Bits ‘n Pieces for December 31, 2012

News and Notes from around the Interweb:

  • Sentences that will never come out of my mouth: “I had a really hard time deciding between coach & business class..” New Girl in the Air then declares, “from now on, coach will be adequate for all my European travel.” Perish the thought!

  • Buy Macy’s Gift Cards for the Miles, Put the Money on Your Macy’s Credit Card and Get a Check Back. Here’s the full scoop. I’d add to PointChaser’s thoughts that you could also buy the gift cards from an online gift card trading site like PlasticJungle at a discount and make a cash profit from these transactions!

  • United Clubs charging $2 for bottled water? Reports are, however, that the toilets remain free (with the newly increased price of membership of course).

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. Anyone making predictions on how long the Macy’s operation lasts? I’d put the over/under at about a week, considering how fast and heavily these things get abused.

  2. Wow, I can’t imagine spending any EXTRA time collecting points (or blogging about them) if I didn’t intend to use them for premium travel. Seems like a total waste of time…

  3. Travelers are definitely different. In one BLOG the person reviewing the Club Carson Visa asked if anybody would even want to stay at a Country Inn for free. I would and a lot of others would.

    If you don’t get unlimited points would you rather two trips over one (albeit it not at the same travel style)? I so many trips for the destination – not for plane ride and the hotel.

  4. Everyone has different travel styles and needs. If coach meets your needs, why spend the points on something else and have fewer points remaining for future travel?

    Airline travel to me is getting from point A to point B. I’d rather eat at a restaurant at my destination than pay with $$ or points to sit up front and eat airline food. I sleep just as well in coach as I do up front (poorly).

    Personally, I love Hampton Inns. Comfortable and clean rooms with great beds, good free wifi, and free breakfast in the AM. Why pay more elsewhere for less?? I don’t need it for the purported amenities, to feel better about myself, or to impress others.

    Finally, I felty dirty reading about the Macy’s gift card scheme. Anyone with a shred of common decency knows it’s over the line.

  5. This “loophole” at Macys has been around for years and is nothing new or earth shattering. It is of very limited use and basically worthless though as it has been well documented that Macys will shut down your card account after only 2-3 credit balance refund requests (I know as this happened to me last year after the second request within 4 months), so if you actually shop at Macys you’ll lose the shopping discounts provided by the card. If you don’t shop at Macys, then IMHO this “opportunity” isn’t even worth the credit pull for opening the card and is a waste of a pull as a result. Horrible post by “PointChaser” IMHO…..

  6. @Ron, I think a lot has to do with people’s perceptions of their current and ongoing ability to earn and use points. I’m with you as primarily a travel in coach and stay in moderate properties guy – I’d rather go to the Mediterranean, and North Asia, and the Mideast next year, flying coach, than choose between them in order to sit in another part of the same plane. But if I was bringing in twice as many miles, or if I only had time for one or two award trips a year, I’d probably look at it differently. I too will sleep poorly wherever I sit (or lie flat, for that matter).

  7. I’m with NewGirlInTheAir, and not just because she beats you in looks either Gary! 😉 Along with DavS I’m not very high maintenance nor do I need to feel special or pampered. And a 6-7 hour Atlantic crossing is a waste of J/F anyway. Maybe when I get older and and the aches and pains start creeping into my body…

  8. @Robert

    I am pretty sure Gary’s comment was tongue in cheek… We all have different circumstances, and several people already pointed out that there are certain benefits to flying coach. Like flying more places on the same points budget.

  9. @ Ryan E, Ron, DaveS,
    Most of you would be better off collecting cash rather than mileage points on your credit card purchases (exception is for sign-up purchses).

  10. @ Fkyingbear–yes, I knew Gary wasn’t talking about flying coach, was just mystified another blogger would spend so much time chasing points to fly in coach. Can’t imagine that would be worthwhile, much less the horrible cpm you would get flying coach. Just doesn’t add up!

  11. @ Robert – Well, recently booked a $2600 coach itinerary for 60000 miles. That’s $2600 I would actually have spent, so that’s a pretty good value. Granted, I could use incrementally more miles to pay for a $10000 first class ticket … which is a perceived value, but I NEVER would pay that much cash for an airline ticket. So, cpm can be an artificial and somewhat meaningless way to define value.

  12. @Robert

    I think you are still missing the point by a long shot. Ron gave a good example just now.

    I am a 1K on United this year, I would find using miles on premium cabin as a horrible waste of those miles. CPM is not the only measure. As several pointed out in various forms, there is also opportunity cost. Two trips vs. one? Yeah, I’ll take two.

  13. For some simple coach redemptions it is indeed sensible to use values accumulated through cashback cards, and I do have a couple of those. However, thanks to what I’ve learned reading several blogs, I tend not to do simple redemptions. My next big trip is to Zurich, Ljubljana, Skopje, Larnaca, Tirana and Vienna. That’s 60k United miles in coach, but when you get to that “you can buy this trip for $$$$ screen”, it priced out at several thousand dollars. Valuation of award travel that you would never pay cash for is always tricky, but some coach redemptions can indeed be worth several cpm, if you want to calculate it that way.

  14. @Flyingbear–
    I would rarely if ever book a FC ticket within north or central America; like any frequent traveler you’d book coach, and hopefully upgrade. But for an international flight, especially a return flight from Eurpore which could easily go over ten hours, why would you waste your time reading blogs, dinging your credit and chasing points to ride coach? Given, I’m not 25 and don’t find staying as hostels fun either, but really? Spend this time (and obviously you do spend a lot of time or you wouldn’t be reading this) to fly coach across the world? I’d hang my hat up I and join the gate lice line if so! Happy New Year!

  15. @Robert

    The answer is simple… for quite a few people, credit cards and “dinging” credit is not the only way to get miles. And again, opportunity cost… It’s not like the choice is either a 5-star hotel or a cardboard box and First Class or sneaking in with the dogs in luggage. Your oversimplification certainly explains the challenge of understanding why something other than a premium cabin is a desirable way to spend miles.

    For people like Gary that fly and spend enough, it’s not an issue. For the rest of us mortals, there are other sensible choices 🙂

    Happy New Year to you too.

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