Bits ‘n Pieces for April 21, 2013

News and notes from around the interweb:

  • Head for Points says that you can avoid KLM’s new intra-Europe checked baggage fee just by joining the Flying Blue program — which is useful to do anyway so that you can use their website to search for award availability on lots of the Delta frequent flyer partners that the Delta website doesn’t support.

  • Miles from Blighty walks through the changes to Hyatt’s website. The biggest one is that you can now see points cost and availability next to paid room rates — you don’t need to search for awards separately, and don’t need to have enough points in an account to see award availability online (you used to have to call if you didn’t have enough points in your account to search). Upgraded rooms on points aren’t on the website (similar to Starwood), and I do wish each hotel’s page listed its award redemption category though. Searching for availability with stay certificates is also more integrated in the new site.

  • The Skytrax ranking of the world’s airports is out– and while the top choice of Singapore Changi is perfectly defensible, as is listing Seoul’s Incheon at number 2, there’s also tons of silliness as well like including the disaster that is London Heathrow in the top 10.

  • To the guy that hides Vanilla Reload cards behind the XBoxLive cards at my CVS — I discovered your hiding spot weeks ago. Clearly you have been back to the store, since more were hidden in the same spot. When you go back and find your entire stash gone, it’s probably wise to find a new hiding spot. That is all.

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, 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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  1. You’d have to figure that the odds of the card-hider seeing this message are actually pretty sky-freaking high.

  2. @Corky I just kinda figured they went back to the store, and saw their cards weren’t there anymore, so it would have been a good idea to change their hiding spot 😉

  3. I don’t even bother to look on the shelf anymore. Too many buyers and hiders. I just ask at the check-out counter. All the clerks know about the points scheme and are happy to go grab a new pack from the office.

    Hopefully the nonsense will stop when everyone’s Hilton AMEX May statement coming up.

  4. Just bought $4k worth on Friday at a CVS here in L.A. Tons of cards in stock. No, I’m not revealing location.

    Told clerk to do it in 4 separate transactions b/c I read something about that in these blogs. Anyway, worked fine.

    Can someone confirm if the 1k per transaction is indeed req’d?

    Love the blog. Keep it up.

  5. How does one load vanilla reloads onto bluebird if there is not a Walmart nearby, e.g., New York City? My goal is to use this to pay mortgage and homeowners insurance.

  6. @ Nic
    The clerk jokingly said “I hope you don’t get me fired.” Then said “but seriously, if my computer system lets me sell them to you, then i’ll sell you all you want.” I’ve been going to that location for 10+ years and know he is manager – interestingly he has not encountered any mileage addicts because he kept asking benefits of the whole deal.

    @Jeff I used regular AmEx.

    After buying VR cards
    1) Go to the VR website.
    2) Enter your Bluebird account number
    3) Enter the PIN from the back of the VR card.
    My understanding is 1k per day max, 5k per month.
    Hope I got that correct. Someone here step in if I got it wrong.

  7. Hey Gary,

    You might want to mention the offer for up to 1,500 miles PER NIGHT that you can read about here:

    As I understand it this is a white label Expedia site so you’ll have to be okay with not earning your regular hotel points and perhaps not even getting elite recognition on your bookings. Appreciate your thoughts on that though Gary.

    Given that for example Hilton/United have a deal to earn 1,000 miles per 2-night stay max 5,000 miles this quarter when this would earn you 15,000 miles for the same 5 stays, this strikes me as a pretty good deal people might want to take advantage of.

  8. Skytrax put Heathrow in the top 10? Must be because Heathrow offers such a variety of experiences – from Baltic Avenue to Boardwalk. Or maybe the rating was based on how high the airport tax is? 🙂

  9. AlohaDave, Heathrow T5 is genuinely one of the world’s nicest terminals, esp if you have BA lounge access. Good shops, minimal walking to gates. The other terminals are dumps but the new Terminal 2 next year will be a similar design to T5 so should be equally impressive.

  10. Let me get this straight. Someone was being a jerk by hiding VRs. You taught him/her a lesson my either 1) hiding them or 2) buying all of them. Maybe that was how they tricked the store manager into putting out more VRs. Way to take the moral high ground, Hubris from the Wing.

  11. umm, i just thought it was funny that they hid them in the same place even though their hiding spot was found

  12. Funny, I was going to say that the 3 times I’ve been to heathrow, it’s been great. (that’s statistics for you). But I’ve only ever been in terminal 5. Is the rest of it a dump?

  13. The BA arrivals lounge at Heathrow is wonderful. Showers, beds, decent food, lots of space. I do hate the ridiculous walks to the gates though. The shops are all very nice but things are just too far apart.

  14. I have been trying to get the VR in CVS in bay area for a while but was unsuccessful. Apparently instead of hiding behind a stack of cards, someone hid 2 cards each in the middle of multiple cards stacks. I found ~20 cards and bought them all (the limit is still 1k/day)

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