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.
The most exclusive high-end credit cards have sleek design, loaded with luxury perks, come with really high fees, and… they tend to be invite-only. You can’t simply apply for such a card and expect to get approved. You have to receive a private invitation to be able to apply for a top high-end credit card. For example, to receive an invitation for a high-end card like the American Express Centurion Card, also known as the Amex Black Card, you will need to be a big spender.
The coronavirus pandemic brought many changes to the travel industry and airlines in particular. One of the remarkable changes in some major U.S airlines’ policies is the permanent elimination of change fees, which was triggered by United at the end of this August. However, not all airlines are ready to bid farewell to the fee.
Travelers who hold an American Airlines credit card are in for a real treat with the current list of reduced mileage awards for June through September. You can save up to 7,500 miles off AAdvantage award ticket redemptions on up to 166 destinations. And if you live in one of the featured airports, you can fly anywhere in the continental United States at a discount.
American Airlines is one of the most popular airlines in the United States. They fly nearly 6,700 daily flights to 350 destinations across the U.S. and internationally in 50 countries. American Airlines frequent flyer program, AAdvantage, was created in May 1981, and we’ve been focused on the best ways to earn more miles ever since. And with so many choices available among the American Airlines credit cards, earning AAdvantage miles is incredibly easy and lucrative.
Airfare sales happen every day but not necessarily from your home airport. In order to take advantage of some of the best deals out there, you might have to get a bit creative. There are plenty of options available to help reduce the cost of airfare. You may save money by positioning yourself to nearby airports or by using your frequent flyer miles like cash to reduce the cost of a ticket. If you’re earning points on a credit card you will want to access their travel portals to see if your points have greater value there. Additionally, using a combination of award tickets and purchased tickets for securing your airfare may result in paying less. Try these combinations to find the best deal.
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.
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’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.
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:
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.
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 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:
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.
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.
Marriott is now giving its Platinum Premier members free United Premier Gold status. Find out how to get it (and corresponding Star Alliance Gold status), plus which routes are now eligible for free economy class meals when flying domestically on American and Delta in this week’s roundup.
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.
Among the major U.S. airlines, Delta has long had the best economy class product. In fact, their major competitors, United and American, really aren’t close at this point.
However, in the premium cabin market, things aren’t as clear cut, and competition has been heating up lately. One key item to note up front is that while the name Delta One sounds like a name for a first-class product, Delta One is actually a business class product. This applies to both the transcontinental and international versions. Therefore, when making comparisons to other premium cabin products, business class is the proper benchmark.
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.
American started rolling out its basic economy fares this month, joining the other two major legacy airlines in their attempt to compete with ultra-low cost carriers. That means service aboard domestic flights has taken another hit, but there are ways to get around at least some of the drawbacks of flying.
Hilton Honors is about to add its newest feature with cash and points redemptions, which is exciting for many travelers. Plus, there are some new routes for mileage earning and redemption that are worth exploring, but beware the basic economy fares that seem to be expanding from third-party sites.
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 a new travel credit card in the market. Read on to learn more. Also, hotel companies are awarding big bonuses for upcoming stays. See which ones and where in the latest offerings in this week’s report.
The first quarter of the year is a great time to re-evaluate your loyalties to frequent flyer programs. You have the rest of the year to reallocate your flights and credit card spending in order to earn elite status for the rest of the year as well as 2018. With so many devaluations, mergers, and new reciprocal elite benefits you may be inclined to change the programs which you prioritize.
Transcontinental flights from the New York City area to LA and San Francisco are among the most grueling domestic routes in existence, with flight times of approximately six hours depending on the direction of travel.
Fortunately, all the major airlines that fly these routes offer premium products that go above and beyond traditional domestic premium cabin service. In addition to the big three legacy carriers, there is competition provided by smaller airlines such as Jet Blue and Virgin America. We will compare quality of product, award availability and costs, and note a few things to consider when booking these flights.
No matter where your travel takes you, airlines are always looking at ways to improve the flying experience. Both American and oneworld partner Qatar Airways have some updates in store. Credit card companies like American Express are focused on perks like a new lounge in Philadelphia. Read all about the latest news in this week’s update.