Back in April I wrote that Elephant Jumps Thai restaurant in Northern Virginia is cooking at a whole different level (and implored that you should go now).

While I thought it was really good four years ago, it was more or less just at the top tier of Thai restaurants.

But it started getting even better 18 months ago.

And since then my meals there have helped me understand the difference between a good restaurant and a great one and what makes a restaurant really worth going back to.

They don’t just reproduce the same thing, day in and day out. They strive to do better. They research. They experiment. They innovative.

In other words, (1) they have a personality, and (2) they improve.

When I go into Elephant Jumps, my strategy is – in descending order:

  • To inquire what they’re experimenting with that’s not listed on the specials board. If they’re making something for themselves, and they’re proud enough to share it (and they’ve made enough), that’s what I want to try.
  • To try something on the specials board. At some restaurants ‘specials’ are just what they’ve ordered too much of and need to get rid of. But if specials are things they don’t usually offer, they may be truly worth it — what they’re experimenting with, something really good but too ingredients-intensive or effort-intensive to offer on a regular basis.
  • Consider something from their ‘authentic’ Thai menu, a double sided sheet that accompanies the menu.
  • Every so often to go back to one of the ‘staple’ items on the menu.

At a restaurant where they can really cook, especially an ethnic restaurant, it can be a good strategy to ask the waiter what is best at the restaurant. Not what you should order (they don’t know you, and may suggest what most people order)… but what is actually the best. What they would want their parents or grandparents to eat if they wanted them to be proud.

At Elephant Jumps you can just ask “for dishes that Gary Leff would eat” as a shorthand.

On my last two visits I’ve had things mostly off the specials board.

I’m a huge fan of nam prik ong, a Northern Thai chili, and it’s not something they usually have.

They make an amazing banana leaf salad.

They’ve been doing a pumpkin curry as well.

Here’s where I’ll lose many people, I’m a big fan of dishes wish the flavor of fish paste or shrimp paste. So a whole fish, a sauce with shrimp paste as a base, and vegetables fried couldn’t make me any happier!

Brown sticky rice and taro root in coconut milk, chilled with ice. It’s in the same family as one of my favorite desserts bua loy.

To be sure, there’s something to be said for consistency. There’s something to be said for the comfort of knowing what dishes a restaurant will produce, reliably, every time you go.

But if I had one wish it’s for more restaurants and chefs to unleash their creativity, to experiment with things and when they think they’ve hit on something that they can move beyond lunch for themselves or the kitchen staff, share it with the customers.


Frequent Traveler University, December 3-5, Hyatt Regency Crystal City (near Washington’s National Airport)

I wanted to share an update on the lineup for December’s Frequent Traveler University.

Chris Guillebeau, host of the annual World Domination Summit who shared his story completing his question to visit every country in the world at Frequent Traveler University last April, had his book on quests debut at number 3 on the New York Times best seller list. He combined travel acumen with a passion for life and experiences.

Nomadic Matt will help round out the presentations, Frequent Traveler University isn’t just about earning the most points so you can use them for luxury travel, Matt is one of the really knowledgeable people about how to stretch your dollars when you travel, getting the best deals on everything.

And we’ll get an insider’s view of what airline executives really think about frequent flyer programs, and why they always claim devaluations are ‘enhancements’ — the behind the scenes things that guide airlines in the way they message to you — from USA Today‘s Ben Mutzabaugh.

The event is compelling enough that travel personalities like JohnnyJet are planning to attend, just to be there. And that’s before I confirm one other really special surprise..

And that’s on top of already-confirmed speakers like:

  • Ben Schlappig, One Mile at a Time
  • Greg Davis-Kean, Frequent Miler
  • Stefan Krasowski, Rapid Travel Chai
  • Scott Mackenzie, Hack my trip
  • Daraius Dubash, Million Mile Secrets
  • Summer Hull, Mommy Points
  • Ed Pizzarello, Pizza in motion
  • Matthew Klint, Live and Let’s Fly
  • The Miles Professor
  • Randy Petersen, founder of Flyertalk, MIlepoint, and BoardingArea
  • Hans Mast, expert on earning hundreds of thousands of miles a month while buying and selling online at a profit.

Truly a can’t-miss event and promises to be the best Frequent Traveler University ever! The room block is filling up, so I’d suggest signing up now…

Frequent Traveler University

Related:


A question I got yesterday in the comments prompted me to put together a post explaining how airline credit cards work — how co-brand credit card deals get put together by banks, airline or hotel company, and payment network like Visa or MasterCard. (With American Express, the card issuer and payment network is usually the same.)

I thought some readers would find it interesting to discuss a bit about ‘how the sausage gets made’ and what that means for which banks will issue which cards for which airlines and hotels going forward.

Reader Win asks,

@Gary, how are co-branded card perks determined and paid for, and what do you think might happen in the American Airlines card space, considering the legacy vs. primary issuers, the merger, etc.?

How Airline Credit Cards Work: it’s Big Business

The process of giving birth to a co-brand credit card — your United Visa, Delta American Express, Hyatt Visa, etc. — is a complicated one.

There’s tremendous money at stake. Remember that banks are the largest buyer of frequent flyer miles. 2/3rds of American AAdvantage miles are awarded by partners rather than by the airline for flying for instance. And banks are the biggest customers.

The major airlines as well each got between $500 million and a billion dollars of cash during rough times in the industry, in exchange for the pre-purchase of miles. Big money.
Keep reading for the secret sauce behind the airline and hotel credit card deals that find their way into your wallet!

News and notes from around the interweb:


At the beginning of the month I spoke with American AAdvantage President Suzanne Rubin and Cadillac’s Chief Marketing Officer Uwe Ellinghaus about the new marketing tie up between the two companies.

American launched Cadillac tarmac transfers for their top ‘Concierge Key’ customers making tight connections at certain airports. And they shared that a promotion was coming, offering 7500 American miles for test driving a Cadillac.

I noted at the time that,

Suzanne said that the offer would last about two months, but both she and Ellinghaus said they were going to evaluate how the promotion worked in deciding when it might end and whether to continue it.

The promotion first went live on October 15.

As of yesterday, the promotion has closed.

Thanks for your interest. The Cadillac test drive program is now closed.

The program may be closed, but you can still experience the exceptional Cadillac lineup.

That’s about 9 days. Something didn’t go according to plan..

Here are some possible scenarios:

  1. The promotion was oversubscribed. Cadillac budgeted a certain amount for the promotion, wildly underestimating the demand for mileage-induced test drives. They spent their marketing budget much more quickly than planned.
  2. The promotion wasn’t quite ready for prime time. When it first launched, telephone hold times to schedule a test drive were running over an hour. It’s possible that Cadillac wasn’t providing the service foot forward that they wanted to and didn’t want to spend money to market a poor test drive experience. Note that this could be related to #1.
  3. They didn’t sell very many cars. Lots of test drives but much lower conversion than anticipated. They modeled that a certain number of people on the lot would translate to a predictable number of sales, but actual sales were so far below projection that the marketing spend didn’t make sense for the company.

Of course it could be something else entirely, and I reached out to American to ask, but I don’t expect they’ll comment on the business strategy decisions that their partners have made. So we may not know exactly why this ended after 9 days. I’m pretty sure, though, that it wasn’t expected to be so short-lived.


You’ve been sharing your feedback (good and bad!) with me — as well as your questions, insights, and wisdom — for a very long time.

Nearly 150,000 times.

And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for that. You’ve posted many more times to this blog than I have, and I appreciate the chance I have to interact with you… here in the comments, in person at events or when we run into each other during our travels, and by email.

I appreciate you more than you’ll ever know. You’ve helped keep me going for the past twelve and a half years.

And for any of you that are interested, I’ll guess that I will write my 10,000th post sometime in late January or early February.


Air Canada announced changes to elite benefits for 2015.

Put another way, Air Canada has shown us what you do when you think that your customers are the problem.

I’m not an Air Canada elite member. Air Canada, the airline, runs their elite program while Aeroplan — a separate public company — is the mileage program. I have more than my share of Aeroplan points, and I figure those have already been devalued enough with award chart changes and the imposition of fuel surcharges that those are hopefully safe.

But I’m glad today that I’m not an elite member with the airline. Here’s what they’ve done:

  • Half of miles or segments for qualification will have to actually be on Air Canada. So much for partners and alliances. It’s become more common to require some flight activity with an airline to become an elite with that airline, such as a four segment requirement. But roughly half of all miles will have to be on Air Canada to qualify for status with them going forward.

  • No more 500 mile minimums effective March 1. US Airways tried to get rid of these and then brought them back for elites, even awarding the miles retroactively. Awarding fewer miles saves the airline money, but it’s interesting because it’s almost the opposite of a revenue-based program. They’re reducing mileage-earning on flights where the cost per mile of tickets tend to be the highest.
  • Upgrades are getting more expensive. Air Canada is increasing the number of eUpgrade certificates they’re going to require for many flights, by as much as 50%. That means upgrades don’t go as far, and members can’t upgrade as often. Super Elite 100,000 mile flyers, though, will be able to use these eUpgrades that no longer go as far to upgrade more people more flexibly.
  • 35,000 mile flyers no longer get Star Alliance and Air Canada international lounge access. This status level used to just be Star Alliance Gold and get lounge access as a result. This became a benefit choice members could make. Now that’s being taken away, with lounge access provided to them only for Canadian domestic and transborder lounges, and Air Canada’s lounges at New York LaGuardia and Los Angeles. In the more black coal department, these members will get to select a benefit choice of a 50% discount on purchasing this lounge access.
  • Top tier elites will pay award change fees. Seriously, new fees for their best customers.
  • Limitations on extra award space for elites. Top tier elites used to not even face capacity controls, if there was an open seat even in business class on an Air Canada flight they could have it on miles at the saver level. Of course that’s long gone..

Rarely are sort of announcements like these all bad. Usually a program will throw members a bone so they can point to the positive. When United devalued its award chart in 2006 they promised that there would be awards on every single flight, the implication was that price changes would make awards more available (even though this wasn’t really true).

Unsurprisingly, Air Canada has a few things to offer.
Keep reading to find out what Air Canada considers ‘good news’ to look like for frequent flyers..

S. passes along an article about CipherCracks, an individual online selling stolen miles dirt cheap.

Dark net marketplaces like Agora and Evolution (where CipherCracks plies his trade) are known mostly for selling drugs, guns and counterfeit money. You can also find bomb materials, porn and hacked credit cards. But CipherCracks is proof that there are also more mundane things for sale on these illicit sites, which attract sellers who want to remain anonymous.

The piece says he deals in “SouthWest, Delta, American, and United” although here’s his ad on reddit for Hilton HHonors points where he notes that American miles are ‘temporarily unavailable’ (perhaps their fraud detection got too good).

Apparently this guy sells points from hacked Gamestop accounts, too. And porn.

Here’s How it Works

What’s being sold are airline accounts that have been “load[ed up] with stolen miles from other people’s frequent flier accounts.” Buyers get the account’s user name and password, and are advised to use the miles for gift cards mostly and not for airfare.

If you buy airline tickets with the stolen miles, you give your real name and you’re usually redeeming for something in the future, which means your redemption may be cancelled. And you may get caught. And they know exactly where you will be, boarding a specific flight at a specific airport at a specific time.

When Priority Club (now IHG Rewards Club) had a glitch that allowed members to mine almost an unlimited number of points for their accounts via web scripts, those who made out the best before getting their accounts shut down redeemed the points instantly — for electronic gift cards, that were then used immediately for merchandise. Naturally those making hotel bookings in the future with their points had those reservations cancelled. Even those using the points to book airline tickets had the tickets cancelled.

Here’s How Cheap the Miles Are, But..

Selling miles through brokers, a practice I recommend against, you may get about a a penny a point for your miles. These are legitimately your miles you’re giving access to.

In contrast, stolen miles scams value miles at much less — perhaps as little as 1/25th of a cent per mile.

CipherCracks sells 750,000 miles for just $300. Shoppers get a drop-down menu and can buy between 50,000 and 1 million miles, and pay in bitcoin.

Despite the low low prices, don’t expect to be able to arbitrage between buying stolen miles on the darknet and selling them to brokers. As the article mentions, brokers are loathe to touch these miles since it’s too risky, brokers don’t want the increased risk of having their flying clients’ tickets cancelled. The miles just aren’t worth enough to them.

Anyway, this exists.

Related:


The Wall Street Journal ran a piece suggesting you can’t trust online shopping for airfare and for other goods, because sites may charge you more or less based on who you are.

A new study of top e-commerce websites found these practices—called discriminatory pricing or price steering—are much more widespread than was previously understood.

Here’s what the Journal reports regarding hotel price discrimination at some of the big online travel booking sites:

Among the study’s findings: Travel-booking sites Cheaptickets and Orbitz charged some users searching hotel rates an average $12 more per night if they weren’t logged into the sites, and Travelocity charged users of Apple Inc. ’s iOS mobile operating system $15 less for hotels than other users.

…And Expedia and Hotels.com steer users at random to pricier products, the study said.

These sites are operating with big data and crude models, but they’re testing theories of what different consumers want so they can provide consumers with the easiest and quickest buying experience.

The worst thing for an online booking site to do is present the wrong thing to a consumer, what the consumer doesn’t want, because the consumer will leave and buy somewhere else.

As I pointed out in the regulatory comment I filed with the DOT regarding their pending airfare price transparency rules, it’s not necessary to make every online booking site one-stop shopping for all information because consumers visit on average about ten sites per trip that they book.

When basic trips migrated from brick and mortar travel agencies to the web, inefficent costs were squeezed out of the system. Consumers got more control over their trips. But the craft advice an agent could provide was lost. Travel is complex and booking sites are pushing towards a next generation of online booking, mass customization, where the site learns what you’re most likely to want and guides you to the best fit.

One early attempt at this caused a stir two and a half years ago when it was revealed that Mac users were being presented with more expensive hotels by Orbitz. The idea here isn’t new. Their data suggested that Mac users tended to choose somewhat pricier accommodations on average than PC users. So Orbitz was trying to recommend hotels these consumers wold be more likely to choose, so they wouldn’t leave the site and book somewhere else.

Now, sometimes elite members of a program can be hoodwinked into not checking prices and will wind up paying more but that’s virtually a non-issue for OTAs. And on average consumers are checking a ton of sites, an OTA would be foolish to price uncompetitively.

They’re testing, and learning, and trying to get better. They’re not trying to squeeze an extra $12 out of a hotel hoping that consumers won’t notice. Nonetheless, it’s wise to follow the average consumer in this case and also comparison shop prior to booking.

(HT: Hack My Trip)


Last night I shared a rare find, that Lufthansa first class award space for 2 passengers at a time is available far in advance even when booking using miles from one of their partner airline programs like United, Singapore, Aeroplan, or ANA.

Between mid-January and the end of March more flights between Denver and Frankfurt have this space than do not.

That’s a great opportunity, but maybe you like I don’t have a need to book a Europe trip presently. Consider extending this trip and just routing to Asia via the Atlantic. That means you can combine Lufthansa first class award space with first class on Asian airlines, try out first class on some combination of Thai Airways, Asiana, and Air China — not just Lufthansa.
Here’s Where the First Class Award Seats Are and What Can Be Combined..

If you’re looking for the cheapest day to buy tickets, you want to read How and When to Find the Cheapest Airfares.

What you don’t want to do is believe the ARC study that says Sundays are the cheapest day to buy airfare.

I was actually expecting that the Airlines Reporting Corporation, which has tons of real data to parse through, would actually offer a useful data-driven answer to “what’s the cheapest day to buy airline tickets” as though that were really a thing.

The problem is that their data set is actual ticket purchases and not airfares. So they’re capturing the average price of tickets purchased on a given day of the week, not the cheapest day to buy tickets.

The reason why there is a difference is because different kinds of tickets are purchased on different days of the week.

It’s really quite simple: very few price insensitive business traveler airfare purchases are made on the weekend. So the sample bias is that on the weekend you have a disproportionate number of price sensitive leisure ticket purchases, while business traveler ticket purchases show up more in the weekday data.

The Aviation Biz Blog shows the study’s airfare by day of week chart.

Keep Reading to See the Fascinating Data on Airfares — and Why It’s Wrong..

Lufthansa first class awards used to be a gimme. But as the economy improved, the airline cut back the number of first class seats on many planes, and even the number of routes offering first class, award space dried up.

In fact, Lufthansa generally only opens first class awards within 15 days of travel. And even that isn’t as guaranteed as it once was.

Occasionally, though, either through a glitch or because they’ve given up on first class for a particular route, they open award space — wide.

Here’s The Route Where Lufthansa First Class Award Space is Wide Open

Keep Reading!

Last month I broke that news that perennial mileage sales deep discounter US Airways would change their ways…

[A]t a latest case come November the bonus and pricing structure for US Airways miles will look more like the old American approach.

That the last 100% purchase bonus for US Airways miles would be the last time US Airways miles were on sale at 1.88 cents apiece.

And that come November US Airways would be selling miles in a way that aligns with how American AAdvantage does it, as part of their merger and in advance of combining the two frequent flyer programs.

It turns out this prediction and news was correct. As One Mile at a Time notes, a new US Airways buy miles promotion is up.

And it’s exactly the sort of tiered bonus, at a higher cost, that American AAdvantage regularly runs. The lowest price is now 2.25 cents a mile for buying 50,000 miles.

Maxing out the promotion — buying 80,000 miles gets you 130,000 miles at a cost of $3010 or 2.32 cents perm mile.

That’s a far cry from 2009 pricing when 100,000 miles cost ~ $1350 and you could still book business class to Hong Kong for just 90,000 miles.

Except There May Be One Last Shot!

Some US Airways MasterCard holders are being told they get a one-time opportunity to buy miles with up to 100% bonus.

The offer appears marketed to new MasterCard cardholders. But…

Going through the standard buy miles offer, I’m given only the lesser ‘new world order’ ~ 2.3 cent opportunity.

But going through the US Airways MasterCard offer I’m still forward to a standard buy miles page — and am given an offer that will allow the purchase of miles with the 100% bonus, one time through the end of the year.

Reach award travel even faster with this exclusive offer just for you.
As a new US Airways Dividend Miles® MasterCard® holder, you can get up to a 100% bonus when you use your card to buy miles – up to 50,000 bonus miles. This one-time-only deal is quick, easy and the perfect way to get miles for an award trip! Offer Valid from now through December 31, 2014.

So not quite the end of an era. But almost.


At the time this commercial was sort of funny. 13 years later it’s kind of dark.

(HT: Alan H.)


Alitalia’s business class award availability between the US and Italy is really good. And their business class product is much improved, too.

But if you believe Delta.com, the award calendar is going to make you think there’s nothing available.

Here’s a search at Delta.com for two business class seats, New York – Rome, in June. It’s all blue which means high level awards only.

The entire month, which means 162,500 miles each way or 325,000 miles roundtrip per person.

But it isn’t true.

Continue Reading to See How to Book Low Priced Award Tickets That the Delta Website Won’t Show You!

Toqueville passes along a piece about the blogger who is on a terrorism watchlist because of a conviction related to his animal activism in the 1990s.

He chronicles his experiences. And one of the things I learned was that if you’re on a watchlist, you’re not allowed to have an exit row seat assignment.

This one rather befuddles me. Someone who gets super duper screening and is deemed not a safety risk, so they can fly, is still too much of a safety risk to sit near the emergency exit.

The blogger speculates why

  • Terrorists hate humans so much we would physically block exit points in the event of a crash and/or fire.
  • They make you do that weird verbal confirmation thing after the fight attendant recites that exit row speech, and we’re known for only speaking Arabic.
  • In any case, I never knew that if you’re watchlisted you weren’t cleared for exit row seating. I wonder whether it would preclude an elite flyer from economy plus or main cabin extra?

    At least it’s apparently a way to earn bump vouchers.


    I receive compensation for many links on this blog. You don’t have to use these links, but I am grateful to you if you do. American Express, Citibank, Chase, and other banks are advertising partners of this site. I do not write about all credit cards that are available — instead focusing on miles, points, and cash back (and currencies that can be converted into the same).

    Some US Airways MasterCard cardholders signed up for an offer that included not just a signup bonus, but also an annual renewal bonus.

    I have a card from awhile back that had a $0 fee the first year, 40,000 bonus miles after first purchase, and this 10,000 mile annual bonus. That bonus makes it worth it to me to keep paying the annual fee. That, and I like the fact that I’ll have a card that can no longer be issued once the American and US Airways frequent flyer programs combine.

    New cards have a 40,000 mile signup bonus. They do not have this annual bonus. Unquestionably, to me, the card is worth getting for the bonus points. And with rumors of an announcement of when the American and US Airways miles programs will be combined swirling, the card won’t be around long.

    When the programs do get combined, miles from your US Airways account and your American account will get merged over to American. So miles from both places will be used towards a single award. That makes this signup bonus, that there’s only a short while left to get (ever), all the more valuable.

    The big news out about the card today is that those of us who get an additional 10,000 miles per year will keep doing so into the future. There was speculation that this benefit might go away once new applications for the card closed when US Airways Dividend Miles shut down, and the card became an American co-brand credit card issued by Barclaycard. (Yes, it’s weird that American will have legacy cards issued by Bank of America and by Barclaycard that take no new applications, with only Citibank issuing new American Airlines cards.)

    That’s good news, and means I will keep this card rather than just seeing mine as having been a good signup bonus play.

    US Airways Premier World MasterCard

    Update: Commenter Michael Crook shares a link for the card that also includes the 10,000 mile anniversary bonus! I didn’t think that was still out there. Thanks, Michael!

    Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either.


    WOW Air is really their name, they’re a low cost carrier with initial promo fares for US service that are advertised from Washington DC (but really departing BWI) and Baltimore to London, Copenhagen, and Reykjavik as low as $99-$125 one-way.

    Return flights are slightly higher, but total trip costs under $300 to Europe are pretty amazing and it’s certainly a great way to get buzz going for a new airline no one had ever heard of before.

    The flights do not start until March 27 for the 6 weekly Boston – Reykjavik flights (with connecting service beyond Reykjavik) and until June 4 for Baltimore – Reykjavik. So you have to make your purchase pretty far out. BUt that also means these fares are for travel during peak season to Europe, too!

    Their website isn’t great, and it’s getting lots of traffic presently. You enter your travel dates and see what the fares for those dates are, there’s no fare calendar to show you where to find those $99 fares. You have to hunt and peck if you’re flexible with your travel dates and just looking for the lowest fare.

    This is a low cost carrier so expect fees for everything except the lav.

    This one is special. Don’t cancel a booking, just no show. Because while you won’t get a refund, if you cancel by phone they say they charge you extra! Unless of course you buy their $18 cancellation insurance and have a covered reason.

    Here’s the charges for pre-assigned seating (left column for online payment, right for seat assignments at the airport).

    They love $86 charges. That’s the unaccompanied minor fee, and the date change and name change fee (it’s actually generous to allow these).

    You’ll pay for anything more than an 11 pound carry on. Checked bags are expensive — the first checked bag is $48 online in advance, $67 at check-in, and if you are forced to gate check that’s $95. That’s for non-stop service, bag fees are higher for connecting flights.

    With apologies to Norman Greenbaum, these folks seem to be the Spirit in the international sky.

    If you travel super light, and don’t especially care where you sit on the plane (and I don’t know what their seat pitch or legroom is like), you can get some pretty amazing fares for US-Europe travel without the need for a pricing glitch.

    (HT: The Flight Deal)


    Over the weekend I took a domestic flight on American Airlines where the first class cabin was only half full.

    There were two factors at play, as I tweeted,

    1) it’s Saturday 2) I like the @AmericanAir upgrade system please don’t change it..

    American and US Airways Have to Decide How to Handle Upgrades as Part of Their Merger

    With the merger between US Airways and American Airlines, the two carriers are in the midst of working through their differences and figuring out the policies and procedures that will prevail when the two airlines actually combine into one.

    In a practice common to US airlines but not really done in the rest of the world, premium cabin seats on domestic flights that the airlines doesn’t sell are released as upgrades to elite frequent flyers.

    US Airways — like Delta and United — offers ‘unlimited complimentary upgrades’ to all of its elites. If an elite member qualifies for an upgrade, they get it, free.

    American’s 100,000 mile ‘Executive Platinum’ members get unlimited complimentary upgrades.

    Meanwhile lower tier elites – Golds and Platinums – have to pay for their upgrades with 500 mile e-certificates (once known as ‘stickers’).

    Keep reading to see why unlimited complimentary upgrades are bad for frequent flyers!

    I checked into a Hyatt Regency property late on recent evening. Three’s a store in the lobby, and it had just closed. I asked at check-in whether there was anywhere else I might get water.

    The agent checking me in just told me to take the bottles in the room, they have a price tag on them but they don’t charge Diamond members.

    I thought that was nice — I remember three years ago at an event in Denver Gold Passport’s Jeff Zidell mentioning to me they were looking at making bottled water a Diamond benefit. It’s a small item, but you get into a hotel and it’s nice to have that by your bedside at a non-extortionate price.

    As these things go, though, I took one of the two bottles and the charge did show up on my hotel folio. (It wasn’t there at checkout but must have been added later, and was included in the folio accessible from my Hyatt Gold Passport account.)

    Hotels never seem to leave off charges from my bill. Mistakes always seem to be in the hotel’s favor.

    If $3 items were equally likely left off as on I’d probably decide they balance out and not worry about it. If there are charges left off, at least material charges I’ll notice, I will say something to the hotel. So I feel like I should say something when I notice charges that shouldn’t be there.

    And though I don’t have an individual incentive to spend time worth more than the charge, I take a sort of Kantian approach* — if we generalized that, and everyone ignored small charges, it would create a very strong incentive for hotels to purposely tack on charges like that, small enough that no one bothers, but at $3++ per room night actually meaningful. All guests would be worse off.

    So at some level I figure I have a moral imperative to say something.

    Do you bother looking for small mistake charges, and following up to have them removed?

    (* for any philosophy PhDs amongst my readers, I am using the term loosely.)


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    View from the Wing is a project of Miles and Points Consulting, LLC. This site is for entertainment purpose only. The owner of this site is not an investment advisor, financial planner, nor legal or tax professional and articles here are of an opinion and general nature and should not be relied upon for individual circumstances.

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