Monthly Archives: March 2014

United Club Amenity: Payphone!

I had no idea that the United Club in Newark by Gate 80 had such new technology. Anyone have a dime I can borrow?


Today Is Apparently the Last Day to Use Credit Cards for Vanilla Reloads at CVS

As is being widely reported (I apologize that I don’t even know where this originally was posted), but today (March 30th) is the last day that you can use credit cards to purchase Vanilla Reloads at CVS. There was pretty much no way this was going to last forever, and apparently forever ends today.

There’s been hope on other blogs that this is one big April Fool’s Joke, which would be impressive, but unfortunately it’s not. A friend went to his local CVS last night and confirmed that this change is real. My friend (D-lux!) has been using the old version of the Amex Blue to earn 5% cash back at the drugstore to manufacture something like upwards of $400/month cash back. I believe his pillow was soaked in tears last evening.

There are, of course, other ways to manufacture spend, but for many folks nothing generated as much, as easily, as this.

I’m looking forward to the contrarian blog posts saying how this is a good thing…

You Should Probably Just Cancel Your Avios Booking Instead of Paying a Change Fee

Here’s a quirky thing I somehow just learned about Avios bookings:

I made a booking for a friend using Avios miles and I wanted to change one of the flights. Changing the flight would cost $40. If I canceled the itinerary and just booked it again, they would only charge $5 for the cancellation fee. Both flights still had availability, I cancelled and re-booked, which saved me $35. I have no idea why they do that, but I just thought I’d pass along.

Delta to Launch JFK – Honolulu Nonstop Service for Christmas Season

Delta will launch nonstop JFK – Honolulu service from December 18th through January 4th on a 767-400 aircraft with lie-flat seats up front. The service does not operate December 24, 25 and 31st.

There’s mid-level award availability in coach, and, from what I see, mid-level business class on the outbound and, incredibly, low-level business class award seats on the return (so 125,000 round trip).

Departs JFK at845am and arrives Honolulu at 343pm.
Departs Honolulu at 515pm and arrives 8am the next day.

United Upgrades to 767-400ER on Houston – Honolulu So You’ll Get Lie-Flat Business Class

For travel from April 1 to June 14th, United is upgrading its aircraft on the Honolulu-Houston route from the 777-200 with the domestic first class seating to a 767-400ER with lie-flat BusinessFirst seating. For those looking for a comfortable option to Hawaii, there ya go.

Sadly, best of luck getting award seats up front though – I see a couple of dates in April and no dates at all in June.

Turns Out British Airways Will Reinstate Your Expired Points

So I was going to make a booking yesterday using Avios points and I signed into my wife’s account (because I can’t remember which account is hers and which is mine, and it doesn’t really matter since you can combine the points), and I was ever-so-slightly surprised to see that there were exactly 0 miles in the account. This was surprising because previously there were 105,000 points in that account, and I don’t remember spending 105,000 points on any trips.

I go to investigate.

Me (to wife): Do you remember getting an email, or a letter, or a call or some form of communication from British Airways that your points were expiring?
Wife: No.
Me: No you don’t remember, or no you didn’t get one?
Wife: I didn’t get one. I get stuff all the time. I don’t remember. I thought you took care of this stuff.

I return to the screen and see that sure enough there’s a notation that in January 105,000 miles expired and they’re now gone, and I’m starting to sweat and I’m trying very hard not to swear (not at anyone, mind you, but just in general), and Scarlett walks in to the office:

Scarlett: Hi daddy. Want to see a magic trick?
Me: Um. What?
Scarlett: Want to see a magic trick?
Me: (Hyper-aware of the “Cats in the cradle and the silver spoon…” situation where I’m too busy for my kids until I later discover that they’re too busy for me…) Um, I’m kinda busy, but I’m happy to see it. Oh wait, did you make my Avios points disappear?
Scarlett: What?
Me: Nothing, show me the trick.
Scarlett: What are Avios points?
Me: They’re frequent flyer miles. It’s nothing, I was joking. Show me the trick.
Scarlett: Why are they called points if they’re frequent flyer miles?
Me: It doesn’t matter.

(She shows me the trick)

I call British Airways and according to the lovely woman on the phone, who had a British accent that makes everything seem more pleasant, they will re-deposit the points (for free!) and that I’ll then have 3 months to have some activity in the account to extend the expiration date. I can just move some points between my account and my wife’s, and everything will once again be right with the world.

Moral: Sometimes you just have to ask to get what you want.
Moral 2: No matter how annoyed I am, it’s always better to watch the magic trick.

Amex Business Gold Rewards: Up to 75,000 Points After $5,000 Spend in 3 Months

American Express has an offer today for up to 75,000 Membership Rewards points on their Amex Business Gold Rewards card when you spend $5,000 in 3 months (the typical offer is for 25,000 points after $2,000). I saw the ad below when I went to sign into Yahoo.

You’ll earn 3X points on airfare and 2X points on gas. It’s free the first year, and $175 after. I don’t think it’s worth keeping around, but if you get the 75k offer, I’d jump on it (I’ve gotten it in the past, so I’m no longer eligible).

To see if you’ll receive 25k, 50k or 75k, you’ll need to go to this link, then fill out some information about your business (or “business”, as the case may be). Given that they’re asking for your address, I would guess that you’ll be receiving some mail from them and they’ll be selling your info. I put in a fake business and address to see what it would do, and I received the 25k offer. Eh.

Good luck.


Let’s Talk about a Few New Routes

– JetBlue will launch service from Albany, NY, to Orlando and Ft Lauderdale sometime in 2015, a move that I’m sure was made to keep NY lawmakers off their backs elsewhere.

– This Hebrew-language article suggests that American Airlines will launch flights between Miami and Tel Aviv in 2015.

– Air Canada has suspended service to Caracas, Venezuela, because of ongoing civil unrest in the country.

– Virgin America will end Nerd Bird service between San Jose (CA) and LAX.

– Delta continues to grow its presence at LAX, adding new flights to Austin, Boise, and San Salvador.

Go! Hawaii Airlines Will Shut Down April 1st

The very, very difficult Hawaiian market claimed another casualty when Go! Hawaii Airlines announced that it will shut down on April 1st. Passengers will be accommodated on Hawaiian Airlines.

Go! entered the market 8 years ago thinking it could kick some ass by charging $1, then $19, to fly between islands. They successfully drove poor Aloha Airlines out of the market, then tried to compete with Hawaiian Airlines on its own. Not so much. It has less than 7% marketshare (while Hawaiian has an absurd 85% and charges about $79 each way).

The carrier is owned by Mesa Air Group, which has had enough of the nonsense in Hawaii, and will re-deploy the aircraft to serve as United Express and US Airways Express aircraft on the mainland, where they can actually make a profit.

22 Thoughts While Waiting Out a Delay at the O’Hare Terminal B United Club

1) Shit
2) There are actually electrical plugs in here???
3) Cappuccino maker? Sweet!
4) No shortbread? Not sweet.
5) The Malaysia Airlines plane turned around and kept flying for 5 hours?????
6) Let’s look at the board and see where else in the world I would go today if I weren’t going home…OK, Fargo.
7) Damn, that torta at Frontera is really, really good – like, actual good, not airport good.
8) How could I franchise that?
9) How much money do I even have? I know Susan keeps asking me that. I should probably know the answer. Especially if I’m going to quit my job and open a sandwich place.
10) Yogurt-covered raisins.
11) If I were a vegetable, which vegetable would I be? Maybe celery.
12) Mental note: I need to shill for credit cards more on the blog.
13) Zzzzzzzzzzz
14) I should wipe that drool off the desk.
15) Wait – that plane DIDN’T turn around and keep flying? How long was I asleep for? At this point, shouldn’t CNN just be saying, “We will stop talking about this story until we have a clue what is going on.”
16) I wonder what that guy is working on on his computer.
18) Walk around
19) I’ve run out of stuff to read on the Internet.
20) Whenever there’s a terrible weather situation delaying flights, there’s always one lonely flight that doesn’t suffer the delays. Every flight to the NY area was either canceled or on a 3-hour delay. Except the 1pm to LaGuardia – left on time. Weird.
21) Hm, when I land in Europe at 7am, there’s always a gregarious group of people at the bar, drinking. I never see that in the US.
22) Why do people complain about kids in Clubs when the only child in here is silent watching a movie, while every adult is on a conference call?