Advice

Where To Credit Airline Miles

Clouds-Sunset

One of the challenges in collecting miles is knowing where to credit the miles earned on a given flight. The combination of alliances and fare codes can make it tricky, especially for those new to miles. The Ask Lucky forum has a question nearly everyday about how many miles will be earned for a certain flight, or what the best deal is, etc., so it’s something a lot of people can struggle with.

I have a strategy and a timesaver tool, which I figured I’d share for those who might be in a similar situation.

My strategy is to think about your future travel desires, and how the miles you might earn for a flight can support those plans. Just because you can credit miles to say, Thai Royal Orchid Plus, doesn’t mean you should. There is possibly (and really probably), a better alternative with a partner carrier.

There’s a lot of nuance to this. Everyone’s goals vary, of course, but it also depends on how you’re able to earn miles. If you aren’t familiar with the “goalposts” for various awards, or which programs might make the most sense for your travel goals, be sure to check out our post on how many miles are needed for an award ticket.

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Does It Still Make Sense To Apply For The Citi Prestige Card?

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As I’ve been writing about the past couple of weeks, some major changes have been announced to the Citi Prestige Card. The most immediate change has been that the sign-up bonus is now 40,000 ThankYou points upon completing minimum spend, rather than 50,000 ThankYou points.

The other changes being made to the card kick in as of July 23, 2017, regardless of whether you’re a new or existing cardmember. In Citi’s own words, here are the changes:

“Lounge Access

Access to American Airlines Admirals Club® lounges will no longer be offered with your Citi Prestige® Card.

You will continue to have complimentary access to Priority Pass TM Select Lounges and Citi® Proprietary Lounges. You, your authorized users, immediate family or up to two guests will continue to enjoy access to over 850 airport lounges worldwide.”

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How To Find OMAAT Trip Reports

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About 10% of the posts on One Mile at at Time are trip reports, so there are well over a thousand (and counting!) reviews of airlines, hotels, and lounges. There’s some great content there, and we know people enjoy being able to compare different products.

Like with all content on the blog, you can always choose “Trip Reports” from the Categories section in the sidebar to get a chronological list of all the posts on that topic. And you can use the Search box in the upper right to look for any type of content on the blog.

We have some special functionality for the trip reports though, so I thought it would be helpful to go through those alternative options as well.

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Why It’s Worth Being Picked Up At The Airport In A Hotel Car

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For cities without good public transportation, one of my biggest frustrations is getting from the airport to the hotel. Maybe I just have horrible luck, but I seem to consistently have issues with this. From drivers nearly falling asleep on me, to drivers getting lost (even in a city with supposedly the most competent cabbies), to drivers claiming I damaged their car, to drivers refusing to take me to my desired destination, to drivers taking me the long way, it seems that more often than not getting from the airport to the hotel is an adventure.

While I generally have good luck using Uber to get from my hotel to the airport, I find it a bit tougher the other way around, since it’s often challenging to arrange an airport meeting point in a country where the driver doesn’t speak any English (and where I don’t speak their language). It’s easy if you enter a hotel as an origin, but not so easy when you enter an international airport with several arrivals areas.

With that in mind, lately I’ve started using hotel cars for getting from the airport to the hotel, at least in countries where most people don’t speak English. I’ve found it to be extremely worthwhile. Why?

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Change And Cancellation Fees For Airline Award Tickets

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We’ve been making a lot of changes to tickets lately. Between the situation in Turkey and the general life situations that arise, I almost feel like we’ve been spending more time changing award tickets than booking them lately!

Fortunately, award tickets have much more flexible policies than paid tickets, so if you need to change or cancel your trip you won’t be out an arm and a leg. I even like to leverage generous change policies on mileage tickets for my personal travel — budgeting in the cost of a change fee can make up for a lack of flexibility, or provide a better routing closer to departure.

The change fees and redeposit fees for each airline vary and there are also some cases where fees can be waived, so I thought it would be helpful to break all of this down. It’s worth noting that if you have elite status with an airline many of these fees will be reduced or waived, so that’s something to keep in mind as well.

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Why Do Major Airlines Outsource Flights To Regional Airlines?

American-Eagle

If you do any amount of flying within the US, you’ve surely flown one of the regional airlines operating on behalf of a bigger carrier. When you board you might be greeted with a “welcome aboard this American Eagle flight operated by Skywest,” for example. American Eagle is the brand that American markets for their regional flights, while Skywest is the airline operating the flight.

Skywest doesn’t just operate for American, but also operates flights for Alaska, Delta, and United.

That brings me to the question that reader AL emailed me:

“Why do airlines like United and Alaska outsource to third party airlines like Skywest for puddle jumpers? Why don’t they just create a separate entity to operate puddle jumpers themselves and take home all the cash?

It never made any sense to me.”

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FAQ: Changing Turkish Airlines Tickets In Light Of Flight Ban

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***Update 2:40PM Eastern: Since the time of this writing, the FAA has now removed the ban on flights from Turkey, and flights will resume operating as scheduled in the coming days. The below information is still applicable, though travel waivers will likely not be extended beyond the current date range.***

On Friday, an attempted military coup closed the main airports in Istanbul. In response to the uncertain security situation, the FAA has banned all direct flights between Turkey and the United States. This primarily impacts Turkish Airlines, which has flights to nine different cities in the U.S., carrying thousands of passengers each day.

I know many people have travel scheduled on Turkish Airlines in the coming weeks (they have a great business class product, and terrific award availability), and there are myriad schedule concerns. I’ve been answering questions in comments on both posts, on Ask Lucky, on Twitter, and in email, so I figured it made sense to consolidate the questions and answers into an FAQ.

Why is the United States FAA blocking flights from Turkey when other countries are allowing them?

The FAA has reason to believe planes and passengers from Turkey are not being properly screened and secured. They will make future determinations based on their own research and analysis, regardless of what other countries decide to do.

For reference, here is the full FAA NOTAM. You can search this on the FAA website, but it’s a little clunky, and can’t be directly linked to.

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No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards: 5 Things To Consider

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It’s only in the past few years that premium credit cards without foreign transaction fees have become the norm rather than the exception. For a long time I was thrilled to have a card that didn’t charge me ~3% just for making a purchase abroad, but nowadays I can be much more selective. When I’m traveling abroad I’m not only looking to avoid fees, but I’m also looking to maximize my points and get as much travel protection as possible.

With that in mind, I figured I’d share five things to consider when choosing a credit card without foreign transaction fees.

People assume that all cards without foreign transaction fees will get you the same conversion rate. That’s not the case. While the foreign transaction “junk” fee as such is waived, not all processors use the same conversion rates.

As I’ve explained in a previous post, typically MasterCard has the best exchange rates, often significantly lower than what’s offered by Visa. Rumor has it that the reason for this discrepancy is as follows:

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Is It Okay To Fly Business Class While Leaving Your Spouse In Economy?

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The Daily Mail ran an a story yesterday with the following headline: “The economy class wives: Their husbands fly first class while they are forced to slum it in the cheap seats… read on to find out how on earth these men get away with it!”

I think it goes without saying that the story is blatantly sexist. For that matter, so are the comments, which are cringeworthy, like this one:

“I would never do this. Very ungentlemanly. But if the husband is the bread winner, a better seat is in his gift. Keep your man happy (a clean home, regular sex on tap and nice cooking) and all should be fine.”

Still, I couldn’t help but read the story, since I think the topic as such is interesting. It’s a long piece, but here’s an excerpt:

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Here’s A Feature Every Airport Hotel Shuttle Should Have

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Unreliable shuttle service is one of my biggest frustrations with airport hotels. Ideally airport hotels will have schedules they publish with when they pick up at both the airport and the hotel. While it’s common to have published times for shuttle departures from hotels, at the airport it’s generally more of a crapshoot.

My issue with waiting 30 minutes for an airport shuttle isn’t just that it takes 30 minutes, but rather that the 30 minutes are completely wasted. You’re having to stand on the polluted outside roadway straining your eyes to see what hotel each shuttle is from.

I wouldn’t mind waiting 30 minutes if I knew it would be a 30 minute wait — I could sit down in the terminal and get work done on my laptop, grab a coffee, etc. It’s just the wait time along with the unpredictability that annoys me.

Reader CP@YOW forwarded me something awesome that I’ve never seen before. The Westin SFO and Aloft SFO share a shuttle, and there’s an online link where you can track the status of the shuttle in real time. Apparently this link is being sent out to guests in a pre-stay email, and it’s also on the hotels’ websites.

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Chipotle Learns From Airlines, Introduces Complicated Loyalty Program

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The “big three” US carriers have gotten to the point where their loyalty programs are now all more or less the same. My issue isn’t that they’ve devalued as such, but rather that they’ve devalued while making the program significantly more complicated. I sometimes can’t keep up with these programs anymore, so I can’t imagine what it’s like for the average person:

— You earn redeemable miles based on the base fare cost of the ticket, which can sometimes be tough to decipher
— You earn elite qualifying miles based on the distance flown
— In order to earn elite status you have to spend a certain amount during the calendar year
— If you’re flying a partner airline, however, you may earn redeemable miles and elite qualifying dollars as a percentage of the distance flown; it all depends which airline issued the ticket

Anyway, it seems that Chipotle has taken inspiration from airlines, as they’ve introduced a rather complicated program with a rather strange name. The program is called Chiptopia Summer Rewards, and it’s a test program which will be available for a three month period, from July through September.

This program just seems so poorly designed on so many levels, and I say that as someone who loves Chipotle.

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Will The Cost Of Airfare To The UK Decrease?

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Reader csam27 asked the following question in the Ask Lucky forum:

“Since the Brexit, the pound has been in free-fall and could soon reach an all-time low against the dollar. I want to purchase tickets to the UK from the west coast in March, specifically from Phoenix. Right now, flights seem to be very low, around $750 round trip/person in economy on a direct flight with BA. My question is simple: who has the magic ball to see how low prices will go, and when will be the perfect time to buy?”

Let me start by saying that a few days ago Tiffany wrote a fantastic post entitled “UK Votes To Leave EU: How It Impacts Travelers,” which addresses the long term implications that Brexit could have on the airline & travel industries.

My goal with this post isn’t to say “yay let’s travel to the UK for cheap,” but rather to briefly address the impact that currency fluctuations can have on airfare.

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My Unusual Business Class Seat Preference

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Reader Paul emailed me the following question:

“Hi Lucky, I notice in your trip reports that you always seem to sit in the last row of business class. Is there a reason you choose to sit there, or is it just all that’s available when you book last minute?”

It’s true. I have a strong business class seating preference, and it’s almost always the same, regardless of the configuration.

Assuming a plane has two business class cabins (as seems to be the case on most planes I fly in business class — usually A330s, 777s, or 787s), I’ll almost always choose to sit in the very last row. This is opposite of the preference most people have, since the goal for most people is to sit as far forward as possible.

To explain my seating preference in an example, take the China Airlines flight I’m presently on, between Los Angeles and Taipei. The flight is operated by a 777-300ER, featuring 40 business class seats. There are six rows of business class seats in the forward cabin…

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Why You Should Always Watch Your Valuables On Planes

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Whether justified or not, I think most of us assume that our carry-on luggage is safe when we place it in the overhead bin. In theory it’s a reasonable enough assumption, and really the only convenient conclusion you can come to. If you can’t trust that someone else won’t steal what’s in your carry-on luggage, does that mean you just shouldn’t sleep when you’re flying, so that you can constantly watch your bags?

Well, the Bangkok Post has the story of a guy who stole cash from a fellow passenger on a recent Emirates flight from Dubai to Bangkok:

“According to Emirates employees, Sunan Witham, a Thai passenger, told a flight attendant her 110,000 Swedish krona in cash — worth about 470,000 baht — went missing from her bag placed in an overhead compartment. She suspected Sheng Wan of stealing her cash as she spotted him opening the compartment before the money vanished, Pol Maj Gen Surachet explained.

The crew conducting a search found all of Ms Sunan’s 220 banknotes hidden under Mr Sheng’s seat and reported the incident to tourist police at the Bangkok airport.”

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