Yes, I have been a subscriber for a long time so I can travel for free. Of course the subscription I pay does not prevent me for traveling for free! Get it? I think the biggest oxymoron in this hobby is that we all travel for free!! But I digress.
I still enjoy reading a newspaper or a magazine or a book. I do substantially less of it since I started this blog. I especially always enjoyed catching up on reading on the plane. It still bothers me I did not time it well on my Virgin Atlantic flight from London to NYC JFK a few weeks ago and only saw half of the Django Unchained movie, I should have stuck with more reading! I much prefer watching movies at the theater with popcorn anyway…which I also do much less of lately!
What I most like about Inside Flyer is Randy Petersen’s monthly editorial and the in depth lead articles. As far as the news go, you know, with the Internet and Twitter speed lately…most of the news reported are, well, a bit stale. And that is the long term trend of the printed publications I am afraid…
I wish I had a referral link to stick here because this is another product I am a big fan of and highly recommend it if you are into this hobby!
I got this idea this morning while starting to read the magazine. I hope you enjoy it and learn something from it. I also hope you get entertained by my commentary too. All feedback (good and bad) is always encouraged, no censoring is permitted! I am trying to add value to my blog product to make it worth what you are paying for it;-)
If I got something wrong please let me know so I can correct it asap!
And thank you for your support. Well, the only thing you can do really is spread the word around about my blog, I would really appreciate that. Thank you!
RANDY PETERSEN’S MAY 2013 EDITORIAL
May’s editorial is all about Frontier Airlines and its Early Returns loyalty program. It started going downhill when Republic beat Southwest in a bidding war for it in 2009. And when the Frontier CEO says he wants his airline to look like Spirit, the writing is on the wall. Two investment firms are in discussions to purchase Frontier: Indigo Partners and Anchorage Capital Group. Indigo owns Spirit and Anchorage has also invested in Spirit. It appears that Early Returns members may be joining the “amazing” FREE SPIRIT program in the near future. Of course Spirit IS profitable as much as we like to make fun of them.
So…Randy wonders what to do? “Cash out before I become cashiered?” And this: “This exercise of knowing when to hold and when to fold with a loyalty program is often one of the emotional hand-wringing that even the veteran frequent flyer such as myself can go through if you are engaged in the value of your currency and benefits like I am”.
Randy wishes Southwest had won the Frontier bidding war back in 2009. “…these programs have become such a parrt of our lives–we get emotionally attached to them”. Ain’t that the truth?
He will also continue earning miles on Frontier knowing full well that he may end up with orphan miles. “But hope springs eternal”. It sure does…I sometimes wish Northwest Airlines had never been purchased by Delta!
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
I read this section for amusement purposes. Jeff bitched “Hilton raised the points requirements overnight without any notice”. Really? I get the same reaction that someone pops in years after the fact complaining they lost the miles in an airline that merged…after repeated announcements to take the necessary steps to merge the accounts!
And this by Theresa P: “I’ve had it with AA, on multiple levels. I’m looking to join a class action lawsuit. If I only get $1 in damages, I’d be fine with that, I just want to see them held accountable”. Lol!
S.R. complains about Delta Skymiles: “…it was a nightmare trying to use them”. Join the line!
Joerg Heise says to avoid Air China as it “is virtually impossible to redeem your miles unless you have a Chinese friend that can pay for you”. This is because he does not have a Chinese ID card. Hmmm, that does not make sense to me. If you earn PhoenixMiles Club miles you may want to take a look at this!
This is the section that is mostly obsolete by the time you receive the magazine. But if you do not follow the news online this is a great recap. For us miles/points junkies we are all over the news such as:
Priority Club changes coming this summer
A few very minor additional benefits for JetBlue Amex
US Air Shuttle bonus between NYC, Boston and Washington DC until May 31, 2013
Fairmont Platinum President’s Club members can now transfer certs to immediate family members online
Effective June 30, no more Points Advances with AMEX Membership Rewards. Boo!
TAM Fidelidade makes changes as of June 1. Longer booking window (good), new three-tiered award model (Mega Boooo, smells like Delta, you know what this means—->mega devaluation!!)
Marriott will launch Moxy hotels across Europe. Similar concept to Aloft, Hyatt Place and Indigo
Some guy sued United for awarding him a couple of hundred less miles on a flight. The suit was thrown out after publication date.
Hilton’s promo until June 30. 2,000 bonus Hilton HHonors per weekend night, 1,000 per weekday night. Just in case you were living under a rock
Delta keeps your miles when you die. You give account number and PIN to your beloved to burn them when you are no longer around. Does anyone disagree that this is yet another Skymiles “enhancement”? Messing over dead grandma’s miles is so low!
SXSW AA: Some techies won a few prizes in a hackathon
SPG promotion: See comments on Hilton promo above
Aeroplan will match donations to selected charities. Zzzzzzz
So will US Airways
A request by a reader for help to get award flight on Delta to Tanzania
Two new additional ways to Kiva for micro-loans. Zidisha and MicroPlace. Zidisha waives paypal fees for now. Microplace is owned by Paypal (enough said?) and you can earn 0.5 to 4.5 percent return on your investment (not FDIC insured!!!). Zidisha has been around since 2009, MicroPlace since 2007. Do your own due diligence!
Cello miles? United will give miles per seat you buy. AA and Delta will only give miles for one seat per flight.
Quote of the month: “Due to mergers, consolidations, cutbacks in capacity, the airlines are all making money these days. It’s good news for the airlines, bad news for the frequent flyer programs” by Peter Greenberg, Travel Editor for CBS News.
A bunch of tiny news stories and developments. Nothing earth shattering. Just a few that I found worth mentioning:
Four Seasons will launch a guest loyalty program. Can’t wait to see what form it takes!
Some analyst says only three to four percent of members of frequent flyer programs hold elite status. That will be about two to four million elite members among AA, Delta and United.
Istanbul is hot! First Fairmont will open in 2016. New hotels going there are: Jumeirah Group, Morgans Hotel Group and Viceroy.
Interview with the guy who won 1 million Alaska Mileage Plan miles in the Red Lion R&R Club promotion last year. I chuckled when he explained his reaction to receiving the packet announcing he is a winner. He thought it was a scam, it has happened to me several times, it is indeed a natural reaction! The interview goes down hill at the end when he mentions he quit United when he got a bad itinerary in an award flight. So he switched to Delta! What??? Lost interest after that…
This is a section where Randy Petersen answers reader questions.
First question was from a newbie college student asking which credit card to get to earn miles for a trip to Europe in three years (gulp!). Randy recommends Frequent Miler and Million Mile Secrets.
Another newbie question on how best to keep track of miles/points balances. Award Wallet is recommended along with Superfly (who are they?) and UsingMiles.
AAWARDS BY THE NUMBERS PER 2012 10-K REPORTS:
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan: Did not release this number. Outstanding miles: 131 billion!
American Aadvantage: 609 Billion outstanding miles. Members redeemed approximately six million one-way awards, about 8.6% of passengers. (Same number of awards & 8.8% in 2011). Members also redeemed 517,482 miles for upgrades, 717,260 miles for merchandise (slap me!) and 1,175, 246 for other types of awards.
Delta Skymiles: 11 million award redemptions for over 262 billion miles. 8% of revenue miles were from award travel compared to 8.2% and 275 billion miles redeemed in 2011. No number of outstanding miles…I am sure it must be in the hundreds of trillions and growing:-)
Hawaiann Airlines: 490,000 awards for about 5.2% of revenue passenger flights (down from 5.7% in 2011).
Jetblue Trueblue: 753,000 flights for 3% of total revenue passenger miles (up from 580,000 and 2% respectively in 2011).
Southwest Rapid Rewards: 4.5 million flight awards for 9% of revenue passenger miles flown (up from 3.7 million & 8.3% in 2011 respectively).
United Mileage Plus: 4.7 million travel awards for 7.4% total revenue passenger miles (8.2% in 2011). I ignored Continental’s numbers. About 83% of redeemed miles were for flights, including upgrades.
US Airways Dividend Miles: Same story for the past three years…0.8 million flight awards representing about 4% of revenue passenger miles.
Summary: Southwest rocks. And of course no word on the breakdown of the saver vs anytime award levels in Delta Skymiles…they are afraid to post that!
This month it’s Best Western Rewards. It gets a 7.36 rating (out of 10). Next month ANA Mileage Club.
I am not going in depth here, just a few interesting nuggets.
Over 4,000 hotels and 100 countries. 2,160 hotels in North America. Over 16 million members. May be only option in tiny towns.
Customized affinity programs with racing fans (BW Speed Rewards) and Harley-Davidson (Ride Rewards). Definitely do not expect a trip report to appear in View from the Wing blog:-)
Free nights start at 8,000 points. That reminds me I have 10,990 points!
Three Elite levels: Gold, Platinum, Diamond. Very liberal status matching policy!
Points do not expire for most members.
LEAD ARTICLE: 2013 FREDDIE AWARDS
Much ink has been spilled about the results. It always shocks me how well Marriott does in these awards! And, deservedly so, Delta was shut out!
I was also shocked Le Club won Program of the year in the Europe/Africa region!
I think AA and Hyatt rightly won best Elite Program honors!
In the 25 years of these awards, Marriott has won 124 awards, the most overall. Like I said, I wonder how they do it!
Southwest has the longest winning streak in a Single category: “Best Award Redemption”. I think we should start a parralel promotion…A parody of the Worst Freddies, let’s call them Frenzies or Doozies? I have no doubt that Delta will cream the competition! And will have the “Worst Award Redemption” category locked up, no votes needed!!
IHG’s Invisble Traveler. Mobile check ins and more. Zzzzz
Rocketmiles I could easily go, open an account and stick the referral link here. But I did not. Just saying:-)
A review of the TAM Fidelidade’s website. Got 4.5 out of 5 stars. All you need to know is that TAM is leaving Star Alliance and joining One World in the second quarter of 2014. And you can only book TAM flights online, otherwise you need to pick up phone (oh the horrors) and call. Website is slow.
Pay with Miles feature in Delta. Worth only $.01 per mile. Please don’t. Then again, probably not worth much more than that;-)
Choice Privileges has teamed up with RewardsPay to allow members to redeem for a whole bunch of digital items. Are you really that desperate?
Priority Club’s Pointbreak list of hotels has been published and by the time you read this they are probably all gone. Still the best redemption value in the land for just 5,000 PC points per night!
Flying Blue Promo Awards where you can save 50% between specifid destinations. You still get raped by fees & fuel surcharges. I pass every time.
Wyndham is turning 41 Grand City hotels in Germany to Tryp by Wyndham and Wyndham Garden properties. I don’t care either!
Marriott International’s Autograph Collection debuts in Germany in late 2013 in Berlin.
A bunch of little stuff here. They are so insignificant that I am not going to bother. Do you really want to know that you can get a 35% discount in Howard Johnson hotels?
A ranking of the best bets of the month:
1. AA, UA and SW members can request elite status match to Virgin America Elevate by June 30.
2. Double points for Southwest flights by May 15. Too late for most.
3. Choice Hotels one free night with second stay by May 15. See above.
4. Bonus miles for US Air Shuttle flights between Boston, NYC and Washington DC. By May 31.
5. Double Amtrak points through May 18.
6. Club Carlson members can earn 7,500 points for Budget rentals of 3 days or more. Through December 31. BCD #U106509
7. Starwood double points through July 31. Over 150 hotels not participating, boo!
8. Hilton HHOnors 2nd quarter promo mentioned earlier.
9. Best Western Rewards members can earn a $50 BW gift card who stay three times through June 9.
10. Fairmont Visa Signature Card applicants get two complimentary nights including breakfast.
This is one of the most dry stretches for promotions I have ever seen in my long career:-)
36 pages of every promotion from every program. VERY detailed!
PROGRAM AT A GLANCE (DOMESTIC)
National Car Rental Emerald Club: A one page glance. You can choose any car from the Aisle and pay only the reserved midsize rate and elite members receive free car upgrades (Executive members can choose full size or better from the Executive area). You get Executive status if you have the AMEX Platinum card. I like this program but I can save more money with Priceline or Autoslash when I don’t care about the type of car I get at all.
Interview with Alden Hadwen, Director, Community Engagement at Aimia in Canada, Aeroplan’s parent company, about the Beyond Miles program, its partnerships and the recently updated Charitable Pooling program.
Since launch of Beyond Miles, Aeroplan members have donated over 290 million miles!
A very long interview. I am not that interested, sorry.
PROGRAM AT A GLANCE (INTERNATIONAL)
BinterMas by BinterCanarias. If you like to fly to/from the Canary Islands you may be interested. Talk about obscure programs! Only partners with Iberia.
Lufthansa’s Miles & More program turns 20 years old this year.
Qantas News: You can now use a membership card, Qantas Cash, to pay for stuff and withdraw cash. Hmm, interesting development. The airline also partners with Emirates.
Virgin Atlantic Little Red, Virgin Atlantic’s short-haul service, offers double miles through June 30.
You can checkin with Facebook on Finnair flights. They are trying to imitate KLM or what?
If you are a doctor and fly Turkish Airlines can earn a one-time 5,000 Miles & Smiles bonus miles if you agree to help out during a medical emergency. What a smart marketing move!
SAS Go and Plus, two new service classes by SAS. Looks so similar to AA’s new choice ticket structure!
Emirates will be charging fuel surcharges. Mega boooooooo!
Norway has a ban on frequent flyer programs since 2002 to give low cost carrier Norwegian Air a chance. SAS lawyers are suing to stop the ban. Norwegian Air loyalty program, Norwegian Reward, allows members to earn and burn points only on international trips. Fascinating stuff!
Some guy in Australia took National Bank of Australia (NAB) for a ride and earned 380,000 Qantas miles for just AUS$70! The promo was to earn 100 bonus points for each eligible purchase made on a NAB credit card. He proceeded to make thousands of purchases of just one cent each on CityLink, the operator of Melbourne’s toll roads. The bank pulled the promotion as soon as they realized what was happening. And they would honor the miles he earned so far. But he claims the bank still owes him 250,000 miles. Oh the joys of juicy promotions gone bad!
Lufthansa will be installing premium economy seats on its entire long-haul fleet.
A review of Air Berlin’s topbonus website. Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
INSIDE LOOK (INTERNATIONAL)
Aer Lingus Gold Circle Club: Rated just 6.86 out of 10. Not sure why you want to be a member, unless you live in Ireland and fly Aer Lingus regularly. It has no hotel partners, no credit card, no rental car and no financial or wireless partners! It is not a member of an alliance (just partners with a few airlines such as British Airways—>Boston to Ireland on Aer Lingus with BA miles is a big time value!). Ryanair is the biggest airline in Ireland and they appear hell bent on trying to acquire Aer Lingus for several years. For the record, Ryanair does not (naturally) have a frequent flyer program! Lounge access for lowest elites is a plus.
AWARD TRIP REPORT
One of my favorite sections. It is very short (just one page and half of it is pictures!). Highlights a traveler’s award trip. I was featured here a few years ago on a family trip to Oahu Hawaii.
In this month’s issue, SST (on Milepoint) is featured on a SFO-IAD-DOH-MLE-CMB-BKK-USM-BKK-ICN-SFO on UA, QR, EK and TG for about 210,000 miles each, all on Business and First. Not bad at all.
The blogger goes on about the Hilton HHonors massive devaluation recently. Much has been written about the subject. For more info, check his blog🙂