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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Public Transit Systems

Lynne Kiesling passes along a piece on public goods and transportation which wisely concludes These two cases indicate something very important for city planners. First, if a city demands mass transit, private enterprise will supply it. Second, if a city does not demand mass transit, building it anyway (publicly, since private enterprise does not supply what is not demanded) will result in a system so poor that few people want to ride it and that can only survive on continuous 11th-hour rescues with tax dollars. Either way, we will get from point A to point B without you.

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What’s in YOUR luggage?

A biology professor faces charges for packing the severed head of a harbor seal in his luggage without a permit. [H]e found a dead seal on Revere Beach and cut off its head so he could use it for educational purposes. He was catching a flight to Denver from Boston on Friday, Massachusetts Port Authority spokesman Phil Orlandella told The Boston Globe. Federal wildlife laws make it illegal to disrupt or remove body parts from a dead mammal, or to transport any illegal fish or wildlife product.

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Avoiding Dirty Hotel Rooms

Peter Greenberg has some tips on avoiding bacteria and making sure your room is properly cleaned. Q: What’s the most surprising hotel secret you’ve learned? A: The high level of bacteria on the TV remote control unit. I advise taking anti-bacterial wipes for the remote, the phone and the clock radio. … Q: So how clean is the average hotel room? A: I assume the worst and take a proactive role. First, I take the bedspread off. Most hotels clean them at most three times a year. If you stay in a hotel that claims to change the sheets daily, pull back the top sheet and blanket and put a match on top of the bottom sheet near the foot of the bed. If the match is still there when you come back, they didn’t…

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Hotel Booking Wars

Hilton is going to invest $175 million in its website. I’m not even sure how it’s possible to spend that much on their interactive offering, but they see it as an important past of their strategy to combat the major travel websites which incur much higher distribution costs.Sites like Expedia, Orbitz, and Travelocity have in some cases negotiated 30% discounts on room rates which they then take as profit when selling the rooms to customers. They also take money from customers immediately in the form of prepayment, while only paying the hotel when the stay is completed, earning a return on the float in the process.Hilton’s chief executive claims these sites are gouging customers Expedia, he said, was “bad, but not in a Biblical sense. They just charge too much. A 30 per cent [mark-up]…

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Supreme Court Justice Endorses Throwaway Ticketing

Scalia’s opinion explaining his decision not to recuse himself (as requested by the Sierra Club) in the case of Richard B. Cheney vs. US District Court for the District of Columbia makes for really interesting reading. The facts of the case as relayed by Scalia are very different from media accounts. But that’s not what I’m concerned with here. I’m concerned with the travel implications. Scalia flew on a government plane with Dick Cheney to Lousiana and flew back commercially. Scalia writes Our flight down cost the Government nothing, since space-available was the condition of our invitation. And, though our flight down on the Vice President’s plane was indeed free, since we were not returning with him we purchased (because they were least expensive) roundtrip tickets that cost precisely what we would have paid if…

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Points International, which operates Points.com, has agreed to acquire MilePoint.com.The purchase price of Canadian $7.5 million will include a combination of C$3.5 million in cash and four million common shares. MilePoint’s current clients include Northwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Starwood Hotels. The merger seems like a natural fit, and gives Points International an impressive roster of clients in the airline and hotel loyalty space. In addition to MilePoint’s client base, Points International partners with several companies through its Points.com Points Exchange loyalty currency exchange program, including American Airlines, eBay, USAirways, Alaska Airlines, Choice Hotels and Aeroplan.

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USAirways Firesale Watch

USAirways prepaid $250 million of their loan backed by the federal government in exchange for easing restrictions on the sale of assets. That’s a pretty good indication that the carrier is, in fact, looking to sell some assets; that it isn’t just a stalking horse for wage concessions from the airline’s unions. That doesn’t mean the USAirways shuttle will be unloaded, however — the airline could spin off regional carriers and still contract with them for feeder service while raising cash.

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Another Northwest Game

Northwest has a new instant win game Take an online tour of our new World Business Class* now and earn a chance to win: Grand Prize – a pair of World Business Class tickets to anywhere Northwest or KLM flies 10 Instant Prizes – 50,000 WorldPerks

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More Free Stuff

You can choose from a Waterworld poster, retractable 12′ computer modem cord, stickable bubble clock, or carabineer flashlight. Here’s a coupon for a free Pepsi from Baja Fresh, no purchase required. And for a more travel related item, you can get a $25 coffee certificate for participating in an online demo from Expedia Corporate Travel.

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