My Week in Points January 13-19: every dollar qualifies for me

A nasty cold hit me. I spent the week crawling to work to avoid taking a ‘PTO’ day, that being a pernicious practice by many US employers to pool vacation and sick time, so that a sick day means a loss of a vacation day. A few years ago I went to work the day after my appendectomy to preserve vacation, and then flew to Johannesburg two days later for a 4-day weekend.

Any other year I would have booked a trip for the MLK, Jr Day 3-day weekend, though I decided to attend the NYT Travel Show and take it easy, the open calendar a fortuitous relief to recover.

All the preamble is to say that I did very little miles and points stuff. There wasn’t much news of note either, Priority Club and Starwood both increased some award prices, see here and here for details (Loyalty Traveler and View from the Wing, respectively). I don’t value hotel points all that much for my leisure travel while my business travel is so scatter-shot that I never am able to concentrate on any one program.

Delta will introduce Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs) in 2014. Setting aside the worry that it is just the opening salvo in changes to make the SkyMiles program less and less value for customers, I am somewhat surprised that the tier amounts are felt by Delta to be sufficient to distinguish among current elites. It seems even mileage runners need to do some work to qualify for elite status at amounts below the thresholds. The disincentive to fly partners seems most problematic to me, while the exclusion of ancillary fees like luggage is the most insulting. When someone pays me a dollar, that is a dollar, not a non-qualifying dollar.

I do need to extend a big thanks to Daraius at Million Mile Secrets for waking me out of my sick bed with news of the short-lived Intercontinental Hotels award pricing deal, originally uncovered by Loyalty Lobby. That moved me, for the same price, from a Holiday Inn to a much more convenient Intercontinental in Toronto for the TBEX Conference. The valet fee of CAD 45 removed any residual thoughts of renting a car. And why does Toronto have a convention center with no nearby hotels?

On my study list:

  • The Delta SunTrust Debit Card is open to applicants throughout the US, you just might have your account closed in a few weeks if you live in the wrong state (View from the Wing). Always a hard call on things like this if it is better to get in quick but maybe bring on hassle, or wait and maybe miss out.
  • I am too DIY-driven to use an award award booking service even when I probably would benefit, anyway, these 6 tips for working with them are excellent. (Million Mile Secrets)
  • I have read about OneWorld Explorer Awards a number of times, though it still hasn’t sunk in, so the recent refresher from Hack My Trip is one I bookmarked.

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  • Hope to meet you at TBEX conferences, I went to the Spain one last year and it was great!

  • @pointsandtravel – sounds great, I look forward to meeting you!

  • PedroNY

    I hope you feel better and recover over this weekend.



  • Wendy

    Not having sick days at work makes people go into work when they should probably be at home in bed. Instead of spreading to all your coworkers.

  • @Wendy – indeed, my wife joked that HR probably thinks that everyone has magically become healthy because no one reports days as sick. I did work from home 2 days and then stopped at the doctor before going in, who cleared me to not spread to everyone.

  • john

    PTO and no sick time is about as dumb as six sigma. Its amazing how these philosophies spread. And yes its funny that employers dont seem to get that it is bad for business for everyone to come in sick and get everyone else sick.
    There is another side to this though. At my company, we had three weeks vacation and two weeks sick time. This got changed to four weeks PTO….. which actually works out better for me because the whole four weeks is vacation. Never could do that with sick time. I have never been out sick since, but I have hacked and coughed on everyone multiple times…

  • Richard

    back when i had a job (chuckle)… I loved PTO. Of course, my employers all had the formula that PTO bank = vacation + sick + personal rather than just renaming vacation into PTO and dropping the rest (which would hoover). And then there’s the whole rollover (non-)ability of the various pools and if your boss was in a bad mood…

    Also called FTO, for Flexible. I loved it.

  • john

    You are right about the flexibility of PTO. It is funny because my wife has the various pools and she cannot for the life of her remember all the rules of what accrues how and what expires when and what can be combined with what and what can be taken when and so on… hah.