Welcome To One Mile At A Time!


To long time readers, I apologize for the somewhat lack of “regular” content at the moment, but things will get back to normal shortly. **I’ve pinned this post to the top, but you can scroll down to find new content as it’s posted.**

In the meantime, I wanted to welcome new readers and give them a good place to start. With that in mind:

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New Card Design For The Starwood American Express Cards


As I first wrote about in early June, the SPG AmEx Cards — both the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express — will be undergoing a refresh as of August 11, 2015.

As I explained at the time, the changes to the cards include the following:

— The annual fee being raised by $30 per year, from $65 to $95
— The elimination of foreign transaction fees
— Complimentary unlimited Boingo wifi
— Complimentary in-room premium internet access
— Sheraton club lounge access (for those with the business version of the card only)

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Review: Two Suites At The Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi


Upon landing in Dubai and clearing immigration we made a brief stop at the ATM, topped up my UAE SIM card, then headed over to the Emirates Chauffeur desk. Upon presenting our first class boarding passes we were promptly presented with vouchers for the car service, and escorted to a waiting vehicle.

We had the bad luck of landing at the tail end of a sandstorm, so the weather was horrid, and remained so for the next two days. The poor visibility made for some pretty unpleasant driving conditions, and cut down significantly on the amount of sightseeing we were able to do in Abu Dhabi.

Even with the longer drive, we still arrived at the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi around 2:30PM, which wasn’t bad all things considered. As I mentioned in the introduction, I’d used my Diamond Suite Upgrades to confirm into a Park Suite. When we approached the registration area we were told we’d been further upgraded, but that our room wasn’t quite ready. I took advantage of the WiFi in the lobby, and in about half an hour an associate came through to go through the check-in formalities.

I wasn’t really paying attention — partly due to being pretty tired from traveling though mainly due to keeping an eye on my mom, who was exhausted at this point. So I didn’t ask what room category we were being upgraded to, assuming it was the Terrace Suite that Ben often gets at this property. Instead, we were bundled off to a golf cart (!) and driven over to the complex of villas lining the resort.

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500 Bonus Points For Hyatt Mobile Booking


Mobile bookings are becoming increasingly popular for hotels, so it’s no surprise that hotels want to provide an incentive for you to download their app and book through it. After all, when you’re on the go and need to make a same night reservation, they want to be sure they’re the first chain you think of.

With that in mind, Hyatt has a promotion whereby they’re offering 500 bonus Gold Passport points for an eligible stay booked through the Hyatt app or mobile site between August 1 and September 30, 2015.

There’s no landing page for the offer, though Hyatt has confirmed with me that the offer is open to everyone. The offer should also be available on Hyatt’s website starting Thursday. That being said, given that there’s no registration required, there’s no need to wait — you can already earn the bonus, though each Gold Passport member can only earn the bonus once during the promotion period.

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The Diminishing Marginal Return On Hotel Breakfast


One of my favorite hotel elite perks is complimentary breakfast. As I’ve explained before, my two preferred hotel chains are Hyatt and Starwood.

In general I’d say Hyatt does breakfast best, as you receive a full, hot breakfast as a Diamond member whenever there’s not a club lounge (otherwise you receive club lounge access).

Meanwhile Starwood offers continental breakfast as a Platinum perk, though that has to be chosen in lieu of the 500 Starpoint welcome amenity. When hotels take the “continental breakfast” perk literally, it can be quite disappointing. Like when the only option is coffee and a basket full of carbs.

That being said, I find many Starwood hotels go above and beyond, and offer full breakfast instead — that’s more often the case than not at properties outside the US.

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Should You Complain On Flight About Bad Service?


Reader Craig posted an interesting question in the “Ask Lucky” forum. While it’s a fairly long story/question, I do think it raises an interesting question, which is why I think it’s worth answering here:

I have the utmost respect for the majority of crew. I understand parts of their jobs are tough and rather thankless and I generally give them alot of leeway in regards to attitude but when should you challenge something that I believe is incorrect behaviour? I am sitting in 1A on a AA transcontinental fight JFK-LAX. It was a 10am departure so it’s not a red eye fight but I had a long previous night and a quick look around the cabin show 9 other pax trying to get some sleep with the seats flat and blinds down. I say trying as the crew (5 currently with the odd guest) are in the forward cabin, lights on, no curtain drawn having what could only be described as a loud gossip session with the requisite loud talking, laughing etc. This has been going on since the rather rushed and rote lunch service.

My question is: do you complain about crew whilst on the flight? After being unable to sleep even with Bose headphones on I got up and went in and asked, politely, that I and from the look of it the rest of the cabin would like to sleep so could they draw the curtain and perhaps talk quieter?

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5 Most Rewarding Credit Cards For Everyday Spend

These miles might be costing you more than you think

The primary way I rack up miles & points are through credit cards. That’s primarily through maximizing my return on everyday spend, as well as through the lucrative sign-up bonuses offered by card issuers.

Last month I wrote a post about which credit cards I use for each bonus category. In other words, why earn 1x point per dollar when you can earn double points on dining with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card, or Citi ThankYou® Premier Card. The same is true for other categories as well — airfare, hotels, gas, groceries, etc.

But what are the best credit cards for everyday spend which isn’t otherwise “bonused.” Most credit cards don’t offer bonus points for more random categories, like purchases from department stores, doctors, tax payments, etc., but many of us still spend money in those areas.

Which credit cards should you be using for those purchases, which otherwise don’t fit into one of the major bonus “categories?”

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How Tough Is It To Redeem Alaska Miles On Emirates?


Emirates first class is one of my favorite first class products in the world. From the perspective of maximizing fun while flying, it really is tough to beat. I remember my first flight in Emirates first class like it was yesterday.

Between the onboard shower spa…

The onboard bar…

Amazing food…

And much, much more, it really is a product that’s tough to beat.

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Up To 30% Bonus On Purchased Hyatt Points


Through August 31, 2015, Hyatt Gold Passport is offering up to a 30% bonus on the purchase of points.

This comes literally right after Hyatt offered a targeted 40% bonus to elite members, which ended on July 31, 2015.

If you max out the promotion and purchase 55,000 points you’d receive a total of 71,500 Gold Passport points. That would cost you $1,320, which is a rate of ~1.85 cents per Gold Passport point.

How does this stack up to Hyatt’s past promotions on the purchase of points?

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Review: Emirates First Class Dallas to Dubai


As I mentioned in my introduction, I’m not really going to review the flights in-depth for this trip report. Our flight from Dallas to Dubai will be the exception, as it was really the highlight of the trip. Ben has reviewed Emirates ad nauseum, so if you’re looking for more details on the flights and amenities just head over to his Trip Report Index.

I had flown to Dallas the night prior (the Dallas > Dubai flight doesn’t really leave at a convenient time for connections from San Diego), so I stopped into The Centurion Lounge to get some work done while I waited for mom’s flight to arrive.

She wanted to see the Centurion Lounge as well, so after spending a few minutes activating the “Soundscape art” at the foot of the escalators we headed upstairs so I could work a bit before boarding our flight. Of course, Mom then asked if she could “use my computer for just a minute” and spent the next twenty reading Facebook posts to me.

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Taking Mom On An Airplane Ride: Introduction


As some of you may recall, earlier this year I took my mom to the UAE and Singapore for a quick getaway. She hasn’t had the opportunity to travel much in recent years, and was really excited about the prospect of flying something “fancy.”

To be honest, that was the entire impetus for the trip, and the conversation went like this:

“Can we go on an airplane ride?”
“Specifically, I’d like to fly that plane where the stewardesses wear those pretty hats.”
“I guess.”
“So you want to go to Dubai?”
“Is that where it goes? I’m more interested in that Bulgari set.”
“So you want to fly Emirates First?”
“Doesn’t everyone get those?”
“Pretty sure only first class passengers do, Mama.”
“Well, is that what Ben flies? He always posts pictures of these nice seats with wood paneling and makeup mirrors. I’d like to do that, please.”

And really, what was I supposed to say to that?

So I put together a trip that would involve two flights in Emirates first class (a bargain at just 100,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles), with the idea that we’d stop over in the UAE for a few days before continuing to Singapore.

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One Direction Finalists — Help Me Choose The Winners


Friday was the last day to submit entries to join me in the SPG Luxury Suite at an upcoming One Direction concert. I simply asked you guys to tell me what you loved about SPG and/or One Direction, so thanks to the hundreds of you that participated. It was really tough to narrow it down to this group of finalists!

Now it’s up to you guys to decide who wins. Now through Friday, August 7th at 11:59PM Pacific you can vote below on who you think should win. Whoever gets the most votes wins, (barring any voting irregularities), and the top five entrants will get to bring a guest to the concert.

The polls can be found underneath each individual entry, and all you have to do is vote on which entries you think are best. You can actually vote for as many entries as you’d like, since each is set up as an individual poll, though obviously voting for every entry is the same as not voting at all.

Here are the finalists, in no particular order (though make sure to watch all the videos, as they’re hilarious):

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Buy One Get One Free Movie Tickets With Visa Signature Card


I don’t think Ben has posted about this promotion yet this summer, but if you have a Visa Signature card, you could be getting Buy One Get One Free movie tickets on Fridays through August 21st.

You must purchase the tickets through the Visa Signature portal, and the offer is limited to one free ticket per card per 30 day period. As opposed to previous years, you can actually purchase the tickets beginning Wednesday for Friday showings, which is helpful.

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