[Please note that TBB is traveling! Blog posts during this time will vary greatly in length and quality. In other words, some posts may be mistaken as filler/mailed in :-) ]

Blog post written on Saturday December 14, 2013.

It was an adventure driving to the airport on Saturday as it had been snowing all day! I only managed to spend three hours at the Lufthansa Senator Lounge this time! I am flying on a United award Detroit to Frankfurt on Lufthansa and onwards to Thessaloniki, Greece on Aegean Airlines. In Business Class. This could be the last UA award ticket flying Lufthansa after the devaluation massacre last month. Oh it will be so so missed…I had to wipe some tears off, thank you for understanding!

I will NOT be adding the usual section titles in my blog posts while traveling. So I am just going to throw at you whatever I noticed that was worthy letting you know about it. I may miss things so please don’t judge :-)


The Flight Deal had a phenomenal post on ” All Nonstop US Airways Flights from Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Phoenix and Charlotte with British Airways Avios Starting March 31st, 2014″ Some fantastic awards can be had this way. Hurry, quick, may not last that long!

Amol of Hack My Trip wrote “Alaska Airlines Stopover Rule on Domestic Awards“. Some great ways to take advantage of this!

Be careful with them Vanilla Reload cards boys and girls! Weird stuff is happening. This post by Free Travel GuysVanilla Reload Scam-And Incomm’s Response“. I can’t believe they will respond this way….I can’t believe this has lasted so long if crap like this is done! [Note: By featuring something here it does NOT mean I like that particular blog!]

IHG Rewards is going for a second round of the Win Big promotion! I am at 95.8k points for 4 nights in two brands and wife is at 84k pts for 4 nights in two brands too! Much better value proposition this time! I may look to mattress run my 3 night award stay at the Orlando Four Points by Sheraton. But I am afraid of further and deeper devaluations in this program. I will have to think about it over mother’s home cooking :-)


20 Breathtaking Photos of Winterland. By Bored Panda. Breathtaking indeed, must click!

Winterland landscape

Image Credit: Jan Machata


winter landscape trees

Image Credit: Lars van de Goor


Jee Young Lee art photography. Wow!

Jee Young Lee

Jee Young Lee art


When Penguins Attack. That must hurt, ouch! Found at Twisted Sifter.

Attack of the Penguins

Originally found here


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39 comments on “Avios deals on US Air, Alaska Stopovers, Vanilla scams, bigger IHG Big Wins, Winterland Landscapes, Art by Jee Yong Lee, Penguins,

  1. TPG proves once again that he doesn’t know what the flip he’s talking about, writes a post on last minute ways to earn elite qualifying miles and talks about redeeming United miles for status via Choices.,.. an option which has been discontinued. What exactly makes him an expert?

  2. Some thoughts:

    A) The big bloggers are contractors for the banks. As contractors for the banks, they are reluctant to give advice that will hurt the bank’s bottom line.

    Exhibit #1: Gary willingly pays all these annual fees, even on cards he doesn’t really use. Nowhere does he write “but paying the banks this much for the privilege of making them money is just nuts.”

    Exhibit #2: Two of the most overlooked but valuable threads on Flyertalk are this one on Citibank retention offers and this one on the US Airways card, which has a new consolidated URL. In the first thread, you learn that your normal spending rate on the Citi AA cards after six months should be approximately 2 miles per dollar, and that there’s no need to pay an annual fee if you keep calling the reconsideration line. In the second thread, you learn that the optimal strategy with the US Airways card is: 1) use non-affiliate 35K link, 2) buy a bagel or coffee, 3) put the card in the drawer, 4) wait four months and receive offer for (in our case) 17.5K bonus miles after spending >$750 in each of three months.

    In other words, the best practice is actually to go against the financial interests of the issuing bank, because the banks will soon sweeten the pot for customers who under-utilize their cards. Not surprisingly, bloggers who work as contractors for the banks don’t frequently write posts with the general suggestions of “get this card and then don’t use it.”

    B) There’s no reason to hold onto a regular Citi Hilton card; I converted mine to a Citi Dividend and now I have all three 5% rotating category cards. (This comment follows up to my note yesterday that the Jan-Mar categories are fitness clubs/gyms, Macy’s, and drug stores.)

    C) Hypothesis to be tested:
    One can usually get ~17% back at hotels.com after using a portal. The savings are 10% back through hotels.com’s reward program, and 5-7% back through the portal.

    One should therefore be able to strip 17% or more off the listed hotels.com price when using Priceline’s Name Your Own Price. However, to my genuine relief, I don’t have to travel in the immediate future and don’t have an opportunity to test this. (I’m sick of flying right now.)

    D) Saw HackMyTrip‘s argument with the Wandering A over the value of hotel status and thought, “Wow, Scott really likes hotel breakfasts.” Personally, we fall into the “walk down the street and buy at a local cafe” camp. De gustibus … etc. ….

    • I really, really like hotel breakfasts. Yes. I’ve said so before that post, and I’ll say it again.

      I do not like the breakfast at most places where it is included gratis, such as Holiday Inn Express or Hyatt Place (although the latter is better…) But since this is included for everyone and not a Diamond benefit, I don’t consider it a status benefit.

      • … non est disputandum.

        I’ll agree with you insofar as a) breakfast spreads in Asian chain hotels are very good and b) I’ve never really gotten used to congee or other savory breakfast options.

  3. Buzz. Free Travel Guys? Really? No way I’m going to their website after they disrespected TBB! Have a safe trip, give Mom a big hug from me, and try not to drink too much Domestica. Love and Kisses from your most loyal fan and TBB Fan Club President. C.Ramsey.

  4. @ Amol: You are welcome. You are numero Uno!

    @ Konorth; Thanks. The trip to Greece was great! For a moment, I thought I should start taking pictures of my meals and flat bed seat but I held myself back…just not original enough ;-)

    @ Angrybear: There are many “experts” out there. Some don’t even have a PR dept lol

    @harvson3: Thanks for the comment and the links ( I fixed it!). Your comments are always MVP material. Thank for adding to the knowledge bank.

    @Ramsey: Thanks a lot. TBB Fan Club President made me smile!

  5. Man my IHG offer was only 31K. Kinda disappointed cuz I wanted to start building my balance and take advantage of pointsbreaks. Oh well. I saw some comments that offers were good with people who don’t travel, but I guess I haven’t used an IHG property in a few years (since Athens I think) so maybe I’m not valued. Oh well.

    @harvson i appreciate those comments as well. i often have no idea what is the best thing to do with my card when it is up for renewal. i’m a sucker for the line about “a free night is worth the annual fee” but with my airline cards i never know.

    Maybe one of your travel posts could mention about being a blogger and being on FT. I’m curious if people notice your comments and point out you’re a blogger, refuse to answer PMs, etc. Have a great trip though, and enjoy your family!

  6. It’s Monday, so that means Rick must be delivering the mail on FTG.com today

    Rick, mailing in Mondays since 2013 (mail service is down from 7 days a week pre-IB cashout)

  7. Living near a US Airways hub, I’m greatly anticipating my ability to use Avios points for short haul flying. Just last week, I plugged in a couple of routes into the Airline Mileage Calculator to see what’s what. The Flight Deal’s post will make it easier for folks. :) One of the funny things about Avios is the thrill of victory (yeah, your destination is only 646 miles!) or the agony of defeat (oh man, 667 miles!).

    I know many of the bloggers were disappointed when BA went to a mileage-based system, but I think they’ve now realized that — as a companion to OTHER ff programs — Avios is fantastic. Like if you live in the East, it’s practically impossible to fly short haul leisure routes because the fares are so freakin’ expensive. But if you live near a US/AA hub, no problemo! And BA’s award ticketing policies are favorable. A great program — I hope they don’t “enhance” it! :)

    • I had the same feelings when the change happened…but soon enough I saw the value of it and it is awesome. Been sending family to NYC from Detroit for 9k round trip many many times, it’s like a slam dunk. TFD post was awesome indeed. I know the feeling of “agony of defeat” lol

      • @iahphx

        Just enjoy it while you can

        Because when AA/US eventually downsize, PHX will be the new Memphis

        Of all the hubs, that is the primary one on the chopping block

          • Both will be (relatively) safe

            Philly is a huge market and makes AA dominant in the NorthEast (where they currently lag behind UA, DL and even JetBlue).

            CLT is safe because it’s an insanely profitable hub, and a huge finance/banking (read: business travelers) market.

            I suspect a few leisure routes from CLT and a few int’l routes from PHL might get cut, but nothing like what happened to Memphis or what will happen to PHX

  8. Gary from VFTW has an article on how new AA CEO Parker wrote a letter asking his employees to vote on a new AA livery paint job for the tail. Things sure have changed since I served my 2 years sentence working there!! The only letter the TWA employees/lepers/detainees (that’s how we were treated) got from AA, was “dont let the door hit you in the ass on the way out to the unemployment line.”

    • Things have sure changed there and we are in to see many more changes. I think Parker is a decent CEO but unfortnately he won’t be kind to them hacking “entitled” passengers like the ones who hang around here ;-)

  9. In FTG’s desire to move the medium back to its hobby roots, the post “Why I’m switching from SPG Amex to Arrival Card” has 4 credit cards in the post that are neither the SPG Amex or Arrival Card….. including the inferior US Airways card

    It’s a shame that Rick has to drag Howie down with him. Used to be such a good blogger back when the idea was to actually blog

    • Wrong Again Steve’O. You are on a daily role of errors. Howie writes about what ever he wants to. Always has. Always will. I think you may be jealous that Howie makes more for one post than you do for mowing ten lawns or doing your paper route for a whole month.

      You can continue to be George’s Pit Bull but your errors reflect poorly on you. As a matter of fact, some of your most blatant errors are assumptions you’ve made about other blogs in the space as well.

      It is obvious to those in the know. you are clueless. But it is daily fun to see how big a fool you can be and how far you really are from the truth.

      Angries just gotta be Angry

      • Who is this anonymous poster, and why is he or she so cowardly that they need to hide behind a wall of anonymity?

        Remember when that Frugal Travel Guy person who used to post on this site always complained about commenters who would post anonymously?

        I wonder what he would have to say about the above poster

        • Not cowardly at all. The above poster is me. One computer has my name populated the other doesn’t.

          I thought with all your business experience you could have figured that out. guess not.

          Angries gotta be Angry

          • Ahhh, so other “Anonymous” posters get criticized by you because they don’t reveal their names, but when you post as anonymous, there’s endless excuses

            Yet another “do as I say, not as I do” moment from the king of it

      • Yup or a close associate (who is also bald and angry btw), probably because of directives received to not tarnish the site’s (non-existent) brand.

        Tell them Steve, they haven’t enough money to buy you out …..

  10. Hi,

    Just a quick checkin here. Not sure when the next post will happen. Connectivity issues and just too busy taking care of things.

    I see signs of poverty and deep depression all around me here, Greece is so phucked. Old man next to me at a coffee shop asked me if I will eat the few cookies that come with each coffee. I said “go ahead” and he ate them faster than a kid downs french fries at McDs! Then on a taxi ride the guy told me how two fellow taxi drivers recently emigrated to Canada and tell him how much snow they have. The little square near my home was always full of people out in the shops around it. Now there are only a few shops open and close early in the night. Traffic of cars is way down too. The street in front of my home used to be so noisy now it is eerily quiet.

    On a more positive note, I am getting a Greek passport next Monday! Been almost 20 years since my last one expired! I may use it when I travel to North Korea or Cuba lol.

    Gotta go to the tax office now to prove to them I am indeed a Greek citizen living abroad buahahahhahahahaha.

    Greece is a country of the absurd. We used to say it is a “poor country full of rich people”. Now it is still like this but much less rich people….who happen to be the politicians and the mega tax evaders (who usually is the same group!).

    It will all be worth it when Greece shocks the world and beats Brazil in the World Cup Final next year hehe

  11. Relax, George, and enjoy your trip (as much as possible under the circumstances). We will keep the Christmas tree lights on for you here while you are gone.

    New rant from Mile Nerd! And as usual he is right on in his assessments. So much junk out there to wade through.

    Rapid Travel Chai’s latest trip report on an Indian Ocean island hop is astounding. The guy must have a butt of steel to do the flying he does. I think he did the best he could with the limited time he had on the ground.

    I wanted to thank you for adding your tab with the blogs you like and love. After reading your blog, I just can just click on the links there to go to the other blogs.

    • Thanks for mentioning MileNerd. I would have missed the rant otherwise as I don’t read other blogs besides this and VFTW. Kinda used to rely on TBB but man is traveling and needs time off, so be it.

      That rant really sums up most everything. The sellouts and the dishonest will never understand why they are hated. It doesn’t have a single thing related to jealousy by anyone. Keep lying to yourself that others are jealous or they have an agenda

      The bit about fear and insecurities is also so true. Oh hai, Mile Nerd.

    • I appreciate the heads up, thanks!

      I would like to move the Like and Love blogs on a list on the front page going down the left hand side but not sure how to do it. Have to mess with the WordPress theme and I am scared….I am scared even updating any theme or plugins in general. You know, if not broke don’t fix ;-)

  12. Buzz I’m doing my AppOrgy this morning and spending way too much time trying to figure which bloggers to give my commissions to. I will spread it around, I think. If you BUZZ / TBB just would have a credit card tab, list the the best offers for each card, state if it is affiliate offer and list the commission if possible, I would click on it in a second. So would other TBB gang members. What would be wrong with that?……………………………Are Steve and AgendaGuy related?

    • No relation at all. Never ate ribs with him either ;)

      Just a friendly, neighborhood supporter of anyone that can all out the B.S/commercialization of this hobby perpetrated by angry salesman calling themselves “bloggers”.

    • Yeah, spread it around among the blogs in my two good lists ;-)

      Commissions can never be listed as the bloggers are contractually prohibited to disclose them! This non transparency is indeed a shameful practice the banks have been getting away with…so speak to your congress man/woman :-)

      One day I may offer such a tab, other readers have been asking about it. Maybe in 2014. No rush here amigo. As long as you support the blogs in the two good lists you are doing a service to humanity, errr, I mean improving this space that just is full of pseudo pumping experts :-)

      Ok….I am hungry for ribs now. But I may get my mother a pizza instead, she likes them!

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