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 »

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Hijacking ‘dry runs’?

WomensWallStreet.com carries an unsettling first-person tale of a US domestic flight, suspicious activities by a group of Middle Eastern passengers, and the concerns of one passenger. It raises the prospect of airplane hijacking “dry runs,” construction of bombs in mid-air, and difficult questions of civil liberties and racial profiling. I’m not quite sure what to make of it, but it’s worth a read even though the author loses 90% of her credibility when quoting Ann Coulter. Instapundit is covering the article and developing story. Michelle Malkin has confirmed the main details of the story.

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South African Likely to Continue non-Star Airline Partnerships

The Star Alliance will not require South African Airways to drop its partnerships with outside airlines such as British Airways, Air France, Cathay Pacific, and Qantas when the African carrier joins Star next year.Chris Klick, Star Alliance’s vicepresident for corporate affairs, said yesterday that although the organisation would prefer collaboration among member airlines, it would not demand that new alliance members relinquish deals with other airlines. “We are striving for a win-win situation. A decision to join (or relinquish certain partnerships) should not hurt the bottom line,” said Klick. Star Alliance’s six-member team was in SA to start the process of integrating SAA into the alliance, Klick said. The integration would include harmonising the ticket booking systems and frequent flyer programmes. SAA spokesman Onkgopotse Tabane said the airline would communicate with its current code-sharing partners…

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Southwest’s CEO Steps Down

Jim Parker resigned and was replaced by CFO Gary Kelly. “Personal reasons” are cited, though anyone who knows the real story please e-mail me.I’ve been in Washington, DC long enough to know that ‘personal reasons’ are never true. Southwest remained profitable throughout Parker’s tenure, even as other carriers were losing money across the board — although Southwest’s second quarter profit was down 50% year over year.The move seems to this outsider to come out of nowhere, begging the question: what happened?

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Double Elite Qualifying Miles on USAirways

Register to earn double miles towards Preferred Status on USAirways through September 30.Update: Though this isn’t clear from the USAirways website, the offer does appear to be targeted and thus not everyone will succeed in getting the double status miles. However, some folks who have not been targeted do seem to be successful at getting USAirways to agree to let them register anyway.If you just sign up on the website, it will look as though you are successfully registered but you may not get the miles. Best advice is to call USAirways and ask to be registered. If they say you aren’t targeted for the promotion, press further and ask if there’s anything they can do. Heavy USAirways flyers have little to lose, lots to gain. But I wouldn’t make extra purchases just for this…

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Wondering how much Hilton HHonors points are worth?

One of the most common questions is “how much are my miles worth?” And one of the most common answers is “two cents apiece.” That is an imperfect guess at best, and I think the answer usually varies from about a penny to eight cents (and as a rule of thumb I usually use about 1.5 cents). But what about the myriad of hotel currencies? Starwood points are worth more than an airline mile – at least 25% more. And Hilton HHonors points are worth less. How much less? One data point is that Hilton will sell you points directly for one penny apiece.

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Excellent Starwood Redemption Offer – This Week Only

25% Off Reward Redemption at Starwood for booking an award between online July 12 and July 16 for stays completed by August 31.I don’t see the offer on the main Starwood page at the moment, but testing out an online booking the 25% off shows up in bold next to each award possibility along with the terms and conditions.This discount applies to all Starwood properties worldwide, but only for awards bookable online — so no suite or upgraded awards which require calling Starwood. And since “fifth night free” still applies under this promo, five nights at the St. Regis Monarch Beach can be had for 36,000 points rather than the standard 48,000… same with the Hotel Danieli in Venice. Five nights at the Sheraton Grande Laguna Phuket in Thailand can be had for only 21,000…

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Free 32mb Memory Stick

Just read about Dell services and play a game which is really a quiz where all the answers are ‘Dell is Great’ and you get the memory stick. Oh, and if you get any questions ‘wrong’ you get to take the quiz again. Takes about five minutes, and since the memory stick is coming from Dell chances of fulfillment are high.7/12/04 Update: The game requires a PIN. Up until today there was an option to simply be given a PIN number if you didn’t have one. That option is now gone, meaning that this free deal is essentially dead.

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Bonus miles for transfers into Delta

In a repeat of an offer from last fall, Delta is offering 5000 bonus miles for transferring the equivalent of 20,000 Skymiles into a Delta account from a partner (e.g. Diners Club, American Express Membership Rewards, various hotel programs). Registration is required. The promotion lasts until August 31st and the bonus can be earned twice.If you transfer American Express Membership Rewards points before July 15th, this offer should be stackable with the 15% percent transfer bonus as well.Update: The Membership Rewards double dip may not work, as Amex isn’t explicitly listed as a transfer partner for this offer. Strange.

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