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United Introduces a New Economy Class and American Adds a New Perk For Elites

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United has announced a new fare class that is especially restrictive. It is designed to counter ultra-low fare airline competition, but frequent flyers should be cautious before booking it. American is also giving its Concierge Key members a nice new bonus.

Basic Economy fares on United are cheap, but restrictive

United Airlines is taking a page from Delta’s playbook announcing new Basic Economy fares. They are designed to compete with ultra-low cost airlines that have begun to infringe upon larger airline’s route networks. The fares come with several restrictions in exchange for a low price: no seat assignments until check-in, no ability to change a seat once assigned, no flight changes allowed, no elite qualifying miles and no carry-on bag.

The last part will come as a surprise to unsuspecting flyers if they do not read the fare rules carefully. Basic Economy customers are put in Group 5 boarding and will only be allowed a small item like a purse or briefcase onboard. Gate agents will have credit card machines to charge fees for carry-on bags for these customers. The only saving grace (in addition to a cheap ticket) is that you still earn MileagePlus miles, but with miles earned based upon fare, and that won’t be very many!

IHG and MasterCard bring back Priceless Experiences promotion

While not as generous as last year’s promotion, this is still a great way to score bonus points to use at IHG properties worldwide. Between December 1 and February 15, stay at an IHG property and pay with a MasterCard to be eligible for prizes like a weekend getaway to Chicago, cameras, bonus points, or gift cards. The gift card amount varies depending upon the hotel brand, but guests get one after staying twice. One stay must be at least two nights, however. For example, stay with at least one InterContinental (of your two eligible stays) and receive a $100 gift card. There is also the option to participate in the promotion without staying at an IHG hotel by visiting the special link once the promotion is live. 

Pay with MasterCard at IHG hotels and earn rewards

Two free Uber airport pickups courtesy of Amex

Enter code AMEXAIRPORT in your Uber app and select your registered American Express card to be eligible for two free Uber rides from the airport. Only certain airports are eligible including all three major New York airports, both airports in Washington, D.C., both airports in Chicago, and other cities like Boston, Las Vegas, and Seattle/Tacoma. The promotion lasts through the end of the year and the ride cost is comped up to $65 per trip.

Transfer American Express points to Iberia for a 50% bonus

Iberia participates in the Avios frequent flyer program, but has a slightly different award chart than its partner British Airways does with its Avios system. Iberia is a bit more generous since it does not charge hefty fuel charges, and now more than ever, since you can receive a 50% bonus when transferring points from American Express Membership Rewards between now and December 15. To take advantage, log into your Membership Rewards account and enter your Iberia Avios number, but keep in mind that only people that have had an Iberia account open for at least three months are eligible.

Transfer American Express points to Iberia for a 50% bonus

American announces new benefit for Concierge Key members

Now that American is planning to formalize its highest tier status, Concierge Key, the airline is also boasting a new perk to go with it. In the event of a significant delay of at least three hours, Concierge Key members will be offered guaranteed next flight availability. Agents even have the ability to call a special desk to make extra inventory space (perhaps overselling a flight) to take care of Concierge Key members. That status level is only available on an invitation-only basis for those that spend a minimum amount ($35,000+). Next flight guarantee is the least they can do during a significant delay for the airline’s best customers.

Delta SkyMiles award chart revealed

Remember the good old days when Delta had an award chart online and made it clear to SkyMiles members what it would cost to redeem miles to different destinations. But then, Delta decided to cheat its customers by promising award prices via credit card announcements on board and in airport terminals while deleting award charts that tell you the cost of each price. Instead, many travelers have been overspending on awards because they simply accept prices despite cheaper awards being available, but hidden. Now, Travel is Free has put together a great chart that shows the actual cost of Delta awards. If the website is pricing them higher then you are paying more because it’s a high travel day or the flight is full, and it might pay off to search for something cheaper. Use it as a guide when redeeming miles, and don’t be afraid to pick up the phone to ask an agent for help. 

Hilton HHonors Diamond members can roll over nights

Hilton HHonors Diamond members that have already reached the threshold to maintain status for next year still have a reason to stick with the hotel chain. Diamond members are being offered the chance to roll over nights to count toward status for next year. Delta offers a similar rollover for its SkyMiles members, which is a smart move to keep loyal travelers with you even after reaching their desired status level.

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