American Is Adding Flights To Cartagena, Colombia


Early last year I visited Colombia for the first time, and had an incredible time. I only visited Cartagena and Bogota — I loved Cartagena, while I wouldn’t return to Bogota. However, I’ve heard that there are lots of other beautiful parts of the country as well.

As an American Airlines loyalist (well, at least historically), the issue is that American only flies to Bogota, so we flew to Bogota, and then connected to Cartagena on Avianca. It was an easy enough process, though it was also sort of annoying to connect, given that Cartagena isn’t that from the US.

In fairness, Cartagena is already served by other US airlines — Delta flies from Atlanta, JetBlue flies from New York and Fort Lauderdale, and Spirit flies from Fort Lauderdale. I’m surprised American doesn’t fly there, given that they’re traditionally the strongest US carrier in Latin America.

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Big Changes Are Being Made To How Credit Scores Are Calculated


There are a lot of misconceptions about how credit scores are calculated. This causes a lot of people to believe that applying for or canceling credit cards is horrible for their credit score, when in reality that’s typically not the case.

I’ve written about this in the past, so in this post I’ll simply mention that you should have a good credit score as long as you keep some cards open for a long time (to build a good credit history), make your payments on time, and also don’t utilize too much of your credit (since it looks risky if you’re using too much of your credit). Compared to the above factors, the impact of new applications is minimal, and in many ways, applying for new cards can help your score (since it can increase your total available credit, and improve your payment history and credit history).

The Associated Press is reporting that huge changes are going to be made to how credit scores are calculated, and they could impact all of us.

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The World’s Most Frequent Flyer Is About To Pass 18 Million Miles With United


There are frequent flyers, there are very frequent flyers, and then there are OMG VERY VERY VERY FREQUENT FLYERS.

In 2011 I wrote about Tom Stuker, who at the time was earning 10 million miler status with United. That’s insane, given that United calculates million miler status based on your “butt in seat” revenue miles flown on United. That’s right, we’re not talking about 10 million award miles, or even 10 million miles taking into account elite bonuses for flying first or business class.

United held a huge celebration for Tom at the time, and even named a plane after him. Good for him, given how much he has flown.

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Hainan Is Introducing A New 787 Business Class Product


When it comes to aviation in China, all airlines are most definitely not created equal. I’ve flown longhaul business or first class on Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, Hainan, and Xiamen, and had very different experiences across all the airlines.

For example, while China Eastern has a top notch hard product (they have reverse herringbone seats), the soft product was abysmal.

Meanwhile I found that Hainan and Xiamen had by far the best soft product, with great food, professional service, and top notch amenities, while their hard product wasn’t great.

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Two Very Different Ways Of Recognizing Elite Status In Economy


Upgrades across the board are tougher than they used to be, which is probably because airlines are doing a better job of selling their first class cabins at discounted rates, and are also reducing the size of first class cabins on many planes. So airlines have been putting some effort into making the economy experience a bit better for elite members, in recognition of decreased upgrades.

For example, American offers Executive Platinum members in economy a free snack and drink. It’s a gesture that goes beyond the dollar savings — it’s nice to be recognized for your business and feel appreciated (especially since the loyalty program as such isn’t doing much nowadays to encourage people to feel that way). I’m spending more time in economy lately, and that’s perfectly fine.

At the moment I’m on an American A319 with a power outlet and an empty middle seat (which is exceedingly rare nowadays), so I’m every bit as happy as I’d be in first class.

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My Experience Applying For The British Airways Visa Card

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At the moment there’s an increased sign-up bonus on the British Airways Visa Signature® Card. The card is offering a sign-up bonus of 50,000-100,000 Avios, depending on how much you want to spend. The breakdown of the bonus is as follows:

— 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
— 25,000 additional bonus Avios after you spend $10,000 total on purchases within your first year from account opening
— 25,000 additional bonus Avios after you spend $20,000 total on purchases within your first year from account opening

In other words, you can spend just $3,000 within three months and get 50,000 bonus Avios, or if you’re willing to spend an additional $7,000 or $17,000, you can get an additional 25,000 or 50,000 Avios, respectively. Even if you only plan on getting to the 50,000 Avios spend threshold, I think the bonus is still very much worthwhile. You don’t really see bigger bonuses on this card without bigger spend thresholds.

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15 Perfectly Reasonable Requests I Plan To Make For My Etihad Residence Flight


A couple of days ago I booked a ticket in the Etihad Residence from Abu Dhabi to Sydney, which I’m really excited about. Yesterday I wrote a post sharing the initial communication Etihad had with me after the booking was confirmed. I’ve heard of people making special requests when flying in The Residence, so I asked you guys for ideas about what to request.

A vast majority of readers don’t read the comments section, though the comments on the post are gold — I laughed out loud at many of them. So in this post I wanted to share a selection 15 requests I plan on making for my flight in The Residence, based on the comments from you guys. In no particular order, it seem perfectly reasonable to request:

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WOW: Emirates Is Drastically Cutting Service To The US Due To Decreased Demand


I guess this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but the Associated Press is reporting that Emirates is greatly cutting back their frequencies to the US starting next month due to decreased travel demand as of next month. The Associated Press is reporting that:

— Dubai to Boston, Los Angeles, and Seattle, will be reduced from twice daily to once daily
— Dubai to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando will be reduced from daily to 5x weekly

As of now it doesn’t look like the actual route cuts have been updated in the schedule, but I imagine it will happen shortly.

This represents a net decrease of roughly 25 weekly flights between the UAE and US. However, do keep in mind that Emirates was already planning on decreasing frequencies on some routes prior to this announcement. For example, for the summer season they were already only going to operate once daily flights between Dubai and Los Angeles.

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Review: Kuwait Airways Business Class 777 Shannon To New York

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Upon arriving in Shannon we were all directed to get off the plane and reclear security. As we deplaned we were each given a transit card and our name was checked off a list.

Since I had “SSSS” on my boarding pass in Kuwait (which means I was selected for additional screening), I was ushered to a separate area. Once about a dozen passengers requiring secondary screening had deplaned, we were escorted to a separate area for screening.

One of the other business class passengers flipped out. “I WANT TO TALK TO A KUWAIT AIRWAYS SUPERVISOR, THEY DID NOT TELL ME I NEEDED TO GET OFF THE PLANE.” He said that he refused to go through security, etc. Then he turned to me and said “did you know we had to get off the plane here?” “Yeah, actually.” Then he stopped talking.

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How To Find The Perfect Trek To Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

In this post I’ll share my advice and experience from my recent trip to Peru. There are a million and one different tour operators in Cusco, the base of most tourist activities in eastern Peru. They all seem to offer similar packages, but their prices can vary by hundreds, even thousands of dollars. So, how do you find the very best option that will get you to Machu Picchu safely and relatively comfortably, while still going easy on your wallet?

Let me start by saying that this post does not apply to anyone who wants to do the Inka Trail. If you’re interested in the Inka Trail, you usually have to book three or more months in advance and should expect to pay a minimum of $500-700. Average prices often exceed $1000, so it all depends on how much you value the history of that specific trail.

Every trek to Machu Picchu is stunning, so there will be no lack of good views regardless of which trek you choose. Besides the Inka Trail, there are two main trails going from Cusco to Machu Picchu: Salkantay and Lares. These usually range from 3-5 days in length and differ in difficulty. The longest possible trek I saw was 10 days, although 4-5 seems to be standard for Salkantay. Looking online, I was overwhelmed by the plethora of options and prices. Knowing close to nothing about the two treks, I decided to trek Salkantay, purely because it offered a five days/four nights option, while Lares was limited to four days/three nights.

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Everything You Need To Know About The Hyatt Anniversary Free Night Certificate


Earlier I wrote a review of The Hyatt Credit Card, which is one of my all around favorite hotel credit cards. The card offers a big sign-up bonus of two free nights at any Hyatt in the world upon completing minimum spend, plus an annual free night certificate on your account anniversary.

While there are lots of other perks for the card, in this post I wanted to focus on the annual free night certificate that it offers:

On your credit card account anniversary each year you’ll be issued a free night certificate, which is valid for a stay at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel globally. The certificate should be issued shortly after your account anniversary, and is valid for a stay within a year of when it’s issued.

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Review: The Hyatt Credit Card


There are lots of reasons to apply for credit cards. Some are worth getting for their great sign-up bonuses, others are worth getting for the return they offer on everyday spend, and others are worth getting for the great long term perks they offer. Some cards even excel in a couple or all of those categories.

One of the all around best hotel credit cards is The Hyatt Credit Card, which is a card I’ve had had for years, and highly recommend. In this post I wanted to look at some of the benefits of the card in more details.

The Hyatt Credit Card offers a fantastic sign-up bonus, as follows:

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Is The Starwood Platinum Status Challenge Worth It?


For the most part loyalty programs are becoming less generous when it comes to status matches, since I assume they’re finding that in many cases they don’t actually change consumers’ long term behavior. There are exceptions, of course, but there’s a reason we’ve seen many loyalty programs discontinue status matches over the years.

For example, Starwood Preferred Guest stopped status matching in 2011, and has been offering a status challenge ever since. However, only recently did they publish a webpage with the details of the challenge. So this seems like a good time to look at Starwood’s current status challenge, especially in light of Marriott’s takeover of Stawood.

You can earn Gold or Platinum status through the Starwood status challenge, by completing a certain number of nights over the course of consecutive three month period, as follows:

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Can You Make Special Requests If Flying In The Etihad Residence?


As I wrote about yesterday, I’ll soon be flying in the Etihad Residence from Abu Dhabi to Sydney, which is supposedly the pinnacle of commercial aviation. The Residence is a three room private suite with butler service, located at the front left of the A380 upper deck. I can’t even begin to say how excited I am about the experience.

As I explained yesterday, I’d like to think I scored a “deal” on the ticket, at least compared to the retail cost. It was still a lot of money, but only a fraction of the original retail cost. Even though I didn’t pay $25,000+ for the ticket, I’m still coming in with high expectations, given how Etihad markets the product.

You can bet I’ll be documenting every aspect of the experience here, starting with the pre-trip service.

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