Last week I filed from Cairo, enjoying the ultra-cheap points hotel options in Egypt. Back at base I caught up on two weeks of miles and points.
- Earned 50% on the Alitalia flights to Lebanon and Egypt, thanks to December’s devaluation of partner earning with less than a month notice. Delta did not have the courtesy to notify members except to stealthily update its website. United never misses an opportunity to miss and opportunity and this week did the exact same thing (One Mile at a Time, with a helpful table), right down to not bothering to proactively notify members. Much of my travel is on partner airlines and I am stuck with terrible options for both Delta and United, and AA/OneWorld not that appealing for me.
- At check-in in Cairo for my Alitalia flight, the agent had issues getting me lounge access because the system did not support Delta Diamond status. Been a few years since that was a problem, and not an issue on other Alitalia flights. Delta hates SkyTeam so much you need a magnifying glass to see the SkyTeam ElitePlus logo on the card and that frequently is an issue in out of the way places.
- A a stopgap till March 1 revenue-based earning, United is copying AA’s bonus miles promo. I have read through the terms several times in the hope that flights I am looking at for a late February business trip to Europe will count. Some partners are included but promo indicates must be sold as a United-marketed flight, which is $2,000 more than the Swiss price.
- Marriott granted me Gold status for 2015 with a letter saying even though I didn’t meet the requirements (by a lot) they were extending status. I also would have had it with my Chase Ritz-Carlton card and United status, though nice to not have to call. The mailer said my membership card is now an e-card. Hotel cards are less important than airline cards, though especially overseas I like to use the physical card at check-in to remind the staff of status, lest they are not familiar or conveniently overlook.
- I have stack of ThankYou cards, maybe I should try to get a bunch of retention offers? (Miles to Memories).
- I followed up on a long open issue from a ThankYou flight redemption. I had redeemed in October for a flight in the Caribbean on Corsair. I never got to the island for the flight thanks to a tropical storm and LIAT’s multi-day operational woes. The Citi travel agents were helpful, it was hard for them to find a working, English-speaking contact for the airline, however they got it through, cancel fee was $80 for which I would get $50 ticket value refunded plus the full 11k points back. Points never posted. I called yesterday, dreading a long ordeal. Instead, an agent found it, told me a supervisor had to handle it, the supervisor, saw the original notes, apologized, and issued the points. Great. And important to rigorously track and follow-up on these things.
- I have not applied for any in 4 months. Need to do another round. Want to try for another Chase Fairmont, a 3rd US Airways, a few others. Need to decide on a Membership Rewards strategy as my current Mercedes-Benz Platinum is coming due. Maybe the US Bank FlexPerks Amex. Maybe a few others.
The grunt work of manufactured spend:
- Last night I walked half an hour in biting cold and wind to the closest cheap ATM to my apartment, at a community bank. Out of service. Grrr.
From the blogs:
- Air India award space is bookable for on united.com (Live and Let’s Fly). I expect there still to be issues booking some Air India Regional routes like Cochin-Lakshadweep where Air India doesn’t seem to release space to even it owns Flying Returns members. The Indian rupee is way down and domestic India flights are often very cheap, so don’t assume awards are the best value. Helpfully, Google Flights launched for India (Live from a Lounge). International OTAs are not always the best for India domestic flights so my prior go-so site was IXIGO, with booking then directly on the airline or Expedia India, see more at my Booking India domestic air tickets. I have had better Air India experiences than most, their food is the best, I even had breakfast hurled at me on a 40-minute New Delhi-Amritsar flight on their 787. Good Star Alliance Gold experience.
- Using the Citi Prestige 4th night free benefit (FrequentMiler). Glad someone did the research instead of me. I have lots of stays that are at non-chain hotels, though few stays of any kind for 4 nights. File away for use in a different stage in my life.
- Deal Savvy Or Crossing The Line? (Chasing the Points). Good to stop and think, just because many things can be done, doesn’t mean they should be done.
- How To Split Your Tax Refund Into Multiple Accounts (Doctor of Credit).
- Bet You Didn’t Know: Maximizing Marriott’s 5th Night Free on longer stays (FrequentMiler). Amazing, given the practices of companies like Delta, that Marriott programmed in features to save you points on awards.
Is Charging Taxes on Award Nights Legal? (Travel is Free). European customers seems much more accustomed to a la carte pricing and various fees and add-ons. Drives me nuts when I travel there. No surprise that many of the cases come from Europe.
- Great value Starwood hotels are not just in Egypt, The complete list of Starwood 2000-4000 points hotels (euflyer).
- How much is an Amex card with no annual fee worth? (Personal Finance Digest). Interesting hard-core debate in the comments.
- FrequentMiler walks through How to setup credit fraud alerts by text or email. Most of these work well, except US Bank, which notifies you but provides no way to lift the block without calling in, and their hold times are atrocious, I have had more than 30 minutes at times. See my US Bank fraud prevention tips.
- Another George and Rick I battle royale (TravelBloggerBuzz).