Request for Requests: Ask Me Any Travel Question and I’ll Try to Answer

One of the things I really enjoy doing is responding to reader questions and it looks like I haven’t really opened things up in a structured way in some time. So here’s your chance.

I will my best to cover many of your questions. Some I may answer right away in comments, others will take me time to answer as standalone posts if they seem like topics that would help many readers.

As my boss once wrote making a similar request on his blog, “The only promise is that of weak monotonicity, namely that your mention won’t lower the chance of the topic being covered.” In other words, I won’t promise to cover everything, though I’ll read and ponder everything that’s written here in the comments.

I’d love to hear from you!

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. As Covid kicked up my passport expired. Not that big a deal. Except that my Global Entry expires at the end of next month. I haven’t yet sent in my passport for renewal because of the months of delays listed on their website and am at risk now of losing Global Entry…do I have any options? I know the goes renewal is pushed longer but only if you start the renewal before it expires, which i can’t do with the expired passport…thanks for any help you can offer!

  2. As Covid kicked up my passport expired. Not that big a deal. Except that my Global Entry expires at the end of next month. I haven’t yet sent in my passport for renewal because of the months of delays in the process and am at risk now of losing Global Entry…do I have any options? I know the goes renewal is pushed longer but only if you start the renewal before it expires, which i can’t do with the expired passport…thanks for any help you can offer!

  3. Gary, (1) which credit cards currently offer a credit toward Global Entry application or renewal fee? And (2) which currently provide Priority Pass? Thanks for your willingness to respond to your readers’ questions.

  4. Hi Gary,
    I’ve always been curious why – it seems- you used to love American Airlines, and then began bashing their actions. Did something happen to change your opinion? Were you personally impacted in some way? And what do you think is the future for American?

  5. Jerry, I would think the 1.25/1.5 portal burn rates and the 1cpp cashout option could be the main barriers to chase not offering higher multipliers. That being said, these options seem to be very popular with cardholders, so I think chase will stick with their current approach as long as it’s financially feasible.

  6. I am not a novice. Gary was my first and best teacher. I book my own tickets. Highlight has been Etihad First Class apartments TWICE! My question is a novice one, but I’ve never figured it out. I have to get to a Gateway city on East Coast. If I fly RIC-JFK, then JFK—>Europe on Ba with Avios, how do I add on the RIC-JKF flight with Avios? I always end up having to buy a separate ticket or using other mileage currency. Does there have to be availability on the BA website? I have never found any!

  7. I want to use my Avios to buy tickets on American. I’ve tried using your advice to just keep on trying but I’ve never been able to. It almost seems BA has little or no access. My home airport is ORD and I want to fly to LGA or MCO and I want to fly first class and use up these miles. Any further advice?

  8. Hi Gary – Thanks for opening things up. I know this is pretty unimportant in the scheme of a pandemic, but has there been any movement whether Lufthansa can legally allow miles transfers from other programs (IE: Bonvoy)? Are they even trying to resolve it? I’d settle for a good rumor, at this point.

  9. Gary – what are some of the best MS methods you’ve heard about that aren’t already widely known?

  10. @Jason – Nothing personal but I don’t think he will answer that one. It seems he’s had enough answering for a while, and even if he didn’t if he announced secrets ways then they wouldn’t be secret. Frequent Miler covers the topic a bit.

  11. @Jo – to get this all on one ticket you need to be using Avios for the full trip. You may be able to find the space searching at but here’s where I would start. Search for RIC-JFK award space at (or or the qantas frequent flyer website). Then search for the JFK-Europe flights you want. If you can’t get the whole itinerary to come up using the British Airways website, then call BA. They price the segments individually but you can get it all on the same ticket this way.

  12. @Curious Reader – there’s no airline in North America with more potential to better than it is than American Airlines. That’s not just my view, I think it’s far to say it’s a consensus industry view.

    What I’ve seen is that the America West/US Airways management has made a series of poor decisions that have alienated customers, shareholders, and employees over a series of years. And I simply call those out, because again, the airline can and should be better than it is.

  13. Gary, in regards to Qatar’s “Book with Confidence” policy, if one books a return ticket, does the return leg need to be completed by 31/12/2020?

  14. What is the best use for 26K LH miles that will expire in late 2021? I was reminded of this balance today because one of your posts mentioned the 500 point bonus for downloading the Miles and More app – thanks!

    I am a UA 1K with more UA miles than I need (and the ability to book and change award tickets without fees), so I don’t know when I would want to book a small Star Alliance award with LH rather than UA. I very rarely book award tickets to begin with as I have to put a lot of effort into status requalification.

    I don’t even mind a sub-optimal use (i.e. toaster) as my acquisition of these miles had $0 opportunity cost because they came from Hilton’s 2018 promo of 2500 LH miles per stay in addition to the normal HHonors points.

  15. I had tickets for a La Compagnie NY-Paris flight for March 25. In early March they changed the flight and offered to confirm that or refund the price. On March 15 I asked for a refund. I’ve asked and they’ve asked for patience. It’s now May 25, snd I’ve asked three times and been asked for patience three times. Know anything about their status?

  16. I’d love a post on the various airlines approach to pre-COVID vouchers. Have they pushed expiry dates? Should we be booking a ticket to nowhere just to cancel for a new 24-month voucher? What’s the best play for each airline?

  17. I have 150,000 SG miles scheduled to expire at the end of June 2020. I once read that SG planned to extend expiring miles from April by six months, but it hasn’t happened, Are they waiting until June to extend them or did I misunderstand?

  18. Gary, How does Parker keep his job? He is the worst CEO. Does the board of directors not know this?

  19. What do you think travel will be like towards the end of November? I have a BA flight scheduled from LHR to SFO. I’m a US citizen in the U.K. and visit 2x a year to see family. Will flights be more ‘normal’ or will I be forced to wear a mask and travel on a flight with no meals. Will I still have to isolate ( I stay with friends). I’m flying business out and first back. Love View from the Wing, by the way. Read it everyday! Thanks.

  20. What would be the best way to book business award seats from KOA to EZE, returning SCL to KOA?
    Because I originate from Hawaii, I usually try to overnight in an airport hotel on the West coast on the way out and try to return in a straight shot since the time is getting earlier as one goes East to West. I can see KOA-LAX-EZE on AA which are great connections but AA wants 150K miles pp. Is there an international carrier with a cheaper award chart for AA flights? Also, now that AA lost LATAM as a partner, will Alaska book a LATAM trip? I have miles in many programs including VA & Korean as well as transferable miles. I’d appreciate any help you can give. And thanks for opening up this Ask Me Anything section.

  21. Some of the many hotel rewards programs that I use rarely get coverage in VFTW or other major US blogs that I am familiar with. Can you suggest good information resources for Accor, Choice Privileges, and Shangri-La Golden Circle, among others?

  22. Hi Gary,
    I have a Swiss business class ticket SFO/MXP RT that I bought around Xmas time for about $2200.for travel starting August 2nd for a couple of weeks, visiting with friends.

    For what I understand Swiss will let me change the dates of travel once at no charge.

    How do you feel/recommend traveling to Italy at the beginning of August??

    Should I try to pospone it?
    What are the chances of getting a refund?

    Thank you for your time!

  23. I (and many other readers) now have Air Canada Silver status (I cancelled a United busienss award on AC for free and booked a Aeroplan replacement ticket for 55k to Eueope for July). My question is the best way to use and game the temporary Silver status (may not fly on AC but may once LAX-YUL). What are the best airline programs to match to and when is the best time(s) to match. You have covered easily getting AC Silver. A follow up would be great or answer here. Thank you for your blog and your past personal email follow up. I have been impressed

  24. Hi Gary:
    Greatly enjoy your expertise and the newsletter. We have lots of points accumulated and would like a recommendation on a paid service to find business class international seats for us. Am a paid member of Scotts Cheap Flights but he only seems to find coach tickets. Have also subscribed to Matthew Bennett but their service has been unsatisfactory when I paid for their expertise on booking in the past. Thanks and I appreciate your wisdom here.

  25. If you had to name the best airline program without saying “it depends”, what airline program would you pick?

  26. @Ted Marshall – i actually have a service,

    For alerts of paid ticket deals I think is good

  27. @Fabrizio Chiesa – my belief is controversial but I think that we get a bit of a respite from the virus in july/august and italy is pretty good right now, they’re well past their peak. there could be a second wave but that probably comes after august.

    my advice would be to wait to make any decision – consider going, but be open to making a change in plans in mid-July if facts on the ground dictate.

  28. Gary could you give an opinion, maybe a future blog post, on self-booking versus OTA, versus regular travel agents versus corporate OTA. Maybe something along the lines of the pros and cons of each as well as the best route to take to try and earn the most miles or points. I know this is really general but I just think you might have an interesting opinion in this area.

  29. Any ideas on how to get money back from United after they have already issued vouchers? Have already called twice and was transferred to a supervisor both times and was told the answer was no. Had round trip tickets to Kona from LAX in early April. First UA gave a new itinerary that was impossible….LAX-LAS-SFO-KOA with a 5 1/2 hour layover in Las Vegas. Then UA cancelled the flights but re-booked me on the same horrible itinerary the following day. I received notificaton of this change 3 days prior to travel and that is when I called to cancel. I have also done due diligence and sent a letter to DOT, to which they did respond, but just said that they will forward my letter on to United. Thank you

  30. Could you expand on why you like Asiana Club or ANA Mileage Club? (Or maybe that would make a full post?)

  31. Gary:
    Many thanks for the quick reply. Will research your paid site and use when ready to fly internationally again. Happy Memorial Day!

  32. Gary, purchased Honeymoon tickets ( wedding postponed) for my daughter departing June 22 on Iberia using miles and dollars. No problem having miles returned to acct, but want refund of dollars. Iberia only offering voucher “ for my convenience “. Any suggestions?
    Appreciate the platform.

  33. Purchased 6 round trip tickets ($7132) on American Airlines for a family vacation to Costa Rica leaving 4/4/2020. The president of Costa Rica closed the country to all travelers effective April 1. On 3/17/2020 I went to AA web site to request a refund and the site requested that I had to cancel the tickets prior to requesting the refund. I cancelled the tickets, went back to the AA web site to request the refund which was denied with no reason given. AA cancelled the flight on 3/21/2020.

    Appreciate any suggestions on how to obtain the refund from AA.

  34. Gary,
    I have hit a brick wall. I never received my payout from the British Airways law suit settlement and was wondering if you might offer some guidance regarding how I could follow up.

    In 2018 before the deadline, I chose the money option rather than the points choice, properly completing my claim forms and received my confirmation number. I believed the final settlement date passed but I didn’t receive the payout. I’ve tried calling the associated phone numbers and combed through the site but to no avail. Thank you.

  35. Gary,

    I see that DL is retiring some of their 777s, to focus on A330s for a lot of international routes. AA is doing the opposite – retiring many A330s and keeping the 777s. What drives these moves? You’d think one plane would clearly be better and would be favored by all?

  36. Just curious what your sources might have to say. I recently took a round trip on American and was served in the forward cabin on 3 of 4 flights. I expected a drink but not food but the FA’s made no attempt on a 590 mile flight on a A320. What is maddening is that there is no consistency and serving even a non alcoholic beverage would have been appropriate. What exactly is their position on this?

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