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Korean Air Skypass Introduces Expiring Miles

Miles earned on or after July 1, 2008 will expire after five years. Previously, miles never expired.The announcement claims that miles in the majority of international programs expire after 18 months or three years. What they don’t say is that any activity in an account with most of those programs will extend the validity of those miles another 18 months or three years.That doesn’t seem to be the case with this new change to Skypass. Instead, they’ve gone the route of programs like Cathay Pacific AsiaMiles — use ’em or lose ’em.

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StarNet: United’s Weapon of Mass Award Destruction

united-plane
Dec 10 2007

Back in July, I wrote up a primer on securing Star Alliance awards. In it, I alluded to Starnet, the system that United uses for booking these awards for Mileage Plus members. Its search capabilities are primitive (you often can find better availability searching segment-by-segment that you can telling the agent your origina and destination, simply because it doesn’t search many possible connections). But most vexxing for frequent flyers is that the system filters availability. That is, a partner airline may be offering a seat for award redemption — but United’s system will still tell you it’s unavailable. The agent will usually blame the partner (“they aren’t offering any seats”) when that isn’t true at all. Instead, United doesn’t want to pay for the seat. United is known to ‘filter out’ availability especially of Luftansa…

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Reader Wants to Know Whether to Use the British Airways Transfer Promos

british-airways-plane
Dec 03 2007

Reader Keith asks: One of your latest posts, about the Starwood to BA bonus, made me wonder whether you think it would be worth moving the miles from Starwood to BA even if I have no current plans to use an award. I generally park miles in Starwood, but a 30% bonus seems tempting, so I was thinking about moving over enough for a business class ticket. I’m not sure how I’d use them, but I live in Chicago, so I wouldn’t think redemption options for BA would be that hard. I wouldn’t. BA miles just aren’t a great place to park miles, or a value even with a 30% transfer bonus. These are all great bonuses if you need to top off a BA account, or need an award for which only BA miles…

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Purchase TACA Miles at 1.25 cents apiece

Through October 1, TACA is selling miles in its Distancia program at half-off. Normally 2.5 cents a mile, they’re selling at 1.25 cents a mile. Minimum purchase required: 1,000 Miles If you wish to buy more than 32,000 Miles, Please make another transaction. You can make as many transactions as you like. *Prices do NOT include local taxes There appears to be no limit to the amount of miles you can buy. However, it also appears that the website hasn’t been updated yet to allow purchase of the miles at the discounted price. I imagine that will be fixed shortly. TACA partners with both United and Iberia, however it appears as though redemptions on those carriers can only be done in coach (making miles purchase less of a good deal). You can fly non-stop from…

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Securing Premium Class Awards with Star Alliance

For all the complaints about award travel, and this is something I’ve written about before (and by no means to brag), I really don’t have too much trouble finding award seats. That’s partly because I have a critical mass account balance with several different airlines and major alliances, so when I go to redeem if there isn’t availability with one I simply query another. But it’s also because I redeem nmostly for premium class international travel, and while those tickets aren’t always available on all routes by any means, I’ve often seen the biggest complaints – with a few notable exceptions – to be about the old fashioned 25,000 mile domestic awards. And those are hardly the best value anyway. I’d just assume pay my $250 – $400 for a flight between DC and California,…

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3-cabin Planes Sold as Two Class

I have a hard time understanding why Thai Airways runs their updated 3-class 747s with angled lay flat business seats and true flat first class seats on a short run like Bangkok-Phuket. Seems like poor fleet planning at first glance, though I haven’t looked at whether the planes also fly internationally and this is just a way to get a few extra hours’ of flying time out of them. Asiana does something similar, flying 3-class planes sold as 2-class. (I flew Hong Kong-Seoul earlier this month, and an old style 747 was running the route on the day I traveled.) Trick is just to request the first rows of the plane when traveling on a business class ticket. Worked no problem for me on both carriers.Of course, American still does the same thing on certain…

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Le Meridien Khao Lak’s Presidential Oceanfront Villa

I’m recently back from Khao Lak, Thailand among other destinations in Asia. The trip was prompted by the Ugandan Schillings rate at the Le Meridien. My wife had three nights booked in the Presidential Oceanfront Villa and I had three nights booked in the Royal Suite. That satisfied the requirement that they’d only honor one reservation per person, and together we had six consecutive nights at the resort. The Presidential Villa wasn’t showing up for all six nights when we booked, so we had to settle for the smaller Royal Suite for half the stay when making our booking. As I saw pictures from others who had stayed in both rooms, I was actually getting disappointed. While the Royal Suite looked fabulous, the Presidential Oceanfront Villa was just breathtaking — how I’d hate to move!…

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A Little Thai Cooking

A couple weeks ago I took a cooking class in Thailand, and decided to make a couple of the recipes from the class last night. Tom Yam Goong (Traditional Thai sour and spicy prawn soup) Ingredients: Medium to large prawns Straw mushrooms Cilantro Cherry tomatoes Small chilis Lemongrass Kaffir lime leaves Galangal Roasted chili paste Lemon juice Fish sauce Chicken stock Sugar Based on my own preferences I replaced lemon juice with a squeezed lime and used brown sugar as my choice of sugar. My local Asian grocer didn’t have any kaffir lime leaves so I left them out. Boil chicken stock Add lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, roasted chili paste, sugar, mushrooms, chilis, mushrooms (if they aren’t pre-cooked) Add mushrooms (if pre-cooked), shrimp, cherry tomatoes Add lime juice and fish sauce Garnish with cilantro…

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Starwood’s Major Cash & Points Benefit Enhancement

I’ve give Starwood a hard time lately, because their points devaluation was a pretty big deal. But they’ve taken a step to give back a lot of value to members with changes to the Cash & Points program. One of the better features of the program over the years has been the ability to combine points and cash at a pretty favorable rate towards award nights. So instead of spending, for instance, 10,000 points on a category 4 hotel you could spend just 4,000 points + $60. This was a better option because you were basically ‘buying’ the difference in points at just 1 cent apiece. However, only some hotels would participate each quarter. Starwood would have to solicit them to do so, and most would opt out except for in their slowest seasons. As…

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Starwood’s Major Cash & Points Benefit Enhancement

I’ve give Starwood a hard time lately, because their points devaluation was a pretty big deal. But they’ve taken a step to give back a lot of value to members with changes to the Cash & Points program. One of the better features of the program over the years has been the ability to combine points and cash at a pretty favorable rate towards award nights. So instead of spending, for instance, 10,000 points on a category 4 hotel you could spend just 4,000 points + $60. This was a better option because you were basically ‘buying’ the difference in points at just 1 cent apiece. However, only some hotels would participate each quarter. Starwood would have to solicit them to do so, and most would opt out except for in their slowest seasons. As…

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