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.