Independence Air Unveils iClub

Independence Air, which starts service next month, has unveiled its frequent flyer program, iClub. Earn one point per dollar spent on Independence Air tickets. 1500 points is a free trip of 1500 miles or less or 50% off a trip longer than 1500 miles.The real innovation, taking a page from Southwest and going a step further, is There are no blackout dates restricting your use of awards and we don’t limit the number of award seats on our flights. If there’s a seat available for sale, it’s available for award travel. iClub members also save $25 on their first online ticket purchase.I like the simplicity of the program and especially that there aren’t any capacity controls. Customers looking to redeem awards won’t go away unhappy. But the awards themselves aren’t all that appealing — short-haul…

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“Fake” frequent flyer credit cards

The unaffiliated, generic mileage cards are a bad deal for most consumers. Credit cards that aren’t affiliated with any airline’s frequent-flier program — but which promise users the ability to earn free trips on a variety of carriers — have been around since the mid-1990s. Known as “fake” cards to the frequent-flier cognoscenti, they’re marketed primarily to infrequent travelers who aren’t loyal to any single carrier but who would like to earn a free flight every couple of years. They provide domestic coach tickets with values usually capped at about $400 and points can’t be combined with other mileage earning opportunities (like flying, telephone, hotel stays, etc.). So they don’t provide earning power or redemption power. They aren’t going to get you into that business class cabin to Sydney, which is enough to tell me…

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Good News!

American Airlines is keeping “More Room Throughout Coach” In an effort to boost capacity with little cost, Fort Worth-based American had signaled it would return to less legroom in coach class on some planes. But airline officials have now decided that passengers value two to four inches of extra space, so the expanded legroom will be retained in the vast majority of jets.

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Iceland for $61 roundtrip

I was too busy to post this earlier, apologies all around, but there are still some available dates to snag a fare glitch at Cheaptickets.com. $61 roundtrip ($0 + tax) from JFK or Baltimore to Reykjavik, Iceland (KEF). I see the following dates working at the moment: June 26 – July 1, JFK-KEF June 3 – June 8, JFK-KEF June 3 – June 9, JFK-KEF June 27 – July 8, BWI-KEF Certainly there are more, keep plugging away and good luck. Won’t be around much longer.Update: 6/3 – 6/9 out of JFK no longer works, but 6/3 – 6/8 does. Also return to BWI on July 4th is good.Update 2: rapidly disappearing… I just can’t seem to get this to price anymore.

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Is Membership Rewards a Good Replacement for Starwood?

In my post about the best mileage earning credit cards, reader Stan commented: Gary, Great blog. I check it every day. I was wondering what your take is on Membership Rewards. Is it worth using? I recently tried converting Starwood points to United (the 2:1 conversion was a killer, but I didn’t have a choice) and the 3-week wait took too long for me to make my trip work. I understand that MR offers instant conversion — are there downsides I need to worry about? Stan, first as another reader observed in the comments you can get around the poor conversion rate (2:1) of Starwood points into United miles by moving the Starwood points to Continental, then to Amtrak, and on to United. You can only do this for 20,000 Starwood points (once each year)…

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Best Mileage Earning Credit Cards

It’s been almost a year since I’ve updated this advice, so I thought I’d start from scratch. How to Decide on the Best Card Let me say up front that there isn’t one card that is best for everyone (although I’ll suggest below that a card can come pretty close). The truth is that the best card for you depends on what your award goals are. After all, different airlines fly to different places and offer awards at different point levels. Want to go from the United States to Australia, for instance? United awards are generally less expensive. But if you happen to live in Mexico your options for redeeming United miles are pretty limited. Another thing to consider is whether you pay your card off each month. Many of the mileage earning cards have…

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Making the most of eBay Anything Points

It’s a beautiful day in Northern Virginia, 87 degrees as I write this, and I just down at the pool …. explaining to a friend how to get eBay points for Priceline bids, and how to convert those points to American Airlines miles — as I’ve written about in pieces here on View from the Wing.Admittedly my obsessions for miles and points has reached problem-status if my poolside conversation turns to Priceline and alternative currencies like eBay points.Having just had the conversation, though, I decided to pull it all together for my readers along with a couple of other offers and spell it out as explicitly as I can. Apologies to all who have seen it before. Create an eBay Anything Points account. Click either “Start Earning Now” or “Set Up Points Account.” Make all…

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The Amex Black Card

Snopes.com has a good piece on the infamous “Black Card,” American Express Centurion, which carries a $2500 annual fee (long-time cardholders are gradfathered at the old $1000 rate) and comes with airline and hotel status.Perhaps the most interesting revelation in the piece, aside from learning that Amex concierges got an aspiring actress an audition with a soap opera, is that the card actually originated out of an urban legend. Rumors abounded that the famous and super-wealthy had a card like this, and that’s what gave American Express the idea to offer it. “There had been rumors going around that we had this ultra-exclusive black card for elite customers,” says Doug Smith, director of American Express Europe. “It wasn’t true, but we decided to capitalize on the idea anyway. So far we’ve had a customer buy…

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