I spent a week without internet in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, well, except for a grabbing some unprotected wi-fi from outside the local telecom’s office in Honiara. I didn’t miss much in the miles and points world, would have been nice to take advantage of the Delta/SkyTeam 15% off via Alitalia offer but it looks like people really had to work for that 15% and there would have been few trips I could have confirmed in that short space of time.
First the Australia updates (see prior column).
The Virgin Australia Airpass worked wonderfully to get me to the Solomons and PNG. Wonderfully, not cheaply, but slightly less exorbitantly than other options. The Airpass does not earn Velocity points and there is no way to add a frequent flyer number online but with some determined efforts by a helpful gate agent, my Delta SkyMiles number got on the reservation and the mileage posted in full (100% flown, 100% MQMs). Slightly lessens the sting of the ticket price.
My company took care of the US-Australia airfare on Korean Airlines, so I could keep it within SkyTeam. Korean’s pricing strategy interests me, over several years of watching US-Asia and intra-Asia flights they are consistently 25-50% higher on coach tickets but as much as 50% less on business class tickets. For this NY-Melbourne trip they were 48% under all others. I do not have much experience with other non-Chinese major Asian carriers so cannot compare, but Korean is solid, coach is great, business class they do not shower with attention and are rather stiff, the first class seat is easy to mistake for business class so would not pay the incremental cost.
Look for forthcoming posts on the Virgin Australia Airpass and Korean Air.
I had two stays at the Quality Hotel Melbourne Airport and the awesome staff held my suitcase of work stuff for over a week, many thanks to them. My first stays at a Choice Hotels property and my newly minted Choice Privileges have not had a single point post, the first stay was two weeks ago, so time to follow-up. Jimmy at Travel by Points pointed me their Earn a Free Night promotion so I have a little more at stake.
The regular grind of follow-ups are the heart of miles and points, upon return I had a number of lingering things to check:
- Thanks Again text offers, 1,000 MileagePlus bonus, nearing the 6-8 time from my August 10 enrollment, not yet posted.
- Bose 2,500 Membership Rewards points offer finally fulfilled by email, had to input the cert and a few days later the points posted.
- Starwood American Express Refer-a-Friend 5,000 point bonus, this took multiple secure messages to finally get one bonus. There are frequent reports of these points not posting so watch them like a hawk. Amex will investigate 8 weeks following card approval.
- Air Niugini flights have not yet posted to Qantas. Not a shock. Those points will be orphaned anyway.
Car rentals. Always a headache. Lately I broke my pattern of prepaid rentals (Priceline or Capital One) to take advantage of the great summer AAdvantage miles bonus offer with Avis. My August rental posted the 5,000 bonus miles but had issues with other mysterious charges that I was able to catch and resolve on-site. Late August that offer was extended to September 15 and I was concerned about my Sept 1 rental, (booked after the extension) would not post correctly, and it did not. Sent a follow-up this weekend. Of my non-prepaid rentals across multiple agencies I see a disconcertingly high percentage of billing errors, always in favor of the agencies, so ALWAYS CHECK THE BILL BEFORE YOU WALK AWAY! Much easier to resolve in person. For some small rental locations or after-hours with only key drop off, I try to find an employee to print my statement.
Points, Miles and Martinis opened a discussion on the bidding for Delta’s Voluntary Denied Boarding Vouchers. There is little transparency on this, most reports are that the gate agents do not see the amount and issue whatever they plan to issue anyway. Each time I have tried this my flights have not needed volunteers.
Mommy Points posted about a low-hassle way to save 5% on United flights, membership through Veteran’s Advantage. There are caveats to the discount and membership is limited to certain categories of servicepeople and family. The comments explored the ethics of joining, one commenter, Doug, a member suggested ‘the more the merrier’ in terms of the organization’s ability to get discounts for its members. He also mentioned the 15% Amtrak discount and referred to the two-part interview with Venterans Advantage CEO Scott Higgins in The Military Frequent Flyer (parts 1 and 2). I do not fly United, if I start, I will have to consider the ethics of this in detail as I do not qualify.