Frequent Flyer Tips for Experienced Travelers

RewardExpert.com is an independent website that is supported by advertising. RewardExpert.com may be compensated by credit card issuers whose offers appear on the site. Because we are paid by our advertising partners it may impact placement of products on the site, including the order in which they appear. Not all available credit card issuers or card offers are included on the site.

Why Alaska Airlines Miles Are Awesome and Considerations For Redeeming

Alaska Airlines miles

Alaska Airlines miles are some of the most valuable airline miles out there. The Mileage Plan award program has some very unique and useful features but also some restrictions that can make their miles more difficult to use than other programs.

Here’s why I love Alaska Airlines miles even though they can be tough to use (and some considerations to make them less tough to use).

Read more

Comparing Top-Tier Hyatt and Starwood Elite Status

With the launch of the new World of Hyatt Program, Hyatt is really upping their game when it comes to their new top-tier status, which will now be called Globalist Status. Previously, this was referred to as Hyatt Diamond status in the former Hyatt Gold Passport Program. With new benefits added, we’re going to see how Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum status compares.

Read more

How to Use Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi ThankYou Programs to fly Delta

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.

Read more

Comparing Premium Economy Products on the Domestic Legacy Carriers

Over the past several years, airlines have taken steps to differentiate their classes of product segment in order to maximize revenue. Cabin configurations traditionally consisted of either two classes (economy and business class) or three classes (economy, business and first class).

Now planes are configured with four or even five cabins, with the more recent additions being premium economy. In many cases, premium economy has become the new “middle class” as airlines have done away with first class, and are flying with planes that have standard economy, premium economy and business class.

Let’s take a closer look at premium economy products by comparing the products and services offered, as well as the booking process and elite upgrade rules.

Delta Airlines

Delta’s premium economy offering is called Comfort+. This product is clearly the best of the three legacy airlines. Comfort+ seats offer 3 inches of additional leg room compared with standard economy seats. The seats are located in front of the main economy cabin, so you will be able to exit the plane faster.

There is dedicated overhead bin space so you don’t have to worry about your roll-aboard getting checked at the ramp. You receive priority boarding so you can get on the plane and get settled more quickly. Delta offers complimentary alcoholic beverages including beer, wine and spirits. The seats include both connectivity and power so you can charge your devices while you fly.

You will have a choice of a variety of complimentary premium snacks instead of just the standard offerings like pretzels and peanuts. Longer transcontinental flights include additional sleeping and entertainment amenities such as a pillow, blanket, complimentary headset and amenity kit. The seats on these flights also recline up to 50% more than standard economy. In addition, since this is a true premium economy product, it is being sold as a separate class of service. This means that the seats can be booked directly as an award ticket for a price between the standard economy price and business/first class price.

Features of Delta's Comfort+
Features of Delta’s Comfort+

There are a variety of details to keep in mind if you are an elite member looking to upgrade from a standard economy seat. The availability rules based on elite status are as follows:

  • Diamond and Platinum elites can get confirmed upgrades at the time of booking
  • Gold elites can be confirmed beginning 72 hours prior to departure
  • Silver elites can be confirmed beginning 24 hours prior to departure

Elites may be upgraded along with one companion traveling on the same reservation. In a tweak to the program, companion upgrades are now based on the highest elite status of the two people. Previously, upgrades cleared based on the lowest status, which was very irritating to higher level elites who may have been passed over by passengers with a lower level of status because their companion had an even lower status.

There is one significant downside to the way Delta handles upgrades into Comfort+ seats. If you are cleared for an upgrade, the upgraded seat is automatically assigned based on availability. Therefore, you could have reserved a window or aisle seat in standard economy and be “upgraded” to a middle seat in the Comfort+ section. You will have to decide for yourself what is more important: avoiding a middle seat at all costs, or the extra legroom, snacks, and free drinks offered in Comfort+.

If you decide you’d rather not take the chance of ending up in a middle seat, there is an easy way to opt out. When you make a booking, and click on the upgrade request link, there are two separate boxes. One is for upgrades into first or business class, and the other is for upgrades into Comfort+. You may simply check the box for first/business class, and leave the box for Comfort+ unchecked. This will ensure you are only considered for upgrades into first or business class. The relevant portion of the screen will look like this:

Comfort+

American Airlines

American does not have a true premium economy offering on domestic flights. However, it does have a product called Main Cabin Extra. Some people simply refer to these seats as “extra legroom seating”. The list of amenities is quite short. The only real benefits are extra legroom and a position in the plane in front of the standard economy seats.

Unlike their true premium economy seats on long haul international flights, these Main Cabin Extra seats are not a separate class of service. This is nice because it means that an upgrade is not required; you simply select the seat at the time of booking. Main Cabin Extra seats are highlighted in red, and the price is displayed for those who do not receive complimentary access. As you can see, some of the seats that cost extra are simply the exit-row seats and are not located as far forward in the plane as the rest of the Main Cabin extra seats.

Main Cabin extra seats

  • AA elites with Platinum status or above have complimentary access to these seats.
  • Gold elites may select these seats and receive a 50% discount at booking, and complimentary access if seats are still available within 24 hours of departure.

United Airlines

United is very similar to American in that they do not offer a true premium economy product on domestic flights, but they do offer extra legroom seats which are called Economy Plus. As with American, these seats are not sold as a separate class of service, but are available to select at the time of booking. The screenshot below shows an example seating map with Economy Plus seats in blue:

Economy Plus seats in blue

United has different rules for elite access and guest privileges.

  • Those with Platinum elite status and above receive complimentary access for themselves and up to eight companions at the time of booking.
  • Those with Gold elite status receive complimentary access for themselves and up to one companion at the time of booking.
  • Silver elite members may receive complimentary access for themselves and up to one companion at the time of check-in.

Read more

The Credit Scores You Need for the Best Travel Credit Cards

Are you ready to apply for a new rewards credit card? But maybe you’re not sure which one you’ll qualify for? We’ve taken a look at the major travel cards on the market and figured out the credit scores you’ll need to get them.

Read more

How to Use Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points and Chase Ultimate Rewards to Fly American Airlines

transfer partners

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.

Read more

How to Get Elite Status at a Hotel Fast Through Matches, Challenges and Credit Cards

hotel elite status

Do you want to enjoy all the benefits of elite status at your favorite hotel including complimentary room upgrades, discounts, club access and more? There are a number of ways you can earn status quickly.

Read more

Secrets of Achieving Star Alliance Status

star alliance

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.”

Read more

Should Million Miler Status Be Your Goal?

Every week I see a post or a picture in one of the frequent flyer communities of someone celebrating their Million Miler status with one of the legacy carriers. Often the elated and relieved poster will recall countless years and flights it took to achieve the milestone. This is followed by congratulatory remarks, memes, and GIFs from onlookers who themselves recall their personal victory or their current journey towards that goal.

I hope I never achieve it, and I hope you don’t either. I do have an alternative goal to strive for though.

Read more

Big Changes Announced for the Future of Alaska and Virgin America

Alaska bought Virgin America last December, and though have released a few details on how the merger would impact elite benefits, mileage earning, and other short-term concerns, they have kept travelers waiting for a bigger picture view of what these airlines will look like when the merger is complete.

Now, we finally have the answers. In general, there are more positives than negatives, especially for Alaska elites, though some features will be disappearing that Virgin America loyalists will probably miss.

Read more

The Complete List of U.S. Fifth Freedom Flights

travel flight

You might think that international airlines only fly to and from their home country, but that’s not always true. Many fly “Fifth Freedom” routes as a result of the 1944 Convention on International Civil Aviation. According to the ICAO, the fifth of the nine freedoms guarantees the right of an airline to fly between two foreign countries en route to or originating from their home country.

Read more

Introducing the Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is an amazing airplane and it keeps getting better with each new release.  The latest iteration from Boeing is the 787-10. This version will hold more passengers due to its length. It can hold 330 passengers as opposed to the 787-9 which carries 290 and the 787-8 which holds 242. Note that seat configurations will vary by airline.

Read more

The Future of Business Class for U.S. Carriers

Domestic airlines have long lagged behind their international competitors when it comes to providing a luxurious and comfortable premium cabin experience on long haul routes. American currently has the best offering of the three legacy carriers with the bulk of its international long haul fleet featuring private reverse herringbone seating in a 1x2x1 configuration.

Read more

Qatar Airways Introduces an Awesome New Business Class

Qatar Airways has been hinting for a while that they would be revealing a brand-new business class product. They were promising that new product would be revolutionary, and for once the reality lived up to the hype. The new seat is called the QSuite and will be accompanied by enhancements to the soft product as well.

Read more

Amex Announces Big Changes to the Platinum Card

Ever since Chase released the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Amex has been playing catch up in the premium card market. Amex’s first response was far less than hoped for – they added 5X earning on airfare to the personal card and the ability to receive a 50% points rebate for premium cabin booking to the business card.

Read more

How to Get the Southwest Companion Pass Before the Rules Change

Earning a Southwest Companion Pass will get more difficult at the end of March 2017, but luckily you still have a chance to earn it one of the easiest ways possible. Here’s what you need to know.

Read more

Status Matches From Alaska, Southwest, JetBlue and Virgin America

elite status

If you’ve worked hard and earned elite status at one airline, you may be able to use that as leverage to quickly earn status with another carrier. Find out what status match and challenge offers are available from regional and low-cost carriers and how to take full advantage of them.

Read more

How to Use Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi ThankYou to Fly Delta

delta transfer partners

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.

Read more

Status Matches From American, Delta and United

Elite status with an airline can get you some fantastic benefits: free upgrades, discounts, bonus points and more. While status is generally limited to those who earn the hard way—through flying and spending—you shouldn’t forget about status matches and challenges. These offers can be a quick way to get status with an airline, particularly if you plan to do a lot of traveling in a short period of time.

Read more

Priority Pass: Why You Want It and How to Get It

Priority Pass hit a milestone last year by offering members access to over 1,000 lounges worldwide. That makes it the most comprehensive independent airport lounge network available, all but guaranteeing that you’ll have a comfy place to relax, snack or get a little work done at any major airport in the world. The best part? You can get a free membership with the right credit card.

Read more