People like to grumble about the bygone era of generous seats, lots of legroom, amazing catering, and people dressing up for the occasion as if they were going to the opera. These are understandable sentiments, but the truth is, the bygone era didn’t have lie-flat seats. And it wasn’t even possible back then to redeem a ticket for miles, considering that modern frequent-flyer programs only date back to the 80s.
Andy Shuman is a freelance travel blogger and the author of the Lazy Travelers Handbook series. He is also a miles and points aficionado with a strong knowledge of frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs. Most of all, he is a travel junkie who wants to be on the road as much as possible.
Loyalty programs: American, United, US Airways, Delta, Alaska Airlines, Southwest, Jet Blue, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, Iberia, LAN, Japan Airways, Air Nippon, Bangkok Airways.
Favorite program: American Airlines. It is still the best despite some shortcomings.
Favorite travel destinations: Latin America, Southeast Asia.
Most memorable trip: Argentina/Brazil 2005. Buenos Aires, Iguassu Falls, Oktoberfest in Blumenau and short resort stay in Camboriu.
Travel rewards credit cards: Chase Sapphire Preferred, Amex Platinum, Chase IHG Club, Citi AAdvantage, Chase Ink Bold, Chase Ink Plus, Barclays Arrival, etc. I’d better stop right here or it will take up the whole page.
Favorite rewards: Chase Ultimate Rewards. You can transfer your points to several airline and hotel programs, book travel, or redeem for cash. It’s a very versatile program.
World leaders tend to argue about everything, but they have worked out a lot of issues to make sure that most of our flights go smoothly. The International Civil Aviation Association (ICAO) recognizes five Freedoms of the Air that make modern commercial aviation possible. Since all countries are protective of their borders and revenues, international treaties had to be put in place to ensure that airlines can fly freely anywhere in the world
In the last year several banks have come out with new premium cards, and there are more to come. With an onslaught of ultra-expensive credit cards tempting us with huge sign-up bonuses, deciding which card to keep becomes a real dilemma. As of now, there are seven premium credit cards that you might want to hold due to their bonuses and other perks:
Premium credit cards can be a great value, but they also carry a hefty annual fee. You can enjoy free airport lounges, travel credits, insurance, and other perks and privileges, but at some point, you might decide you don't want to pay the annual fee anymore or you want to try a different card. Many of the benefits like lounge access, the Global Entry credit are offered by several cards. But if you close the card you lose the credit line attached to it and that may bring down your credit score. There are also other considerations like what to do with the points you've accrued. So what's the best plan to keep your credit line and points? You downgrade the card.
Frequent flyer programs have come a long way since American Airlines introduced AAdvantage in 1981. The vast majority of world airlines have frequent flyer programs, and while they differ widely, each of their redemption schemes is based on one of the three underlying principles: region-based, distance-based or revenue-based.
The recent merger of Alaska and Virgin America has created America’s fifth largest airline. We know that Alaska is going to drop the Virgin America brand, but that was originally supposed to happen in 2019. It's apparently been moved up. Virgin America’s Elevate program is now scheduled to end on January 1, 2018. Its airline partnerships will begin dissolving even earlier.
You might be taken aback by the $450-$550 price tag on a premium credit card, but you need to weigh the benefits to see if the fee is worth it. One of the biggest payoffs beyond the sign-up bonus the first year is the annual travel credit one gets with a premium card. When you put that together with lounge access and the other benefits these cards offer you might find the card not only pays for itself but gives you extra funds for travel.
Now that there are a number of new premium cards in the market it's time to revisit the benefit of airport lounge access. It is one of the most popular ones for frequent travelers. The lounge is a sanctuary where you can unwind in a comfortable chair, work or play on your computer with free Wi-Fi, grab a complimentary latte or beer, watch some news and sometimes even take a shower.
Some lounges even provide more than basic comfort, with upscale décor, delicious light meals and inventive cocktails. You might even want to arrive at the airport early just to enjoy the lounge. There are a number of ways you can get access to this valuable perk including having a premium credit card. Let's run through the options.
The premium travel credit card market has turned into a competitive battlefield where the largest banks are fighting for customers’ loyalty and attention. U.S. Bank and UBS are the two latest banks to offer new potentially lucrative cards to the market: the Altitude Reserve and Visa Infinite credit cards. Let's take a closer look at them.
There are plenty of ways to earn miles with airline partners on the ground through shopping, dining, staying in hotels, renting cars and taking advantage of a variety of promotions.
But there is one method that allows travelers to get a huge amount of miles in a short period of time. Getting a sign-up bonus for a credit card can get you a nice head start on your next vacation using Delta SkyMiles. Then you can top off the balance by taking advantage of other type of offers.
Stopovers are an incredibly valuable tool that allows you to see more places for the same amount of miles. This is one of the most underutilized perks of award travel, and one that is not generally available to passengers who pay for their ticket.
The only U.S. credit card rewards program that allows you to transfer points to the United MileagePlus program is Chase Ultimate Rewards. But what if you don’t have Ultimate Rewards points? Does it mean you can’t use points from other rewards program to book an award flight on United?
Transferring points from credit card rewards programs, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou, or American Express Membership Rewards is a great way to fly on their partner airlines, but that’s just the beginning. Since so many airlines are members of airline alliances (and those that aren’t can partner with other airlines in ways you wouldn’t expect), it feels sometimes that you can use points to fly on almost every one of them.
Beware of fuel surcharges when booking a flight, whether you are using miles or cash. The practice of imposing fuel surcharges blossomed around 2004 when world oil prices spiked. But they can vary greatly from one carrier to the next, even on carriers flying the same route with the same aircraft.
How to Use Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points and Chase Ultimate Rewards to Fly American Airlines
United is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Delta is a partner of American Express Membership Rewards, but you won’t find American Airlines in the transfer partners list of major credit card rewards programs. That, however, doesn’t mean you can’t fly American using the points from these programs and Citi's ThankYou program.
Star Alliance is the biggest airline alliance in the world with 28 member airlines including Adria Airways, Aegean Airlines, Air Canada, Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Avianca, Avianca Brazil, Brussels Airlines, Copa Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Egyptair, Ethiopian Airlines, EVA Air, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, SWISS, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines, THAI and United. In the second quarter of 2017 Shanghai-based Juneyao Airlines is set to become the Alliance’s “connecting member.”
Delta is a transfer partner of the American Express Membership Rewards program, but it is not a partner of either Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi ThankYou. You can still use TY or UR points to fly on the airline though by booking the carrier through a partner airlines. We will show you how.
Stopovers and open jaws are great way to see more of the world for less money. Some airlines allow you to add a stopover to your award ticket itinerary on the way to or from your final destination. So what exactly is a stopover and an open jaw and which carriers let you take them? Read on for the airlines and their rules.
There is no such thing as a perfect airline frequent flyer program, which is why rewards programs like Starwood Preferred Guest are so great. They allow you to transfer points to the airline of your choice when the need arises and when an award ticket you’re looking for costs less with one airline program than another. Here are a few examples of some goal-oriented transfers that can save you a great deal of miles.
Starwood Preferred Guest is an excellent reward program because of its incredible flexibility. It has more airline transfer partners than any other program, including American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou. On top of that, some of those airlines partner only with SPG. In this post, we'll look at why you should consider transferring your valuable Starpoints to two of those exclusive airline partners: American Airlines and Japan Airlines (JAL).