Archive for November, 2012

The (Last Two) Week(s) in Review

We are excited for Frequent Traveler University this weekend, mostly for the free coffee at Starbucks courtesy of Million Mile Secrets. Look out for our review next week.

Speaking of Million Mile Secrets, this week they taught us how to use elite traveler security lines by fooling the TSA with a flashy frequent flyer card. The comments section of the post heated up quickly, with people throwing around fighting words as they tend to only do anonymously on the internet. Our favorite comment was by E, and we quote: “OK Seems some incentive is needed for the loser line cutters. When i’m in the line (Either one) and I see Darious and or Emily i will call them out in Pubic.” That’s taking it a bit far, don’t you think?

Everybody is talking about getting rid of virgins by way of a Hilton, or something like that. Kinda reminds us of high school.

In a feat we didn’t think possible, The Points Guy runs through some ways in which Delta’s Skymiles program could get even worse.

In case you somehow hadn’t heard, THE CHASE FREEDOM CATEGORIES FOR 2013 ARE NOW AVAILABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thankfully, our dealer was recently reclassified as a “drugstore,” so the first quarter is already looking good for our Ultimate Rewards balance.

The Mr. Pickles is back to blogging. As practitioners of the occasional blogging hiatus ourselves, we understand the need for a break, but it is very good to have him back. Here he reminds us of an oldy but goody (and unfortunately deady). We used the diamond ring thing to prank propose to numerous girlfriends. They didn’t think it was funny, but we earned a lot of points.

The Points Guy outlines a fairly surefire way to get your PayPal account shut down, in case anyone was looking to do that without actually having to contact PayPal.

Frequent Miler issues a rare review of card benefits specifically for domestic travel, and an even rarer trip report. We find the comparison of Delta and Cathay Pacific downright offensive, but then again, we haven’t flown Delta since they updated their award booking procedures.

Last, but by no means least, the Points Envy travel blog contest will close at 5pm PST today. Winners will probably be announced sometime in the next week, or at some point after that.


Pointless Points: Brownie Points

The other day our girlfriend gave us a ride to the airport to begin one of the many first class journeys to India that we booked during the latest Avios award sale. The entire drive, she kept casually mentioning how much she loves saffron, repeatedly interrupting our attempts to estimate how many bottles of champagne we could consume between LAX and BOM (including both in lounges and inflight).

After the fourth interruption, we asked her why she kept bringing up saffron, and she told us that it would be nice if we brought some back from India. Despite our noting that saffron is widely available in the United States, even pointing out an Indian market clearly visible from the road, she insisted and told us that if we complied we would “score some points.” This, of course, got our attention.

We inquired as to what kind of points she meant, to which she offered a quizzical glance before referring to some mystical program called “Brownie Points.” Intrigued, we asked her if that was a new loyalty program. She again shot us an uninterpretable look and simply said, “It’d better be!” Still confused, we asked how many points we would earn, but she just raised her eyebrows and replied, “Bring me back some saffron and find out.”

She’ll never know the difference.

We are always hesitant to engage in this sort of murky points-earning, but we also have an inexplicable tendency to convince ourselves to do unwise things by repeating the phrase “Go big or go home.” More importantly, we arrived at the airport before we could ask any further questions. She kissed us goodbye, and we were off to our first first class lounge of the journey.

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Worst Flight Ever: Korean Air Prestige Class SFO-ICN

The Points Guy isn’t the only one who’s been to Korea recently. A lot of Koreans have also been there. Last week, we too got hungry for some authentic bulgogi and plastic surgery, so we had our assistants book an award flight from San Francisco to Seoul on Korean Air.

At SFO, Korean Air shares a lounge with SkyTeam partner Air France, a particularly perplexing mashup of cultures. It was no surprise, then, when this turned out to be possibly the worst “international” lounge we have ever visited. Service was nonexistent, there were no saunas, and the alcohol selection literally made us vomit. Still, we were more focused on the in-flight experience to come, and we kept our spirits up by continuously guzzling mediocre champagne.

When it came time to board, we made our way to the gate and stumbled down the jetway onto a noticeably-not-brand-new 777-200ER. A friendly flight attendant greeted us and directed us to our seat, which was oddly not at the very front of the plane. It was strange turning right upon boarding an international flight, but we glanced at our ticket and felt reassured by the clear “Prestige Class” designation.

We remember noting the hospital-during-Easter-esque atmosphere, with plasticky pastel-blue seats and matching flight attendant uniforms. And like our last hospital visit, there was a lot of champagne being imbibed. After a completely unoriginal taxi and takeoff, we were in the air and meal service began. We opted for the Korean-style bibimbap, which was tolerable, at least for airline bibimbap. However, something still seemed off in the cabin. Before we could figure it out, the cheese cart came around, and we indulged in some of Korea’s finest, accompanied by a red wine whose name slips our mind. Afterward, we quickly drifted off to sleep in the sterile lie-flat seat.

We were forcibly awakened shortly before landing in Seoul, and once the door opened we got up to deplane. But the flight attendant held us back, asking us to please wait while the first class passengers exited. Feelings of absolute terror and shame immediately set in as we looked past her to see what we now know to be Korean Air’s Kosmo Suites. It was like the end of The Sixth Sense, but worse: we had been flying business class the entire time!

Needless to say, we fired our assistants and are in the process of interviewing their replacements. We booked our return flight on Asiana, in a proper first class suite, and will never fly Korean again.


The First Annual “If Christopher Elliott Can Do It, Anyone Can” Travel Blog Contest

Please cast your vote in Points Envy’s first annual “If Christopher Elliott Can Do It, Anyone Can” travel blog contest! In this contest, we will honor the best and the brightest of the points blogging world, letting our intelligent and attractive readers decide on the winners! The nominees for 2012 are:
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Breaking News: 90% Discount on Award Flights to Israel Starting This Monday

Just in time for Hanukkah, word has it that there will soon be a way to save some serious gelt when traveling to Israel. According to an industry insider, El Al and other major airlines with service to Tel Aviv are planning to reduce the points required for award flights to Israel by as much as 90%! Oddly, only flights bound for Israel will be eligible for the discount, as flights leaving the country will still be full-price. We have no idea why, but these inbound redemption costs are dropping like Arab armies during the Six-Day War. If you like aggressive taxi drivers and hummus, this one is a no-brainer.

Given these circumstances, we plan on using 2970 Matmid points (a Membership Rewards transfer partner) for a roundtrip LAX-TLV first class ticket. All told, this is a great opportunity to visit what some religious fanatics refer to as “the Holy Land.” We, of course, have always reserved that term for the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt, but to each her own.

Act now, because there’s no telling how long this deal will last. See you all in the King David lounge!

Don’t miss out!


The Week in Review

Points Envy had a blast at the StarMegaDo4 this week. It was a wonderful chance to see how the sausage is made at United and to finally meet some of the most infamous points bloggers around. Most importantly, it was nice to have easy access to the buffet line from which said bloggers were all eating. Our last experiment failed, but we will rule this world yet!

The miles blogs have been filled with talk of an upcoming 30% Membership Rewards transfer bonus to British Airways, but the bonus does not begin until December 3. This reminds us of the way our dead parents used to start mentioning Christmas in November. This type of teasing did not end well for them.

Points Envy brought you an exclusive look, via Lucky (via Gary), at a 25% award redemption sale in the Avios program.

Dan’s Deals provided an excellent guide to maximizing this week’s Staples promotion whereby you receive a $15 Staples Gift card for every $100 Visa or Mastercard gift card purchased. So far, we have bought $30,000 worth of gift cards at our local Staples stores, and this afternoon we are flying to Nebraska to visit a few more Staples. Nobody in Nebraska is in the game yet, right? We assume it is like living in the 1990s there.

As predicted, Lucky has given us the beginnings of a stellar review of Lufthansa first class. Not to be outdone, MommyPoints also flew the most German of all airlines this week, and the full review of her A380 trip is forthcoming.

Million Mile Secrets provided a nice rundown of some ways in which to maximize the fourth quarter Chase Freeom bonus on hotels and airlines by purchasing gift cards. We plan on using this method to max out the $1500 bonus on all sixteen of our Freedom cards.

Last, but not least, our friend George was mentioned in a critical post by The Frugal Travel Guy, and has responded with a couple posts of his own. Rick then engaged George and his readers in a vicious catfight in the alley (aka comments section) of George’s most recent post. As a wise man once said: hate hate hate hate.


Flash Sale: 25% Off Longhaul BA and Iberia Awards

Normally we don’t bother to wake up on Wednesdays, but today we were thrilled we did. The Avios program is running a six-day sale starting today, whereby you can save 25% off longhaul portions of award tickets on British Airways and Iberia. Lucky, a significantly more knowledgable and less lazy travel blogger, runs through more of the particulars here.

Iberia has a BusinessPlus product that we have not had the “pleasure” of trying out. Assuming they serve jamón ibérico and premium cava, it is probably tolerable. We have, on the other hand, had the pleasure of experiencing both the new and old British Airways first class products, and we consider them to be two of the best in the world. This sale therefore presents a fantastic opportunity for those of you with a hefty stash of Avios lying around, especially considering you would likely otherwise use those points for short domestic flights in American Airlines economy. Please, dear readers, step your redemption games up.

British Airways does, of course, impose hefty “fuel” surcharges, which, if what we overheard in the Heathrow Concorde Room is true, directly fund MI6. Having just seen the new Bond movie, Points Envy has nothing against supporting this high class lifestyle of international intrigue, but our wallets do not generally allow for it. We therefore tend to pay for these 007 surcharges with our Sapphire Preferred cards and then redeem Ultimate Rewards points for a one cent apiece statement credit. Some bloggers may tell you this is not the best redemption value, but they are not taking into account that earning points is much easier than earning money. And now, off to book eight of these first class awards to India next month. Bloody brilliant!

Which Bond are you? Craig or Connery?