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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I don’t usually do politics here, and I’m not going to delve into the substantive discussion of what immigration policy ought to be (though I generally agree with the point that Brad DeLong makes in criticizing Paul Krugman). But I hate disingenuous arguments, so I thought I’d reproduce this skewering from David Friedman. He quite elegantly points out how irrelevant national security arguments are to the debate over the Mexican border. The linkage is absurd for two different reasons. The first is that current illegal immigrants are not Muslims and have no connection with or allegiance to Islamic organizations, terrorist or otherwise. Most of them are Catholics. They are no more likely to support Islamic terrorism than the people already here—probably less likely. The second is that the U.S. doesn’t control its borders, isn’t going…

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Starwood Expands in San Francisco

Starwood loyalists who frequent San Francisco have reason to rejoice with the Argent becoming a Westin and the Park Hyatt becoming a Le Meridien.I love this quote from San Francisco’s Convention and Visitors Bureau Chairman, “If the Argent does suddenly better, it’s not because the building’s better but because someone is bribing them with Starwood points.” Starwood has some outstanding options in San Francisco already, with the new St. Regis, an outstanding W, the Westin St. Francis, and the love-it-or-hate-it Palace. Adding the Park Hyatt is a real coup.

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The Suite Mystique

The New York Times carried a piece today on hotel presidential suites. They have expensive sticker prices but most people staying in them don’t pay sticker price — they’re upgrades from lesser rooms or comped rooms to meeting planners or other VIPs bringing the hotel significant business. I remember the very first hotel event I booked, they put me in their very best suite. Of course, it was a Best Western and it was their only suite. But it was my first year of work and I was impressed. Had folks over for the jacuzzi, too. I’ve never stayed in a true presidential suite, the kind they have at the Waldorf Towers in New York. It a matter of luck and I’ve never asked for one either. But I do have an Ambassador Suite booked…

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Southwest finds lost luggage!

Some airlines handle lost luggage well. American isn’t one of them, but apparently Southwest is. Kyle shares what happened to him when he left some personal items on a Southwest plane. He got them back, cost-effectively. Go Southwest! While waiting for my bags I was discussing with a friend on the phone the records I picked up from the very reasonably priced record shops in Nashville. During our discussion of Prince’s record Controversy I looked down and realized, to my disgust, I had left on the plane my extremely plain looking brown bag of records and CD’s I recently purchased. I forwent a generously offered ride from some friends or friends I bumped into and slumped on over to Southwest’s baggage area where I relayed my story of forgetfullness to the agent. They were quite…

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Anyone can open a British Airways Executive Club account

Mar 28 2006

Some time ago British Airways stopped allowing people to open frequent flyer accounts. Strange, I know. You had to book a full fare coach ticket to be eligible to join Executive Club (and then discount coach tickets still only earn a fraction of flown mileage). At the time I advised folks to just go ahead and open British Airways accounts ‘just in case’. You never know when you might need one, such as when Jaguar was offering 10,000 miles for a test drive (and since you can combine 4 accounts in a household, you could earn 40,000 miles from the simple promotion). It turns out that another way to get a British Airways account is to get a co-branded British Airways Visa. After all, the points you earn from that Visa need somewhere to go.…

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Hotel Manager as Everyday Civil Rights Hero

Via Hotel Hotsheet, the General Manager of the Renaissance Tulsa was arrested for refusing to give police a list of all hotel guests. An anonymous report to the police suggested that drugs were in a room number that didn’t exist. So the cops asked for records on everyone staying at the hotel. “The manager was very concerned about providing a list of all guests’ names and addresses,” Fugazi stated. “The request was so broad and unique, she felt compelled to contact senior management, which she was attempting to do when she was arrested.” Frighteningly, the police request was apparently consistent with a local law (such things vary by jurisdiction, but it appears to be fairly common).

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John Kerry’s Hotel Requirements

Following on Dick Cheney’s hotel preferences, HotelChatter points to John Kerry’s demands: He prefers Starwood’s Heavenly king beds whenever possible, bottled water must be every place JK is, BOOST shakes are a must, and there are to be absolutely no foods containing tomatoes prepared for the Senator. That list bit is extremely odd, with his wife being the Heinz Ketchup queen and all. By far the most revealing item on the rider? The phone and ability to order movies in-suite should always be turned on and ready to go for JK’s arrival. Hmm, exactly what On Command movies does JK need to tune into immediately following check-in. What? We are just asking.

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United’s labor relations in the late 90s and what it tells us about government programs

In yesterday’s New York Times, Louis Uchitelle told the story of United Airlines’ Indianapolis maintenance center. It was hugely productive and brought in revenue from other airlines outsourcing their own maintenance work. Labor relations deterioriated and so did productivity. The airline gave in to union demands for wages, but those wages meant that maintenance costs were far above competitive alternatives. So the airline outsourced work and layed off workers.But the point of the piece is an interesting insight into job training programs. Very few of them actually funnel people into work, and it’s often the case that what unemployed workers lack isn’t training.An interesting read.

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Dick Cheney’s Hotel Preferences

The Smoking Gun makes public the Vice President’s (frankly rather modest) requirements for his hotel suite when he travels. Cheney does like his suite at a comfy 68 degrees. And, of course, all the televisions need to be preset to the Fox News Channel… Decaf coffee should be ready upon his arrival along with four cans of caffeine-free Diet Sprite. And when Cheney is traveling with his wife Lynne, the second family’s suite needs an additional two bottles of sparkling water. Mrs. Cheney’s H2O should be either Calistoga or, curiously, Perrier… Smoking Gun seems vexed by the statement, “[i]f the hotel would like to put a gift in the suite please let the Advance Office know ASAP.”Presumably they’re unfamiliar with the practice of luxury hotels providing small items of interest or value to their guests.…

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