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?
Once again, U.S. Airways Dividend Miles are on “sale” with a 100% bonus on purchased miles. As usual, there are posts from a few blogs that conclude it is a good deal if it “fits your travel needs.” We take this to mean that you only want to book roundtrip, you do not want to fly Lufthansa first class, and you are not savvy enough to figure out any of the much better ways to get miles.
An anonymous Points Envy fan and part-time Denny’s manager spotted blogger Mommy Points eating at Denny’s for the eighth time in a week. Family and friends are growing increasingly concerned about an apparent Grand Slam addiction.
The other Grand Slam
American Airlines has publicly apologized for its loose seats and general existence by offering double miles or something. Our status is good for life, so we didn’t bother reading the details, but see here and here for more information.
A Los Angeles resident was officially excommunicated by the FlyerTalk gods for admitting on the popular miles discussion forum that he redeemed 50,000 MileagePlus miles for a roundtrip LAX-SFO flight in economy class. Points Envy agrees with this decision.
We gave our assistants a week off and 70,000 Ultimate Rewards points each to take a vacation. Below is a picture of them on a beach in Cancun sporting the sexiest swimwear we’ve ever seen.
Even on vacation, they’re workin’ it for us
Last but not least, Points Envy was interviewed on Million Mile Secrets this week. MMS readers agreed it was Daraius’ best post yet.
Have a great weekend and, as always, enjoy a glass of champagne on us!
Reader BigMike64 writes in this week with a question that almost brought us to tears:
I’ve got a trip coming up next week and, despite my best efforts, I was forced to buy my transatlantic ticket on American Airlines in coach due to severe scheduling restrictions. I’ve never actually flown coach, and at 6’4”, I’m a little worried. Do you have any tips on how to make the eight or so hours go by as pleasantly as possible?
We would like to offer our condolences to BigMike64, as his flight will no doubt be a harrowing experience. Although neither of the editors at Points Envy have ever actually flown coach, we have heard about it several times and feel we can offer a few valuable tips.
For starters, one strategy that has worked beautifully for us in similar uncomfortable situations (like funerals or job interviews) has been to get drunk in a classy fashion. Fortunately for BigMike64, earlier this year American introduced complimentary wine and beer for coach passengers on transatlantic flights. There is also the option of bringing your own champagne flask, an item we’ve found useful on numerous occasions.
Now boarding Economy passengers at Gate C19.
Next, we’d advise that you make sure everyone around you is aware that you are “supposed to be” up front in the premium cabin. Establishing this as early as possible will ensure you get the proper level of respect from other passengers, and should also guarantee a higher level of service from the crew. If you have elite status with AA, be sure to mention that as well. You can build additional camaraderie with other passengers by openly comparing your flight experience with every premium cabin flight you can recall. Science has shown time and time again that people tend to admire their superiors.
Finally, we have heard that just like in the poorer parts of an otherwise nice town, it can get pretty noisy back in coach. In addition to bringing your noise-canceling wireless headphones and entertainment devices, we’d advise bringing a few of your backup iPad 3s along to pacify those around you. You may also want to bring a bodyguard to carry the extra iPads and play drinking games.
We wish you the best BigMike64, though we ourselves would do whatever it took to avoid your predicament. In fact, one of us spent three extra weeks in Nepal due to limited outbound business class availability, and the other missed the birth of his first child for the same reason. Neither of us regrets it for a minute, and we would advise you to seriously consider your premium cabin options, no matter the consequences.
Today we mourn the loss of an integral member of our community, the Chase Sapphire Preferred 50,000 point sign-up bonus. Rest in peace old friend, you have earned it.
Fear not, the offer is now in heaven with the sexy British Airways 100,000 miles deal.
But before we don our finest black cashmere and officially begin to sit shiva, we thought we would point out several of the more positive happenings in the points world over the last couple days.
- Although the Sapphire Preferred bonus lost 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points, Chase, like some magical points surgeon, appears to have merely transplanted those points into the Freedom card, whose bonus rose from 20,000 to 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points, as noted by Mommy Points. A direct link to the 30,000 point application is here.
- Per Million Mile Secrets, Chase released an updated version of its United MileagePlus card that includes a $50 statement credit. Moreover, many have received targeted offers of 1.5x miles for every dollar spent on this card for a limited time. Our offer began March 1 and ends April 31, but Chase appears to be rolling this out gradually, so pay close attention to your mail. This is a superb way to rack up Star Alliance miles on your non-category bonus spending, like large liquor store purchases and yachting accessories. We earned more than 1500 miles just for buying a little overnight bag!
- In other encouraging news, Citibank tweaked its AAdvantage card offerings. A full report is available via View from the Wing, but we agree that the primary benefit is a 10% rebate on miles redemptions, capped at 10,000 miles a year. In related news, Chase and Amex still offer better cards than Citi.
So fear not friends! While it is inevitable that the corpses of card offerings and fallen human comrades will litter the arduous path to true points glory, we know there are new offerings just over the horizon. Though we will miss the 50,000 Sapphire Preferred bonus, we remain optimistic and will continue to see the glass of bubbly as half full. If you remain in need of further encouragement, please see here.
American Eagle Outfitters is entering a new partnership with American Eagle Airlines (and thus with American Airlines) after the companies both reported high rates of customers mistaking one brand for the other. “After the ten-thousandth person called our customer service line to complain about service on an American Eagle flight, we figured we might as well work with this,” said American Eagle Outfitters Vice President Joe Sanchez. “People need to fly and they need stylish, high-quality clothing at a fair price, so we think it’s going to be great.”
As a result of the union, AAdvantage Executive Platinum members will be guaranteed fitting rooms at the clothing store and will have a designated priority check out lane. AAdvantage Platinum and Gold members are only entitled to the fitting room benefit. In exchange, the clothing store’s employees will be exempt from the new window shade charges on all American and American Eagle flights, and American Eagle will cover the exteriors of several of its planes completely with American Eagle Outfitters advertising. A partnership between the AEREWARD$ and AAdvantage programs is also in the works, though its exact terms are still being ironed out.
Can you tell the difference?
American Eagle Airlines spokesman Ron Butts seemed ambivalent about the entire venture. “We don’t really like people confusing us with the clothing store, but they already do so maybe working together makes sense.” Butts continued, “I’ve always been a Banana Republic man myself, but we have been losing the frat boy demographic in recent years, so I suppose this could be positive for us on that front.”
In related news, Virgin America is expected to enter a cross-promotional agreement with GameStop later this summer.
The travel world is abuzz with speculation about a potential merger between US Airways and American Airlines after the following domains were purchased anonymously:
- american-usairways.com, .net, and .org
- americanairlinesusairways.com, .net, and .org
- usairways-american.com, .net, and .org
- usairwaysamerican.com, .net, and .org
- usairwaysamericanairlines.com, .net, and .org
- usandaa.com, .net, and .org
- aadvantageofus.com, .net, and .org
- advantageofus.com, .net, and .org
- oneworldoneairline.com, .net, and .org
Some see this as incontrovertible evidence that the two legacy carriers are headed for a merger, but here at Points Envy we question how serious they could really be if they aren’t even going after the best URLs. If it were up to us, our new airline would go with something more like one of the following:
At the time of posting, Points Envy was able to verify that the above domain names were still available. If you’re an enterprising cybersquatter looking to cash in on the impending merger, you’re welcome.
Earlier today, American Airlines announced the introduction of a fee for operating window shades on domestic flights. Starting April 20, most passengers will be required to pay $2.50 to have the option of raising or lowering the window shade. While passengers have complained about similar fees in the past, American notes that it is at least simplifying the fee payment process this time, having invested over $1,250,000 to install credit card readers next to the window shades on its fleet. Executives have expressed confidence that smart investments of this sort will help quickly pull the airline out of bankruptcy. A spokeswoman also made clear that window shade operation will remain complimentary in first and business classes, for Platinum and Executive Platinum members, and for all passengers on intercontinental flights.