Tricks For Carlson BOGO Award Nights. Last Call!

Radisson_Blu_Longyearbyen

It’s a busy weekend for those looking to take advantage of Club Carlson opportunities on both the earning and burning sides of the equation. In reality, both deals are tied to the same event…

As of June 1, the Club Carlson bonus award night for those holding the Visa card will be going away. This was an incredible benefit and I’m very sad to see it go. As somewhat of a peace offering, Club Carlson is offering some bonuses for revenue stays this summer. They are simultaneously making our points worth a lot less and giving us more points. I really don’t think they understand positive feedback loops…..

That leaves us until the stroke of midnight on Sunday to both: 1. Make a bunch of actual or speculative award bookings that qualify for BOGO award nights, and 2. Plan out a revenue stay to earn our 30K bonus.

This feels like finals week where every professor makes their problem set due on the same day! Am I going to have to pull an all-nighter just to get everything booked?

In this post, I’ll cover the burning side of the equation because that’s more fun. And I always do the fun assignments first.

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Review: Domestic Maldivian Moonimaa Lounge Male Airport

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I had emailed the Park Hyatt in advance to ask about the transfer process from Male Airport to the resort, and here’s how they explained it:

“Round trip transfers between Ibrahim Nasir international airport and resort will be arranged by us and will be charged at USD 510 per person inclusive of taxes (domestic flight and speedboat transfer).

Domestic flights are arranged via Maldivian Airlines and waiting times may vary from min 1 hour to max 4 hours. The shortest flight from Male International Airport to Kooddoo Domestic Airport is approximately 1 hour and the longest flight approximately 1 hour 45 min due to “stop over” in Kadhdhoo Domestic Airport. A short speedboat journey of approximately 30-40 minutes will follow as the final stretch of your journey to our island.

All domestic flights are scheduled around arriving and departing international flights. At this stage we are unable to confirm exact flight details as our domestic airline operator confirm their schedule one day prior to arrival.”

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Weekly Review: May 30, 2015

May-Flight-Map

Hello from Los Angeles!

For those keeping track at home, I’ve flown well over 50,000 miles this month.

That’s downright excessive, even for me, and I’m thrilled to be spending the next week almost exclusively on the ground, which is a nice change of space. My next international trip might just be on an especially interesting airline.

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When Having An Infant Seated Next To You On A Plane Is A Good Thing

American-737-Economy-Class

I was on an elite heavy domestic American route earlier this week with quite a long upgrade list. Surprisingly enough I cleared the upgrade last minute, though 23 people didn’t have the same fate.

As we boarded a rich-looking LA couple with an infant sat down behind me, and the wife said “why do we have three boarding passes?” The husband said “I bought three seats just in case.” As it turned out they had bought the two seats behind me and the seat next to me as well.

That’s the first time I can ever recall being happy about having an infant as a seatmate (at least on paper).

But here’s where it gets interesting. The flight attendant came around to take meal orders while we were still at the gate, and said “do you plan on using that seat during the flight?” The husband responded “no.” She said “like, not at all?” He said “probably not.”

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30 Hotel Guests Kicked Out Over Waffle Maker Dispute

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Oh boy. This story ranks pretty high on the list of things you couldn’t possibly make up. Over the holiday weekend, two women started a fight at America’s Best Value Inn in Marquette, Michigan. The fight apparently started over use of the waffle maker at the complimentary breakfast buffet, and it eventually led to 30 people being kicked out of the hotel.

Via mlive.com:

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Transaero Has No Plan To Fly The A380 To New York… Or At All?

© Airbus 2007 - Fixion - Transaero

On Wednesday I posted about how Transaero would apparently be taking delivery of two A380s this summer, which they intended to fly to New York JFK and Vladivostok. At least this was the plan according to a Russian governor.

I’ve long been intrigued by Transaero and have been eying a first class ticket on them for a while, so them taking delivery of an A380 and flying it to New York seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Now, while I hoped the story would be true, some parts of it didn’t add up, given that Transaero doesn’t even have an A380 in assembly yet, making it rather unlikely that they’d take delivery of one of the whale jets this summer.

As it turns out, Transaero has no intentions to operate the A380 to New York JFK… and is actually in the process of deferring delivery of the A380 altogether.

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Great Update On Hyatt Olive 8-Gate!

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Earlier this week I posted about some fishy inventory management at the Hyatt at Olive 8 which effectively blocked any award redemptions for 91 consecutive days this summer, via a creative plan to make Deluxe King rooms available only in “packages,” and not at the Hyatt Daily Rate.

And then Travis, taking a different approach, posted that he was able to book a room at the Olive 8 with some persistent “HUCU”-ing (that is, hanging up and calling again) and a casual mention of “I’m a loyal Diamond.”

Whereas I feel like I need to try and change the system, Travis told me, “I assume I can’t change the system, I can only figure out how to beat it.” And that’s how we got to Olive 8-Gate and our different perspectives.

For what it’s worth, I loved Travis’ approach, and totally respect it. I see “injustice” and my lawyerly righteous indignation rears its head, whereas Travis sees an opportunity to solve a problem like an engineer.

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Last Chance For The IHG Rewards Club Card Limited Time Sign-Up Bonus

InterContinental Paris

I’ve written in the past about the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card, which I’d argue is the single most compelling hotel credit card to keep long term. As I’ve explained before, the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card comes with a 70,000 point sign-up bonus after spending $1,000 within three months of account opening, provided you haven’t received the bonus in the past 24 months. The annual fee on the card is $49, though it’s waived the first year.

What’s important to note is that this sign-up bonus is marketed as expiring on May 31, 2015. So you only have until Sunday to be assured you’ll get this increased sign-up bonus.

As I’ve explained in the past, here are five things which make this card awesome:

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Review: SPG Moments With Paul McCartney

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There is no doubt Starwood Preferred Guest points are one of the most valuable currencies out there. With great hotel redemptions and airline transfer partners, there are a lot of ways to get great value out of your SPG points.

Another, perhaps lesser-known, redemption option from Starwood is their SPG Moments program, which offer fixed price redemptions and auctions for a host of sports, music and other cultural events.

While Ben is holding out for a Real Housewives cast meet and greet to be his first SPG Moment, I recently took advantage of the program for the second time to see Paul McCartney in concert at the O2 in London. Here’s a little bit about my experience:

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Up To 60% Bonus On Purchased Virgin America Elevate Points

Virgin America’s Elevate program is offering up to a 60% bonus on the purchase of points through June 25, 2015.

The bonus is tiered, meaning the more points you purchase, the bigger the bonus:

— Buy 1,500-4,500 points, get a 30% bonus
— Buy 5,000 points, get a 60% bonus

As far as Virgin America Elevate points purchase promotions go, I’d say this is a pretty average bonus. In the past we’ve seen two 80% bonuses on the purchase of points — once for just eight hours in October 2014, and once for several weeks in March 2015.

Virgin America Elevate points ordinarily cost 5.2 cents each to purchase, so through this promotion Virgin America Elevate points can be purchased for as little as 3.25 cents each. You can purchase up to 20,000 points per account per calendar year, before factoring in the 60% bonus (meaning you can purchase a maximum of ~32,000 points through this promotion).

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United Incorrectly Charging Award Redeposit Fees

Don't just click right through this screen or you'll end up with a $200 charge that you might not be expecting.

On April 15, United discontinued the largely unpublished policy of “inherited” status on award tickets. This meant that the person flying on the award ticket would no longer have the benefits associated with the Premier from who’s account the ticket was booked. As I discussed at the time, this basically amounted to the end of free Economy Plus seats, free checked bags, and the potential for upgrades. Not great news for many.

On the other hand, award tickets booked from the accounts of Global Service, Premier 1K, or Premier Platinum accounts have always been exempt from change fees, cancellation fees, and redeposit fees. And that was not supposed to change.

Unfortunately, that’s not what’s been happening.

There are many reports that the United website is now charging the $200 award redeposit fee based on the status of the passenger, not the account holder.

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When Airline Customer Relations Responds Too Quickly

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I’ve just wrapped up my third trip of the month to Beijing, and suffice to say I’m tired. In the past few weeks I’ve done six segments between the US and China in American first class.

As I’ve written about, American first class is quite an underwhelming product in terms of the seat and food. Depressingly so, almost.

That being said, the highlight of the flights were the crews. On five of the six flights I had stellar crews. Gone-with-the-wind-fabulous crews, even.

I wrote about flying with purser Scott and his wife from Chicago to Beijing and Beijing to Chicago.

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