I Will Answer Your Travel Questions Here.

One of the things I really enjoy doing is responding to reader questions. Here’s your chance. I will my best to cover many of your questions. Some I may answer right away, others that I answer will take me a few weeks.

Please leave requests in the comments section.

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 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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Comments

  1. Hi
    My daughter and her husband, along with their 3 littles ones, aged 4, 2, and 2 months, need to fly from Denver to Boston next July.
    What advice/tips do you have for how to make things go smoothly for them?
    Do you have any recommendations for websites to visit?
    Thanks.

  2. With all the mass consolidation of hotel and airlines in the past few years how do you feel this will impact the credit card company programs. Basically if awards are harder to get and redeem with reward levels rising greatly does that not lessen the value of a AA credit card, or some of the hotel cards? Also keeping in mind that consumers are aware of 2% cards like Citibank Double cash?

  3. Hi Gary,

    Thanks for all your knowledge!

    I left this question in the comments of one of your older posts, so forgive me the double-dip. Do you know if there is a Corporate version of the AmEx PR Gold card? I’d love the ability to earn 3x on (company paid!) airfare, but I cannot find any info about it on the AmEx site. I’d imagine their not looking to offer outsized benefits for larger corporate spend, so I know it’s a long-shot, but I figured I’d ask anyway.

    Thx,
    -theBOAT

  4. Hi Gary
    Thank for doing this for your readers!
    I have probably a very simple question. For some reason I can’t seem to figure it out on my own.
    I have approximately 25,000 Aegean miles. I live in Hawaii. What are my best options to redeem these?
    I don’t have any 2016 travel plans yet except for getting the most bang outta my devalued American miles (150,000)
    Thank you!

  5. Question (Topic: Preference) =

    Would you rather fly Jet Airways or Air India Business Class from BOM to LHR, based on experience and reviews? Thanks.

  6. Hi Gary, many bloggers write about redemption of first and business class. While those are nice, usually 1-way is advertised. How to these people get back? Paid fare? Or points on economy?

    I will ALWAYS take 2 free economy flights over 1 business as long as it’s 2:1 ration. Also, we are traveling two people so redeeming business is harder.

    So, do people actually spend points for roundtrip business / first (huge amount), or pay one fare, or get back on economy?

    thanks!

  7. @theBOAT – closest thing is Business Gold Rewards, bonus categories aren’t the same and benefits aren’t either. You choose your triple points category, airfare is one of those, the rest of the categories earn 2x.

  8. We recently booked and pre-paid for 5 nights at a very expensive new resort on Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and booked it with Citi Executive MasterCard (arrival this Wed 12/30). Their website stated that their Grand Opening would be Dec 18th. We have friends that sent photos today and construction is not complete and told them that they had to relocate guests who were checking in yesterday to another hotel. These rooms are over $800 / night. If the resort is still not available when we arrive on Wed, do you know of any recourse that we might have?

  9. Gary, would you do a special post on comments that you have received in the past? Perhaps like a mock awards ceremony — most interesting, most informative, most controversial, etc.? You inspire a cool community of readers and I would love to read your commentary on their contributions.

  10. @robertw – I think 2% cash back cards are already better for unbonused spend than airline miles. I think the only hotel card worth its weight for unbonused spend is the Starwood card. Unquestionably devaluations hurt the value propositions of airline cards, I can tell you Chase was concerned about the United devaluation from a couple of years, as I understand it that’s why we got the United-only award chart for fewer miles (a concession from United to Chase).

    Over time though the biggest change to mileage-earning cards is going to be competition from new payment technologies. As interchange fees get competed down it won’t make sense for banks to buy miles to incentivize transactions anymore.

  11. @Dawn Hansen I’d recommend more of a family-specific blog like MommyPoints.com, I don’t know that I’m an expert in travel with young children 🙂

  12. First off, thanks for doing this.
    With the upcoming American devAAluation and generally decreased earnings, I was wondering who decides these things. You’ve mentioned Suzanne Rubin before as president of the AAdvantage program. While the changes will be as bad or worse than just about anyone expected, and the blogging community has expressed a lot of unhappiness with the upcoming changes, travel bloggers haven’t blamed Ms. Rubin herself. Does she make these decisions? Or is it a situation where she has whatever changes had been decided upon dropped upon her desk, and just gets to defend them to the travelling public? Maybe somewhere in the middle? I recall (earlier this year, I believe) her saying something to the effect of how with AA, a mile flown is a mile earned. With the upcoming changes, that’s nowhere near the truth. If she had her druthers, I presume she wouldn’t hurt her credibility by making wildly inconsistent statements, even months apart. What are your thoughts?

  13. I have a few hundred thousand AA miles, for which I have no use at the moment. Other than gifting them, should I be in a hurry to burn them?

  14. @LG I have a lot of points. I definitely fly roundtrip 🙂 And I find premium cabin travel to be worthwhile. Though I understand not everyone has the same preferences I do, or the stash of points. I don’t think someone flying coach ought to be accumulating points through credit card spend for most itineraries, cash back is often better and then buy the tickets (although signup bonuses and category bonuses are still worth it)

  15. @Christian – I’d say the major driver here is ultimately Scott Kirby as President of the airline, he certainly gets involved asking questions and holding the program accountable for its bottom line. And AAdvantage reports of up to Andrew Nocella, SVP Marketing. They don’t simply do as they wish.

  16. I realize you can get 10,000 eqm with $40k spend on the AA branded Citi Exeutive card. Are there still eqm opportunities on AA with the Barclay card or other AA branded cards?

  17. For award flights out of a non gateway airport, will the award cover transportation on a partner to the international gateway? For example, I live in a secondary city. If I were to transfer points to Air Canada’s Aeroplan program, could I include flights from my city to Chicago on United, then continue with a foreign airline on the same award?

  18. Hi Gary, Thanks for all your advice and willingness to help the newbies. My husband and I are booked on a cruises to/from Sydney and trying to get to Sydney in late Feb, 2017. I realize it is too early to book any award air tickets, but I am trying to plan ahead. We have approx. 175k AA miles in each of our accounts and then about 200k total chase ultimate rewards points. How can we maximize and travel business class to and from the US to Sydney. DFW would probably be the closest US airport. I have been reading that Quantas award travel is very difficult to find. We are flexible on dates we can travel because we are both retired.

  19. Gary, you’ve written before about using ANA miles to book flights on Philippine Airlines, and I know that Flying Blue can book flights on Ukrainian. Are there other airlines that fly internationally from the US, can be booked with transferrable points, and have award inventory which can only be searched by an agent over the phone (cannot be searched online in any way)?

  20. @pamlet – trying Qantas when the schedule opens, especially the Brisbane flight from Los Angeles, could be one route. 200k Chase points won’t get 2 roundtrip business class tickets, but it could do one way, and transit via Asia may be possible as well.

  21. @Christian – generally speaking yes [some programs charge separately for each flight]. In the example of transferring points to Aeroplan you can include multiple airlines on a single award ticket, like United domestic Houston to connect to an international flight on Air China.

  22. @Erk – the Barclays Aviator Silver card (you cannot apply directly for it, but can upgrade from Red) offers 5k eqm’s after $20k in spend and another 10k eqm’s after $40k in spend within a year. You can double dip and get both.

  23. What is the deal with the Citigold 50k promo? I have talked to personal bankers online and they have said that unless one is targeted, the code will not work. But reps on Citi chat have said the opposite.

    There have also been a lot of comments on reddit and other blogger websites about the only selection criterion being one having a Citi AAdvantage card, but the bankers have confirmed otherwise. What should I do?

  24. @brteacher Hainan Airlines is an Alaska partner, awards will be bookable early 2016, not sure whether they will put Hainan Airlines space online or not. You can transfer points from Wyndham directly to the airline’s program as well. That’s the first that comes to mind although sure there are others.

  25. My wife and I are planning to fly from US to New Zealand Business or First next fall Sept/ Oct
    Not finding much availability, we have a lot of United miles 400,000 or so

    What would you recommend ??

  26. With airlines have load levels over 80%, why is there so much discussion about busy holiday travel? The number of passengers cannot increase by that much from the near capacity levels the airlines enjoy on a weekly basis. Is it due to infrequent travelers who take longer at check in and security?.

  27. Thanks for all of your advice – Any thoughts on how to get to Buenos Ares (eze) from the east coast on a business saver fare for 3? It seems nobody releases any business class awards- was thinking maybe LAN but none of their awards show any availability anymore – Copa out of BOS doesn’t have lie flats – think it’s worth burning 110 miles Each on Aa? Looking a year out..

    Thanks!

  28. Hi Gary, I am flying to LAX on a reward ticket before departing on my big flight over to AKL via Air NZ on an economy ticket. My dilemma is that I have a 7 hour layover. I’d like to be able to use One of the lounges to pass my time. I don’t mind paying for a day pass if possible. Are the lounges after security checkpoint? How many hours before my flight can I check in? What do I do with my luggage before that? And am I even eligible to use any of the lounges without status? Thanks

  29. I would like to take my parents (81 and 78 years old but very active) on about a 4-6 day trip to DBX/AUH specifically on Emirates F and Etihad First Apartments. They’ve never flown either airline, nor been to the middle east, so this would truly be a very special and literally once in a lifetime experience for them. We were thinking possibly March time frame, but can be flexible on dates or time of year. They’re in Indiana and I’m in Texas and my understanding is we’ll need to go through JFK for EY FA. It looks like EK F availability is good throughout the year booking through Alaska, but I can’t find even one single EY FIrst Apartment “Guest” seat available anywhere for all of 2016! I suspect getting 3 seats would be challenging, but even if I could get 2 and had to buy the 3rd I’d be willing to do so. Is there any option other than fully paying for 3 First Apartments you can suggest (such as buying EY business and upgrade to FA using miles….or…..??). Thanks!

  30. I would be interested in learning more about:

    Sharing the same credit card across the family. My family of 5 all uses a Chase Sapphire — i..e. additional cards under my account. Chase doesn’t break out charges per user/card — so it sometimes be painful to see who made a charge. When I asked Chase about this — they suggested getting the InkPlus Business card — and then each card would have a separate number — however, some of the benefits on the InkPlus are different (i.e. rental car coverage only when on “business”)

    Are there other cards where the additional cardholders would get unique numbers?

    And also — the most painful thing to do is change credit card numbers when your card expires or gets frauded — and you have to go and update 20-30 sites with your stored credit card information. Is there a way to create a virtual credit card number and just change the “binding” — i.e. decision on which actual credit card to use?

  31. Robert…you said:

    “Sharing the same credit card across the family. My family of 5 all uses a Chase Sapphire — i..e. additional cards under my account. Chase doesn’t break out charges per user/card — so it sometimes be painful to see who made a charge.”

    Timely post, I feel your pain. For the past year I also had everyone on my Chase Sapphire card, and it was I who paid the price in posting the transactions to keeps tabs on who did what. As much as I enjoyed their contributing to my points, I finally said enuf! Now only I have the Chase Sapphire card, everyone else has been transferred to Cap1 with separate account numbers so I can easily track. Happy to give up the points in exchange of not having the headache of who’s on first. Why Chase Sapphire won’t give separate numbers is beyond me, but ending 2015, I finally said “enuf” and decided to make my life easy…

  32. Hey Gary,

    Its showing 65k on delta’s sight for one way to maui from Detroit for First class but it does state its lowest fare. Or it says 130k lowest fare in the calendar mode for round trip. Does that mean I can still book it for 45k roundtrip first class from Korean Air? Or does the lowest fare for First need to be lowest fare of 40 to 50k per one way. Thanks for your help and all that you do! Love your blog and read it multiple times a day!

  33. Happy Holidays Gary! My husband is short 4200 miles to reach Platinum on AA so we’re paying the $699 to boost his status. He has the CSP, Hyatt, Citi AA and Arrivals+. Any advice on which card will earn him the most points. Wasn’t sure if the purchase would code as travel. Thanks 🙂

  34. Gary, can you do (or direct me to) a post that explains how to best take advantage of all the earning opportunities available when renting cars? I never get cash back portals to work when using corporate rates but I’m not sure how to use special airline offers in conjunction with getting rental credits (if that’s even possible).

  35. Hi Gary,

    Thanks for all of your wisdom. Can you please contact someone at AAdvantage and ask them why they aren’t releasing a single Saaver Award in J for MIA to UVF, MIA to BGI, and many other MIA Caribbean flights are only available a month out?

    Thanks!

  36. Hi Gary,
    My wife and I are adopting a baby boy from China in early-mid 2016. We will be traveling with our girls, so traveling as a party of 4. I have 600k AA miles and am wanting to fly business or first. Our issue is that we will know our certain travel dates only 3-4 weeks ahead of time. What is your advice for booking so close to travel. Would you go on a AA metal or a partner such as Cathay?

  37. Gary:
    I am retired and have 16,500 Marriott Points which can be used for one night at a Level 5 property . Last time I stayed at a Marriott was 2003. Since the points are about to expire in February only logical choice is to buy 1000 points for $12.50 or move them. What’s my best option? Thanks.

  38. Between my husband and I we have over 200k Amex points. We need to book 3 one-way business class tickets TYO-OGG for July 2016. What is the best value for our points? Hawaiian has great customer service, but their flight leaves HND at 11:55pm and they only have foot rests, not even angle flat. Would enjoy Korean or JAL, but Amex doesn’t transfer directly and I am not sure what airline to transfer to to get on those flights. Also, when should we start looking for award seats on JAL or Korean? So many questions! Sorry. Thank you so much for your help!

  39. Given that elite status often benefits employees on work travel, what should the tenets be for a corporate travel policy, and should the policy differentiate between annual/semi-annual travelers and weekly/monthly travelers in terms of flexibility and discretion?

  40. I have 2 questions that I haven’t seen addressed

    1. Is there a good way to use miles for premium cabin flying when you are connecting to a cruise that is paid for far in advance so you have limited arrival and departure windows?

    2. Given the limited number of premium seats frequently available, what is a good strategy for a family of 3? I ask because until a certain age, I would be hesitant to seat my daughter alone, plus it seems worse when trying to work around the constraint above.

  41. @Gary

    Alternate reality: people are only allowed 1 credit card at a time, there are no other loyalty restrictions.

    Which card would you pick?
    Would you focus on cashack, points, benefits, insurance?
    How would you go about leveraging that card for your business trips and vacation plans?
    What would parts of travel would you be willing to compromise?

  42. I have a trip planned to Vietnam in June with 1 F ticket & 3 J tickets on CX using AA miles- booked the trip in August. Recently found out that wife is pregnant and won’t be able to do trip in June. Any idea if AA would let me push back more than a year from original booking without fee? Or suggestions to get new tickets for March/April? (I figure that’s going to be very tough with pending AA changes.) Thanks!

  43. If AA goes revenue based then I was thinking I’d go to Alaska who I fly some and wouldn’t mind putting Delta and AA miles there if I can get full credit, as I could use them to fly to Hawaii and on some AA award flights they offer. They also have no close-in booking fee and make it easy to get status. As of now Alaska says they plan to give us full mileage credit on those airlines, but do AA and DA have a say in this and how do you think that will go? What are the drawbacks to this alternative?

  44. Gary:

    Recently booked an around the world trip with AAdvantage miles. Most flights are perfect, but there are a couple that I am hoping to find better award and rebook. I know I can change date/routing as long as origin and destination remain the same. Can I also change carrier? For example, have BA booked (using AAdvantage miles, booked through AA) in first from MAD to LAX. If something more direct opens up on AA or Iberia, can I change carriers?

    And what is the best way to find a better routing? Pay for an expert flyer account and set up alerts?

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