Monthly Archives: June 2013

Friday Roundup: Aeroflot; Park Hyatt Siem Reap; Fake Pilot, and More

– Aeroflot says that it gets no benefit from being in SkyTeam and wants out. They’re especially annoyed with Delta (said someone at Aeroflot, “There is no point in cooperating with them…”).

– For some reason a Qantas ground worker dressed up as a pilot and sat in the cockpit of an A380 during a flight from Sydney to Dubai.

– The Park Hyatt Siem Reap (near Angkor Wat in Cambodia) opens August 1st, and it’s only a Category 4 so you can grab a room there for just 15,000 points. I was there a dozen years ago before the hotel building boom and the idea that there’s a Park Hyatt there just seems funny to me.

– Singapore Airlines will begin serving schmancy Illy Monoarabica coffee in premium cabins.

– And finally, I’m an airline livery guy, and I do love the new Iraqi Airways colors here (sorry, they won’t let me embed…)

Seriously, This Is Why You Don’t Churn Cards Before You Buy a House (Or Condo…Or Co-op)

If you’ve read any advice about churning credit cards, you’ve probably tripped across someone telling you that you should not churn cards for the year or two before you plan on buying a house. It’s sound advice, though I know lots of people don’t bother following it, especially when there’s hysteria around an extra 10,000 points for a sign up.

Here’s a real-world example of why this is great advice:

I’m on the board of my co-op building, and at last night’s board meeting we were reviewing the finances of someone who was refinancing in our building. When going through the person’s application we were looking at their credit report, and on the report it says, “the number of inquiries on the consumer’s credit file has adversely affected the credit score.”

I know that my own credit report contains that language (probably because of the dozen-plus cards I’ve applied for over the past year), and that it’s simply stating that I’ve been dinged some points because of the number of inquiries (it doesn’t mention the increase in score from having open, unused credit).

A couple of board members brought this up as a concern, questioning why so many cards have been opened, and why the credit bureau called it out.

If you’re a churner, you have an easy-enough explanation for that, but if you have a board that’s quick to make a decision, you may not even get a chance to explain yourself. Hence – if you’re going to buy a house within the next 2 years, please do not churn cards.

(Or to paraphrase Arrested Development: And that is why you never churn credit cards when you’re going to buy a house).

Final DC-10 Scheduled Passenger Flight is December 1st


Oh wait, that’s not what I was about to write. Hard not to get up in the excitement of 241 articles about that. I was writing for you plane geeks who might want to grab a seat on the last scheduled DC-10 flight.

Biman Bangladesh, the last DC-10 passenger flight operator, will be retiring their final 3-engine bird when they receive 777-300ERs to replace their DC-10s.

The last flight will depart Abu Dhabi on December 1st at 1am, make an intermediate stop in Sylhet, Bangladesh, before touching down a little after 9am in Dhaka. You can purchase that Abu Dhabi – Dhaka flight for just $200, which seems like a bargain until you consider you’ll be flying a 30-year old plane in coach in the middle of the night. Whatever. It’s a chance to be a part of history, unless they don’t take delivery of the 777s, and they just continue flying the DC-10s for a while.


Stories You Missed…And Didn’t Miss…This Week

Lots happened this week, and you may have missed some of it. And some of it there’s no way you missed, but I’m going to repeat it here anyway:

Something You Missed:
– The new (and improved?) PeoplExpress purchased XTRA Airways, a big step toward actually launching/re-launching the new/old airline. XTRA is an Idaho-based charter carrier, that was acquired for its FAA certificate (and 5 737-400s). Looks like PeoplExpress will actually get off the ground. The XTRA name will continue to exist for charter operations.

Something You Didn’t Miss:
– United added a revenue requirement (like Delta did) to earn Elite status going forward (details here). The revenue requirement (except for 1K) is waived when you spend $25k/year on a United credit card. I didn’t miss that United frequent flyers complained that there were too many Elites; then they complained again when United introduced this program that will cull the low-spend Elites from the rolls. This just shows the First Rule of Airline Policies (FRAP): Whatever change an airline makes to a policy, people will complain about it vocally.

– Norwegian Airlines, which has recently introduced long-haul flying to its short-haul budget repertoire, has gained a bit of notoriety when a story came out that they refused to give a teenager a blanket on an overnight flight because he only had cash, and not a credit card, to pay for the blanket. They also took back a cup of coffee from a woman on a Bangkok-Oslo flight after she did not have a credit card to pay for the drink, and then refused to give her anything to eat for 12 hours.

Didn’t Miss:
– Oh, did you know that the Chase Ink cards increased their bonus by 10,000 points for a few days? No? Then you must have missed the 2,308 mentions in every blog on the Internet.

– Delta’s CEO gave up his seat on a sold out flight so a standby passenger could get on board. Then he collected the $75 standby fee. (Just kidding…probably).

– Delta is offering a bit of a sale on award tickets to select destinations in the Caribbean and Latin America. Book by June 24th for travel September 3 – December 13th and it’s 30,000 miles for a roundtrip ticket instead of 35,000 miles.

– When you’ve gotten a US Airways credit card, have you gotten an offer a month later where they’ll give you 15,000 bonus miles when you spend $750/month for 3 months? I’ve had the card a few times and I’ve always gotten that offer. Now I think of that card as 50,000 bonus miles after $2,250 spend rather than 35,000 miles for no spend.

Didn’t Miss:
– Did you know there are lots of things you can do with the 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points you’ll get from the Chase Ink Bold? No? Then you haven’t read the 2,308 stories about what you can get with those points. Tsk Tsk.

$400 Off Upper Class and Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic thru Jetsetter

Jetsetter is offering (basically) $400 off an Upper Class or Premium Economy ticket between Newark or JFK and London for departures through August 31st. The actual deal is that you buy a $1,000 voucher for $600 (ie, $400 off).

Tickets are only good on the 745am flight out of Newark and the 830pm return flight to Newark (ie, the flights you don’t want); or the 725am departure from JFK and the 805pm return from London (ie, the other flights you don’t want).

Summer Premium Economy tickets run about $1800 before the discount and Upper Class tickets are about $2500 before the discount, so it’ll make that Premium Economy ticket close to the regular Coach price. Not bad.

Details on the deal are here.

If you need a Jetsetter Invitation, you can click through here.

Yes, Chase Will Give You the 60,000 Points for Recent Ink Bold and Ink Plus Apps

As discussed ad infinitum, Chase has upped the bonus on Chase Ink Bold and Ink Plus to 60,000 points. I had applied for (and received) an Ink Plus about 2 months ago and hit the minimum spend on it already when this promo launched.

I was initially a tad annoyed, but I sent the fine folks at Chase a secure message yesterday asking whether they could match the 60,000 point offer. Within a few hours they wrote back and offered me an extra 10,000 points to match the offer.

Lesson? I have no idea. But if you’ve recently (I have no idea what “recently” means here – certainly in the past few months) gotten an Ink Bold or Ink Plus, you should sent Chase a secure message asking them to match the 60k offer.

You Can Now Convert Marriott Points to American Airlines Miles (Though the Exchange Rate Is Terrible)

Marriott is now part of the American Airlines Aadvantage program (so you can once again earn AA miles when you stay at Marriott hotels). But the interesting (?) news to come from this is that you can now convert points from Marriott Rewards to AAdvantage miles.

The exchange rate is awful, but it may be useful if you need to top off your AA account and you have a few stray Marriott points sitting around:

10,000 points = 2,000 miles
20,000 points = 5,000 miles
30,000 points = 10,000 miles
70,000 points = 25,000 miles
140,000 points = 50,000 miles

I told you, it’s not good. But it may come in handy at some point…

Details here.

Sniqueaway Brand Will Disappear at the End of June and Be Folded into Jetsetter

Oh wait – what’s Sniqueaway? Sniqueaway is/was Tripadvisor’s foray into the hotel flash sale business. Remember back in 2008 when a whole bunch of hotel flash sales launched? Yeah, none of them have done so well. Tripadvisor bought Jetsetter for a song a month ago, and rather than run two sites side-by-side, at the end of the month they will drop the Sniqueaway brand and fold it into has the full story here.

Don’t Forget about Costco for Car Rentals

The family and I are headed to Maui in August, and I’ve been looking at renting a convertible. The biggest issue with renting a convertible is that many of the discounts out there exclude convertibles. That’s a bummer.

The least expensive I could find for my dates was hovering around $425, which actually wasn’t terrible. Then I remembered that others have said that both Chase Ultimate Rewards and Costco often have extremely good pricing on rental cars. Great. First stop, Ultimate Rewards.

While I’ve found them to have pretty solid rental car deals, for whatever reason they don’t offer convertibles. No idea why.

Second stop, You don’t have to be a member to use the site, but you do have to be a member to actually make the reservation. For this trip, Costco had the same convertible (from Budget, in this case) for $310 – $115 cheaper than anywhere else. That more than covers the annual cost of Costco membership right there.

Just thought I’d remind everyone about that option….

Just a Quick Reminder about Credit Card Companies Bumping Bonuses

I just wanted to remind everyone that credit card companies are often (though not always) happy to match a higher bonus that’s available after you’ve applied.

This isn’t new news by any means, but I received an email from one of my credit card planning clients yesterday to say that he had applied for a Southwest Visa 2 weeks ago where the bonus was 25,000 points. After he saw the post here about Southwest now offering 50,000 points, he called Chase at (888) 245-0625 and they agreed to give him the higher bonus.

Like I said, it doesn’t always work, but just remember that if you see higher bonuses, always call.