Several Reader Questions… Answered.

I recently asked readers for questions and I’ve been working through several with standalone posts.

There were also questions with fairly straightforward answers, and so I thought I would combine a few of them into a single post.

Reader jim asks,

Hi Gary, do you know if Emirates would allow a business class customer to accompany two first class flyers (parents on first class, daughter in business) into their first class lounge in Dubai? Thanks!

Each Emirates first class passenger may bring one guest into the lounge who is also holds an Emirates departing boarding pass.

Reader Daphne asks,

We’re doing a bucket list month-long tour of Asia in Sept. Can you advise on the best way to get a multiple entry visa for Vietnam? Everywhere else we will travel has airport access, but this one appears to be rather complicated – Or am I missing something? Many Thanks!

You’re going to want to get a multi-entry visa in advance. There are 1-month and 3-month options. I’ve done Vietnam visas myself by mail, I used to live in DC making getting my own Visas in person quite easy, and in general I recommend Allied Passport & Visa because I’ve had good experiences and every piece of reader feedback on them has been positive.

Reader Bourbon Miles asks,

What is the best strategy to use AMEX Membership Rewards to fly a family of four from NYC to Sydney, Australia round trip in economy class without paying any fuel surcharges?

In comparison, [American] charges 75K miles, [United] charges 80K miles and [Alaska] charges 80K miles (via [Cathay Pacific]) [roundtrip] – but – MR partner Delta charge a minimum and not cost-effective 100K or more miles [roundtrip] (all four USA airline options are however fuel surcharge free).

Meanwhile, the non-American AMEX Membership Rewards airline partner redemption opportunities to/from Australia are littered with high fuel surcharges (e.g. Air Canada).

Therefore, thank you for your insight in solving this “how to avoid a fuel surcharge MR redemption to/from Australia while using less than 100K MR points per r/t ticket” puzzle.

You’ve hit the nail on the head, almost. You have American Express Membership Rewards points and will be transferring those points most likely to a frequent flyer program and redeeming points for travel (although for coach awards, always compare the cost of a paid ticket and even the price using those points to pay for that ticket).

Delta has no fuel surcharges for itineraries on most airlines, except when originating in Europe. They partner with Virgin Australia. In general they offer the best availability to Australia. But you observe their economy awards are expensive.

You aren’t going to be able to book oneworld awards (Qantas, American) using American Express points transferred to an airline while avoiding fuel surcharges. Both British Airways and Cathay Pacific will add fuel surcharges to those awards.

Your best bet for avoiding fuel surcharges may be Air Canada Aeroplan — 80,000 miles roundtrip so fewer miles than Delta charges, and no fuel surcharges when redeeming for travel on United.

Reader Ari asks,

Gary, when do you recommend that some one “buy” status on an airline? I keep getting emails from united offering to sell me miles to bump me to the next level – is this worth doing?

I’d say the value of investing in status, no matter how you’re getting it (paid buy up, or buying tickets and spending your time in a seat in addition to the cost of the ticket), depends on:

  1. The cost to obtain the status
  2. The incremental benefits of that status
  3. How much you’ll use the status in the coming year

It doesn’t make sense to me to invest in the first tier of elite status, unless it’s very cheap to get that status. The benefits aren’t great usually, and you can get some of those benefits just by obtaining an airline’s co-brand credit card.

Usually top tier status has the most worthwhile benefits and is worth the greatest level of investment (I’d say Delta’s and United’s third of four status tiers might be as well).

But whether or not you should consider any given offer is going to depend mostly on how much travel you’ve got coming up. If you’re going to be traveling more going forward than you have been in the past, it could make sense. But if you’re not flying enough to earn the status I start off skeptical that it’s worth paying a ton to obtain it.

If you’re a 50,000 mile flyer as it is, but you’re going to be traveling 75,000 or more next year, then ‘buying up’ to get the 75,000 benefits for the first 50,000 miles you fly next year could be worthwhile.

Reader Jed asks,

If you cross the dateline from East to West, I understand that you skip forward one day. If this causes you to skip right past your birthday, do you still turn a year older?

You may move forward a day when crossing the dateline but you’re not moving forward 24 hours at a time.

Sure, when you leave the US for Australia late at night you arrive in Australia early morning two days later. It doesn’t mean you’ve skipped over a full day, you’re actually crossing over a time zone at a time while inflight.

That said I think the important point is that you do not age because you’ve had a birthday. You age because of the total time that’s passed since your birth. Someone who was born of February 29th doesn’t only age every fourth calendar year.

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. It’s very easy to get a multi entry visa to Vietnam on arrival. I have gotten them both in SGN and HAN. Just make sure when you get your visa invite letter it’s for a multi entry visa.

  2. Ah, thanks for the clarification. I guess I need to find another plan to stay 30 forever 🙂

  3. “Someone who was born of February 29th doesn’t only age every fourth calendar year.”

    If you haven’t yet discovered Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance” this would be a fine excuse to do so. The plot (such as it is) turns upon this very point.

  4. Does etihad allow F passengers any guesting rights the way you described emirates does? Thanks.

  5. Please answer this question, why do you truncate your RSS feed? Just so you can get more people to click through your website to say that you have this many readers??? It’s really annoying!!!!

  6. I got my Vietnam visa straight from the embassy in DC by mail and it was a snap! No letters, no agencies or fees other than what the Govt. of Vietnam asks for.

  7. I agree with oneeyejack. I have an email subscription and it is pain to go back and forth to the web to read the full articles.

  8. Thanks Ian but that still doesn’t make any sense. Why would I have to change my settings just to accommodate this? Every other boarding area blogger that I am subscribed too doesn’t have this feature enabled. He must be doing this for more clicks to his site. I’ve never had to resubscribe to anyone else’s blog or change my setting.

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