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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Is the Hero Miles program still necessary?

Operation Hero Miles allowed frequent flyers to donate their miles for American troops to use. The federal government was flying troops back to the US but not paying for their domestic flights home. But now the Pentagon is covering those costs. Folks behind Operation Hero Miles, though, still want to keep it going. Now that the Pentagon is covering those costs, Ruppersberger says Hero Miles are still needed for troops on emergency leave and to help families visit their loved ones at 14 military hospitals around the country. Ruppersberger says he will contact the airlines participating in “Hero Miles” to explain the continuing need and encourage them to continue their support of the effort. So far, American have donated more than 400 million frequent flyer miles – equal to 16,000 free round-trip tickets. I think…

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Air Canada faces constraints on selling its frequent flyer program

Reported in Canada’s National Post: GE Capital Aviation Services could receive part of the proceeds of a sale involving Air Canada’s Aeroplan, according to terms of the US$1.5-billion financing pact between the U.S. company and the carrier. … Under the agreement, GECAS will provide the Montreal airline with US$1.5-billion in financing, designed to help Air Canada emerge from creditor protection and acquire regional jets. One of the wrinkles in the agreement stipulates that should Air Canada sell 100% of Aeroplan — its popular and cash-producing frequent-flyer program — to another investor, it is obliged to set aside 25% of the proceeds, or no less than US$125-million, for GECAS. The money will go toward paying down loans supplied by the aircraft lessor. However, if Air Canada, during the first six months following its exit from bankruptcy…

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American’s Big Offer

I’m a bit late to the party reporting on this (busy with work), but it’s worth noting even a few days late that American is offering one of the most lucrative flight bonuses around. American Airlines yesterday launched a “buy two, get one free” promotion that’s aimed squarely at Forest Hills-based JetBlue Airways and other discounters. The offer covers members of American’s frequent flyer club who take two roundtrips by April 15 between Boston or New York and destinations reachable nonstop in Florida or California. Doing so earns them a free coach class roundtrip ticket, including international flights, redeemable until April 15 of next year. The free trips have to be booked 14 days in advance and must include a Saturday night stay. These trips are on top of the usual frequent flyer miles earned…

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An interesting but hardly humble man

Last month Business Week ran a three part interview (Part One, Part Two, Part Three).Interesting, fun read, mostly for the reminiscences. One quibble that I have, though, is that Kelleher boasts about Southwest’s employee stock ownership plan but it’s my understanding that he was initially vigorously opposed to its creation.There’s nothing inherently inconsistent about that. It’s wonderful when a manager admits their error and becomes a champion of a successful idea. But Kelleher isn’t the most humble of men. And though he notes the timeline of taking of the reigns of Southwest Airlines in 1982, he never mentions the names of any of the other founders.

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Help remind me of something?

Northwest will offer daily Tokyo-Portland flights beginning in June.Back when Delta offered this service, Portland had a terrible reputation amongst Japanese for hostile a immigration authority. It had a rather funny nickname as well, but I can’t seem to remember what it was. Perhaps someone out there can remind me?

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Exploring poor business strategy at USAirways

The New York Times reports that USAirways is considering selling assets, including the DC-New York-Boston Shuttle.While discussions appear preliminary, and the existence of discussions shouldn’t be overread, this seems ill-advised.Selling assets will raise cash but do little to affect the underlying profitability of the enterprise. It’s likely that the only assets which will bring real cash are also the ones that are the most profitable or most likely to become profitable.Sometimes it does make sense for a business to sell off productive assets — either because the business underutilizes those assets and they’re worth more to another business (and hence will fetch more cash in a sale than profits to the original owner) or because the business believes that they can invest the cash more productively in other enterprises.In this case, it seems more like…

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The first tax offer appears

I always procrastinate on my taxes — not out of anger at writing a check to the IRS (though I feel some) or a desire to put off unpleasantness (though I feel that too) — but because I want to wait for the best mileage offers to appear. Several credit cards will offer bonuses for making tax payments with their card. These bonuses tend to offset the processing fee for paying taxes by credit card. I want to get the best bonus possible. Two years ago I took advantage of a United Visa offer of 5000 miles for any tax payment (I paid $5 online and the rest with a check). Last year I earned double Starwood points for my online tax payment. I haven’t heard what the credit card offers are yet — they…

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