About Tiffany

Tiffany Funk is a passionate traveler who splits her time between California and Italy (when she’s not traveling elsewhere!) Her posts offer a different perspective on earning miles, tricks for balancing multiple household accounts, and break down the basics of redeeming miles for aspirational travel -- whatever those aspirations may be!

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What Is A VPN And Why Do You Need One?

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Yesterday Ben wrote about how China’s government may start cracking down on VPN services, which may have caused you to wonder “What the heck is a VPN, and what does it have to do with travel?”

What it boils down to is that no public internet connection is inherently safe or secure. Sure, you might be taking extra precautions on your home network, or using firewalls on your devices, though in my experience most people aren’t.

Whenever you’re using a public connection you’re exposed to flaws in the network, and are a bit at the mercy of anyone using that same network. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re at a coffee shop, a hotel, or on an airplane.

That’s where a VPN (or Virtual Private Network) comes in. It helps protect your data, and is so inexpensive and easy to use that there’s really no reason not to.

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Upside Adds Domestic Bookings, Offers $200 In Gift Cards

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In case you’ve missed earlier posts, Upside is a new travel tool that aims to disrupt the business travel market by incentivizing travelers to choose options that save their companies money.

OMAAT readers have had selected access to the various beta versions for a few months now, but Upside officially opened to the public last week, and now includes domestic bookings as well. To celebrate, One Mile at a Time readers can get a guaranteed $200 in gift cards on their upcoming bookings.

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What Happens To Your Miles When You Die?

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Not to be morbid, but this is a question I get all the time. Miles and points are confusing enough, and when you add in the stress surrounding an unexpected (or even expected) death it can be difficult to understand options and make decisions.

This is unfortunately a discussion we’re having in my family. Given how challenging it has been I figured it would be helpful to compile the rules for the main programs, along with my tips on how to organize your miles such that they can be used should something happen to you.

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UNBELIEVABLE: This Is Not How You Deice An Aircraft!

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As you may have seen on the news, Istanbul is being hit by a massive blizzard this week.

Typically when a hub city is hit by a major weather event it causes major problems for the local airline, which has certainly been the case here. Turkish Airlines has had to delay or outright cancel hundreds of flights, and by all accounts operations at Istanbul airports are just a mess.

More concerning than the delays, however, is this clip which was shared on Twitter this morning:

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You Can Now Transfer Your Virgin America Points To Alaska Miles

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Last month Alaska and Virgin announced the next phase of their merger, with mileage conversion and status matching starting as of January 9th. Virgin America Elevate points will convert into Alaska Mileage Plan miles at a 1:1.3 ratio. Per Alaska’s website:

“On January 9, 2017, we will invite you to enroll in Alaska’s award-winning Mileage Plan, enabling access to book award travel on Alaska Airlines and Alaska Global Partners network to over 900 worldwide destinations. Plus, you’ll receive more detail on how you can convert your Elevate points to Alaska Mileage Plan miles at a rate of 1.3 Mileage Plan miles per Elevate point. And for elite-level Elevate members, Alaska Mileage Plan will automatically match your elite status!”

The transfer functionality went live a few hours ago, so you can now convert points from Elevate to Mileage Plan.

To start, go to this page, which will prompt you for your Virgin America Elevate credentials:

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Why The Hottest Credit Card Bonus Might Not Be Right For You

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There’s a crazy amount of buzz right now about the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, and has been for months. The 100,000 point bonus is changing soon, so people seem even more enthused about it than before.

And there’s no doubt — it’s a great offer, and a very good card. The card benefits outweigh the high annual fee, and if you’re able to use the points towards premium cabin awards you can really get a tremendous value.

In some cases, however, it really might not be the best option for you. This is on my mind due to an exchange with reader @LelaRenee3 on Twitter, who is planning a trip for her son and his classmates to Japan next year.

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Fort Lauderdale Flights Cancelled Due To Shooting

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Sad news out of Fort Lauderdale, where a full ground stop has been ordered in the aftermath of a shooting in the baggage claim area.

Five people were killed, and an additional eight injured, according to officials. The sole suspect is in custody.

For those wanting further details as events unfold, the BBC has a useful Breaking News feed.

In the meantime, airlines have canceled their scheduled flights for the remainder of today, and are issuing waivers for travel today, and in some cases tomorrow. You can see the individual policies on the airline sites:

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I Was Walked From My Airbnb!

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Airlines often oversell space on flights, then ask for volunteers to be “bumped” from the flight. Hotels will sometimes overbook as well, and use the industry term “walked” to describe the process of accommodating a guest at another nearby property.

I’ve never actually been walked from a hotel, and it’s definitely not something I was expecting to have happen at an Airbnb!

As a quick background, my husband and I are in Jordan, and planned a night in the protected area of Wadi Rum. If you’re spending the night in Wadi Rum, your only real option is to stay at some iteration of a Bedouin camp.

There are a range of options, but the basic amenities are pretty much the same, with a handful of tents set up for guests, along with a main common area tent for meals and socializing, and two buffet-style meals included in the price. Most everyone uses the same goat hair tents, so the bathroom facilities are probably where there’s the most variation in quality (and thus pricing).

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Making Sense Of Annual Credit Card Spending Bonuses

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At the start of a new year, in addition to considering elite status options and resetting the counter for various travel credits, it’s worth thinking about if it makes sense to direct everyday or bulk spending to certain cards.

When it comes to getting value out of a credit card long term, one of the things to consider is whether or not you can earn any extra perks for meeting certain spending thresholds during the year.

Many people have hefty expenses with the new year (we’re paying tuition, and estimated quarterly taxes are due soon, as examples), so I figured it would be useful to go through some of these threshold bonuses.

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Supporting Syrian Refugees In Jordan

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Hello from somewhere in Jordan, (likely in the middle of the desert by the time this posts). The country is beautiful, and the people we’ve met have been so warm and welcoming – I can’t wait to share all the details of this trip with y’all.

I want to take a quick detour from miles and points though, and talk about the impact the Syrian refugee crisis is having in Jordan. I know this isn’t a typical topic for OMAAT, so I promise to keep it short, but something about seeing some of these things first-hand…
Jordan isn’t the most impoverished place I’ve traveled. Amman is a bustling and cosmopolitan city, and there’s a strong (though struggling) tourism industry. But adding almost a million refugees to your population isn’t easy.

So yes, we flew into a gorgeous airport, and many of the towns dotting the landscape are thriving.

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Get 1,000+ Bonus Miles With Winter Shopping Promos

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One of my favorite ways to earn miles is by leveraging shopping portals. If I have to buy things anyway, why wouldn’t I want to earn bonus miles?

Right now a few of the major airline shopping portals are offering additional bonus miles as a “New Years” promotion. The opportunities to earn bonus points goes through early January, but there are more limited-time increases for certain merchants as well.

Given that there is approximately 0% chance of my going anywhere near any major retailer during the post-holiday madness, it’s nice to be able to take advantage of sales while earning miles from home (or an airplane, in my case).

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No, I’m Not Canceling My Trip Due To Terrorist Attacks

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I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it here or not yet, but my husband and I are heading to Jordan next week. We’ve had the trip outlined for almost a year, but only told our parents about it recently. They tend to worry about anywhere they perceive to be a non-conventional destination, or anywhere they think “has a bad reputation.”

They were surprisingly fine with my trip to Azerbaijan though — possibly because they don’t know anything about the country.

So it wasn’t surprising that throughout the day on Sunday, we received numerous texts about the events in Karak, Jordan. Karak is between Amman and Petra, and thus is off the “known” radar for many people who haven’t been to Jordan. There’s a fantastically preserved Crusader-era castle there though, so it does draw a fair amount of tourists, and it’s a city we’re definitely planning on stopping in.

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Extra Air Canada Award Space For Aeroplan Members (And Less For Everyone Else)

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While there’s rarely a dull moment around here, sometimes the nuances of searching award space or booking flights with miles aren’t that interesting for a broader audience. Especially now that the US Airways Dividend Miles Comedy Hour is a thing of the past.

When we come across something interesting though, we do our best to share it. Sometimes that’s a trick or a great deal, and other times it’s more of a cautionary tale for others who might find themselves in a similar situation.

In this case, after spending several annoyed hours trying to figure out what was “broken,” we realized we had collective amnesia surrounding an obscure Air Canada policy — that they do, theoretically, give extra space to Aeroplan members.

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Top Gifts For Travelers

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Have you scoped out our Holiday Gift Guide yet? This year our list is chock-full of travel-inspired treasures and items we can’t live without on the road.

Most of these items are still available for delivery before Christmas, so even if you’re just now starting your gift hunt there’s still time for that perfect present.

From road warriors to aviation geeks to luxury-aficionados there’s hopefully something for everyone on your list!

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