Marriott Rewards Milestone

Marriott Rewards hit 20 million members in its program this week and awarded the 20 millionth member with airfare and a week’s hotel stay for two at any Marriott property and lifetime Platinum status.And I thought I got a good deal when I named the new Sheraton Checkin Kiosk.

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United’s Finance Shop in Disarray

United Airlines, struggling to exit bankruptcy, is counting on government-backed loans from the Air Transporation Stabilization Board, which was set up after 9/11 to overcome (perceived) temporary financial market disruption. Somehow the ATSB still exists. United says they can’t access funds in the private market, which they judge to be a market failure but may really be a reflection of United’s prospects for profitability. The Financial Times (sorry, no link handy) carries a piece suggesting United’s financial planning is in disarray. “We have got to get out of model land,” a stunned Jake Brace, finance director at United, told a team of business planners last July in his conference room at the airlines’ headquarters on the outskirts of O’Hare airport. Mr Brace had just been told that a mistake had been found in the companies’…

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Mileage Plus Visa Offer

The United Mileage Plus Visa is available with a 15,000 mile signup bonus and fee waived the first year. This was sent as part of a targeted email, but past practice suggests that it should work for anyone. Apply at the link above and print out the page which indicates the fee is waived. In addition, my experience is that existing cardholders can take advantage of these offers and obtain a second card.

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Two for One to Paris

Air France is offering a two-for-one sale from the US to Paris. Book by May 15th for travel October 15th through March 2005. December 17th – 24th is blocked out, and a Saturday stay is required. Prices from New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and DC start at $505 for two roundtrips with other cities slightly higher. Taxes are extra.

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How to Find the Best Hotel Deals

Priceline A great, straightforward and simple introduction to successful Priceline bidding is this 2003 article from the Washington Post by Michael Shapiro. About.com has a good, clear explanation of how free re-bids work. That’s probably the single most important ‘trick’ to learn. The best uber resource for informed Priceline bidding is Bidding For Travel.com. Some users are unhappy with the level of moderation there, but it is indispensable for the lists of hotels by zone and quality level and the tremendous amount of successful and unsuccessful bids that have been posted. Their Hotel FAQ is also important reading to understand how to get the hotel(s) you want in the right location and at the best price. Furthermore, their discussion boards contain really interesting tips such as advanced rebidding techniques that increase your free re-bids beyond…

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How to Find the Best Airfare Deals

Websites to Use When Searching for Airfare Orbitz. I find to be the best general airfare site. Especially good at piecing together multiple airline trips to save money. SideStep is a downloadable program that detects when you’re searching for travel and sends out whatever you enter into a website to the various airlines, searches their sites directly, and then collates the results. Mobissimo is even more powerful than SideStep. It is also a metasearch tool. It goes out to the airlines and the other travel booking sites like Travelocity to get its results. It’s web-based rather than a software download. It even searches consolidators (such as onetravel) and international sites (like zuji and opodo). Powerful, but not good for searching over a range of dates or airports. Kayak is similar to Mobissimo but with an…

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Why Priceline Acquired Travelweb (and Lowestfare.com)

Jared Blank offers a basic point that I was too dense to see. Priceline acquired Travelweb, the hotel booking service, for the same reason they began offering retail airfare — so that they could sell travel to consumers whose bids failed. They don’t expect consumers to start at Priceline for their retail travel, but they don’t need to lose all of their customers who are unsuccessful with their opaque bidding product.

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