, but your future flights can be book with no advance purchase. The get the pass, you must also fly a minimum of 3 legs within Africa, though you are allowed to double-back through cities you’ve already flown to.

The best part, though, is that you can buy the Go Africa pass if you’ve booked a frequent flyer ticket to Africa, not just a paid ticket. It’s a great way to extend your travel once you’re there.

Flight costs are based on distance flown, though they are up to 75% less than buying a regular fare ticket.

Today (February 22nd) Only: 20% Off JetBlue Flights

Sorry I didn’t get this in earlier – I was on a plane.

Today only, JetBlue is offering 20% off all flights for travel May 1 to June 13th. Use code SPRING12 when you check out on their site. Flights must originate in the US or Puerto Rico.

(Thanks to D-Lux for the heads up).