The new year is upon us and so are a variety of new frequent flyer and loyalty program changes. Here’s what you need to know to get the traveling year started off right especially if you’re one of American’s coveted Concierge Key members.
American adds another elite layer
American Airlines has a rarely publicized elite group known as Concierge Key for fliers that spend an exceptionally large amount with the carrier. Until now, Concierge Key members were grouped into the top priority level with Executive Platinum members (the highest elite level). Effective January 1, Concierge Key members will receive higher priority than Executive Platinum members when it comes to upgrade and standby waitlists. This is great news for the biggest spenders, but Executive Platinum members may see a few extra names ahead of them on the waitlist going forward.
Marriott and Starwood announce similar new-year promotions
Marriott has announced its MegaBonus offer for the winter season with varying earning bonuses for members. Everyone receives double points on their first three stays at a Marriott family hotel between February 1 and May 15. Some members are getting bonus offers that reward them for staying a certain number of additional nights. Starwood Preferred Guest is offering a similar promotion of its own for double points on the first three stays. Keep in mind Starwood’s promotion has different earning dates: between January 16 and April 15. The best news is that travelers can double dip by staying at three Marriott family and three Starwood family properties during the promotion period.
Earn 1,000 IHG points for your birthday
IHG wants to send you a birthday present of 1,000 points on your big day. While that’s not enough to score a free night, it’s a nice little boost. All you have to do is log into your IHG account and update your birthday details on your profile page. Why would you pass up some free points?
Delta rewards new SkyMiles members for flying
If you are new to SkyMiles, consider signing up for the program within six months of your next international trip. You can earn 5,000 miles for qualifying economy class fares and 10,000 miles for premium cabin fares.
Korean Air mileage reservations bookable online
Korean Air’s SKYPASS program is a great alternative to use for first class redemptions on Delta flights. Delta does not offer first class awards through its SkyMiles program, but miles can be transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards to Korean Air and then redeemed for first class travel. Korean Air miles can also be used to book great bargains on SkyTeam members like round-trip awards between the U.S. and Europe in business class for 80,000 miles.
Previously, booking a mileage redemption with Korean Air was tedious and involved faxes and phone calls. Now it can all be done online. First and business class availability for awards is strong, but online searches via its website can be tricky. It’s best to search for space with Expert Flyer or the Air France website first. There are some great bargains on the airline’s award chart. One thing to note is that Korean Air offers only round-trip redemptions; no one-ways are allowed, though one stopover per trip is permitted.
Delta and Jet Airways are new redemption partners
Delta and Jet Airways of India have teamed up to offer the ability to redeem SkyMiles for Jet Airways flights effective March 1. Luckily, members can earn miles on Jet Airways effective immediately, and Jet Airways frequent flyer members can earn miles on Delta flights, too.
Delta wants you to waste miles on fees
Delta is really working hard to get SkyMiles members to use miles on things like premium drinks and, in a new test, paying for airline fees instead of redeeming them for premium cabin awards (which cost the airline much more). A recent test allowed members to use miles to pay for fees like checked bags, pets and ticket changes. While that is certainly convenient, there is more value to be gained from miles. Choose wisely before using miles for non-flight redemptions!