About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »

Upping the Ante in Online Rate Guarantees

Several hotels chains offer ‘best rate guarantees’ to lure customers to book rooms on their proprietary websites. They say that if they don’t have the best rate, they’ll provide some compensation. Hotel chains find it very costly to have customers book through other venues, especially the major online booking services. So they say and do whatever they can to encourage customers to book directly with them. Now Cendant hotels (Days Inn, Super 8, Ramada, Travelodge, Howard Johnson, Knights Inn, etc.) has come up with a new pledge. They’ll offer the best rate or the first night’s stay is free, up from their old 10% discount.

Continue Reading »

Foreign language translator

What Flight Attendants Really Mean: What we say: “Yes, it’s mineral water.” What we mean: “Tap water has minerals in it too.” … What we say: “We’re not allowed to give out our layover hotel information.” What we mean: “Not interested.” … What we say: “I recommend the short ribs today.” What we mean: “We’re out of chicken.”

Continue Reading »

Points.com bonus for American Airlines transfers

Hot off the presses from Notiflyer, Points.com is providing double points for transfers to American. What’s more PointsPlus members get another 25% bonus. And PointsPlus memberships, which usually run $19.95, are available free… You’ll still lose most of the value as a result of the transfer, but the ratios won’t be as bad. Don’t go consolidating all your accounts, but if you’re trying to top off an American Airlines balance for a specific award this might come in handy.

Continue Reading »

Charging for Airfare by the Mile

Sun Country Airlines is introducing a new program that customers can join to pay for their flights by the mile, removing advance purchase requirements and other restrictions. Under the program, now in a quiet “soft launch” mode, there are no blackout dates or Saturday night stay restrictions. Fares are pretty much in line with those for 21-day advance purchases. But there are no advance purchase requirements for VIP tickets. Prices are the same even on the day of departure. And the fares include all taxes and fees, Sun Country says. VIP members must pay a $99 initiation fee and $12 monthly membership charge. At this time, VIP members can only buy tickets for themselves. But Mendota Heights-based Sun Country plans to soon offer a family VIP plan, which would cost $15 a month and permit…

Continue Reading »

Future cost savings for the airlines?

British Airways won’t pay credit card merchant fees on negotiated corporate fares. Instead those fees have to be picked up by corporate clients. American Express sued over this but the lawsuit has been dropped.British Airways still won’t pay the fees, but will no longer be a preferred supplier for Amex travel.My guess is that with BA standing firm in their position not to pay credit card fees that these fees will become a major issue for other carriers as well. Just as airlines have cut travel agent commissions and pushed bookings to their own (less costly) websites, airlines may view credit card fees as a new source of savings moving forward. The settlement raises the question of whether other airlines will follow the lead set by BA and start to pass on merchant fees for…

Continue Reading »

Book Southwest Airlines tickets via Galileo?

Southwest has long shied away from participating in the large computer reservation systems like Galileo and Worldspan (though there has been some minor Sabre participation). That’s why you can’t book Southwest flights on, say, Expedia or Travelocity. Southwest even stopped filing its fares with the Airline Tariff Publishing Co. in order to prevent Orbitz from using the information. Southwest managed to control the distribution of its tickets very effectively, moving most of its sales to its own website saving distribution costs in the process. Now comes word that a new Galileo tool may make Southwest flights available.

Continue Reading »

Free Points.com PointsPlus Membership

A current WebFlyer EyeSpy notes: Sign up with FAIRMONT President’s Club for free..(1-800-441-3313 in the US) then as a member you can get a one year complimentary PointsPLUS membership in points.com (a $19.95 value) allowing you unlimited exchanges of your loyalty points for one year. After receiving your president’s club membership, go to www.points.com/fpc

Continue Reading »

The State of Loyalty Programs

Mileage awards are getting more costly to use but miles are easier to accumulate. My own sense it that this tends to balance out. The article doesn’t even mention increased award opportunities that stem from airline alliances and opportunities for non-travel awards. A similar story with more details on award price increases can be found here. Obviously the revealed preferences of consumers — the fact that programs drive spending behavior — suggest that people believe there’s still alot of value in loyalty programs. Nearly half of all Americans carry credit cards tied to a loyalty program.

Continue Reading »

Hilton HHonors Signup Bonus

HHonors members who refer a friend between Apr. 1 and Dec. 31 will earn 1,000 HHonors bonus points for referrals who sign up and subsequently complete a stay at a Hilton Family hotel, plus another 1,000 points for additional qualifying stays completed by Dec. 31. Hilton has a new ‘member get member’ referral program. Existing Hilton HHonors members can refer up to 10 new members and can earn up to 25,000 bonus points. The new referred members receive a bonus 1,000 HHonors points after their second stay before Dec. 31. So anyone looking to join Hilton HHonors (and receive the bonus 1000 points) can certainly drop me a line and I’d be happy to send you my Hilton account number to use when signing up.

Continue Reading »