There’s always exciting news in the travel world, and this week is no different. Learn a clever workaround for maximizing your miles even with new revenue-based programs. Plus, there is some great news in the credit card world, like a new premium card offering 100,000 points and lounge upgrades.
Close the door for privacy in new Delta suites
Delta Air Lines will add full-height doors to its existing business class seat product to be installed on new Boeing Dreamliner 787 and Airbus A350 aircraft deliveries. This makes Delta the only airline to offer fully-enclosed suites with doors in business class. A larger entertainment screen and in-suite ambient lighting are also part of the design. The sliding door suites will only be on these two aircraft, which are expected to begin entering the fleet in the fall of 2017. Existing aircraft will not be modified with this product, but it will be the ultimate in privacy for fliers on routes with these new planes on them.
Foreign visitors to the U.S. might be asked to share social media handles
A current proposal by the Department of Homeland Security could set into motion a new option for foreign visitors to the U.S. to list their social media profiles. While not required, ESTA and I-94W application forms would include a field to gather this data. If approved, this information will be used for “vetting” purposes.
Air Tahiti Nui three-for-one deal
Air Tahiti Nui is offering a unique promotion that allows travelers the chance to visit three countries for the price of one. Flights don’t all have to be on the airline’s own aircraft. For example, fly American to New Zealand or Australia (or both with connections on Qantas or Emirates), then return to the U.S. with a stopover in Tahiti on the Air Tahiti Nui. Mileage collectors can rack up miles by crediting flights to American AAdvantage, one of Air Tahiti Nui’s partners. Once in Tahiti, inter-island flights to Bora Bora or smaller islands are easy to book. With amazing over-water bungalows, like those found at St. Regis Bora Bora where you can redeem or earn Starwood points or enjoy a fourth night free using the Citi Prestige credit card benefit, this airfare deal (priced as low as $1,270) is the kind of bargain that allows you to splurge on fancy accommodations.
New Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card brings premium perks
In an effort to compete with the American Express Platinum and Citi Prestige credit cards, Chase is launching its own premium card: Chase Sapphire Reserve. It carries a $450 fee, which is in line with the higher fees charged for other premium cards, but comes with a slew of benefits that make up for it. These include a $300 air travel credit, Priority Pass Select lounge membership, a $100 fee waiver for Global Entry, and three Ultimate Rewards points earned on travel and dining. Perhaps the most exciting perk is the 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points bonus for spending $4,000 on the card within the first three months. These points can be used to book travel or to transfer to airline or hotel partners. Applications for the card are expected to begin soon.
Here’s how to earn maximum miles when flying with revenue-based programs.
The top three domestic airlines have switched to revenue-based mileage earning, but that does not mean you have to stick with them. For those that want to earn elite status, this option is of less interest. But for those that want to max out their mileage earning so that they can redeem them for premium cabin travel elsewhere, this is a great choice. Consider crediting your flights to foreign airlines. For example, when flying American, credit your miles to Etihad, Finnair or Cathay Pacific programs. They earn 100% of distance flown even on the cheapest tickets. When flying United, crediting to Singapore Airlines is a solid option. When flying Delta, it is less rewarding, but CSA Czech and Saudia offer full mileage earning. With that said, neither program is user-friendly enough to do so. Perhaps it is better to consult www.wheretocredit.com to see how much your fare class will earn to determine the best program for you.
American Express to expand Seattle Centurion Studio.
American Express Platinum cardholders enjoy access to premium Centurion lounges in various airports. When the lounge opened at Seattle/Tacoma, it was labeled as a “studio” given its space-constrained size. Good news! Amex has plans to enlarge the lounge in the coming year and add a shower, full bar, and windows to the outside. We love it when lounges get better!
New chef for American Express Centurion lounge in San Francisco.
Daniel Patterson, most recently the chef at San Francisco’s two Michelin-starred Coi, is now overseeing the menu at the San Francisco Centurion lounge. The menu includes dishes like eggplant miso soup, chicken sausage farro hash, and zucchini and burrata salad with watercress. Yet another win for American Express Platinum cardholders.
British Airways to offer less food on long flights in economy class.
British Airways’ shorter flights to North America are losing a second meal service, which was typically offered 90 minutes before landing. For example, flights to Boston, New York, and Toronto are in the 6-7 hour range, so surely you won’t be hungry five hours in, right? Instead of the traditional “afternoon tea” and sandwich service, passengers will now be offered a mini candy bar. There is still a full meal service offered after takeoff, but perhaps it is worth saving up more Avios points to redeem for a premium cabin if you have a human tendency to get hungry after several hours of not eating.