Monthly Archives

Monthly Archives for January 2010.

Checked Baggage Fees: A Tax Avoidance Strategy for Airlines?

Back in October I explained why I was surprised to see airlines increasing checked baggage fees, that in fact I would have expected higher ticket prices and free checked bags to be a profit maximizing equilibrium — an equilibrium that more or less existed, so the current shift towards unbundled pricing was quite surprising: Moving checked bags is mostly fixed costs. Once the baggage carousel is built, the trucks are purchased, you’ve hired baggage handlers, and you’ve outfitted your planes to handle checked bags, you might as well get more passengers to check bags rather than fewer either at a price which is continually falling or bundled into the overall price of the ticket. (This seems true at least as long as the price of checking the bag or the increased price of the ticket…

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New Alaska Mileage Plan Top Elite Tier

Alaska has announced its new elite tier above MVP Gold, this will be MVP Gold 75K. And it will be earned at the… wait for it… 75,000 qiualifying mile level. At least if you fly 75,000 qualifying miles on Alaska or Horizon. If you include partner miles in your total, it takes 90,000 qualifying miles or 90 segments. The additional benefits are 50,000 bonus miles (this isn’t actually new, it’s long been a benefit for flying 75,000 miles), nominate a friend for MVP status (c’mon, they could have offered to gift MVP Gold), higher upgrade priority and earlie clearance time, as well as a free DigE Player in coach (hah!), and 4 complimentary lounge passes. Giving higher priority for upgrades to more frequent flyers makes sense. And Alaska has needed a higher tier, as they’ve…

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United’s New One-Way Awards Confirmed

United has confirmed the introduction of one-way awards starting Monday. Here’s some more detail: With Mileage Plus’ One-Way Awards, you can travel one-way for half the miles of a roundtrip award (starting at 12,500 miles for a domestic Saver award) on United or United Express. … Our work continues. Initially, One-Way Awards and Miles & Money Awards will only be available online. You will be able to call Reservations to book these awards later this year. The ability to mix and match award levels – Saver or Standard Awards – for a roundtrip award ticket will be available in the summer. I realize that you can mix and match awards now (or shall I say starting on Monday) by creating multiple PNRs. That will change and you will be able to do this on one…

Continue Reading » 5000 US Airways Miles Signup Bonus

Yesterday reader Mike brought an offer to my attention. Mike writes, An easy 5k US miles for $24.95. has a 14-day free trial, and then you select your plan — each of which comes with US Airways bonus miles. The 12-month offer at $24.95 per month earns 5000 US Airways miles. Presumably Mike is thinking, “sign up for this offer, get the 5000 miles, then cancel and pay only one month’s charges.” Good plan and that may work. I’m not 100% sure, though. You can cancel an subscription at any time, so you should be able to cancel as soon as your miles post. And I imagine they’ll post within your first paid month. But it also appears that they bill the full 12 months in one payment up front, rather than…

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Will United Introduce One-Way Awards?

There’s currently speculation that one-way awards will be introduced by United starting on Monday. It’s really just rumors at this point, with little confirmation. But it’s also been long-expected, ever since American introduced one-way awards, because well United follows most of American’s announcements and offerings pretty closely. One-way awards are fairly popular, they have some real uses, such as they’re great for positioning flighs for great fares, to start a series of trips in a destination city in order to get Saturday stays on all your round trips, to buy the cheaper of two domestic segments only on a roundtrip, to mix service classes on an award, etc. Personally, though, I don’t like the tradeoff introduced by American when they brought in one-way awards: the elimination of stopovers. International carriers like British Airways and bmi…

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El Al Offers Status Match to bmi Elites Who Have Flown To or From Tel Aviv

This Flyertalk thread has the details on an El Al offer to match bmi Diamond Club status provided you’ve had two or more Tel Aviv flights in the past year. The offer (in Hebrew) is valid through February 10 and offers 6 months of status — bmi Blue+ members get El Al Matmid Gold, and bmi Silver and Gold members get El Al Matmid Platinum. There’s no match to Top Platinum. The offer also contains a fast track — earn 800 points in 6 months to earn Gold status for a year, or 2000 points in six months for Platinum for a year. You need to submit your El Al account number and bmi statement showing two Tel Aviv flights (those flights can be on any Star carrier) — by email to yaely@elal,co,il or by…

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Priority Club Gets Its Act Together on the Multipartner Bonus? Now I’m 4000 Points Ahead!

I recently posted about my successful followup with Priority Club, getting missing points from their fall partner bonus offer. Like many, I was shorted 4000 points — folks who transferred points into Priority Club (I moved Alaska miles in and got 1 Priority Club point) and also purchased points had both sets of transactions post as “” and the system didn’t recognize these as unique partners. The terms and conditions of the offer though said these were each unique activities. And Priority Club customer service was bad — very bad — often arguing that they were the same partner in spite of their own terms and conditions stating otherwise. Well, I received my 4000 points as a ‘goodwill adjustment’. And I know that several folks used my sample correspondence successfully in getting their own points.…

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20% off United Coach Awards to Hawaii

United is offering coach awards between the mainland US and Hawaii for 32,000 miles instead of their usual 40,000. I had to do a double-take for a moment, I had forgotten for about 30 seconds that a coach Hawaii award was 40,000 now rather than the 35,000 I’ve been used to for so long! They raise the price and lower it, and tell you you’re getting a discount.. Well, I have no great desire to fly to Hawaii in non-upgradeable coach. But it’s one of the more desirable awards for the world at large. So the details are that you have to book by February 2 for travel through May 12, and you have to use only United or United Express flights — no Continental or US Airways.

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Another Reader Question: Extending the Life of Your Delta Miles

What’s up with all the Delta questions? Wendy has Skymiles that are expiring soon.  Delta is a little trickier than some other programs in that not all activity in an account is sufficient to extend the expiration date of that account. Skymiles rules say this: Currently, miles will not expire as long as you participate in one of the following activities at least once every two years; mileage expires midnight Eastern time (-5 GMT), 24 months from the date of the last activity: Earn miles for travel on a qualifying Delta, Delta Shuttle®, SkyTeam, or other SkyMiles airline partner flights. Earn or redeem miles with one of the SkyMiles program partners including hotels, car rentals, Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express, international credit card partners, SkyMiles Dining & Hotels by Rewards NetworkSM,, mortgage…

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El Bulli Reservations Just Got Even Harder

El Bulli will apparently be closing for a few years while they come up with new culinary innovation. (HT: Tyler). Here at Madrid Fusion, an annual international culinary conference, the news is all about chefs, and no news is bigger than that of Ferran Adrià, the chef of elBulli, reputedly the best restaurant — and the toughest reservation — in the world. To the accompaniment of dozens of flashing cameras and a live feed for Spain’s main television channel, one of the masters of the culinary universe declared that he would be closing his restaurant to the public for two years beginning in 2012. It’s not a definitive end to the restaurant that has been voted the best in the world five times (including in 2009) by Restaurant magazine, the recognized arbiter of such things.…

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