Monthly Archives: January 2013

US Airways 100% Mileage Purchase Bonus Is Live (Again)

US Airways’ seemingly never-ending promotion where you get double miles when you buy or gift miles is back again – It’s good through February 28th, and you’ll need to have a Dividend Miles account open for at least 12 days.

100,000 miles will cost you $1750, which is not something I’d do, but for lots of people it’s a cheap(er) way to buy business class seats to Europe (100,000 miles) or North Asia (90,000 miles).

Details here.

2 Airlines Shut Down: Goodbye, Caljet and OLT Express Germany

Two airlines you’ve never heard of announced shutdowns this week:

Caljet, a so-called “indirect” air carrier (its flights were operated by XTRA Airways), will fly its last flight on February 5th, less than a month after it launched. The charter company offered nonstop to Mazatlan, Mexico, from Denver, Houston, San Antonio, Los Angeles and Oakland. They blame timeshare owners (?) in Mazatlan for not buying tickets as quickly as the airline expected.

OLT Express Germany shut down after its parent company decided not to throw any more money at the airline after it suffered some financial setbacks. You will likely not remember that sister company OLT Express Poland closed up shop in mid 2012. OLT Germany flew these routes:

Hamburg – Dresden
Hamburg – Karlsruhe/Baden
Munich – Saarbrücken
Munich – Münster/Osnabrück
Zurich – Bremen
Zurich – Dresen
Bremen – Copenhagen
Bremen – Toulouse

$50 Marriott Gift Card, Just $40 (Today Only)

eBay is offering a $50 Marriott gift card for $40 as its deal of the day today (January 30th). It appears that you can buy as many as you’d like, and shipping is free.

For An Airline Nerd Like Me, This Sign Turned Out to Be a Big Letdown

Stupid zumba class.

Oh My God, Finally! British Airways Introduces Tea Designed for High Altitudes…My Dreams Have Come True!

What more can I add to this breathless press release:

British Airways and Twinings are promising to transform tea in the air with an innovative new blend of the drink, specifically designed to work at altitude. The British Airways signature blend tea will take to the skies from February 1, 2013 for customers in all cabins.

With research to prove that taste can be reduced by up to 30 percent at 35,000 feet, the airline commissioned Twinings to come up with a teabag that would taste as good in the sky as it does on the ground.

Kate Thornton, British Airways’ head of product and service said: “British Airways has decided to lead a campaign to improve tea in the air. With an incredible number of teas available from around the world, there is a real opportunity to create innovative new flavors, perfect for flight. At British Airways we serve 35 million cups a year and we are proud to have what we believe is the best traditional British cuppa in the air.”

It goes on like that for some time…

Targeted (I Think): Delta Gold Skymiles Amex with 40,000 Mile Bonus after $1,000 Spend

I know that Delta has had some targeted offers out there for better signup bonuses than the 30,000 mile bonus public offer.

I received an email yesterday (that suggested I was getting it because I live in New York) offering me a 40,000 mile bonus after $1,000 spend for the Delta Gold Skymiles American Express card. If you go to this link and fill in your Skymiles number you’ll see whether you’re eligible (as I said, I know there have been offers floating around, but I figured I’d point this one out as well).

No, This Isn’t a Good Idea: Aeroflot Crowd Sources a New Livery

Just when people are starting to learn that Aeroflot is not the horrible, 1970s Soviet wasteland that its reputation suggested (indeed, its planes are newer and have more amenities in coach than many US airlines), it has to go and do this:

They have created a contest where people can submit their own designs for Aeroflot’s planes. While they are not universally atrocious (see all of them here), they are almost universally atrocious. This site picks out their “favorites.”

Frankly, I think it’s hard to top this one:

(Thanks to reader Gloomy Joe for the heads up)

The Best Free United Domestic Upgrade

Before the merger with United, when I was flying Continental I would occasionally find myself on an internationally-configured 757-200 on a domestic flight. Those birds had great business class seats, and every once in a while when flying Newark-Ft Lauderdale or Newark-Las Vegas I would be pleasantly surprised to be upgraded into one of those great seats.

After the United merger, I haven’t seen an international 757-200 (with lie flat seats, now) on a domestic flight. Perhaps I was just unlucky, but a friend who frequently flies to Vegas also reports a dearth of them on that route.

So I was more than thrilled when I saw a couple of those guys flying Newark-Orlando. I’m flying down to Orlando today and chose this flight (far later in the day than I would have liked) because the 757-200 (int’l) was available. And though I’m flying on a $200 ticket, I’m upgraded into one of those lie-flat seats. United seems to be flying 2 or 3 of these a day (check the seatmap – it’s the 757 with 4 rows in business class, not 6) down to Orlando (with mine flying down in between flights to Lima, Peru).

I’ve read lots about how excited people are to fly JFK-Vancouver on Cathay because of their best-in-North-America business class seats (and those sure are fantastic). But you can’t get a free Elite upgrade on those – you can on the United 757-200 if you get lucky. As I just did.

I really did think this little perk was gone, so I’ll consider myself lucky to be lying down (at 5 in the afternoon?) on my way to visit a call center in Melbourne, Florida (yawn).

Starwood Increases Cash and Points Required for Cash and Points Awards

Starting March 5th, Starwood is increasing the requirements for Cash & Points awards. You can see the old and new rates below – they’ve increased required points and cash by roughly 10-20%. Not a huge deal, but still. That said, cash and points are a great option (I generally redeem them over full points when available).

On a positive note, they’re allowing cash and points for upgraded rooms and suites. I think my biggest surprise is that Category 1 hotels offer suites. On the category 4-5 hotels, the cash and points option for a suite is pretty reasonable in many cases because it will allow many families to get 1 room instead of 2 so the kids can fit.

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(Thanks to reader XF for the heads up)

Icelandair Allowing Redemptions on Alaska Airlines Again Beginning January 20

The biggest splash this site has ever made was when we wrote about the ability to buying Icelandair Saga points to redeem for cheap first class tickets to Hawaii. It was so successful that Icelandair stopped allowing it.

Gary at View from the Wing reports that Icelandair will allow points redemptions on Alaska Airlines again beginning January 20th, though at higher rates. Continental US and Canada are 25,000 miles for coach and 50,000 for First; Hawaii & Mexico are 40,000 in coach and 80,000 in First. Previously it was 20,000/30,000 for all flights.

You can buy Saga points at roughly $1.23 $.0123 per mile (I was an English major, sorry). That means that you can buy domestic first class tickets for $615 round trip within the US (assuming there’s availability for award tickets). That’s a pretty good deal in many cases.

This is also good news for everyone who found themselves stuck with Icelandair Saga points.

Happy to answer any questions.