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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. I called AA today to ask about making change to a Cathay F award HKG-SFO stopover JFK. My question was if I made any change to the itinerary if the stopover would be eliminated (due to the stopver elimination this week). My ultimate destiantion is SJU during christmas and avoid the high fares down there during winter, I was waiting for the award space to open up in order to tack on the segment. Unfortunately if the space opens up I cannot change the ticket 🙁 . On another note have any other AA EXP have had terrible upgrade succes on the A32B. I am 0/4

  2. Speculating on my next Europe-bound trip from Dallas in 2015. Where to go? Amsterdam? Scandinavia? Milan?

  3. What’s on my mind this week is that I’ve just finished the best ever Early Music Festival we’ve had in Montana, and I’m really sick about the huge hurdles I’m facing to be able to get ff miles to fly people out here to perform in the future. I am really REALLY good at finding cheap tickets for myself to fly lots of miles so that I can build up my accounts to use to bring people to Montana (I bought tickets for 11 people and 2 instruments — yes, a cello, and a theorbo — in March). But cheap tickets for me won’t get massive ff miles with the new revenue-based rules. AND then last week, the Vanilla Reload CVS bomb hit when I was in Chicago visiting my grandson. We have only one store in my vicinity where I could buy VR cards with a CC, and I have maxed out every month on Bluebird since it started (after I couldn’t get the VRs at Office Depot any more). When I read about the change in policy across the board at CVS, I quickly found one Chicago area CVS and bought another $5000 worth, but that will be the end of that. Really bummed right now.

  4. How the heck am I going to find time to burn my AA miles within the next 12 months…

  5. Well, I’ll tell ya…

    This is stemming from this week’s Dividend Share Miles offer.

    I, and I do admit fault, made several transfers back and forth between several accounts I manage. In one of which, I mistakenly reversed to ‘to’ and ‘from’ fields. It went through, which is crazy since I was not logged into the account the miles ultimately came from. So what that says to me is, all you need is a name and DM # to clean out someone’s account. Lunacy!

    Getting the transaction reversed has been tough. My first phone call went out right away to US Air, where I was directed to immediately send an email to dmsc@usairways.com. Yesterday, having received no response, I called and got a very indifferent person who says she started a ticket, but I feel it went into a black hole. I called again today and got someone who cared, was in Phoenix and actually physically went to talk to the points.com rep, but the person was not available.

    I do not have 100% confidence that this problem will be fixed. Meanwhile, my friend’s account is shy no insignificant amount of miles. I have access to the account that the miles went in to and can certainly book his award travel from it, but we lose out on the bonus miles and I just can’t get over the fact that one needs so little information to move miles from someone else’s account.

  6. Bothersome thoughts on future of AAdvantage…

    As a heavy business traveller, I prefer service and better product over cheap fare. Unfortunately, Doug Parker’s AA will be different.

  7. My husband I and I recently took a weekend trip and couldn’t sit together on the flight. What could we have done so we would have been able to sit together? On a short getaway I want us to make the most of our time together.

  8. I’m going to be traveling internationally for the first time in several years. What do I need to watch out for taking out cash or charging things to my card?

  9. My account is being audited by American Airlines. I can’t believe they may take all my miles!!! What should I do? HELP PLEASE.

  10. Sitting in the United Club right now, trying to get help re-routing my way home after flight went mechanical. AAAAAAARRRRRRR.

  11. What I am wondering today relates to miles inflation vs. improvement in product – like a chained CPI, but with FF miles as the currency. My international premium class experiences are all quite recent, but it seems as if the hard products keep getting better, perhaps to the point that intl C is generally superior to intl F 20 years ago.

    To what extent does this phenomenon justify increasing redemption levels?

  12. Trying to book 4 TATL open-jaw awards to Europe for a winter cruise. Hating the Delta award search engine, and finally realizing the potential value of Alaska miles. Also wishing Alaska was a MR transfer partner.

  13. Is it weird that I like planning trips and booking awards more than actually traveling?

  14. @jfhscott – I don’t think a better product justifies a higher redemption level, though a higher price might, at least a higher price to the airline purchasing the award seats on your behalf.

  15. Where do checked bags go when they get lost, and how can I find them? Or will they find me?

  16. The craziest thing I’ve ever done for miles was that Bosley hair restoration meeting. I’m a woman with a full head of hair. What’s yours???

  17. I’m sitting down the street from the resort I wanted to be at this weekend because it was sold out. I’m a titanium diamond member, and should have been given a room!!! Next time I plan better.

  18. Just booked a last mintue AA flight from NYC-FLL, any promos going on now I should be aware about?

  19. Sad that Kohl’s has disappeared from the Ultimate Rewards mall and wondering if it will be back for Q3 when it is its own Chase Freedom bonus category.

  20. I’ve been trying to find saver space to get to LAX using delta website. Need to add flights to LAX from MCO or TPA. #irritated

  21. I’ve bee questioning my commitment to travel seeking recently. At times it all just seems like a lot of extra work. I think I just need a good long trip to a brand new destination. My last couple of trips have been heavy on the repeats.

  22. Wondering what FTU Advanced is going to be like with all of the changes in the frequent flier universe the past couple of weeks. First Vanillas, then ReloadIts, now unAAnnounced mAAsive AAsinine chAAnges. Booking US Air awards with stop-overs and any sweet spots I can find with AA still for next year are top on my list. Time to drastically reduce our AA bank with all that crAAp.

  23. Bummed my Gators didn’t make it to the National Title.

    Can’t wait ’til April 15th when I can get my life back again (full-time CPA).

    Excited to see the sun shining outside. Living in Bend, OR rules!

    Cannot wait for my buddy’s wedding in St. Louis in a couple of weeks!

    Thrilled to try out the Park Hyatt New York in August!

    Debating which credit cards to apply for next!

  24. 1. Continue my mattress run for IHG big win this weekend
    2. Figure out how to get Delta intl upgrade certificate for my trip in July (this one is hard and have no idea how to do now… :()

  25. My Delta flight from HNL to FUK was cancelled after waiting on the plane for 4 hours.

    We were itially told that it was a “paper work issue,” later we were told that it was a “mechanical issue.”

    Were put up in a hotel and given a $30 meal voucher for a 24 hour wait.

    Missed some important meetings and will have to reschedule another trip.

    Delta has proactively offered 15K miles as a goodwill gesture, but having to buy another ticket just doesn’t seem quite fair for a non-weather related issue.

    Any suggestions?

  26. Just tried out Tripcase app and it seems pretty neat. Btw, does anyone know how to set up free alerts for CX award space?

  27. @alohastephen – confused by “having to buy another ticket” surely you are getting a refund for the trip you are cancelling right? Or you’re taking the trip but will now need to make a second trip because of the time you’ve lost at the destination?

  28. Just had my first success with post-Vanilla MS. A little more complicated, but life goes on.

  29. I’ve booked some great award tickets for myself over the years but am struggling with an upcoming trip due to inexperience with Alaska Airlines. I want to use a Delta voucher to apply towards a one way paid first class fare from DTW (no issues there) – but I am having trouble getting an award routing with Alaska miles one way from Anchorage-Juneau-Detroit. I can get a price for anchorage-Juneau and Juneau to Detroit separately but not combined with a one night stopover in Juneau. I’m rambling and not giving enough specifics, but maybe someone can help with the Alaska multi city award tool for a one way with a planned overnight? I thought I found low level 7.5k intra Alaska and 12.5k back to dtw but can’t find a combined 20k ticket.

  30. Aloha Stephen – I would ask Delta rep how they can help replace the trip since this will be required in your case. I also had them cancel LHR-JFK-BOS awhile back and only got put on AA nonstop by calmly pressing the issue. So sometimes it takes research and having in hand what you want them to do for you (i.e. doing their work) and they will comply.

  31. I booked a post-devaluation business class UA award for 30k miles:

    AKL-PVG on (what should be by then) Air New Zealand 787-9
    Long Layover
    PVG-NRT on ANA
    Long Layover
    NRT-SIN on ANA 787
    Long Layover
    SIN-BKK on Thai 777

    Somehow that was all 30k miles in business class. Still bookable now.

  32. I’ve been wondering if people have gotten their US Bank Flexperks sign-up Olympic medal bonus yet. I signed up for my Flexperks card around Feb 1 and got the 20k bonus 1 month later, but the Olympic medal bonus has not yet posted. Don’t know how long it will be.

  33. What should I do with the gazillion Diners Club points I have accumulated for over 15 years? (I have mostly stopped and gone to other earning avenues since I found your blog, Gary.) I occasionally read references to infrequent transfer bonus options, but have never actually seen one, although that might be because I don’t know where to look. Would love to know the best way to spend those points and be done with them.

  34. Can you comment on the best way to book an Alaska airlines flight using EK Skywards? I have submitted the online form but have not heard a thing. Thanks.

  35. Trying to figure out some award bookings to Antarctica but there doesn’t seem to be any first class availability to there :-(. If only I weren’t flightless…

  36. I feel that when you write about the AA fiasco, you vented all the negatives with vigor but when you confronted the AA Advantage Rep, your questions and drill were so mild and cordual. where was the hard pressed questions and in the face type of confrontation so she can see the anger of the public. you were too Nice as if you had chat with Aunty Midred over tea. I dont think AA gets the message of how much anger this had caused.

  37. @choi I didn’t post a transcript of the conversation, i led off making very clear the sentiment of her members about changes without notice.

  38. Still somewhat miffed at AA for taking away the explorer award I was beginning to plan for Easter Island.

    Mostly I’m feeling a little antsy that I have too many AA miles at the moment and should burn some. Thinking of changing a *A one-way from Spain in January to a Oneworld oneway, if I can figure out how to use AA miles to book Iberia …

  39. I spent three days in Indy this week for business, and I stayed at three different Hyatts in an effort to achieve Diamond status before staying at the Park Hyatts in Sydney and Melbourne this fall. I’ve been Starwood Platinum for 8 years, but after reading your blog for years I’ve decided to move more business to Hyatt. So 25 stays at Hyatt and another 25 with Starwood is the goal for this year (and in two years I’ll have Lifetime Platinum and don’t ever have to qualify again). The hotel hopping is getting a little tedious, however…

  40. I have enough for 4 off peak AAdvantage Miles to HNL . Best (affordable $ or mile programs) means to get to Maui from HNL ? Does Hawaian Air allow economy seating requests ?

    Thanks Gary…

  41. Would love a post on the best and EASIEST form of manufactured spend, now that our beloved CVS has gone cash only for Vanilla Reloads. I don’t churn frequently, but my annual churn is coming up and I don’t have enough normal spend to justify hitting CC minimums without manufactured spend.

  42. I received a targeted Amex offer. 100k MR points with $3k spend in 3 months for a platinum card. Sounds like a great offer but never heard anyone talk about it. Even researched flyer talk and found nothing about 100k platinum card. Good deal?

  43. So a couple of weeks ago I book a First Class seat RT JFK-LAX on AA A321T for 45K thru USAirways in August. I need to position from DCA. didn’t book that then. Now $556 DCA-JFK for when I need it. Well I look around and find better price (but not near the lowest – $156 RT) different weekend in August with JFK-LAX F available. Call US & Carol hooks me up DCA-JFK-LAX-JFK-DCA for just $150 Change fee & $5 for extra airport. add original fee of $30=$185 – webprice = $0.11/mile redemption on Great Product My Latest #TravelHack. Got new total trip for what lowest but unavailable DCA-JFK positioning with confirmed F DCA-JFK (Saves $60 n upgrade certs)

  44. I’m 25 k miles away from million mile mark on CO (ahem, UA usurper $mi$ek airways). Question is – worth it to have the gold for life status? I’ve switched loyalty 2 years ago to AA..so I guess I’m asking if it’s worth biting the bullet and hitting the milestone?

  45. Thinking how brave you are to do an open thread, and compliment you on your light moderation of comments.

    Thing is that as you have noted there are way too many miles chasing too few seats as the airlines have printed and made promises that they will not and can not keep. eLLIOTT may be the village idiot but he is right that it is a ponzi scheme.

    They have left the lowest redemptions alone to save face, but try finding a seat. Still can? try again next year.
    Gary, you are a genius at this hobby, but truth is that you and most of us have invested too much time and money in this, and will not be fairly compensated for this. Find a better way to use your time, and write about, I will follow you. Stay on this topic, I will stay and follow you anyways, but I am an idiot and I am addicted.

    Advice given by others, American airlines is no more, us air has a visible track record. At best , they will follow what they did in the past. But in an oligopoly, with too many miles out there, that is better than we should expect. Trust that we will get shafted, best case scenario is that it will be done slowly. Depending on ones expectations perhaps the last week with american and the last six months with united and delta was slowly, so in that sense relatively good.

    love alaska? I do. But they are in the same industry, facing the same costs, challlenges and excess printing. Best case is they will follow, but perhaps a few months later. Worst case and more likely is that they get swallowed.

  46. Great job, Bill n DC. I guess you wouldn’t consider taking the Bolt bus up to NYC when you can pull of a trick like that one!

  47. @Jeff Frazier It seems that you probably sold miles from your AA account. I heard they have special software looking for that sort of thing. Maybe Gary has some advise on that, but they may clean you out

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.