Friday Open Thread

What’s on your mind?

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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 hear new news about 2x MQM with Delta. Are they going to match United etc? I am waiting to book a trip as I don’t want them to pop out and say only 2x MQM on say Y class or such.

  2. I finally tried that little gimmick of ordering a bunch of coins from the US Mint and getting credit card points for doing so. Couldn’t help but feel really sleazy about it. Here we are, with the country running a deficit, and what do I do but take advantage of a loophole for my own selfish desire.

    Seriously, it must cost the country $50 or more for every $1000 coin order (next day air delivery, credit card points, and packaging). I’m more than a little ashamed of myself now for being selfish and I wonder if anyone else has an opinion on this.

  3. @DeltaGoldFlyer – it’s very strange that Delta has been silent here. They matched the last double eqm-fest, though really restricting it to higher fares. Now that they’ve announced a new higher tier you’d think it’d be an easy no brainer. And yet I personally haven’t heard a peep from the inside on this.

    @Earl – the govenrment is doing this for a reason, to get the coins in circulation, and frankly it’s one of the least wasteful programs out there. Meanwhile the cost of merchant fees for the governmetn is dwarfed by the cost of production, shipping, and importantly order fulfillment. Don’t feel the least bit guilty, IMHO.

  4. Any thoughts on United’s new upgrade co-pay structure about to come into effect from Jan 2010? Specifically pertaining to international upgrades?

  5. Gary, when I took the coins to the bank, to deposit, they said they would send them “back”. Maybe to ease my conscience, I should just distribute them into the local economy. Are people doing that? I thought most everyone is just taking them to the bank and washing their hands of them…

    But as for it being the “least” wasteful, that may be so but I wasn’t thinking in relative terms about government spending. For me, this is wasteful and I think you go on to point out the many ways this is so.

  6. bank deposits go to the nearest fed processing center where they’re stored/recirculated/etc. They’re not going back to the treasury.

  7. @Earl – do you avoid driving on unnecessary roads and bridges? Do you refuse to watch government displays of fireworks?

    We face the world we are given. We respond to the incentives in that world.

    Nothing about that is inconsistent with suggesting a particular program or endeavor is wasteful.

    I can drive on a road that probably shouldn’t have been built, even if I think it was a waste to build it.

  8. @Quasiconvexity – that it was delayed from going into effect this past summer was a blessing. I think the co-pay structure is garbage, charge more miles from lower fares if you must…. At least there are systemwide upgrades for 1Ks which for now allow upgrading from most fares without a co-pay.

  9. @Earl – things to keep in mind about the coins:

    1) a dollar bill lasts 18 months, coin 20+ years
    2) cost to make coins is cheap vs sale price
    3) I spend as much as I can out of each order, bank the rest
    4) You are helping the airlines, the CC company’s have to BUY the miles they give you. Do you feel bad about costing the CC company’s money?
    5) You are helping UPS.
    Just think, if they make say 50 trillion of these things, they may just pass a law that the $1 bill is gone and we all get to use the coins. That, over time, will save money!

    So keep up the good work and order more coins!!!

  10. I buy the coins in increments of $750 (with every new card). I take out $50 for petty cash and deposit $700 to my bank.
    This way I feel like I am doing the right thing.

  11. @Earl: If it makes you feel sleazy, don’t do it. There are a ton of ways to get miles. I do some of them, not others. Everyone has his own internal compass… I encourage you to listen to yours.

    Anyone remember the heyday of the multiple US Airways bonuses? You could sign up over & over for the same bonus and have it applied to your account multiple times. One transcon earned me something like 50,000 miles back then, including about 10 copies of a “2,500 miles for buying with AmEx” bonus, even though I didn’t have an AmEx. I didn’t feel sleazy about that since US Airways’ computer systems awarded me all those miles, but some people might have. YMMV.

  12. Thank you. Your blog is a pleasure to read, and very insightful. Thanks to multiple DEQM promos, it looks like I might be able to hit 1K for the first time. Looking forward to the SWUs!

  13. I’m PM with Delta but am coming up on a long trip through Europe where I’ll be taking mostly United partners.

    Is it worthwhile for me to go for a United status match? My biggest concern is overweight baggage fees intra-Europe

  14. Why does Air Tran have the best beverage service in the business? Fresca, Pink Lemonade, Coke Zero, and Fortnum and Mason tea!? I mean, come on UA, AA, DL, etc…!

  15. Looking forward to bagging United 1k this year, but worried about the onslaught of other newly minted 1ks competing with me in 2010.

  16. @boberonicus there may be more 1Ks but remember (a) there have been eqm promos every year (b) there’s less business travel this year. United does manage/evaluate overall elite #s in their promo decisions (though this one is a response to American, but American does the same). 1Ks shouldn’t be TOO overwhelming next year.

  17. Hi Gary;

    With British Midland abruptly pulling out of their partnership with Hertz, where do you advise a frequent renter to steer their mileage earning? I am going to ride the Hertz UA 1000-mile promo for now, and am evaluating Virgin Atlantic, but am open to ideas.

    I currently hold elite status with UA, AC, BD and Starwood, and have affinity credit cards with AC and Starwood.

    I am open to switching car rental providers if necessary, and really like the looks of National’s “Emerald Aisle” set-up.

  18. @Jeff, I’m an Avis guy. And with Avis you can triple dip on rewards — miles (1000 Virgin Atlantic on a 1 day rental, or frequent bonuses especially with Delta), Avis First free days, and Corporate Awards free days.

    Hertz was a great bmi partner. Truly sad to lose ’em. I’m pretty mercenary with the partnerships I credit rentals to, depending on who has the best bonuses or whose promos I need partner credits in.

  19. @Earl, I am with you on the “don’t feel right about it” regarding the mint coins. It’s not due to wastefulness, but I do not like to walk in to my bank multiple times with large amounts of coins for them to deal with. As some point, it gets where I don’t like the looks I may be getting, so I stopped. There is only one bank near me that I can deal with.
    I would rather get bonuses from anonymous computers.

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