Free Hilton Status and a $4.3 Million Hotel Stay

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News and notes from around the interweb:

  • So this is interesting. Vital Card is just a 1% rebate card but it also pays you every month, on an ongoing basis, for the people you refer.

    They’re in pre-launch so you never know exactly how this is going to work out. And I have a hard time telling people they should actually put spending on the card, but it’ll be interesting to watch and play with. Sign up and get your own referral link, you’re welcome to leave yours in the comments.

  • The simple reason airlines like to take out seat back video screens, have fewer pages in their inflight magazine (that aren’t ads), and have less baggage in the cabin or the hold: fuel savings.

    Switching its in-flight magazine Hemisphere to a lighter variety of paper that saved an ounce a copy has saved United Airlines 170,000 gallons of fuel a year, the L.A. Times reported on Saturday, citing an “internal message to employees.” Per the paper, the 11 fewer pounds a flight save approximately 170,000 gallons or $290,000 in fuel costs annually…

    [S]topping on-board sales of duty-free items like “perfumes, chocolates and liquor” also saved 1.4 millions of gallons of fuel annually, saving United Airlines $2.3 million.

  • Free Hilton silver status

  • On February 7 Lufthansa defied a ‘no board order’ from the US government to prevent a passenger from traveling to US as part of its Muslim ban. According to the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General they were actually correct to do so.

  • If you can’t use your American AAdvantage miles on actual award tickets, there’s always this.. (HT: Phil S.)

  • Iraq will start collecting overflight fees

  • Cathay Pacific, which dropped The Peninsula managing its Hong Kong lounges nearly two years ago, is dropping replacement Plaza Premium in favor of Sodexo claiming that this will improve quality although it’s not obvious to me that’s the case.

    By the way the old Dragonair gate 16 lounge is expected to re-open as The Deck in March.

    Cathay Pacific’s The Pier First Class Lounge, Hong Kong


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. Re: the weight savings, it is only a matter of time before the airline start charging more $/points based on your weight…

    New *Enhanced* Basic “Light” Economy means nothing larger than a purse/small backpack and pax weight limited to 200lbs.

    No doubt Delta will be rolling this out as an “enhancement” soon and United will follow them like a lemming shortly thereafter.

  2. I thought for sure the $4.2 M hotel was going to involve the royal family renting out the Riyadh Ritz, but I guess we haven’t heard the details on what those terms are…

  3. Let’s get real with the magazines. UA says they have 4500 departures a day. Times 365 days and you have 1,642,500 per year. Divide that into the number of gallons “saved” and you get less than TWO OUNCES of fuel per flight. They spill more than that when fueling an aircraft. Or some extra taxi time.

    Plus, I’d be suspect about any kind of measurement analysis that deals with quantities that small.

    I think someone inside UA is scraping for something good to tell employees.

  4. Something is definitely wrong with the CX lounge management with regards to the food. I’m new to Oneworld and tried almost everything on the menu at the Pier First lounge this month to accompany drinks. Every single dish was, more or less, terrible. For anyone pining away to be let into these lounges, don’t bother becoming an Emerald (although the Qantas lounges do have excellent food). You’re much better off eating at Amex or in the food court. Ironically, the worst food in the HK CX lounges is the asian fare. I lived in Sichuan Province for 2 years and spent a lot of time in Shaanxi and know how to say about 2 dozen varieties of great noodle styles in Chinese. The limp mushy noodles in a soup of flavorless tahini served in the lounge are not in my repertoire. They are definitely not dan dan noodles. Tahini is not even normally an ingredient in dan dan noodles. HK is famous for bland Cantonese food and disgusting unrecognizable renditions of mainland classics (outside of high end restaurants) but that may be the worst bowl of noodles I’ve had anywhere in Asia in a long time.

  5. Re: Fuel Savings

    As I noted in the comments, there are no 50 seat mainline aircraft and the magazine is called Hemispheres with an s. Great reporting!

  6. re: Fuel Savings… will believe the fuel cost savings when I see my ticket price drop.
    This gives a lot of credibility to the theory that airlines cancel flights due to light load factors while blaming weather, mechanical, or crew.

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