My Week in Points: News at the Margins

Miles and points mean I can travel beyond what my wallet would allow. My Scandinavia swing in September and upcoming Africa trips in October would not be possible without the miles boost.

While on the road I shut out the miles and points hobby, catching up in chunks. What I have been up to:

  • A series of approvals for Amex Platinum (100k), Business Rewards Gold (75k), and Starwood Business (30k).
  • Closing out my Chase Ritz-Carlton. Got the points, maxed out the airline credits, used Lounge Club for unlimited guests, and moved on. Only downgrade options are Marriott cards. No retention offer given, none expected. I will miss the JP Morgan customer service line.
  • Adding to my stash of Bank of American Better Balance Rewards card, now up to 8, all from Alaska or Virgin Atlantic conversions.
  • Learning the wonders of United MileagePlus awards on Ethiopian and Turkish. Thanks to help from UPGRD Matthew, I learned United puts Turkey in Europe which makes Africa-Africa tickets via Istanbul price at 60k one-way in economy. Also that United agents can manually issue tickets under the minimum connect time, in this case Istanbul is 60 minutes and the only feasible itinerary is 55 minutes. No comprehensive free resource for checking MCT, I believe paid ExpertFlyer is the best option for those who need it.

The miles and points world has been slow to shake off summer with little news in September, here’s what I saved.

Airlines:

Hotels:

Credit Cards:

MS:

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  • john

    lots of interesting links.
    I would be interested to hear more about your upcoming African trips. I am struggling with some west Africa itineraries myself. Addis, Istanbul, and Nairobi are not terribly helpful hubs….

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @john – and closed land borders don’t help either. I have no magic wand, this trip has been a big, expensive hassle.

  • Shannon

    Are you a full time blogger now? Sounds like a lot of time off recently..Could you further explain why one way 60K on economy is a good option? Isn’t that too high for an award coach ticket?

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Shannon – no, I stack all my vacation in the fall and winter, summer is weekend trips, these will be mixed business and pleasure so the time is longer. 60k is painful and only makes sense compared to the other, limited options to get to Eritrea due to its long-running dispute with Ethiopia, and limited engagement with other countries.

  • john

    now that you are visiting some of the more difficult African countries, I would be equally interested to hear about visa issues.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @john – a lot more than I expected have an entry letter process for visa on arrival, it means giving business to agencies that are not cheap, but avoids dealing with embassies. Surprisingly few African consulates in NYC process visas so much assumed location advantage is not.