About Travis

Travis has been playing in the world of miles and points for over a decade. At one time or another he has held status on just about every major domestic airline and hotel program. He has visited all 50 US states and over 50 countries. Nowadays he travels almost exclusively with his wife and three young children.

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Hurry, Milk This Settlement For All It’s Worth

Cow

Like Ben recently said, we try to keep the content here on OMAAT about miles and points or aviation. But occasionally he lets me go off the rails and talk about random stuff that will still save or make you money even if it doesn’t have much of anything to do with travel. This is one of those times.

If you haven’t heard by now, there was a recent class action lawsuit alleging that Cooperatives Working Together, a federation of milk producers, colluded to fix the price of milk and other dairy products. They supposedly slaughtered half a million cows prematurely in a program called “herd retirement” to hold down production and thus drive up prices.

And you thought OPEC was the world’s leading cartel…

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Airline Distressed Traveler Kits: Lifesavers Or Useless?

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Airlines lose bags. That’s just a fact of life. If you fly enough, and check a bag, eventually the statistics will catch up with you.

Now to be fair, most of the time airlines don’t actually lose your bag, they just misplace it for awhile. It ends up on the wrong plane, sits in baggage purgatory, or whatever. That is to say most of the time you’ll eventually be reunited with it. Even so, it can be kind of annoying in the interim to not have your stuff.

Most airlines recognize this and have some form of distressed passenger amenity kit that they offer to passengers who have had their bag get lost. The contents of these kits tends to vary, however, as airlines seem to have different concepts of what is “essential.”

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Amazing Deal! Free Flights And Hotels With JetBlue Vacations! Act Fast!

jetbluepromo

JetBlue currently has a really great promotional offer for flight plus hotel vacation packages. For a flight plus hotel package within the United States, you can save $150 off the total itinerary. If you book an international package, you can take $250 off.

The key is that there is no minimum spend requirement.

That means you can end up with a free or almost free vacation!

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Two Weeks Of Unlimited Flying In Norway For $398

bergen evening

Norway is quickly climbing my list of favorite countries in the world. The entire country is basically one big national park. Or rather one big national park where every food vendor is a farm-to-table restaurant.

So the scenery is gorgeous and the food, all of it, seemingly no matter where you dine, is fresh, natural, and real. It seems they just don’t tolerate crap in their food like we do back here in the states.

OK, so the place is a little on the expensive side. But it’s actually a lot cheaper — at least for Americans — than it was a few years ago thanks to the strengthening of the dollar. When we visited Bergen in 2013, some of the prices were just plain silly. Now they are just on the expensive side, kind of like if you were visiting New York City.

Anyway, Wideroe is back with their annual fly-all-you-want around Norway for a fixed cost in the summer of 2017.

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My Experience With United’s Free Food For 1Ks In Economy

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A year ago January, United started offering Premier 1K and Global Services members a complimentary drink and food item if their upgrade didn’t clear. American was already offering their top-tier flyers complimentary food and drinks in Economy, so this was obviously a very positive change at the time, you might even say a change I like.

Now sure, a cynic will point out that this is literally throwing us a snack box to make us forget about the fact that our upgrades rarely clear anymore, but I’m going to choose to focus on the positive. At least for this post.

Anyway, we’re now a year into this program, so I thought it would be worthwhile to review my experience and see how you all have fared.

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CONFIRMED: United Polaris Lounge Now Offering Restaurant-Style Dining!

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Yesterday I shared the rumor that the United Polaris Lounge in Chicago would begin offering restaurant-style dining service today. This is one of the key features of the lounge that United has been heavily promoting. Prior to today, however, they had only been offering buffet service which, frankly, wasn’t the game changer we had been promised.

Well, it turns out that the rumor was true!

The United Polaris Lounge in Chicago is now accepting orders for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Points Guy has posted a copy of the menu and it looks pretty darn good.

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RUMOR: United Polaris Lounge To Begin Restaurant-Style Dining Tomorrow

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United recently rebranded their premium cabins as United Polaris and introduced a new all-aisle access business class seat. The Polaris soft product launched on December 1 of last year, but the new seats won’t start to be installed for a few more months. And it will take a few years to trickle out across the entire fleet.

To accompany the on-board product, United is also launching a series of premium Polaris Lounges. One of the key features of these lounges is that they will have restaurant-style dining, meaning you’ll get to place an order and have it delivered to your table.

I think this will be a nice option, especially for trips to Europe where the flight is so short that it’s hard to have enough time to both eat and sleep.

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Can Kids Fly In First Class?

Singapore-Suites-Double-Bed

When it comes to traveling with kids, there are three things that matter — space, space, and more space. That’s true on the plane, in the hotel, and in the rental car. I don’t much care about the service or the food (assuming there is some!), I just want more space. That lets the kids sprawl out, lie down, and be kids.

Reader Rhebon recently asked a question in the Ask Lucky forum about traveling with kids.

“I have a very simple question and I think you never talked about that subject?!? What airline is best for travelling with kids on a longhaul flight? Is it OK to fly first class with younger kids (2&5)?”

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How Everyone Can Visit Canadian National Parks For Free

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I recently posted about how American seniors can purchase a lifetime pass to the national parks for only $10. This is an incredible bargain considering that a single visit to Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, or other major national parks can be $30 or more. The cost of the senior pass is going up to $80 at some point this year, so I highly advise anyone who is eligible for the pass to lock in this great deal now.

Well, it turns out there’s another awesome deal for enjoying the great outdoors and this one is open to anyone, not just those 62 and over.

Canada is celebrating their 150th birthday in 2017 and to commemorate the milestone they are giving free admission to all Canadian national parks. For the entire year. To everyone.

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Seniors: Get Your US National Parks Lifetime Pass Now Or Pay More Later

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Imagine that you could buy a lifetime pass to the the airline club of your choice for less than the cost of a single visit. And that it not only covered your own entrance fee, but also everyone in your party.

You’d jump on it, right?

Well, that is essentially the deal that the United States government offers senior citizens for entry into our national parks. For as long as I can remember, seniors have been able to purchase a lifetime pass to our national lands for $10. Not only does it get them into the park, it also includes entry for everyone in their vehicle. Most of the big parks like Yellowstone, Glacier, and Yosemite charge $30 for a 7-day pass, so this is obviously an incredible bargain.

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Why Some People May Want To Buy Choice Hotels Points This Week

Clarion Havenkonteret

Choice Hotels don’t get a lot of attention in the miles and points world, but they do have their place. If you’re road-tripping across the United States, they might be the only show in town if you’re keen on earning points. I’ve certainly had my share of nights in Quality Inn, Sleep Inn, Comfort Inn, and just about every other kind of Inn that Choice has to offer. Sometimes I might have even wished they had no room in the Inn….

I’ve also stayed at some really nice Choice properties outside the US.

At any rate, Choice Hotels is selling points at up to a 30% discount through December 26. The discount is tiered, meaning that in order to get the full 30% discount, you need to buy between 35,000 and 50,000 points:

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What Are Miles Worth?

Mountains

Figuring out how to value frequent flyer miles is tricky business. Most people have a vague concept of what a mile is worth to them, but if you press them on it, they don’t really know how they arrived at that number. Worse yet, if you start to question them about how they earn or redeem miles, their past behavior is likely to tell a very different story.

I’m not going to tell you how you should value your miles, and honestly, nobody else can tell you that either. (Though you can see how Ben values his miles here.) Last year I wrote a detailed series about how to determine the value of your miles, but there have been lots of questions lately as to how to know whether or not something is a good deal, so it seems a refresher is in order.

By examining how you earn and spend miles, we can hopefully establish some bounds around where your real valuation lies.

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Have You Ever Volunteered Your Hotel Room?

holiday inn cape cod

The practice of overselling flights is pretty common in the airline industry. This happens when a flight ends up with more ticketed passengers than it can carry, for whatever reason. If the situation hasn’t resolved itself by the time the plane is ready to board, the airline is required to start soliciting passengers who might be willing to take an alternative flight in exchange for compensation.

Sometimes, however, they are unsuccessful at getting enough folks to voluntarily give up their seat and instead have to resort to denying boarding to some passengers involuntarily. As you can expect, this latter case can really start to tick people off. “You mean I bought a ticket for this flight, but you don’t have a seat for me!??! WTF!!!

Hotels can end up in a similar situation, only instead of running out of seats, they run out of rooms. They even have their own industry jargon — instead of getting bumped from a flight, you get walked to another hotel. (Why you can’t just get in your car and drive, I don’t know.)

The difference, at least I always thought, was that hotels don’t actually try to solicit volunteers to give up their rooms but instead just start walking folks when their inventory is depleted. If you check in late, and there’s no room in the inn, well too bad for you.

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RadPad Sucks, Plastiq Steps Up

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There was a bit of a buzz recently when an outfit called RadPad offered to let you pay your rent with a credit card for no fee through the end of the year. The catch, if you can call it that, was that it required you to use Android Pay, meaning that us iPhone users were kind of locked out of the deal. But still, it was an incredible offer given that they usually charge 3.49% for the service. It almost kind of made me wish I was still a renter….

Well, it turns out that RadPad didn’t quite anticipate the amount of excitement they would generate. Apparently they had far more signups for the service than they expected, and worse yet, their payment processor supposedly jacked up the rates for handling the transaction. Talk about getting pounded from all sides.

So they did what they had to do, and pulled the deal early. Before I could write about it even. But coincidentally, or perhaps not, Plastiq has stepped in with a similar promotion of their own.

For rent and mortgage payments scheduled between now and September 30th, Plastiq is charging a reduced fee of 1.75% so long as you schedule at least six payments. Note that the payments themselves only need to be scheduled by September 30th, but can actually be for any point in the future.

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