BIG Updates About The Future Of Alaska & Virgin America

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Alaska’s takeover of Virgin America closed in mid-December, though we haven’t seen much in the way of integration so far. The two brands are very different, and their marketing campaigns have been based around that, acknowledging the differences between the brands, but arguing that “different works.”

One of the biggest remaining questions has been what the future of the Virgin America brand will look like. Will the entire airline be named “Alaska,” will they somehow run two brands side-by-side given their relative strengths, or…? They said they hoped to decide on that in early 2017, and it looks like they’ve now made those decisions.

Alaska has just shared a huge amount of information about the future of the combined airline. To sum it up, expect the Alaska brand and product to stick around, with a few small Virgin America elements.

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Will The Electronics Ban Change Which Airlines I Fly?

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Reader David W asked the following question in the Ask Lucky forum:

“@Lucky @Tiffany and anyone else:

Will you be making changes to existing flights that are affected as well as changing plans that are in the works?”

I can’t speak for Tiffany or anyone else, though I will share my perspective. As I assume just about everyone knows at this point, there are restrictions on electronic devices in the cabins of planes for nonstop flights from:

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What Insurance Covers Checked Electronics?

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Yesterday we learned about a new electronics ban for certain flights to the United States. Later in the day the United Kingdom announced a similar (yet very different) policy for flights to the UK.

While I’m not going to get into all the ramifications here, the gist of it is that travelers are going to have to choose between connecting elsewhere or risking damage and theft of their personal electronics.

Reader Mike summed it up nicely:

“My bet is there will be lots of $2,000 insurance claims for Apple laptops forced to endure the cargo experience. Whoever Chase, et al, use for travel insurance is going to get very busy.”

That’s a great point, but it’s much more complicated than that. Not all policies necessarily cover checked electronics, and many have strict dollar limits. So I figured it would help to go through the various options for insuring your gadgets when traveling.

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How Uber Has Softened Their Stance On Tipping

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I think there’s no denying that the public perception of Uber has changed substantially over the past couple of years. When Uber first became popular it was sort of the underdog that everyone loved, as they were taking the taxi mafias to task. Unfortunately that perception has changed, especially over the past few months.

After countless corporate scandals and widespread dissatisfaction among drivers, they just aren’t as beloved as they used to be. Originally people used Uber to boycott taxis, and now people are boycotting Uber.

Personally I continue to use Uber, mainly because I think Uber is still better than taxis. I have started using Lyft a bit more as well, but they’re not available in all markets.

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The Expanded Amex Centurion Lounge Seattle Is Now Open

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Over the past several years we’ve seen American Express open several of their own lounges, available to those with The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN

In terms of U.S. locations, American Express has lounges in Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Up until now their smallest lounge has been in Seattle, which opened in mid-2015. The lounge has been roughly 3,100 square feet in size, and didn’t have all the same services as the other lounge — there was no hot food or full bar, but rather only cold snacks, along with wine and beer. As a result, they’ve referred to it as a Centurion Studio rather than a Centurion Lounge.

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How Long Do Citi ThankYou Points Transfers Take?

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If you’re collecting miles & points through credit card spend, I always recommend doing what you can to accrue transferrable points currencies. That’s because these points are much more flexible than when you’re earning an individual airline or hotel points currency. You have the flexibility to transfer these points to all kinds of travel partners, and you’re safeguarded from a devaluation in a specific points currency.

With that in mind, I’m writing a series about the three major transferrable points currencies — Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou — talking about how long it takes to transfer points, along with the other basic details you need to know about transferring points. A couple of days ago I wrote about Amex Membership Rewards, and yesterday I wrote about Chase Ultimate Rewards, so today I’m writing about Citi ThankYou.

How many airline and hotel partners does Citi ThankYou have?

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Why I Have ZERO Sympathy For U.S. Airlines Whining About Gulf Carriers

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For over two years now, the “big three” U.S. carriers have been trying to stop the “big three” Gulf carriers. The basis of their claim is that Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar, have been violating the Open Skies agreement because they’re government subsidized, and therefore the playing field isn’t level.

They argue that it’s not fair that a reciprocal agreement causes them to have to compete head-to-head with airlines that are really big government vehicles.

I haven’t been very sympathetic towards the arguments the U.S. carriers make. Many people have assumed that it’s because I love the glitz and glam of the Gulf carriers, and don’t think of the impact it has on U.S. jobs, etc. That’s not the case. My main issue is that the U.S. carriers are making their case so poorly, to the point that it really feels to me like they’re targeting and bullying three airlines.

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Great Deal: $1,300 Roundtrip Business Class From New York To Paris

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La Compagnie is the all business class transatlantic airline that started flying in mid-2014. They operate flights between Newark and Paris using Boeing 757 aircraft. I reviewed La Compagnie back when they first launched operations a few years ago. They also briefly flew between New York and London, though ended up canceling that route.

While La Compagnie doesn’t have the best business class product, I have to give them credit for offering exceptionally good value. They consistently have more attractive business class fares than what’s offered by any other airline in the market.

But it gets even better than that. La Compagnie has just announced a fare sale for travel this summer, which they’re calling the “French Summer Offer.”

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Here Are The Airlines Changing Terminals At LAX In May 2017

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As I’ve explained before, Los Angeles International Airport is about to go undergo a huge game of airline “musical chairs.”

This is all being prompted by Delta — they’re vacating Terminals 5 and 6 and moving to Terminals 2 and 3, so that they can be closer to their partner airlines and have more consolidated operations.

Of course in order to facilitate this, a lot of other airlines are having to change terminals as well.

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Details I Got Wrong About American’s New JFK Flagship Lounge

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Yesterday I wrote a review of American’s new Flagship Lounge at JFK. More accurately, the lounge is being marketed as the “International First Class Lounge” at the moment, until later this spring, when it formally opens as the Flagship Lounge. This is part of American’s massive lounge overahaul program.

The most significant change being made is that Flagship Lounges will be open to eligible international first and business class passengers, as well as oneworld Emerald and oneworld Sapphire members. Previously these lounges were just open to international first class and oneworld Emerald member, so obviously they’re greatly increasing the number of people who have access to this lounge.

Following my review, American reached out to clarify a few things, which I wasn’t aware of. Now that I understand these things, I’m a lot more excited about the new Flagship Lounge.

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And The Winner Of 2 Nights At A DoubleTree By Hilton Is…

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Last week I launched a giveaway for two free nights at any DoubleTree by Hilton property in the world. This giveaway was to celebrate DoubleTree by Hilton opening their 500th hotel worldwide.

To celebrate this milestone they rolled out their first-ever global Cook(ie)book. The digital cookbook, named “We Have Cookies: Taste the World of DoubleTree by Hilton,” is free and available for download at www.wehavecookies.com. The cookbook has 30+ regional recipes that all feature the brand’s signature, warm DoubleTree cookie

Well, the deadline to enter the giveaway was yesterday, so it’s now closed. There were nearly 4,000 entries, so I had Rafflecopter randomly choose an entry (which is powered by random.org). The winner is Twitter user @canadianlinz, who won by Tweeting about the giveaway.

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Review: The New American Flagship Lounge New York JFK

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Last February, American announced that they’d be making some major changes to their lounges, including the following:

— American will be renovating and expanding their Flagship Lounges in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York
— American will be adding Flagship Lounges in Dallas, Miami, and Philadelphia
— American will completely be changing access rules for these lounges; previously Flagship Lounges were open to those in international first class and oneworld Emerald members, while under the new rules they’ll be open to oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members, as well as all passengers in international first & business class
— American will be introducing Flagship Dining, where international first class and A321 transcon first class passengers will have access to a la carte dining at Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York

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3 Opportunities To Buy Points With Big Bonuses

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While I’ve written about these deals individually, I think it’s worth posting a reminder that three loyalty programs are offering a pretty compelling bonus on purchased points at the moment. In no particular order:

At the moment Alaska is offering up to a 40% bonus on purchased miles. The bonus is tiered, and the bonus you receive is based on how many miles you buy, as follows:

— Buy 10,000 – 19,000 miles = 20% bonus
— Buy 20,000 – 39,000 miles = 30% bonus
— Buy 40,000 – 60,000 miles = 40% bonus

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