Post-Christmas Open Thread

What’s On Your Mind?

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. We were just blessed w twins. We didn’t get to travel enough. Now that I have accumulated points and looking to travel more w my (2) 12 week olds I am realizing that there are very few limited opportunities to travel cheap on F or Y w 2 infants. From my countless hours of reading, I’ve learned that only BA, virgin Atlantic, Air Canada, and Lufthansa (both of whose award charts are exuberantly pricey or have crazy fuel surcharges) allow 10% of MILES or a set low fee as oppose to 10% fare for infants. This is very disappointing as we can shell out as much as 1000-2000$ per infant on F travel. We were hoping to go to Australia w a stop over in Asia (the stop over is not must). The US 110k Y seemed appealing but the 10% infant fare x 2 may be a deal breaker. Any ideas or thoughts? Surprisingly this is a topic that’s not covered that much by the bloggers.

  2. I am wondering how much it’s okay to buy vanilla reloads with chase cards without them being concerned. Also will buying vanilla reloads for Citi business AA card spend cause problems?

  3. My wife, myself, and 3 kids are planning an activity-filled trip to South Africa, but also wanted to add on a few days of beach relaxation. Any recommendations? We were thinking about the Maldives from JNB via the Middle East.

  4. What’s the best way to determine award availability for Korean Air business class? Please don’t let it be using Delta’s online search tool.

  5. Gary –

    Upcoming trips to Paris and Tokyo. Each time we fly to a new destination I always have to research the tipping policies/customs of the respective country. Would love a guide from your experiences about tipping in various countries and cultures. Happy new year and continued success with your blog. Appreciate all your work!

  6. I really need to start thinking about my back-to-back Euro trips next month – London, followed immediately by Dublin. I don’t have hotels or anything booked!

    Other than that, I need to figure out my allegiances for 2014. Not a whole lot of great coverage in Central Ohio, so my options are limited to AA or UA.

  7. Wondering about the same thing as Tico. How much is too much to buy vanilla reloads from CVS using a Chase card (even though I mix it up with all my other spendings). Currently I buy one $500 VR per week.

  8. When I was buying VR I would get 4 at at time and put $1,000 on my SPG and then have them do another $1,000 transaction on my Ink Bold. I would do this about twice a week or so. Never had an issue…but I put tons of other spend on my SPG and about 5k more on my Ink each month.

  9. How about a discussion/analysis on airline credit cards vs. Sapphire Preferred/Ink? My in-laws only really want to carry one card at a time. They have gotten hooked on the free checked bag ability of having a co-branded airline credit card even though they only travel maybe 3x per year. I am almost positive that it would be more lucrative for them to carry a CSP or Ink card (they run a small biz), but have a difficult time formulating a truly convincing argument. I guess if I put together some kind of comparison spreadsheet that might do the trick.

  10. Gary…I would love to hear your thoughts, and the thoughts of others, as to where the airline industry is headed in regards to class of travel, service, amenities, and what the industry as a whole can sustain. So many changes to increase revenue, but what does the consumer have to look forward to in the next few years…

  11. I buy a vr every day with a chase card at cvs. No problems. Cashier says some people buy. 15 at a time.

    Beaches south of Durban are gorgeous on The Wild Coast. But I haven ‘to been there since 1987 so not sure if safe. Atlantic side is too cold north of Cape Town.

    Centurion lounge in LAS is great!!!!

  12. @ Mike and especially Corky:

    The BB limit is $5k a month. I know you can also load VR to the MVD, but from what I hear if you try to max that out Incomm closes down your MVD cards. How are you cashing in all of that VR spend?

  13. Another airline price mistake came out today. This time, Delta was the “victim”. I am offended by some of the comments on Flyertalk where people are high-fiving each other, and one commenter even said it was “Good Karma” that guided them to the computer that morning to book $50 r/t flights to Hawaii. Really? Good Karma? Am I the only one who equates this to a truck breaking down and everyone starts looting? I have taken advantage of mistake fares, but with my head down and not up. Is this moral? Before you answer, human nature naturally gravitates to justifications and rationalizations such as: “Delta can afford it” or “Delta (or any big company) screws us so it’s about time we screw them”. But is it moral to take advantage?

  14. I have bought $1000 three different days and out on a business AA card, no other purchases and Ink say $25,000 in 3 months [Office Depot/Office Depot-CVS days] without problem.

    Now days I buy $997.90 – one $500 and one $490 just so I do not need to show ID at CVS. You only have a problem if you use the same credit card twice in the same day at either the same CVS or two different CVS stores- did that with a Citi card and second purchase was denied and got a fraud call alert…

  15. Since this is a space for year end musing, I gotta rant about a recent redemption I just did to fly from Singapore to LA, via Frankfurt/Detroit- 70K Saver F redemption on MP. Sure a great deal, but both starting in Singapore and transfering in Frankfurt, truly first class treatment- SQ First Class lounge, escort onto the plane in Changi, FCT and a Porche ride to the airplane in Frankfurt, and of course lie flat beds, cavier and Krug in flight.

    But then in the two domestic legs (Detroit – Phoenix – LAX), nothing. Sure, I understand that in US domestic first 90% of the passengers are probably free upgrades, but transferring in Phoenix, I cannot use the lounge on a first class ticket?

    I just wonder at the bewildered SQ or LH passenger, who actually purchased a first class ticket with a US domestic transfer who gets the same treatment. For the last 7 years, I’ve railed about SQ’s frequent flier program, which provides no upgrades to elites, choosing to fly empty if not sold.

    However, the US seems to have swung too far the other way, where there really is no first class any more, thus absolutely no reason for someone to ever actually pay for a first class ticket. Surely some middle ground would be the best for both the airlines revenue generation, and for people willing to pay more for better service?

  16. I am feeling really dumb….I just bought what I thought was a vanilla reload card at cvs (after opening a bluebird account), but it will not let me transfer the funds from my vr card to my bluebird account. Did I buy the wrong kind?

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