Friday, November 9, 2012

Airline Alliances - An Introduction

It's good to remind oneself about the benefits and worth of Airline Alliances - Frugaltravelguy wrote a great intro to this, plus he gave an example that's very fitting, since Patrick is Austrian - looking for a flight from the US to Vienna, Austria! :) - see below.
From the FrugalTravelGuy:
Airline alliances can be one of the best ways to maximize that value of flying. Whether it’s getting lounge access or earning your preferred miles while flying an international carrier, alliances can help you to get more out of all of your flying. Over the next several weeks we’ll cover the basics of alliances so that you can better understand how to take advantage of them.First off, there are three major alliances: Star AllianceSkyTeam, and oneworld.  United and US Airways are both part of Star Alliance, Delta is part of SkyTeam, and American is part of the Oneworld Alliance.Even though other airlines such as Alaska, Hawaiian, and jetBlue aren’t part of the three major alliances doesn’t mean that they don’t have partners. Each of those airlines have made individual partnerships with various airlines that act similarly to these alliances.  Whenever you fly an airline, make sure to check its partnerships because it may be part of an alliance where you have an account or it may have a private partnership with an airline that you have an account with.For instance, Alaska is not part of one of the major alliances, but it has several key partnerships that make it an excellent and extremely flexible program. Alaska partners with both Delta and American as well as several international carriers such as Air France, LAN, Cathay Pacific, and British Airways. Virgin Atlantic, which may be joining an alliance soon, is partners with several U.S. based airlines such as Virgin America, Hawaiian Air, and US Air.One of the biggest benefits, in my opinion, of a frequent flyer program is the ability to earn and redeem miles are “partner” airlines. Often, these airlines are part of an alliance whereby you can fly on other airlines within the alliance, but still receive the benefits of your preferred airline. Alliances can be especially useful if you’re an elite member of an airline. Flying on that alliance will generally get you many of the benefits that you’re used to on your preferred airline such as free checked bags. Also, don’t forget that you can credit miles to any airline with the alliance. That means that if you’re flying British Airways from London to New York, you can credit those miles to American if that’s your airline of choice. This can be especially useful if you often find yourself flying international routes on various international carriers.  Yes, fly British Airways, but get credit on American; just enter in your AA number when you make your reservation or at the ticket counter.As an example of what an alliance can offer travelers, we can do a mock booking of a flight from New York (NYC) to Vienna, Austria (VIE) using United miles. The first thing to do is enter in the information on United’s site:Search Award Availability from New York to ViennaUnited doesn’t have any flights into Austria, meaning you wouldn’t be able to use United miles to fly to Vienna without an alliance. Fortunately, United is part of the Star Alliance and some of their partners fly to Vienna. As you can see on the booking screen, there’s a non-stop flight on Austrian Air as well as several connecting flights on Lufthansa and Swiss Air:United Partner Award Availability from NYC to VIEThis is just one example of how useful alliances can be to travelers: they can open up parts of the world that we may never be able to see without them.  Keep in mind that not all websites are equal and that United’s website generally does one of the best jobs of displaying award availability across all of their partners.Alliances can be very important when choosing which airline to focus your domestic flying on. Many of our dream vacations included international destinations that are very hard or even impossible to get to if we could only fly on the domestic airlines.  You’ll also find that business class on an International airline will be as nice if not better than some first class experiences you’ll get with that domestic airline (even on the same route!)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Save 20% on select Saver Awards to Europe by UNITED

Great deal if you feel like a trip to Europe is in the stars for you! If you have followed my mileage collecting advice you should have plenty of United Mileage Plus miles to use for this offer! If not, too bad because this one looks like a great deal for using United Mileage Plus miles. 

Book by November 15. Travel between January 15 and March 13, 2013.
Here's the LINK

Friday, August 31, 2012

Free 1000 Priority Points

Follow this link and answer a few questions to get 1000 Priority Club Points!!

1,000 Priority Rewards points

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Trip Report - Austria/Poland and EURO 2012

Our trip to visit family, enjoy some down time from everyday stress and to see the Euro 2012 opening game in Warsaw was spirited, fun and delicious. The emphasis here must be on delicious because more often than not, we ended up eating our way through places we visited. Our travels today are as much about seeing great places and enjoying excellent company as they are about experiencing local specialties. From the cakes at traditional cafes, to drinking chocolate at Wedel, obwazanki, through the ice cream and gelato, and onto unbelievable baked goods (nowhere in the US do pastries or breads like that exist), not to mention delicious, hearty meals we brought back quite a lot; in excess body weight that is.
The trip entailed flying into Vienna and spending five days there. If you are in town and have done most of the usual tourist things, do check out the Zentral Friedhof (large cemetery in a park-like setting). Also, as always get your fill of traditional cafes. We visited a number of them including the Hotel Sacher one, Café Imperial, Oberlaa and Heiner. All were good but keep in mind that Café Imperial is more of an experience than a place to enjoy a wide selection of cakes. If you are on a tour to find out who has the tastiest Sacher Torte, don’t look further than Demel. We skipped Demel this time as we wanted to try Sacher but Demel clearly wins the longstanding Sacher Torte war. We also took in an interesting opera in the Museums Quarter, more eclectic  and interesting in the stage design, less enchanting however in the actual singing part. Since we had more time on our hands we saw an exibit at the Seccession Museum and the Vienna City Museum. The exhibits at the Seccession were different, both cool and comical. The downside of the city museum is that it mainly caters to German speakers so if you are not with a guide or do not have a German speaker who can translate in your party, you might as well skip it.

 In Poland we explored the Collegium Maius (original site of Jagiellonian Univeristy established in 1364). Aside from a courtyard which you can check out fee-free, there are tours that take you inside the library, professors’ congress room, lodgings and lecture rooms that served from the 14th through the 19th centuries.  Outside Krakow we went to Pieskowa Skala, a castle and fortress in the low hills. Both proved to be engaging. The English tour we got at the Collegium really provided a nice snapshot of what life was like at universities in times past. 

Visiting Poland during the beginning of the Euro Cup was not in the least unpleasant. The game we attended was exceptionally well organized, from the parking, to public transport etc. Many soccer fan tourists were visiting Poland and Ukraine but there was little to complain about in terms of everyday crowds. The take away from all of this, if you have only been to Austria so far, do venture more east. Poland has a really great place to explore, from its historical gems, to natural beauty, great food (stay away from touristy places and go with local recommendations) and a culture that loves guests.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

1000+ points for filling out quick quizzes from Priority Club

This worked for me nicely. Some of these quizzes I had filled out earlier but I still got 1100 points in the end. It will only take a few minutes - open the quizzes in separate tabs and fill them out quickly that way.
Remember - 5000 points gets you a free Pointsbreaks room in a variety of places around the world! :)

From the PointsGuy:

Priority Club has a fun little promotion going on at the moment where you can rack up to 1,500 Priority Club points by taking 3 different quizzes. The only thing is, you have to take each one of them 3 times to get all the points, but you can do it in two minutes, so you might as well take advantage of the free points.
Quiz 3 earns you 300 points each time you take it for a total of 900 points.
Below you’ll find the links to the three quizzes. Links #1-2 in each lead to the same quiz in English, though they are counted separately because one is for the US and one is for Great Britain. The third link is in Japanese, so be sure to have one of the English quizzes open so you can put in the exact same corresponding answers.
Here are the links and the answers for you (which I don’t feel bad about posting since they’re entirely obvious, and you can find them online):
Quiz 1
Each of these is worth 100 points for a total of 300
Version 1
Version 2
Version 3
-All of the above
-A free night you can redeem online anywhere
-All of the above and more
One version of each quiz is in Japanese, but the answers are still the same.
Quiz 2
Each of these is worth 100 points for a total of 300
Version 1
Version 2
Version 3
-All of the above
Quiz 3
Each of these is worth 300 points each for a total of 900 points
Version 1
Version 2
Version 3
-All of the above and more
-All of the above
-All of the above and more
-Over 4,300
-50 nights or 60,000 points (this is the curveball)
And here are the three additional quizzes for a total of 500 more points. Note: they’re in Chinese, so I’ve included the answers below. Hat tip: TPG reader Kevin.
Quiz 1 This one is for 100 points.
Quiz 2 This one is for 100 points
Quiz 3 This one is for 300 points.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Shortcuts to Airline Award Lists

From PointsGuy:

Air Canada (Star Alliance)
Air Canada and Star Alliance Award Chart
Star Alliance Upgrade Chart
Partner list
Notes: Air Canada allows “around the world” routing, which means you can travel to Asia via Europe (and stop while in Europe). See Around The World rewards. Also, most awards increased on July 15, 2011.
Air France/KLM (SkyTeam Alliance)
FlyingBlue/Partner Award Calculator
Air France Upgrade Awards
SkyTeam Upgrades
List of Partners
Notes: FlyingBlue runs Promo Awards, that can be great values at 50% less miles needed. Air France is a transfer partner of American Express.
Alaska Airlines
Alaska Award Chart
Partner Award Chart
Alaska Upgrades
List of Partners
Note: Alaska is partners with both American and Delta.
American (Oneworld Alliance)
American Award Chart
American Upgrade Chart
Oneworld and Partner Award Chart
Distance based Oneworld multi partner Award Chart
Oneworld Upgrade Chart
List of partners
Notes: Amounts shown are for one-way flights. Only American awards (and now Hawaii, Alaska and BA awards) can be booked online – you must call to book partner awards, though I recommend using the Qantas search engine to find Oneworld availability.
ANA (Star Alliance)
ANA Award Chart
ANA International Award Chart
ANA Partners and Award Chart
British Airways (Oneworld Alliance)
British Airways Avios Calculator
Oneworld and Partner Award Chart
List of partners: OneworldOther
Notes: British Airways is a transfer partner of both American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards. I did a series on maximizing British Airways Avios including Master FAQ Post on British Airways 100,000 Mile OfferSpotlight on Taxes and FeesDistance-Based AwardsTravel Together Companion TicketHousehold AccountsUsing Avios to Upgrade Paid Tickets.
Cathay Pacific (Oneworld Alliance)
Cathay and Partners Award and Upgrade Chart
List of partners is available underneath the partner award chart.
Delta (SkyTeam Alliance)
Delta and SkyTeam/Partner Award Chart
Upgrade Awards
List of Partners
Notes: One-way awards are the same price as roundtrip. Delta has three tiers and the online award engine is pretty much broken. See also : Maximizing Stopovers, Open Jaws and Transfers on Quirks and How to Work Around Them, Now Shows Delta Awards, 10 Tips on Using Delta SkyMiles. Delta is a transfer partner of American Express.
Flight and Upgrade Calculator
List of partners
Mileage Calculator
Partner Airlines
Note: Etihad is a partner with American Airlines.
Award Chart
Note: Frontier is a transfer partner of American Express.
Hawaiian Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines Award Chart
Partner List
Note: Hawaiian Airlines is not in an alliance, but it is partners with airlines including ANA, Delta, Virgin Atlantic and Korean Air.
No award charts, points are a fixed value – around 1 cent per point. More info.
Note: JetBlue is a transfer partner of American Express.
Korean Air (SkyTeam)
Korean Air Award Chart
Korean Air SkyTeam and Partner Award Chart
Partner List
Note: Korean Air is a partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Qantas (Oneworld Alliance)
Qantas and Partner Classic Flights Points Calculator/Chart
Upgrade Chart
Partner list
Singapore (Star Alliance)
Singapore Award Chart
Partner Award Chart
Singapore Upgrade Chart
Star Alliance Upgrade Chart
Partner list
Note: Singapore is an American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner.
No award charts – points have fixed values. $1 towards flights is between 60 and 120 points. More info.
United (Star Alliance)

United Interactive Award and Upgrade Map
United Award Chart/Upgrade Chart
Star Alliance Award Chart/Upgrade Chart
Star Alliance Upgrade Awards after June 15, 2011 
List of partners
Notes: is getting better at showing awards, but I still recommend using the ANA tool to find more thorough Star Alliance availability.
US Airways (Star Alliance)

US Airways Award Chart
Star Alliance/Partner Award Chart
US Airways Upgrade Chart
Star Alliance Upgrade ChartPartner list
Notes: is bad at showing partner awards. All SaverPass awards. I also recommend using the ANA tool for thorough Star Alliance availability.
Virgin America

Fixed value points – see more information. Points are usually worth 1.6-2.1 cents towards airfare.
Note: Virgin America is a partner of American Express Membership Rewards.
Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic Award Calculator
Virgin Atlantic Upgrades
Partner List
Note: Virgin Atlantic is a partner of American Express Membership Rewards, but it may make sense to transfer to ANA because they may have lower point thresholds and/or fees.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mother's Day - Make her happy & earn some miles! :)

Mother's Day is coming up - there are plenty of online flower purchase deals. Nothing like sending mom some flowers and earning a few miles for it as well : It's a true win-win! :) Delta has the best deal at the moment - see below for the rest.

35 miles per dollar with 1-800-FLOWERS
30 miles per dollar with
30 miles per dollar with
US Airways: 25 miles per dollar with Teleflora
25% Off with an Amex card with (I don’t believe this can be stacked with other mileage earning)
20% Off with a Visa card with (I don’t believe this can be stacked with other mileage earning)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Amazon Local Deal - Virgina America $25 credit for $10 spent!!

Amazon Local deal - LINK
$25 to Spend Towards a Virgin America Round-Trip Flight Taken by June 13
Spend $10 - get $25 Virgin America credit!
Great airline and a great deal!