What’s On Your Mind?

This is a Friday afternoon open thread, I would love to hear what you’re thinking.

  • What have your travels been like this week?
  • What are you wondering, or what would you like to know?
  • Booked any great awards?
  • How’s your team doing?

The comments are yours to do with as you wish, please express yourself, and I may drop in here or there with answers or use your suggestions as a jumping-off point for posts.

Hope you’re preparing to have a fantastic weekend ahead!

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. @Robbie Where are you going internationally? First tip is not to exchange money. That is a total rip off. You can use your ATM card in a bank for money. My ATM card charges no ATM fee. Even if yours does, it is less than and scammed with exchanging money. Most places take credit cards. Some credit cards charge 2-3% on intl charges. Post where you are going and I might have a few more tips. Also be careful of ATMS on the streets. There could be card readers on some of those. Inside a bank lobby is the safest place during banking hours.

  2. @choi – Frankly I think that Gary has to walk a fine line here. If it was me I would be pulling no punches and telling my opinion specifically about these changes with really no notice. She would hang up on me and put the “kibosh” of any direct dealings with me (most likely) Similar to when a few tech reporters/podcasters were banned from all apple release events etc.

  3. This week due to a schedule change I was able to rebbok my flight to JNB with Delta on ATL to JNB direct. Original flight was MIA-NYC-CDG-JNB Now FLL-ATL-JNB
    on Delta 777. Much better. This will be my longest flight ever.



    Award tickets are a better use of miles than upgrades.

    I just got enough miles for a first class award ticket on Korean Air Honolulu/Phnom Penh (or anywhere in SE Asia). So, should I use 190,000 for this ticket or should I buy an economy ticket and get a business class upgrade? For me, the answer was – upgrade. And the reason – did I want to fly once or twice in comfort to Phnom Penh? 100,000 miles for a business upgrade, so my 200,000 miles would get me two trips with upgrades. Did I want to go to SE Asia once or twice? I’m at least a twice a year guy. On Korean Air there’s little difference between their lie-flat seats on their Airbus 330’s and first class. Their 747’s is a different story – no lie flat seats (170 degrees) in business.
    Unfortunately Korean Air only uses 737’s on the Incheon/Phnom Penh part of this trip due to lack of traffic. The Incheon/Bangkok route has both 330’s and 747’s.

  5. tried to pull a fast one on AA by going from Vladivostok to Continental Europe for 20k aa miles in biz.. didnt work. AA cannot do awards out of east russia into west russia.. Would’ve been sweet
    Vlad to friggin siberia for a few hours and then off to moscow for the night before heading to london on club world 747.. all for 20k miles…. will try again tomorrow

  6. @Gary Although I did finally make it to FUK, I will have to schedule another trip in order to reschedule one of my meetings that I had planned.

    @Greg There was another direct flight available, but after waiting in the plane for 4 hours, that flight had departed.

  7. I just received notice that I’ve qualified for a BA TT ticket. Can I use it to fly NYC to LHR to Narita, with a stopover in LHR of a few days, or must I continue on to Tokyo within 24 hours? And what is your experience with getting TT ticket awards? Are they really possible to redeem or a come-on that is impossible to use?

  8. @NewYorkWendy – sure, and reasonably available from New York though you fly BA only so BA must have award space for all segments, but most US cities other than phl would be harder

  9. Wondering what’s up in the affiliate world with word that AMEX is starting to cut off some bloggers. Does this signal a retreat for the credit card companies from the aggressive attempt to sign up new customers and the large sign-up bonuses being offered?

  10. I would love to go to Galapagos Islands for our anniversary, but I can’t figure out how to get to GPS with points. I can find availability to UIO and GYE…but that last hop to GPS, I don’t know what to do. Can anyone help?

  11. Very upset that AA pulled the international stopover awards. We live in Buenos Aires and routinely fly to the United States with two kids. On a recent flight, we did a stopover for a night in Dallas both ways because traveling the 11 hours with kids and then catching a connecting flight is so difficult for them. This change completely gets rid of that option for us. Even with the 24 hour rule, flights from BsAs get in early morning, so we would not have the time. It really sucks.

  12. @Lively:

    Did the GPS thing recently on LAN. I had a USBank LAN Visa, and tickets were about 10000 KM each way–dirt cheap. You might be able to do it with AA or BA points, but you have to call (certainly with AA) and it will likely cost much more than that.

    If you book with LAN, they require a RT, but it doesn’t really have to be a RT, just 2 flights (so it can be an open jaw at both ends). You have to go into the URL at some point and change the airport codes. There are better explanations of how to do that somewhere, if you need more help.

  13. @LarryInNYC – each bank at different times has been going through/is going through their own auditing process to make sure they’re compliant and covered by all of the new credit card marketing rules. Remember there’s now a federal agency overseeing credit card marketing. My observation is that card companies will work with fewer sites, because they need to monitor to make sure that those sites aren’t duping consumers since the banks believe they’ll be held liable. And that’s a costly project. Card companies first reduce the number of sites they’ll work with, and then bring some back. Some (many) won’t come back of course. But each site will wind up going through a thorough review to make sure there’s no consumer deception, and since that process likely involves a card company’s legal team that process can take awhile. But it has nothing to do with card company interest in acquiring customers or the value of those customers (at least in the immediate term, fines being levied can reduce profitability which in turn could reduce the banks’ perceived value of a new customer being acquired and thus how much they will spend to acquire that customer).

  14. @Rick; it is worth having lifetime gold. As of today you get lounge on international flights, exit rows, economy plus, priority boarding and 3 x70 lbs suitcases in addition to *A gold

  15. Any ideas about buying Vanilla Reload cards with a credit card, since CVS stopped accepting credit cards?

  16. I am in a big dilemma….I need to book 2 RT tickets from USA to India and 1 RT ticket from India to USA for travel within the next 2 months. Air fares during this peak season are off the roof….Travel dates for all the 3 are different….We first need to pick an airline which suits our needs and then need to make sure we get the best rates….
    1st Ticket IAH(18thMay)-BOM
    BOM(15th Aug)-LON
    2nd Ticket IAH(11thJun)-BOM
    BOM(15th Aug)-LON
    3rd Ticket BOM(15thAug)-LON
    LON(20th Aug)-IAH
    IAH(3rd Sep)-BOM
    All of us wanna travel on the same airline so we could have a stopover in London together.
    We are members of United Mileage and American advantage. We don’t have enough miles to buy free tickets yet.
    Any inputs or thoughts on airline selection, booking sites and method are welcome

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