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Showing posts from April, 2014

Summer business class fares to Europe

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People have all different kinds of goals when it comes to collecting points for travel. In my case, I'm a big fan of flying in business class on long-haul flights, but I'm not a big fan of spending the $6000+ that usually costs. To that end, this summer and last I spent a great deal of time and energy planning summer mileage award trips to Europe from New York. In both cases I had very specific dates, flights, and destinations in mind, so the advance planning was necessary.

Two years ago, however, I actually paid to fly to Europe in business class (on a Singapore Airlines A380, no less). I've noticed a trend over the years that most airlines seem to offer some kind of a business class fare sale between the US and Europe during the summer when business-related travel is low and vacation travel is at its peak. In the case of that A380 trip, the business-class seat was almost the same price as an economy seat on the same flight! The fact that I was flexible about dates and de…

Some major changes at Delta, United, and American

As I mentioned in the past, you need to have the mantra of "earn and burn" because frequent flier miles are devalued about every 18 months. The most common way they're devalued is by raising the number of points it takes to redeem for a flight. United's most recent changes in February nearly doubled the price for several routes, for example.

Delta made similar changes to their plan and they also made a huge change in that the number of points you earn on a paid flight is now based on the price you paid, rather than the distance you flew.

And because when one of the 3 legacy carries does it, the others usually follow suit, American announced a huge devaluation a few days ago. The worst-impacted part of their plan were their rule-buster rewards (AAnytime) that would let you book the last seat on the plane even if all the award seats were empty — the price for that doubled. The worst part of all is that American did this with zero advance warning.

Our economy is recover…

Amtrak blackout dates...

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UPDATE: Amtrak moved to a revenue-based model and blackout dates are gone now...

I often take Amtrak between Washington, New York City, and Boston. Their Acela service faster than the bus or the plane, but due to a lot of political BS, there's way more demand than there is supply so the price is usually a huge deterrent. Luckily Amtrak has their own points program, their own points credit card, and they're a 1:1 point transfer partner with Chase Sapphire.

As I mention in my little point tutorial, airlines often restrict the number of reward seats on each plane unless they're on a fixed value point system like Virgin or JetBlue. Amtrak was sort of the best of both worlds — the cost between two points is always the same and you can still book the last empty seat on the train with points. Or so I thought!

I went to book a one way trip from Washington today and saw an error message that rewards aren't allowed on rush hour Acela Express trains. When I clicked on the Blackou…