Podcasts

$260 Round-Trip Flights to Hawaii!

NowBoarding, your daily travel news in 7 minutes or less:


Don’t forget to check out the Miles To Go Podcast where we bring you the latest travel news, tips and tricks each week to help you save money and travel better.

Full Transcript

NowBoarding, your daily travel news in 7 minutes or less. This is your host, Ed Pizza, bringing you the latest travel news and deals you need to know Monday through Friday. Tune in daily so you don’t miss any of the best deals!

Look for links to all of today’s stories in the show notes on whatever podcast platform you’re listening. And, please share the show with a friend!

First up is a great deal to Hawaii starting at around $250 round-trip. This one is for West Coast folks departing from cities like San Francisco, LAX, Portland and Las Vegas. Some of these fares are Basic Economy, which could be painful on a long flight to Hawaii if you get stuck in a middle seat, and you might end up paying for a bag, etc. However, Southwest is participating in the sale from many of these cities to a number of destinations in Hawaii.

This fare is live now, so I’d jump on it if you’re thinking about it. There are apparently dates available through all 12 months of 2020. Remember that if you book a flight that originates or lands in the US you have 24 hours to cancel the booking after you purchase. So, if you’re on the fence grab one of these now and spend the rest of your 24 hours trying to figure out how to coordinate hotels. Fares like this are why I’m a big fan of flexible loyalty currency like Chase Ultimate Rewards. If you take advantage of cheap flights like this, you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to hotel chains like Hyatt or Marriott to make a trip to Hawaii super cheap. Check out the link in the show notes for more information on this deal.

Next up, Alaska Airlines has a new shopping portal bonus where you can earn up to 1,000 Mileage Plan miles. I don’t normally see shopping portal bonuses this close after the Christmas shopping season, so this is a pleasant surprise. If you have $150 or $300 you were already planning to spend in January, make sure to check out the Alaska Airlines shopping portal and score a few extra miles.

Sticking with Alaska Airlines, they’re currently offering up to 50% off Fiji Airways awards using your Alaska Airlines miles. This is for economy and business class travel over the next couple of months. A business class ticket that would normally cost 55,000 Mileage Plan miles is 40,000 miles during this sale. Economy tickets that are normally 40,000 miles one-way are 20,000. Smart travelers can set up these awards to give yourself a stopover in Fiji and also fold in someplace like Australia or New Zealand all on one ticket. That’s a crazy price for two awesome destinations. Economy class availability looks great, where business class availability is more scarce. As always, links in the show notes.

Hyatt appears to be getting a new luxury property in the Maldives. The Maldives are one of the most beautiful places in the world, which I still haven’t gotten to visit. Part of that is it’s a long trip, one that can take over 24 hours of combined flying and boats to get to your hotel room. Hyatt acquired a hotel brand called Alila recently. Alila has started construction on a new property in Maldives that should be open by the end of 2020.

Finally, Frequent Miler has details on a new benefit for many Chase cardholders. Chase is teaming up with DoorDash, the popular food delivery service. DoorDash charges a fee to the customer in many cases to deliver your meal. As part of this new partnership, Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve cardholders will get up to 2 years of free DashPass membership. Freedom and Slate cardholders will get 3 months of free membership.

DashPass waives the delivery fee for many, but not all restaurants on the DoorDash platform. For existing DoorDash customers, this is a great way to justify part or all of your annual fee for Chase credit card. It’s important to note that there are some rumors floating around about increases in the annual fees of some Chase credit cards, so you might need some extra savings to justify a higher fee in 2020. I’m sure we’ll have more news on that soon. And, as always, you can find out about it here on NowBoarding.

That’s a full wrap on today’s travel news. If you’ve got a piece of travel news that you think I should feature on NowBoarding, you can e-mail me at ed@pizzainmotion.com, or find me on social media, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. And, you can find me blogging daily at pizzainmotion.com.

Lastly, I need your help, for just a minute. Reviews and ratings are a huge part of what helps us reach a larger audience. So take a minute and help us out, leaving us a review and a rating wherever you get your podcasts. And, please tell a friend. That’s your travel news in 7 minutes or less. I hope you’ll join us again on a future flight!

500 Bonus Points Per Night at Hyatt And United Status Match

NowBoarding, your daily travel news in 7 minutes or less:


Don’t forget to check out the Miles To Go Podcast where we bring you the latest travel news, tips and tricks each week to help you save money and travel better.

 

Final Transcript

NowBoarding, your daily travel news in 7 minutes or less. This is your host, Ed Pizza, bringing you the latest travel deals and travel news you need to know Monday through Friday. Tune in daily so you don’t miss any of the best deals!

Look for links to all of today’s stories in the show notes on whatever podcast platform you’re listening. And, please share the show with a friend!

First up today is a new promotion from Hyatt that awards 500 bonus points per night when you stay at a new property. The definition of new is an interesting one, since properties like the new Grand Hyatt at SFO airport are on the list even though it’s been open a few months.

The great thing about this promotion is that it’s 500 points per night, not stay. And, it appears stackable with other Hyatt promotions, of which I’m hoping we’ll hear soon on a new systemwide promo. That could make for some interesting double stack opportunities.

I value Hyatt points at a higher rate than any other hotel chain’s points. 500 points is actually a meaningful bonus and can really add up on a longer stay. Consider that a category 1 redemption with Hyatt is only 5,000 points and you can earn a free night after just 10 nights at a new hotel. The award chart tops out at 40,000 points per night, which is a lot lower than the 100,000-ish you’ll find at Marriott and Hilton.

We’ll obviously update you here of any new promotions coming down the pike. That’s why it pays to give us a few minutes of your day.

Flying Blue is out with their monthly Promo Awards. These are for travel in March and April, key spring break season for family travelers. Unsurprisingly, that means the deals are not as good and there aren’t that many. However, if you live in Houston or Minneapolis, or can get to one of them cheaply, 50% off a premium economy award to Europe.

If you’re willing to pay cash instead of miles there’s a solid fare to Asia right now that also allows stopovers in great places like Tokyo. For under $2,000 a ticket you can fly in business class round-trip on Japan Airlines, who has a solid business class product. Depending on your routing, this fare can also earn you a ton of the elite-qualifying miles you need for status with American Airlines. I generally focus more on how I can use my miles to fly to faraway places. But, hitting a fare like this early in the year to get a head start on re-qualification of elite status plus getting to explore Asia on the cheap is awful tempting.

View From The Wing touches on a great deal for golfers and non-golfers alike, though it’s a much better deal for golfers. For $60 per month, you can get 2 free rounds of golf at any ClubCorp club nationwide as well as 2 free meals. I’ve known about ClubCorp for a while. Back when I was in the hotel industry I knew folks who worked there. They manage a couple hundred clubs across the country that any golfer would enjoy. If you travel, which is pretty likely if you’re listening to my podcast, this could be an incredible deal when you consider the price of greens fees at some clubs. As always, look for a link in the show notes for more info.

Lastly, we finish up with news that United Airlines has brought back their status match program for 2020. Even though elite status isn’t worth as much as it used to be, and costs a whole lot more, it’s still worth chasing for many business travelers. However, once you’re on the hamster wheel with one airline it’s hard to switch and start over, since you generally don’t have any perks with the new airline until you fly a whole bunch.

Status matches are a way to shortcut that process, since you generally get some benefits immediately and then have a set of requirements you need to hit within 90 days or so. United’s published version will allow you to match status up their Premier Platinum level. There are unpublished reports that they’ll match to their top-tier 1K status as well if you have Delta’s Diamond status or American Airlines’ Executive Platinum status.

If you’re matching to their Platinum status, they’ll even give you some PlusPoints when you finish off the 90-day qualification. PlusPoints is their new upgrade currency for elite members. You can use these points for short or long-haul flights, though 20 points won’t get you a ton, and you’re still reliant on United to open up upgrade space to use them.

Given the negative changes United has made, moving the goal posts even further away to achieve elite status, I’d be more likely to look for a status challenge somewhere else. But, the grass has a funny way of looking greener on those other airplanes.

That’s a full wrap on today’s travel news. If you’ve got a piece of travel news that you think I should feature on NowBoarding, you can e-mail me at ed@pizzainmotion.com, or find me on social media, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. And, you can find me blogging daily at pizzainmotion.com.

Lastly, I need your help, for just a minute. Reviews and ratings are a huge part of what helps us reach a larger audience. So take a minute and help us out, leaving us a review and a rating wherever you get your podcasts. And, please tell a friend. That’s your travel news in 7 minutes or less. I hope you’ll join us again on a future flight!

Japan Airlines 50,000 Ticket Giveaway!

NowBoarding, your daily travel news in 7 minutes or less:

Don’t forget to check out the Miles To Go Podcast where we bring you the latest travel news, tips and tricks each week to help you save money and travel better.

Full Transcript

NowBoarding, your daily travel news in 7 minutes or less. This is your host, Ed Pizza, bringing you the latest travel deals and travel news you need to know Monday through Friday. Tune in daily so you don’t miss any of the best deals!

Look for links to all of today’s stories in the show notes on whatever podcast platform you’re listening. And, please share the show with a friend!

First up is a really great opportunity for free airline travel within Japan. Japan Airlines is giving away 50,000 airline tickets for travel this summer, July through September. The giveaway starts in February. Since these tickets are totally free I expected demand to be very high. They’ll only be giving away a certain number of tickets per day. You need to be a resident of somewhere other than Japan and have a passport issued by another country. You’ll also need to sign-up for Japan Airlines’ loyalty program, JAL Mileage Bank.

Flights depart from Tokyo and Osaka. This makes it a total no-brainer to add on another city in Japan if Tokyo or Osaka were on your radar for summer travel. For families who need multiple tickets, the rules indicate you’ll be able to apply for multiple tickets at one times. This is an awesome promotion for families. Stay tuned for more details on the go-live date in late February of 2020.

Have you ever left something behind at a TSA checkpoint? I actually have. I stupidly left my suitcase behind one day and got a fair distance away from the checkpoint before realizing my mistake. Oddly, nobody had pulled my bag from the belt nor did anyone give me a second look when I came back into the secure area and grabbed it.

Anyway, TSA does have a lost and found. And, if you get on your flight and realize you left something behind, there is a way to get in touch with TSA lost and found to see if they have your lost item. You’ll be responsible for getting back to pick it up or paying for postage to ship it to you. A link to information on how to do socan be found in the show notes.

The New Year also signals new categories for earning 5% cash back on your Chase Freedom card. Pro tip here is that you can transfer your Chase Freedom points to a Chase Sapphire or Ink Business credit card to really maximize your travel. The Chase Freedom has no annual fee so it’s a great card to keep in your wallet for the 5% bonus categories, especially if you hold one of those other Chase card I mentioned.

5% categories are limited to $1,500 per quarter across all of the categories. The first quarter of 2020 features gas stations, internet, cable and phone services as well as select streaming services. You don’t need to do anything other than spend in these categories to earn 5X on your spending. For families and folks who don’t travel for a living, maxing out bonus categories like this on everyday spending is an absolute must.

While we’re discussing quarterly cash back categories, Discover’s 5% cash back categories are grocery stores as well as Walgreens and CVS. If you hold both the Chase Freedom and Discover, you’ve got 5% cash back on pretty much all your major categories in the first quarter of 2020.

Next up is news that authorities may have narrowed down the cause of a fatal Egyptair crash that occurred back in 2016. For a while, the stated reason for the crash was a bomb. The Middle East definitely has its share of conflicts, so the reasoning was plausible. However, new information points to maintenance lapses by the airline. Egypt Air doesn’t have the best safety record, so I can’t say this comes as a shock. It poses the question of whether I would book a flight on EgyptAir.

Air travel as an industry is incredibly safe. Fatalities for the most part continue to decrease industry-wide. However, there’s obviously increased risk flying an airline that has a reputation for not taking care of their planes. Your chances of a problem are obviously higher.

EgyptAir has a pretty robust hub in Cairo, serving plenty of destinations in Africa as well as Europe and a few destinations in the US. They’re a Star Alliance member as well. I’m curious how this affect your willingness to fly EgyptAir. With the recent article pointing to maintenance lapses, is that enough to keep you from flying the airline? Or, would it take proof that they’re shortcomings lead to the crash? Tweet me at Pizzainmotion to let me know your thoughts.

Our last story of the day is a new route announcement that’s right up my alley. LOT Polish Airlines has announced they’ll fly from Washington-Dulles to Warsaw nonstop starting this summer. The flight will be operated on a 787 3 times a week on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. LOT is a member of the Star Alliance, which means folks with United miles or Chase Ultimate Rewards points will have another way to get to Europe.

Because of Poland’s geographic location, this is also a great way to get to Eastern Europe. They have plenty of destinations around Europe as well as flights to Moscow, Beijing and Tokyo. There are two big keys here. First, new routes are always a great way to look for award inventory before flights get popular. And, this opens up more opportunities to get to Europe if you’re willing to bounce around a bit.

When our family goes to Europe, it’s pretty typical for us to arrive in one city and depart in another. We flew into Rome on a recent trip to spend some time in Sicily and ultimately ended up flying home from Vienna. A big part of that was because that’s where award inventory was. We found ultra-cheap flights within Europe along with a train ride and managed to see Sicily, Salzburg and Vienna all in one trip.

That’s a full wrap on today’s travel news. If you’ve got a piece of travel news that you think I should feature on NowBoarding, you can e-mail me at ed@pizzainmotion.com, or find me on social media, Twitter, Facebookand Instagram. And, you can find me blogging daily at pizzainmotion.com.

Lastly, I need your help, for just a minute. Reviews and ratings are a huge part of what helps us reach a larger audience. So take a minute and help us out, leaving us a review and a rating wherever you get your podcasts. And, please tell a friend. That’s your travel news in 7 minutes or less. I hope you’ll join us again on a future flight!

Discounted Business Class Award Flights to New Zealand!

NowBoarding, your daily travel news in 7 minutes or less:

 

Don’t forget to check out the Miles To Go Podcast where we bring you the latest travel news, tips and tricks each week to help you save money and travel better.

Full Transcript

NowBoarding, your daily travel news in 7 minutes or less. This is your host, Ed Pizza, bringing you the latest travel deals and travel news you need to know Monday through Friday. Tune in daily so you don’t miss any of the best deals!

Look for links to all of today’s stories in the show notes on whatever podcast platform you’re listening. And, please share the show with a friend!

First up is a really great deal on award tickets to New Zealand on American Airlines. Running With Miles tracked this one down, finding round-trip business class award flights as part of the AA web specials for 106,000 miles round-trip. That’s like half what I normally see these sorts of awards go for when you can find them. The key here is something we just discussed on NowBoarding, married segment logic.

You see, AA won’t make this available through LAX, their hub. Rather, it was found from Buffalo, connecting through Los Angeles. And, I was able to find 65,000 mile one-way flights to Auckland, New Zealand in January. Which, BTW is their summer season. No idea how long these will last, but jump on these if you’re thinking about it. Remember, AA still usually allows you to hold an award for up to 5 days. These are web specials, which means they carry more stringent rules for changing your itinerary.

I sure hope folks who always ask me about getting to Australia or New Zealand for cheap are listening today. Remember, if Australia is your desired destination, it’s just a couple hours flying from Auckland. We debated tacking on Auckland to our Australia trip this past summer when we went north to Port Douglas to see the Great Barrier Reef. Ultimately, we couldn’t find saver award inventory to make it happen. If I didn’t have conflicts around these dates, I’d have already booked a trip to Auckland.

It kinda kills me that articles like our next one need to be written, but next up is about how to search your Airbnb rental for hidden cameras. The same tips can apply for your hotel room. We reported on NowBoarding just a few weeks ago where a popular chain hotel discovered cameras in their hotel rooms. Maybe I’m biased, but I do think this is more likely to happen in an Airbnb. There’s just more time and control to do so in a private setting, but it’s definitely still possible in hotel rooms.

It’s a sad state that you need to consider ways to protect yourself from hidden cameras, but I consistently hear these stories. The majority are Airbnb or other such private rentals. Even if you don’t want to invest in gear to search your room, a simple flashlight test and some common sense can take 5 minutes and give you some peace of mind.

European carrier Germanwings has announced that they’re expecting a flight attendant strike over the New Years holiday. For now, it affects 30 planes, not all of parent Eurowings. But, it could spread and cause some real problems for holiday travels. If you have travel on Germanwings or Eurowings coming up, do yourself a favor and keep a close eye on the situation. Having a stash of points and miles toW handle last-minute emergencies is a solid plan for any traveler.

Based on a leaked memo, it looks like Amtrak is going to make some painful changes for value shoppers. Amtrak has some pretty decent sales from time to time, even though they eliminated a number of customer-friendly discount plans over the years.

The first of the two rumored changes seems the most painful to me. Saver fares are the cheapest fare bucket Amtrak sells. You may recall that the CEO of Amtrak is the old CEO of Delta, Richard Anderson. In this case, Richard is using a play from the airline playbook. If the leaked memo is true, Saver fares will no longer allow any refunds or changes. Currently, you can get a 75% credit if you need to cancel or change your trip. Allowing a similar 24 hours after booking to change, just like the airlines, after that if you need to cancel your travel your ticket will be worthless. That’s a pretty painful change.

Value fares, one step up from Saver fares, appear to inherit a 25% cancellation fee. Effectively, Value fares became what Saver fares used to be, costing customers more. I can understand the non-refundable aspect of these rumored changes. But, not even issuing a voucher for future travel seems pretty egregious here.

It’s true in many cases that a train ticket is less than an airline ticket. Still, I don’t think AMTRAK Is doing themselves any favors winning over customers.

I’m curious how people feel about this next story. Qatar Airways flew 4 new Boeing 787s empty on an almost 15,000 flight to Qatar and then back to the US to “deliver” these planes, even though they weren’t finished. They ended up back in the US for Qatar to have their own seats installed. However, because of paperwork, some combination of Qatar and Boeing decided it was better to take the long way.

There’s been some initial noise about the amount of fuel wasted. I wonder how long this will continue to raise people’s ire. Tweet me at pizzainmotionif you have an opinion about this one way or the other.

2 quick hits to close out today’s news. There’s an AMEX offer for $15 back if you spend $30 at Sam’s Club. If you’re a Sam’s Club member and have this offer in your AMEX account, this is an easy $15 in gift card cash, if nothing else. And, if you’ve had a Wyndham stay in the past couple of years, you might be entitled to $20 from a class action lawsuit. Check for links to both of these quick hits in the show notes.

And, as of this morning, it’s been pretty quiet on the miles and points front at the end of the year. I’m going to hang up the microphone for Tuesday and Wednesday unless something breaks. If everything stays quiet, I’ll see you folks again Thursday. Happy New Year!

That’s a full wrap on today’s travel news. If you’ve got a piece of travel news that you think I should feature on NowBoarding, you can e-mail me at ed@pizzainmotion.com, or find me on social media, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. And, you can find me blogging daily at pizzainmotion.com.

Lastly, I need your help, for just a minute. Reviews and ratings are a huge part of what helps us reach a larger audience. So take a minute and help us out, leaving us a review and a rating wherever you get your podcasts. And, please tell a friend. That’s your travel news in 7 minutes or less. I hope you’ll join us again on a future flight!

Time to Protect Your IHG Account & Spirit Airlines Improvements

NowBoarding!  Your daily travel news in 7 minutes or less:


Don’t forget to check out the Miles To Go Podcast where we bring you the latest travel news, tips and tricks each week to help you save money and travel better.

Full Transcript

NowBoarding, your daily travel news in 7 minutes or less. This is your host, Ed Pizza, bringing you the latest travel deals and travel news you need to know Monday through Friday. Tune in daily so you don’t miss any of the best deals!

Look for links to all of today’s stories in the show notes on whatever podcast platform you’re listening. And, please share the show with a friend!

We’ve got 6 stories to cover in today’s news, so let’s get started.

First up isn’t a focus on travel but it might put some money in your pocket. Miles to Memories has compiled a list of unclaimed property links for all 50 states. I searched for my wife and I and found at least one claim worth over $50. The state website doesn’t tell me exactly how much, but I’m likely to end up with a nice bit of cash for 15 minutes of work. It probably takes less than 5 minutes to search for your information and determine if you need to fill out a form to claim money that’s rightfully yours.

2020 looks like the year that Spirit Airlines grows up a little. The airline is poised to add Wi-Fi to their fleet (though that project is running behind). And, there are pictures of Spirit’s new interior they unveiled. It looks great, but we all know looks can be deceiving. The positive attributes we can confirm are larger tray tables and a wider middle seat. The Big Front Seat, one of the best values in travel, also gets added comfort. It might almost become cool to fly Spirit. Check out the show notes for a link to the images of their new cabin.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is the latest domestic US airport to open up secure areas to folks without a valid airline ticket. Seattle joins Detroit, Pittsburg and Tampa who already let people through security without a ticket to fly. Seattle will limit this to 100 individuals per day and you’ll need to register to do so. However, you can register same-day as long as a slot is available.

A handful of times a year I end up meeting my family at the airport on an incoming flight. Our frequent trips to Disney World have had me meet them at Orlando airport a number of times. Being able to meet my family at the gate is great, especially when I haven’t seen them in a few days. And, I wanted to take my son to see the Star Wars United Airlines plane at Dulles recently. I love seeing airports opening up just a bit.

IHG has finally decided to exit the 19th century when it announced recently that it would be doing away with 4-digit pins to protect your loyalty account. In today’s age of hacking, it wouldn’t take long at all for an experienced hacker to brute force your password if they knew your e-mail address. And, while travel programs are generally pretty good about putting back your points if they’re stolen, I wouldn’t want to test the theory.

You airline and hotel miles and points are money, pure and simple. If you’re protecting them with a 4-digit pin, you’re putting the balance at risk. You wouldn’t protect your bank account with a 4-digit pin, don’t do it with your points.

Monkey Miles details a valuable benefit of the American Express Platinum cardif you happen to be in the Los Angeles area. Sports fans have access to a private lounge where they can watch sporting events. You’ll still need a ticket to the event, but if you buy a cheap seat the AMEX Centurion lounge could be a nice upgrade along with some free snacks. Benefits like these, when applicable, help justify carrying a card in your wallet and paying the sometimes hefty annual fees.

We finish up today with news that London-Heathrow’s airport will be waiting a long time for their 3rd runway. That an airport as big as Heathrow still only has 2 runways always blows my mind. There are massive political fights on both sides of a 3rd runway at Heathrow. The folks in favor of a new runway aren’t winning the current battle amidst new reports that it will probably be another decade before a new runway opens at Heathrow. That likely means growth at other airports in the area like Gatwick. And, if air travel continues to grow, it may also mean you might want to avoid Heathrow in the future, choosing to connect somewhere else if London isn’t your final destination.

That’s a full wrap on today’s travel news. If you’ve got a piece of travel news that you think I should feature on NowBoarding, you can e-mail me at ed@pizzainmotion.com, or find me on social media, Twitter, Facebookand Instagram. And, you can find me blogging daily at pizzainmotion.com.

Lastly, I need your help, for just a minute. Reviews and ratings are a huge part of what helps us reach a larger audience. So take a minute and help us out, leaving us a review and a rating wherever you get your podcasts. And, please tell a friend. That’s your travel news in 7 minutes or less. I hope you’ll join us again on a future flight!

45K Mile One-Way Biz Class to Tokyo & New Awards to Tahiti

NowBoarding, your daily travel news in 7 minutes or less:


Don’t forget to check out the Miles To Go Podcast where we bring you the latest travel news, tips and tricks each week to help you save money and travel better.

Full Transcript

NowBoarding, your daily travel news in 7 minutes or less. This is your host, Ed Pizza, bringing you the latest travel deals and travel news you need to know Monday through Friday. Tune in daily so you don’t miss any of the best deals!

Look for links to all of today’s stories in the show notes on whatever podcast platform you’re listening. And, please share the show with a friend!

We’ve got 6 stories to cover in today’s news, so let’s get started.

First up is one that won’t last long. Zach over at Monkey Miles found 45,000 mile one-way flights in business class on American Airlines. His initial report was that the flights had to originate in Dallas and connect through LAX. However, I also found the same deal for flights originating from my home airport of Washington-Dulles. As Zach points out, these flights are normally 60,000 miles one-way at the saver level when you can find them. You’re more likely to spend something like 100,000, though. 45,000 is a steal for business class for certain dates in January and February if you have some flexibility.

Sticking with American Airlines, their AAdvantage program is now offering premium economy options on Air Tahiti Nui. In my opinion, this is a pretty big deal for a couple of reasons. First, premium economy is a nice middle-of-the-road option for the long, but not terribly long, flight to Tahiti from Los Angeles. 65,000 miles is certainly more than the 40,000 required for economy but a decent amount less than the 80,000 miles required one-way in business class.

The second reason I really like this is for families. If you’re trying to score 4 comfortable seats to Tahiti, you can get there with 260,000 AAdvantage miles one-way in premium economy versus 320,000 in business class. That’s a pretty hefty difference for a family vacation.

Seems like a oneworld theme today, as British Airways is adding another US destinationthat should be useful for West Coast folks looking to score award flights to Europe. Portland, Oregon is the latest destination, which will be served 5 days a week on a 787. I love the 787 for long-haul flights. The humidification and lower altitude affects onboard make long-haul travel easier. New routes are also a great place to find award availability before demand heats up.

The flight to London leaves a touch on the early side at 6:45pm. That leaves a couple of hours to eat and relax before getting roughly 6 hours of sleep. That’s not too horrible, though I always prefer to walk onto a redeye at bedtime and go right to sleep. On the way back, it’s a 3:05pm departure which should allow a decent amount of connections from elsewhere in Europe. It lands at around 5pm in Portland, which also leaves time for onward connections.

British Airways does have some nasty surcharges on award tickets, especially when departing from London in a premium cabin (as you’ll tack on the UK departure fees as well). You can ticket through AA for lower fees, with business class weighing in at 57,500 miles one-way for a saver award when you can find it.

Marriott is discontinuing a trick that allowed some folks to earn elite status on the cheap. They used to allow you to book an event at a hotel to earn 10 elite night credits. This could be as simple as renting a meeting room at your local Fairfield Inn. However, word is that this trick is officially going away in 2020. Marriott status isn’t as valuable to me as SPG status was for many years. The elimination of this loophole also makes that status harder to achieve.

Doctor of Credit has an update on American Airlines’ new SimplyMiles program. This is a program similar to AmexOffers, where you get offers in your Mastercard account to earn bonus miles. It turns out that some folks are getting targeted offers to earn 5 bonus miles per dollar spent, which is a pretty solid deal. Check your e-mail to see if you’re targeted.

That’s a full wrap on today’s travel news. If you’ve got a piece of travel news that you think I should feature on NowBoarding, you can e-mail me at ed@pizzainmotion.com, or find me on social media, Twitter, Facebookand Instagram. And, you can find me blogging daily at pizzainmotion.com.

Lastly, I need your help, for just a minute. Reviews and ratings are a huge part of what helps us reach a larger audience. So take a minute and help us out, leaving us a review and a rating wherever you get your podcasts. And, please tell a friend. That’s your travel news in 7 minutes or less. I hope you’ll join us again on a future flight!

Half-Price Awards to Hawaii & Free Megabus Tickets!

NowBoarding, your daily travel news in 7 minutes or less:


Don’t forget to check out the Miles To Go Podcast where we bring you the latest travel news, tips and tricks each week to help you save money and travel better.

 

Full Transcript

NowBoarding, your daily travel news in 7 minutes or less. This is your host, Ed Pizza, bringing you the latest travel deals and travel news you need to know Monday through Friday. Tune in daily so you don’t miss any of the best deals!

Look for links to all of today’s stories in the show notes on whatever podcast platform you’re listening. And, please share the show with a friend!

We’ve got 6 stories to cover in today’s news, so let’s get started.

First up is a great piece about how to find 8,000 mile awards on Star Alliance flights with your United miles. Deals like this can represent a phenomenal value for your miles. We’ve used these short-haul award in Europe to position between cities frequently on family vacations.

The best way to hunt for these, in my opinion, is to start with the hubs of partner airlines. Back when AirBerlin was still an airline, we used cheap awards from American Airlines to get us from Catania, Sicily to Salzburg.

United has some fabulous , and well located partners in Europe. Lufthansa has hubs centrally located in Frankfurt and Munich. Aegean has Athens. Austrian has Vienna. Throw in Warsaw and Lisbon and you can cover a good chunk of Europe from these hubs. The key to the 8,000 mile awards are that the flights need to be 800 miles or shorter.

The big value here is closing what we call an “open jaw”. Since the vast majority of awards are sold as one-way tickets, we will frequently plan a trip like Washington-Dulles (our home airport) to Rome, then home from Vienna to Dulles. We might go North or South from Rome, but at some point we’d need to get to Vienna. The train network and short-haul awards like this are the best way to get it done.

This article by Miles to Memories walks through some good strategies about how to start looking for flights like these on your own.

Next up is a deal that you should jump on since I doubt it will last long. American Airlines currently has web specials for first class flights to Hawaii for 28,000 miles one-way. That’s essentially half the price of a normal first class award to Hawaii. These flights are available from popular cities like Boston, Chicago, New York, Washington-Dulles, Los Angeles and Houston. I still haven’t been to Hawaii and I’m really tempted to book these.

AA web specials are exactly what they sound like, usually really solid deals that you can only book via the AA website. There are also restrictions on these awards when it comes to changing or canceling.

Now through January 2nd, TopCashBack, a popular cashback platform, has increased a number of payouts for popular merchants. Amazon is bumped up from 2% to 3%, Gap, Nike and Petco from 5 to 10%, Target from 3% to 4% and Walmart from 1 to 2%.

It seems like we’re talking an awful lot about bus service this week. Yesterday we had 99 cent fares from FlixBus. Today, we’re looking at Megabus giving away 200,000 seats for free. These are for travel in January and February of 2020. And, it’s a scavenger hunt to find the seats. Search their website to find the free seats for your dates and routes. I’m not a huge bus guy, but I think promotions like this are a lot of fun for folks looking to save money.

We’ve got another article from Miles to Memories. It’s an easy $15 from Amazon when you sign up for Amazon Photos. You’ll need to upload at least one photo to activate your account, and that should be all it takes to earn $15 in free Amazon cash.

And, we finish up the news today with Hawaiian Airlines new service between Las Vegas and Maui. Hawaiian already flies between Las Vegas and Honolulu 3 times per week. Now, they’re adding 3 flights a week between Maui and Vegas on their new A321neo aircraft. I’d be more excited for this new route if it was getting one of the A330 with the new lie-flat business class product. Still, the new A321neo seems to come with 39 inches of pitch in their first class seat, which is a couple more inches of space than most of the first class seats on other domestic carriers like United and American.

The extra capacity to Hawaii is great and should continue to hold down pricing. The departure time from Las Vegas is great for a day at the beach, landing at 11am. However, the flight back is painful, landing in Las Vegas at 4:30am. But, if there’s one city that’s awake at that time, it’s Las Vegas.

That’s a full wrap on today’s travel news. If you’ve got a piece of travel news that you think I should feature on NowBoarding, you can e-mail me at ed@pizzainmotion.com, or find me on social media, Twitter, Facebookand Instagram. And, you can find me blogging daily at pizzainmotion.com.

Lastly, I need your help, for just a minute. Reviews and ratings are a huge part of what helps us reach a larger audience. So take a minute and help us out, leaving us a review and a rating wherever you get your podcasts. And, please tell a friend. That’s your travel news in 7 minutes or less. I hope you’ll join us again on a future flight!

Earn Bonus Miles On All Last-Minute Shopping & NYC-DC For $1

NowBoarding!  Your daily travel news in 7 minutes or less:


Don’t forget to check out the Miles To Go Podcast where we bring you the latest travel news, tips and tricks each week to help you save money and travel better.

Full Transcript

NowBoarding, your daily travel news in 7 minutes or less. This is your host, Ed Pizza, bringing you the latest travel deals and travel news you need to know Monday through Friday.  Tune in daily so you don’t miss any of the best deals!

Look for links to all of today’s stories in the show notes on whatever podcast platform you’re listening.  And, please share the show with a friend!

We’ve got 6 stories to cover in today’s news, so let’s get started.

First up, Hilton has announced their first promotion of 2020.  It starts the day after their current one ends, which is great for road warriors.  The promotion itself isn’t quite as valuable as some of their recent promotions.  You’ll earn 2000 points for every stay and you’ll earn 10,000 points for every 10 nights.  Hilton’s points don’t stretch as far as chains like Hyatt or even Marriott, so they sort of need to run promotions like this to be offering good value to their members.

This promotion is perfect for folks who have very short stays.  If you’re a salesperson hopping from city to city on a daily basis, this one can make you a ton of extra points.  It feels like there’s some sort of Hilton property in just about every city across the US.  As always with promotions, make sure you register ahead of time so you don’t forget to do it later.  You’ll find a link in the show notes.

You know, while we’re talking about hotel promotions, I wonder what folks are planing for hotel status this year.  Which chain are you planning to patronize in 2020?  Look for a Twitter poll or tweet me your thoughts @pizzainmotion.

Don’t expect to see much visible holiday cheer if you’re flying United Airlines this holiday season.  The airline and their fight attendant’s union have messaged to flight attendants that Santa hats, festive aprons, reindeer ears and most other overt shows of holiday cheer.

If you’re still shopping for last-minute gifts, I’ve got three articles for you to look over.  God Save the Points has a number of travel-related itemsthat you can still purchase in time to squeeze under the Christmas tree.  And, if you’re looking for something simpler, Miles to Memories has a whole stack of gift card deals.  Uber, Grubhub, Cheesecake Factory, AT&T, Lowe’s all have gift cards on sale.  Costco is still having a last-minute toy sale and Office Depot has discounts on themed gift cards you can redeem at multiple locations.

And, wrapping up the holiday shopping theme, there are some last-minute shopping portal bonuses.  I’ve seen plenty of individual merchants offering extra miles in the holiday shopping season.  But, United, American and Alaska Airlines all have easy offers for cumulative spendingwith any merchant on their shopping portals.

If you’re not familiar with shopping portals, there are literally hundreds of merchants you probably already buy from on these portals.  Petco, Gap, Office Depot, Magazine Subscriptions, Macy’s, Under Armour, Apple.  Heck, my sister bought tires and an engine for her boat through a shopping portal.  If you have holiday shopping left and you’re not earning bonus miles, you’re doing it wrong.

Wrapping up today, If you’re looking to travel ultra cheaply and you don’t mind the bus, FlixBus is currently running a promotion offering 99 Cent ticketsbetween popular destinations like New York and DC for LA and San Francisco.  I’m not much of a bus guy, but if budget is the goal, FlixBus is your solution at the moment.

That’s a full wrap on today’s travel news. If you’ve got a piece of travel news that you think I should feature on NowBoarding, you can e-mail me at ed@pizzainmotion.com, or find me on social media, Twitter, Facebookand Instagram. And, you can find me blogging daily at pizzainmotion.com.

Lastly, I need your help, for just a minute. Reviews and ratings are a huge part of what helps us reach a larger audience. So take a minute and help us out, leaving us a review and a rating wherever you get your podcasts. And, please tell a friend. That’s your travel news in 7 minutes or less. I hope you’ll join us again on a future flight!

Easy $10 Free Starbucks Cash & Hidden Cameras In Hotel Rooms

NowBoarding!  Your travel news in 7 minutes or less:

Don’t forget to check out the Miles To Go Podcast where we bring you the latest travel news, tips and tricks each week to help you save money and travel better.

Full Transcript

NowBoarding, your daily travel news in 7 minutes or less. This is your host, Ed Pizza, bringing you the latest travel deals and travel news you need to know Monday through Friday. Tune in daily so you don’t miss any of the best deals!

Look for links to all of today’s stories in the show notes on whatever podcast platform you’re listening. And, please share the show with a friend!

We’ve got 6 stories to cover in today’s news, so let’s get started.

First up is an easy $10 in free Starbucks. Miles to Memories reports on an easy sale. Buy a $10 Starbucks gift card and get a free $10 Starbucks gift card. This one isn’t bound to last long, so all of you caffeine drinkers should jump on this.

Next up is a disturbing story of hidden cameras at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis. Honestly, this is one of the fears I have with Airbnb and similar home sharing services. It’s not something I expect to find in a mainstream hotel chain. There’s little information so far about how many devices were found. I’ll be curious to see if there are updates on the story.

The hotel will definitely want to do everything to quell the story. More important here is understanding that this is not a random occurrence in hotels. Bad actors will continue to do things like this and reputable hotels will have an action plan on how to combat it.

There are huge changes to the Korean Air SkyPass program. It’s not a program I would normally follow, but it does have some uses. I’m including the note today in case you do have some points left over from a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer. You have a bit over a year to figure out what to do with them, which is really the only positive news here.

American Airlines is the latest program to crack down on folksthey believe are abusing their loyally program. Reports are that the airline is shutting down the accounts of folks who have been playing fast and loose with the rules. As with previous reports about American Express and Chase doing the same thing, it’s unclear just how fast and how loose these folks were playing it. There are some pretty benign reports about folks applying for a card when they received an offer in the mail targeted to them. I’ll be a keeping an eye on this, along with all the other shutdown announcements recently.

In the end, the best thing you can do is play by the rules. The credit card companies, along with the airlines and hotels, don’t have to let you participate in their loyalty programs. And, if they cancel your account, your points or miles are usually gone with no way to appeal for them to be reinstated.

We’ve got a twin pack of articles from God Save the Points to close out the news today. First up is a piece on whether you should visit Barcelona or Madrid. Gilbert’s answer is the same as mine, both! These are two great cities, for some of the same as well as different reasons. If you’re thinking about going to Spain, this article should be on your radar to help inform your decisions.

We finish up today with Gilbert’s breakdown of Google Hotels. I haven’t spent a ton of time playing with Google Hotels yet, but he’s really bullish on the functionality. Google Flights is a great resource for folks looking to plan travel, especially if you’re not 100% sure what you want to do. Google is applying the same methodology to hotel bookings. You can target wide geographic areas, price ranges and quality ranking of hotels individually or as a group of criteria. After reading this article, I definitely want to play around with the alert functionality. There are some great places I’d consider visiting if the price was right. Google Hotels may be just what the doctor ordered for that.

That’s a full wrap on today’s travel news. If you’ve got a piece of travel news that you think I should feature on NowBoarding, you can e-mail me at ed@pizzainmotion.com, or find me on social media, Twitter, Facebookand Instagram. And, you can find me blogging daily at pizzainmotion.com.

Lastly, I need your help, for just a minute. Reviews and ratings are a huge part of what helps us reach a larger audience. So take a minute and help us out, leaving us a review and a rating wherever you get your podcasts. And, please tell a friend. That’s your travel news in 7 minutes or less. I hope you’ll join us again on a future flight!

 

American Airlines Changes Status Requirements

NowBoarding!  Your travel news in 7 minutes or less:


Don’t forget to check out the Miles To Go Podcast where we bring you the latest travel news, tips and tricks each week to help you save money and travel better.

Full Transcript

NowBoarding, your daily travel news in 7 minutes or less. This is your host, Ed Pizza, bringing you the latest travel deals and travel news you need to know Monday through Friday. Tune in daily so you don’t miss any of the best deals!

Look for links to all of today’s stories in the show notes on whatever podcast platform you’re listening. And, please share the show with a friend!

First up is a report that American Airlines will allow members to buy elite status in 2020. Right now you have to be targeted for the offer and it’s unclear how widely targeted it is. But, View From The Wing has at least two different examples of the qualification levels.

At first blush, we’re looking at $5,000 in Elite Qualifying Dollars for Gold status, $10,000 for Platinum, $15,000 for Platinum Pro and $24,000 for Executive Platinum. Virtually all AA fares earn one EQD per dollar spent, expect for Basic Economy which earns half that.

I’d love to hear your opinion on these American Airlines changes. Are you excited about being able to achieve status just from spending? Worried that you’ll be fighting with even more people Hit me up Twitter or Facebook A

Next, we’re talking about 23:59. As God Save the Points says, the airline rule that allows you to stopover in a particular city for up to a day, is a perfect time for a short visit to a destination. Airlines will generally allow a connection that long on virtually any fare, which is a good excuse for a quick stop somewhere new, or a favorite you haven’t visited in a while.

Another thing to consider here are airlines for destinations that have dedicated stopover programs. Many flights to Iceland allow multiple day stopovers. And, TAP Portugal allows up to five nights in Lisbon or Porto, two lovely cities. Make the most of your next trip and build in a stopover someplace awesome.

One Mile at a Time walks us through the rules around transferring Marriott Bonvoy points between accounts. You can transfer 100,000 points to another account each year. I had no idea you could receive up to 500,000 points each year. This can be helpful if you have just a handful of points in a spouse or family member account and don’t want them to go to waste.

If you’re really close to qualifying for JetBlue Mosaic status this year, you don’t have to worry about falling short or having to hop on a plane to earn those last few points. Status point purchases start as low as $45, which can be a lot cheaper and quicker than hopping on an airplane.

If JetBlue is willing to sell you points in an increment as small as 250 points, it’s probably a really good indication that they aren’t likely to give you an exception if you miss by an amount that small. If status is important to you, you probably don’t want to leave it to chance.

Finally, according to Miles to Memories, Samsung Pay has a ton of discounted gift cards right now. I don’t have any Samsung devices to check that these are still available, but the report is that you’ll find 20% discounts at places like Staples, REI and Legal Seafood (yum, one of my favorite seafood restaurants). There’s also 10% discounts on Lowe’s, Uber and Hotels.com.

That’s a full wrap on today’s travel news. If you’ve got a piece of travel news that you think I should feature on NowBoarding, you can e-mail me at ed@pizzainmotion.com, or find me on social media, Twitter, Facebookand Instagram. And, you can find me blogging daily at pizzainmotion.com.

Lastly, I need your help, for just a minute. Reviews and ratings are a huge part of what helps us reach a larger audience. So take a minute and help us out, leaving us a review and a rating wherever you get your podcasts. And, please tell a friend. That’s your travel news in 7 minutes or less. I hope you’ll join us again on a future flight!

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