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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United iDine Bonus

Pay with your United Visa at iDine restaurants (Sunday through Thursday from February 1st through April 29th) and earn 250 bonus miles each time (up to 10 times for a total of 2,500 bonus miles). You need to have filled out an online profile with iDine to earn the bonus.

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Should frequent flyer programs be abolished?

Several readers emailed links to me today to Scott McCartney’s Middle Seat column that argues airlines would be better off without frequent flyer programs. By giving away 10% of their product, major U.S. airlines missed out on some $25 billion in revenue between 2000 to mid-2003, Mr. Beyer says, doing a back-of-the-napkin calculation assuming travelers would have paid for trips taken with awards. Those same airlines posted pretax losses of about $28 billion over the same period. He sees a connection: “There is a cost to these programs, and it’s massive.” Of course this initial calculation is just silly. It makes little sense to add up the free trips and multiply by hypothetical fares. First, the awards wouldn’t all have been revenue tickets without the miles. Second, the bulk of the seats seats being taken…

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Fair and balanced

I’ve criticized Chris Elliott’s columns in the past (see, for instance, this post) but I have to say that his “Fix My Trip” columns where he acts as an ombudsman between travelers and travel companies are exceedingly fair. There’s no pandering to the readership. Though Elliott has been no friend of industry, especially USAirways he also will tell passengers when they’re wrong. His February 1 column is a great example. When Hotwire was in the right, he was willing to tell a his correspondent so. Kudos, Chris!

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Keith Alexander — and me — on USAirways woes

Keith Alexander has a column in Monday’s Washington Post on the disaster currently facing USAirways.Their costs are high and their yields are falling. After emerging quickly from bankruptcy protection, they have more or less continued the business model that led them to Chapter 11 in the first place.With the exception of the Northeast Shuttle (which USAirways is looking to unload for cash), I hadn’t flown the carrier in several years until this past weekend. And I can say that they have fallen behind their competitors in premium services. Their clubs, still nicely kept, have less food and fewer newspapers than before. Their planes are greying. I flew in first class from San Juan to Charlotte on Monday and the seats on my 767 were worn. The seatback wouldn’t stay straight up. And the personal video…

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I usually post from wherever I’m traveling, but I plan to seclude myself on a cliff overlooking an ocean for the next several days and hope against hope not to establish an internet connection while I’m there.Look for new content on Tuesday, February 3rd.

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I’m burning my USAirways miles

I’m flying USAirways today, and plan to burn my last 40,000 miles with the carrier for a flight later this month. Since Randy Petersen’s AwardGuard is currently not open to new members and the status of USAirways is questionable, I’m making use of my miles while I can.There’s a chance, of course, that the airline will survive. And even if it doesn’t, the Dividend Miles program certainly has value and another airline may find a way to exploit that value — and potentially honor the accumulated miles in the program. These are all probabalistic. I wouldn’t go burning miles just for the sake of doing so — but as the opportunity is arising to get some good flights now, I’m making use of them.Truth is that I’m not redeeming more miles than I otherwise would.…

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250 Priority Club Points

Priority Club has a survey offering 250 points for rating their program. The bonus points only post if you stay at a Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, or other Priority Club property by the end of April.(Thanks to Gary Steiger’s Free Frequent Flyer Miles for the link.)

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