Bad News: The Amex Business Platinum Card 50% “Pay With Points” Rebate Is Being Cut

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Wow, this is disappointing. Last October, American Express announced some major changes to both The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express. Specifically:

— The Amex Personal Platinum Card offers 5x points on airfare purchased directly with airlines or through Amex Travel.
— The Amex Business Platinum Card offers a 50% refund on Pay With Points redemptions, when redeeming on your designated airline in economy, or on any airline in first or business class. Pay With Points ordinarily gets you one cent of value per point, meaning that you’re getting two cents of value after the refund.

On top of that, even more changes were recently made to the personal Amex Platinum Card.

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Convert Hotel Points Into American Miles And Earn A 25% Bonus

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Between April 28 and June 15, 2017, American is offering a 25% bonus when you convert hotel points into AAdvantage miles.

The bonus can be used for multiple hotel partners, and bonus miles should post to your AAdvantage account within seven business days of when the initial conversion posted to your account. There’s no registration required, so you should be eligible for the bonus as long as you convert points during the promotion period.

The following hotel partners are eligible for this bonus:

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American’s Lack Of Award Availability Is Inexcusable

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This is unfortunately nothing new, though I think it’s worth highlighting every once in a while, just to point out how bad things have gotten.

American used to be by far the best of the big US airlines when it came to the number of saver level award seats they made available on their own flights. It was something that really set them apart. Over the years that has changed in a way that’s completely unacceptable.

I understand that airlines want to avoid giving away “free” seats as much as possible, given the opportunity cost of doing so, when they could sell them for cash otherwise. However, airlines have to balance that with the massive profits they’re earning from their loyalty programs, and realize that there’s a correlation between how they treat their members and how much they earn from the programs. In the case of American, they’ve gotten downright punitive when it comes to award availability. There’s simply no excuse for it.

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How To Get Value Out Of Today’s Sale On Choice Privileges Points

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Daily Getaways is back this year, which is a five week promotion intended to promote US tourism. It offers opportunities to purchase discounted hotel points and travel packages.

Daily Getaways packages go on sale at 1PM ET every weekday, and the more popular packages sell out very quickly, so you’ll want to be fast, if interested.

Today at 1PM ET you’ll have the opportunity to purchase Choice Privileges points at a discount. Like many of the Daily Getaways offers this is pretty niche, but some will find it worthwhile.

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British Airways Flight Diverts To The Azores After Someone Tries To Self Upgrade

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Here’s a crazy story. Wednesday’s British Airways flight from London Gatwick to Kingston, Jamaica, BA2263, had to divert to an airport in the Azores in order to offload a disruptive passenger who refused to return to his economy seat. The Boeing 777 landed at Lajes Air Base in the Azores, which is both a military base as well as a commercial airport.

Here’s what transpired, per 9News:

“The airline said the man refused to return to his economy seat after sitting in business class without permission.

Cabin crew and one of the pilots spoke to him but were unable to convince him to move, British Airways said.”

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Virgin America Has Stopped Accepting Applications For Their Credit Card

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When airline mergers happen, it’s almost inevitable that changes will also happen with their partnerships. Many airlines have exclusivity agreements with some of their partners, so that’s a detail that has to be hashed out when two airlines join forces.

Typically this comes in the form of the company taking over keeping their agreement, and the company being taken over discontinuing their agreement. However, that’s not always the case. For example, when American took over US Airways, they maintained relationships with both Barclaycard and Citi.

With Alaska’s takeover of Virgin America having closed late last year, and with Alaska recently sharing their vision for the combined airline, it’s clear that not much of the Virgin America brand will survive. I think a lot of us assumed this would be the fate of their co-branded credit card as well, and it looks like that happened sooner rather than later.

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Don’t Get Dao-ed: How To Tell If Your United Flight Might Be Overbooked

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Overbooked flights happen all the time on all three of the legacy carriers. Most of the time these issues resolve themselves naturally and passengers are never the wiser. Some folks will cancel their ticket, no-show, or switch to a different flight. Sadly, others will misconnect. In all of these cases, nothing needs to be done as the problem will solve itself.

Sometimes, however, the oversold situation persists and there are literally more passengers in the gate area than the flight can accommodate. When this happens, the agent solicits volunteers willing to take a later flight in exchange for compensation. In rare cases where they get no takers, they may have to involuntarily deny boarding (IDB) to someone.

Once in a blue moon, all of this will break down and they’ll try to deny someone boarding who has already boarded. As ridiculous as that sounds, it’s exactly what happened to Dr. Dao on his United flight from Chicago to Louisville. We all know how how that ended.

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That Was Quick: United Reaches Undisclosed Settlement With Dr. Dao

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Wow, United sure is trying to get the entire “dragging” incident behind them, that’s for sure. Earlier today we learned about the 10 policy changes that United is instituting following the incident they had with Dr. Dao, which they seem pretty serious about. It looks like we won’t see this incident drag out in court either, as it’s being reported that United and Dr. Dao have reached a settlement for an undisclosed amount. Per a statement from United:

“We are pleased to report that United and Dr. Dao have reached an amicable resolution of the unfortunate incident that occurred aboard flight 3411. We look forward to implementing the improvements we have announced, which will put our customers at the center of everything we do.”

Meanwhile here’s what Dr. Dao’s lawyer had to say:

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Etihad Guest Has Started Selling Miles

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Buying miles when they’re on sale can be one of the best ways to get a deal on premium cabin travel. Programs like Alaska Mileage Plan, Avianca LifeMiles, etc., are known for the excellent value they provide when buying miles, and have allowed me to have lots of great first & business class travel experiences.

Now Etihad Guest has started selling miles as well, and they use points.com for processing the transactions.

Etihad Guest now lets you buy at most 60,000 miles per transaction (in increments of 1,000), and up to 100,000 miles per account per calendar year. The cost to purchase miles is two cents each, regardless of how many you buy.

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Full Details Of IHG’s Spring 2017 Accelerate Promotion

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For the most couple of years, most of IHG’s global hotel promotions have been customized. Everyone gets some type of offer, but different members get targeted for different versions of the offer. The logic is that hotel loyal programs want to generate incremental business, so they’d rather try to get you to increase the business you’d otherwise give them, rather than just reward you for stays you’d make anyway.

The past several such promotions have been called “Accelerate,” and IHG is now back with their latest version of the offer. IHG has just announced the details of their latest Accelerate offer, valid for stays between May 15 and August 31, 2017.

You can now go to this page to see your IHG Accelerate offer, and register for it. Do note that some people are getting error messages when following the link, as it seems like they haven’t yet loaded the promotion for everyone. If that’s the case for you, try to access the page in an incognito browser, or otherwise change the “us” in the URL to “gb,” as that seems to do the trick. Otherwise log into your IHG account through the above link, and then you should eventually see the offer.

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Score A Fourth Night Free (And More) At Starwood Hotels In Paris This Summer

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If you are a Starwood loyalist and are headed to Paris in the coming months, there’s an offer to be aware of.

Ford has written in the past about Starwood’s Luxury Privileges program, which is the Starwood equivalent of Virtuoso, American Express Fine Hotels & Resort, Four Seasons Preferred Partners, etc. Typically by booking through an advisor who belongs to Luxury Privileges you get a room upgrade based on availability, free breakfast, and some sort of property specific amenity, like a $100 food & beverage or spa credit.

However, at the moment Starwood Luxury Privileges has some generous offers for their three properties in Paris. Specifically, I’m talking about the Price de Galles (Luxury Collection), Westin Vendome, and W Opera.

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Priority Pass Members Can No Longer Bring Guests Into Alaska Lounges

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As I’ve written about in the past, Priority Pass members are increasingly reporting issues with accessing certain lounges. While it’s not the case at most lounges, some of the most popular ones are restricting access to Priority Pass members due to space constraints.

Yesterday I wrote about how the biggest issue is with Alaska Lounges, as they seem to consistently be limiting access to Priority Pass members. There were rumors that some Alaska Lounges would be leaving Priority Pass altogether, though I confirmed with Alaska’s PR department that this wasn’t the case.

This situation is of course frustrating, and it seems like there are two short term solutions here:

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American Is Deferring Delivery Of Their A350s… Again

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It sure seems like American isn’t terribly interested in actually taking delivery of the A350s they have on order.

American is in the process of refreshing their longhaul fleet, which includes taking delivery of Boeing 787-8, 787-9, and 777-300ER aircraft.

American was originally supposed to start taking delivery of A350s in early 2017 — they have a total of 22 A350-900 aircraft on order. Last July American announced that they’d defer delivery of these new planes an average of 26 months, and only start taking delivery of them in late 2018. This was done to decrease capital spending, and also as a response to economic slowdowns abroad.

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How To Fly With A Stroller In The United States

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Just as the United dragging incident sparked a lot of interest regarding the finer points of how airlines overbook flights, the American strollergate altercation involving the mother of twins has led to a lot of discussion about the finer points of flying with strollers, prams, baby buggies, or the like.

It turns out I’ve had quite a bit of experience traveling with a stroller given that my wife and I have taken our kids — now aged 5, 4, and 1 — on multiple international trips each year since they were born. In fact, I would say that our BOB Revolution stroller is probably our most coveted piece of travel gear, and the one thing most responsible for allowing my wife and I to maintain much of our pre-kid jetset lifestyle.

So I thought it might be useful to go over the basics of what it’s like to fly with a stroller. I’m going to focus on domestic travel within the United States, and then make a few comments about the variations you might see around the world. But at least within the US, I’ve found that stroller policies and procedures are pretty consistent across airlines and airports.

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