My Week in Points December 16-22: churn admin, airline partners, blogs ruining the world


I like to imagine the day when airline partner flights post quickly and reliably. With Delta my recent China Eastern flights take at least a week, though the first has posted. Gol flights from November are still nowhere to be found, time to crank up the fax machine. I only have extensive experience with Delta, and for those I have had no issues with AeroMexico, Air France/KLM, Kenya and Korean. China Eastern and China Southern have gone well over the years, a handful of hitches out of many flights in past years. For Air Europa, not one of my few posted correctly. Virgin Australia it took quite a bit of effort to get my SkyMiles number on my Airpass reservation at each check-in, though every segment did post. Other partners I either haven’t flown or flew in NWA or pre-partner days. Thinking of the logistics and places people and systems can break down, this seems a good record.

My handful of United partner flights this year were another story, Copa did post, South African after mileage requests, and a short Swiss flight I never got credit despite multiple requests and finally gave up.

I love to clear to-do items off my list, especially these lingering partner credits.

British Airways/AA:

I figured out a last-minute holiday trip to Nashville, TN, using British Airways Avios at 15k each roundtrip in economy on AA, bypassing the insulting last-minute AA award fees.

The process was much easier with the overhaul of partner booking on BA’s website, thanks for Dan’s Deals for the heads up.

The prior week I had said I would outline why BA’s Executive Club has become my short-haul program to pair with Delta, my long-haul, general use airline, but Hack My Trip put out a much better post than I could in the intervening time, so check out ‘Why Avios Is My Favorite Secondary Program.’

Award Bookings:

Speaking of those awful fees, TravelByPoints has a bookmarkable award fees table. Glad someone else did the work.

Reader JB asked if I knew about MileWise which is now partnering with ITA. I don’t, but need to learn.

View from the Wing escalated occasional hints about TACA to a full-blown post, ‘Why You Want to Get Started with AviancaTaca LifeMiles Frequent Flyer Program right now.’ Over the past months I have heard hints about TACA from the kind of Wall St types that destroyed the world’s economy in 2008 so there must be some heavy arbitrage opportunity. I need to dedicate the time to learning it, and first step is a hard copy of Gary’s post to study.

Credit Cards:

It was a week of lots of administration as 11 cards from my ’11 approved, 2 pending’ rolled in. I explained in this post the ‘why and how.’ This week was the slog of:

  • Reading through ALL the terms; I found one potential gem benefit that I am trying to verify
  • Activating the cards, except 2, Club Carlson (explained here) and Choice Privileges (explained here), that I do not want the points to post until 2013
  • Setting up online access and online bill payment
  • Updating my card tracking spreadsheet
  • Updating my monthly payment list
  • Setting up Google Calendar payment reminders
  • Figuring out how to meet the spend requirements
  • Deciding which to add authorized users, and who

Now that Gary’s trumpet has been added to the benefits of the Priceline Visa as a no-hassle 2% cash back card, many people will likely have a likeness of William Shatner in their pocketbooks soon.


My father had been asking is Marriott rollover nights would be extended in to 2013. Marriott has been coy about this each year, so nice to hear from Loyalty Traveler that this benefit is now permanent, at least as much as any loyalty program benefit is permanent.

Loyalty Lobby got me to register for the next Marriott MegaBonus, and had an interesting follow-up post on changing targeted Marriott offers to get a better-suited flavor. Not needed for me now, but that is the kind of post I bookmark.

Blogs Ruining the World:

This discussion never dies despite little original for months. Randy Petersen, founder and owner of Boarding Area, addressed some persistent questions about Boarding Area, worth reading for those interested, and thanks to irrepressible TravelBloggerBuzz for calling my attention to this.

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  1. Would love to learn more about these procedures:

    “Updating my card tracking spreadsheet” My spreadsheet has too many columns to be helpful. What’s on yours?

    “Updating my monthly payment list” Now what exactly is this?

    “Setting up Google Calendar payment reminders” This may be exactly what I need. I will google Google calender.

  2. @guera –

    For tracking I have adapted one I think was originally shared on Frugal Travel Guy, let me track down the correct attribution before I share.

    For payment list I keep it very simple to not get distracted, 3 columns, card, card owner (me or wife) and day of month, each month I paste a new column and as I pay bills I change the date to strikethrough. I favor this kind of manual check process precisely because it is manual.

    For Google Calendar I set up recurring reminders for each card’s statement date, with email notification. I keep the email notification in my inbox with a priority star, until I pay it. I like a clean inbox so this motivates me to do it immediately.

    I intentionally do not automate everything because that is a good way to lose control and understanding.

  3. Thanks so much. I am going to try Google calender. Speaking of automation, what do you think of using the autopay feature on the credit cards? Seems like this might cut out some stress–knowning that cc bills will be paid if you are late coming back from a trip.

  4. @guera – I have thought about it but at this time I manage my cash very tightly and don’t always have the balance there to cover every auto-payment if they bundle together, so I choose the manual, more stressful way. Side benefit is it makes sure I keep track of checking charges on each statement.

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