Reader Denis asks about my elite status, and since I write about what I think people ought to do what I actually do is fair game.

How are you planning status (airlines) for year end? Do you need to MR? Lifetime status?

I’ve re-qualified for American’s Executive Platinum (100,000 mile) status already. I should end the year with about 120,000 qualifying miles, and 10,000 on US Airways from spend on their credit card, that will ultimately get combine when the two programs are joined next year — although there will be no benefit to me for being over 100,000 since I won’t hit 125,000 points (which would likely get me – upon request of AAdvantage Customer Service – 2 additional confirmed international upgrades).

I’m also a lifetime American AAdvantage Platinum member — American gives lifetime Gold at 1 million, Platinum at 2 million, and they used to count all account activity towards status. I’m a 3 million miler, much of the activity from credit cards, bank accounts, shopping portals and other activity. I’m headed towards 4 million, though it’s much slower going as only flights now count.

I’m a British Airways Silver, which was previously soft-landed from Gold, and I will lose that come March. I’m an Aegean Gold, and will lose that in a year.

I generally have no need to mileage run. I hit American’s top status without doing so. Combined with award travel I’ll fly about 200,000 miles this year.

I’ve also requalified as a Hyatt Diamond already, and hit Starwood Platinum on nights. I hit Marriott Silver as well (unintentionally) and received a targeted offer for Hilton Diamond.

Reader Jered asked,

Why don’t airlines open all remaining international premium cabin seats for awards for day-of travel? Surely getting something for them is better than having them go empty?

Here’s Jered’s question — if a seat is going to go empty, an airline is getting literally nothing in exchange for that seat. They get something, whether reduction in liability (and thus recognition in revenue) for their frequent flyer program and a transfer of funds from the program to the airline… or cash for the seat from an airline partner.

So why would an airline let a seat take off empty, rather than reaping an incremental revenue gain for it?

Now, many airlines do follow this strategy. They make seats they expect to go unsold available as awards. Some seats may be opened early on when an airline’s schedule loads, but nearly a year out there’s limited data to go on so it’s only as travel approaches that they know which seats will go empty and release those seats as saver awards. Indeed, as the day or two before travel approaches they might open up all or most of the unsold seats for folks using points.

There are essentially two reasons not to do this:

  1. Preserve the exclusivity of the product. The belief here is that there’s value for the paying passengers in having a lightly booked cabin, and that a cabin you have to pay for is more special, harder to get, and worth paying for. Something you can get cheaply and easily on points could be harder to justify paying for, at least for some passengers at the margin.
  2. Prevent passengers from redeeming points instead of spending cash. Some passengers might buy the seat, but choose to use miles is mileage seats are available. Indeed the highest revenue customers are those buying last minute tickets. Why give them a points option when they’re stuck needing to spend cash?

In both cases the idea is that in giving up incremental revenue for the award seat, the airline might be protecting revenue (because a customer spends cash instead of miles) and protecting the long-term revenue-stream (By keeping the cabin exclusive).

That’s the argument anyway. That said, many airlines do fill the cabin. The question is how: award seats, upgrades, or employees. And upgrades may be ‘supported’ upgrades (with miles, or upgrade instruments) or ‘operational’ upgrades (a lower cabin is oversold so some passengers get upgraded in order to have the flight go out full and on time).

Each airline’s approach is different, though North American carriers tend to fill their forward cabins while practice varies more in other regions of the world.

I’m not at all a fan of most airline advertising, and I’m not claiming these are effective, but I sure do actually have favorites in the world of miles and points advertising.

Here’s my all-time favorite print ad:

And my favorite television commercial, even though they’re doing the exact worst thing possible with their points:

Reader Jered wants to know:

  • How do airline awards work when redeeming points for travel on a partners? How much if anything do they compensate each other for award seats?
  • More broadly, “when I am accommodated on another airline, how does that work behind the scenes?” e.g. “[D]istressed United passengers on the BOS-ICN mistake fare having boarding passes for re-accommodation on Singapore Airlines being torn up by the Singapore gate agent because the passengers weren’t ‘worth enough’ so clearly some money is changing hands…”

Accounting for award tickets varies when you’re using an airline’s miles to fly on their own flights. Generallhy speaking the actualy cost of that ticket to the mileage program may be close to the marginal cost of carrying an additional passenger, such as $50 for a domestic flight. It’s a little bit more complicated than that, but roughly speaking the cost to provide a saver award seat to a member of an airline’s own program is very low.

It’s more expensive to provide a saver seat on an airline partner, although less than the actual cost of a paid ticket (which may be what a standard or rule-buster style award would cost on an airline’s own flights).

Generally speaking a first class award — which is more expensive to provide than economy or business — will cost hundreds of dollars per segment. Of course, these payments get netted out. United provides award seats to Lufthansa for their Miles & More customers to fly in, and Lufthansa provides award seats to United for their MileagePlus members to fly in. There’s accounting going both ways, and not just for award seats but for lounge access and indeed settling up over the entire transatlantic operation (as is the case for joint business venture partners).

The question of irregular operations, and how compensation works when passengers run into trouble with their flights, is a completely different matter — although airlines definitely do pay each other to accommodate each others’ distressed passengers.

As a general rule, the airline flying a passenger will receive what the airline that was supposed to fly the passenger would have received for the flight segment(s).

When an airline endorses a flight coupon over to another airline, that airline submits the coupon – and the value attached – back to the original airline for payment (IATA Revenue Accounting Manual 2.5.1).

Sometimes an airline won’t endorse the original coupon but will simply provide a Flight Interruption Manifest or ‘FIM’ which is basically a substitute flight coupon. it doesn’t contain the original ticket’s value on it.

I always assumed when a FIM is provided to a passenger, that the airline is going to pay the new carrier full fare for transportation. That’s not quite right, although the new airline – which doesn’t know the value of the original coupon – is going to bill full fare (IATA Revenue Accounting Manual 2.6.1).

What happens then is generally the issuing airline is going to reject the value of that FIM, research it and re-issue credit in the amount of the original flight coupon.

To take the Singapore Airlines scenario in the original question: When a passenger flying Boston – Seoul – San Francisco on United misconnects in San Francisco, and United tries to put that passenger onto the Singapore Airlines San Francisco – Seoul flight, whether via coupon endorsement or via ‘FIM’ United is ultimately going to pay Singapore only a few hundred dollars for the one-way San Francisco first class flight segment (on a $1700 mistake fare roundtrip ticket). That’s what Singapore wasn’t interested in.

Award tickets are a little bit different. In the event of irregular operations on an award, the ticket coupon doesn’t carry value based on the cost of the ticket. But it’s still possible for an airline providing transportation to get paid by the original carrier. That’s because — and my knowledge of this is old, so the specifics may have been superceded (but this was accurate in the past) — an award ticket is presumed to carry a value of 50% of the full fare for the segment (IATA’s Revenue Accounting Manual 2.5.6).

IATA makes an interesting observation about these tickets (re-typed manually by me):

This rule assumes the value of the passenger to a carrier as a frequent flyer generating a lot of revenue even though the ticket that he is holding now is an award ticket. It is easy to assume that this coupon has no value and as a result will cost the “Forwarding Member” the equivalent of 50 percent of the one-way fare. However in determining this, one must accept that a frequent flyer ticket is not reflecting the value of the coupon but the value of the passenger as a loyal customer. In fact there is a value attached to a reward ticket.

I know there are some of my readers that are expert in this, managing revenue accounting for airlines and across airlines, so I’d appreciate chiming in with clarifications or corrections if needed.

I’ve shared this before but it really bears repeating — the best advice comes down to: spend time planning vacations, take more trips, work while you’re gone, and experience new and unusual things.

  1. Planning vacations contributes more to your happiness than actually taking them. You may need to go on vacation to justify all of the planning time.

  2. You get all of your relaxation benefits on the trip itself, but don’t expect to be relaxed when you get back. We quickly snap back into the stress of daily life, sans any benefit from the vacation. Go in knowing you’ll enjoy yourself while you’re gone, but don’t set the bar for “needing a vacation” that you expect to be reset, relaxed, and in a different place with work upon your return.

  3. Being on vacation can actually be stressful. We put pressure on ourselves to enjoy, quickly, in a compressed period of time. After all, unless you travel frequently, you only get one shot per given period of time and you have to make the most of it.

    So take more trips. Don’t make them one-shot deals. Avoid the stress where each trip has to be perfect. Don’t try to do everything, it’s better to leave some sites unvisited and have some experiences left for the future. Leave yourself longing for more.

  4. People actually enjoy trips more when they’re interrupted by real time, as counterintuitive as it seems. Many short trips get interrupted by returning to work in between. For longer trips consider staying connected.

  5. Look for intense or unusual experiences, things you’ll remember specifically. You’ll get more lingering value out of the trip that way than just a general sense that you must have been relaxed but where did the relaxation go?

  6. Make travel part of the trip. And since planning contributes to happiness spend time working through contingencies so you know how you’ll handle things like missed connections along the way.

It can be really hard to get seats together for flights during the holidays. Flights are full. More families are traveling together so more people are trying to sit together (compared to solo business travelers). And more and more airlines are holding back the number of seats they assign for ‘free’.

For most passengers, your ticket doesn’t come with a ‘seat’. Obviously that isn’t literally true, since safety rules require all passengers to be seated. But there’s a limited number of seats on the seat map that airlines will let passengers reserve in advance unless the passenger:

  • is paying the exorbitant full fare
  • is an ‘elite’ frequent flyer doing 25,000 miles or more a year (usually) on the airline
  • pays a fee for a ‘premium’ seat which sometimes just means an aisle or being closer to the front of the plane which is only better in that you can get out from being trapped in a metal tube more quickly.

Here are things that you and your family can do, though, to make the process of travel smoother and secure seating together:

  1. Confirm your seat assignments when you book your tickets. Do not wait to call later, or until check-in.
  2. Check to make sure your seats haven’t changed. Look at your reservation every few weeks. Your seat assignments might not have ‘stuck’ especially if you bought tickets through an online travel agency. Or your seat assignments might have changed somewhere along the way (perhaps there was a schedule change or change of aircraft). Finding this out sooner rather than later increases the likelihood of getting it fixed.
  3. Keep checking back. There may not have been seats you could reserve together for free when you booked your tickets, but that can change. Check bag especially as the day of flight approaches — when airlines upgrade frequent flyers, those passengers are moved out of coach, freeing up seats (although mostly freeing up ‘premium’ seats that those passengers get for free).
  4. Use This pay website will email you when desirable seats open up on your flight (you can set up one alert for free without a paid subscription).
  5. Keep asking (anyone and everyone). Your chances are not necessarily better at the gate or customer service counter than at check-in, but it’s another bite at the apple and if you haven’t asked someone yet to help you then you haven’t annoyed them yet!
  6. Trade with another passenger. Nobody else really wants to sit next to your kids, now matter how cute they are. It’s hard for them to argue that they should sit next to your spouse or underage children, since that’s creepy.
  7. If you can’t secure seats together, at least get as many aisle seats as you can. At least don’t assign yourselves middle seats, those are tough to trade. People will almost always give up middle seats, and aisle seats are the best trade bait.
  8. If sitting together is important, then take that into consideration when making your booking. Look at seat maps before you purchase. Make- sure you know what seats are available to you.

If all else fails, if it’s important to sit together and you don’t want to go through the stress and hassle of dealing with matters at the airport or onboard the plane, then consider the cost of an assigned seat part of the cost of the ticket and buy seating at the time you buy your ticket. That’s not great for the family budget, but neither is being separated especially with young children in tow. Sometimes the best option isthe one that is ‘least bad’.

If you’re traveling this week in the U.S., best of luck to you! Here is my nickel’s worth of free advice as you prepare to depart along with 40 million other Americans for the Thanksgiving holiday (fortunately they won’t all be flying).

  1. Give yourself lots of time. Wednesday and Sunday are amateur days. Everyone else will slow you down. Flights instead of being 80% full are 100% full (that alone would be a 25% increase in people) and frequent travelers are replaced by occasional travelers who don’t know the drill as well. Be patient, across the whole process — getting to the airport, parking (if that’s your thing), clearing security, boarding while other passengers try to sneak bags into the overhead bins on that wouldn’t fit in a shipping container.

  2. Avoid checking bags. That’s counterintuitive since flights are full and overhead space is scarce, but it’s one less thing to get messed up — and you’re much more flexible changing plans and routings without worrying about bags (e.g. you might even fly into a different nearby airport without your bags being routed somewhere else).

      That reinforces giving yourself lots of time. You want to use whatever privileges you have — elite status, co-branded credit card holder — to board early. You don’t need to be first, or even 20th, you just need not to be last. The goal isn’t to sit on the plane the longest, it’s not to be in the final stream of passengers being asked to gate check their bag.

  3. Be proactive. If things look like they’re going south, ask the airline to protect you on a different set of flights. Not all will, but if an agent tells you they can’t you might try another agent.

  4. Avoid long lines and long hold times, look for everyone’s help at once. If you’re at the airport, and find yourself in the customer service line for rebooking, call the airline on your phone while you wait — you may get rebooked before you hit the front of the line. Hold times may be long, elite status helps here. And ditching the customer service line for the airline’s club is often the best move (I’ve been told by Alaska Airlines club agents that they can’t do ticketing due to union rules, but this applies with other US airlines). Agents are friendlier and lines are shorter in the club.

  5. Find alternate routings. When things start to look like your flights won’t go according to plan, be armed with alternatives to suggest to agents rather than just taking whatever is offered (or being told nothing is available) — you may be willing to fly more circuitously than an agent expects or think more creatively (or take an airport overnight along the way if you have to, which an agent may not suggest since they won’t be authorized to cover your enroute hotel stay).

  6. Know when to bail. If you’re facing significant delays and cancellation due to weather, other people at your connecting points are as well, and airport hotels will fill up (and certainly get increasingly expensive as fewer and fewer rooms remain). Consider bailing early, grabbing a room, and waiting it out… rather than sleeping in the airport.

      There are extra costs along the way and sometimes you just have to eat them. Airlines usually won't help with expenses when the cause of delays or interruptions is weather. But your credit card company might. Save receipts — for hotels, extra ground transportation, even meals — and after your trip see whether the card you used to purchase tickets will let you submit a claim for trip delay or baggage coverage.

Let’s all be careful out there!

Reader doug asked about “fuel dumping on award and paid tickets[.]”

What he’s asking about is the idea of adding a flight segment to a ticket that you do not intend to fly but that has the effect of reducing the fuel surcharges you have to pay for the ticket.

This is soemthing airlines doubly frown upon:

  • Ticketing a flight you don’t intend to fly
  • “Tricking” their pricing systems into charging you less.

Nonetheless, it is a technique that generates savings. And I explain how it works with both paid and award tickets in some detail in these posts:

I reached out to Chase about the removal of Korean Air Skypass as a points-transfer partner.

For many members, Korean Air is too obscure to matter. For me, it’s essential. It’s one of my favorite transfer partners, and something that sets Chase apart from key competitors.

It’s hard to get a lot of detail over the weekend, but I reached out to Chase and did get a quick note that suggests Korean Air will return as a points transfer partner, although I wasn’t yet given a timeframe.

Chase is not currently processing point transfers to the Korean Air SKYPASS program. We will update the Ultimate Rewards Web site when the functionality returns.

(Emphasis mine.)

So while I don’t like that it’s gone, there were some technical challenges that took these transfers off-line a couple of months ago. I don’t know the details yet behind the removal of the functionality to transfer points to Korean from the Chase website. But it sounds like this isn’t gone for good.

Reader Jered asked how many elite members of United’s MileagePlus program there are.

And the easy answer is I do not know precisely, these are closely-guarded numbers. But I do have some “bigger than a breadbox” sorts of estimates.

In other words, I have a general idea of the size of the elite pool, within a few hundred thousand members. It should give an idea of roughly what percentage of total members are elites, and how the relative size of each elite tier looks compared to each other.

I do have some knowledge of old numbers, but these are from when programs were much smaller — before United and Continental merged, before Delta and Northwest merged, before American and US Airways merged.

Roughly speaking, the combined American-US Airways program is about 100 million members. United’s program should be in the 80-90 million member range, and Delta SkyMiles should be in the 75-80 million member range.

Not all of these are active members of course, this is the size of the total member file, in rough ballpark numbers. We do know that, even after de-duping the US Airways and American member file that the program should be about 100 million strong — definitely the largest frequent flyer program in the world.

So how many are elites?

Taking United’s MileagePlus, there shouldn’t be more than about 2 million total elite members. I’d guess it’s less rather than more, closer to 1.5 million, but that’s just a guess.

  • Premier Silver, 25,000 mile flyers, represent the largest percentage of elites… in fact, they should be more than half.
  • Premier Gold members should be a bit under half the number of Silvers.
  • And 1Ks and Global Services members likely represent no more than about 10%, probably closer to 8%

These percentages should roughly hold across major carriers, in the limit. For instance I’d guess that American has 50,000 – 60,000 Executive Platinum members and maybe 15,000 Concierge Key members [I'm not sure whether these would be additive or not, Concierge Key members now receive Executive Platinum status as well].

Conde’ Nast‘s Barbara Peterson looks at the United MileagePlus option to redeem miles for meals at their Newark hub.

As part of an impressive re-do launching for United’s terminal at Newark, there are several top-end eateries going in. One feature that’s being played up is the ability to use miles for food as an instant redemption.

Peterson suggests that this could make sense if your miles have become so devalued that they are now less than a penny.

Roughly speaking it looks like the miles-for-food option gives you about 7/10ths of a penny per point. Which is pathetic. It’s a valuation at which MileagePlus ought to be ashamed of themselves. It’s as though they are telling members that their miles have been devalued to that point.

As much of a beating as United’s miles have taken over the past year, they’re still worth more than that. Don’t be a sucker. Read More…

Airlines are like politicians. If the claims they make are non-binding (and very few are binding, even more so in a post-Ginsberg world), and they want something — a merger, or just customers to swallow a change without defecting and pulling business — there’s little incentive to keep their word.

This is strange in a way. We expect that airline customers are repeat customers, especially an airline’s most valuable customers. So in this iterative game it would make sense to maintain trust.

But consumers overall buy on price, have a low opinion of airlines generously, and repeat customers behave like Charlie Brown to the airlines’ Lucy who keep putting the football in front of us, in a triumph of hope over experience.

The latest example comes from Delta, which committed in its merger with Northwest Airlines that it would keep Northwest’s Memphis hub. The merger was even supposed to bring more international flying to Memphis.

Delta has now announced that it is cutting the number of destinations it will serve from Memphis all the way down to 13. And three of those are seasonal.

Memphis was once a busy hub for Delta, which inherited the base via its 2008 merger with Northwest. Delta flew as many as 240 flights per day out of Memphis in June 2009, including a flight to Amsterdam. But the company has been ratcheting that number down ever since, culminating in a decision to “de-hub” Memphis in 2013.

Conditions change, and Delta would certainly continue flying out of Memphis if they found it profitable to do so. I don’t blame them for taking this decision.

But it was entirely predictable when Delta and Northwest merged. The striking thing is that they pretended otherwise, and some people believed them.

United eliminated its Cleveland hub this year despite merger promises it would not do so. Although they maintain their relationship with the Cleveland Browns…

Joe Brancatelli asks a simple questions about minimum revenue requirements for earning elite status:

Airlines have the right to create the terms of their programs as they see fit. But if they now base their programs on revenue instead of miles, why do they continue to demand a minimum number of flights and/or miles flown in addition to the dollar spend? After all, if the revenue you contribute to an airline’s bottom line is what counts, why does it matter how many miles or flights you fly?

Other questions that are rarely asked:

News and notes from around the interweb:

Korean Air Skypass has disappeared off of the Chase website as a points transfer partner.

Here are the airlines I currently see listed:

Friday night is the worst time for this, for me, since I can’t reach anyone at Chase in real-time to confirm the meaning of the change.

Korean Air has been one of my favorite uses of Chase points.

Although they are of course very Korean and their processes for redeeming awards are unique.

If Korean is indeed gone as a Chase transfer partner, I’m personally frustrated. I have 185,000 miles in my Skypass account, and likely need 190,000 for what I’d do with the points (2 one-ways between the US and Southeast Asia in first class).

With additional notice of the change I would have transferred 5000 Chsae points into my Korean account. I should have done that anyway. I don’t usually think of credit card programs devaluing especially without notice, but it certainly happens and has happened and it’s always best to be prepared.

I can use my points for first class to, say, Hong Kong (160,000 miles roundtrip) of course. But getting those 5000 more miles isn’t actually easy. I can credit some Delta flying or some car rentals. I can transfer Hyatt Points over to Korean (ratio is 2.5 to 1, although with a transfer bonus 50,000 Hyatt points nets 25,000 miles). I recently gave up my Korean Air Visa from US Bank.

Regardless, Chase points at a minimum still transfer to:

  • United: Star Alliance awards without fuel surcharges
  • Singapore Airlines: Much better availability for premium cabin award travel when using Krisflyer miles on Singapore than using miles from partner airline programs. Great for US domestic awards on United as well.
  • British Airways: Excellent non-stop short distance awards, such as on American, US Airways, and Alaska — starting at just 4500 points each way.
  • Southwest Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, two transfer partners I don’t see myself using but that are strategically useful to some.
  • Hyatt: Good hotel value, I’ve transferred here to top off my account for redemptions in the Maldives and Paris and for suite upgrade awards.
  • Marriott and Ritz-Carlton and IHG Rewards: These programs tend to be too expensive for redemptions to tempt me to make transfers.
  • Amtrak Northeast corridor awards have been useful to me in the past

Though a personal favorite of mine, Korean Air isn’t how most people use their points. United and British Airways and even Hyatt transfers are much more common. I’d probably rather have Singapore than Korean. But it’s a blow, for me, if they’re indeed gone rather than this being a temporary sort of website change. (It’s this uncertainty that holds back harsher words at this point — especially over lack of notice — I do not yet know if this is an actual change.)

A commenter who appears to work for Copa suggests that the new program will add fuel surcharges to awards. Miguel writes,

Gary, my comments dont reflect COPA Holdings, or my superiors or companywide opinions or statements.

All tickets currently purchased from any venue are broken down with a fuel surcharge, future awards and tickets will also include a standard fuel surcharge.

On tickets issued to depart the USA will have the regular taxes and fees.
Average fuel surcharge of $160.00
Average Taces of $105.00

I will find it surprising if Copa were to add fuel surcharges to award tickets. This practice isn’t common in Central or South America. Lifemiles doesn’t do it. LAN doesn’t do it.

Miguel may or may not have knowledge of internal discussions, and I’m not suggesting at all that it isn’t possible… just that I wouldn’t expect it.

Nonetheless, since I made the projection that Copa’s new frequent flyer program wouldn’t add fuel surcharges onto award tickets, I thought it was important to share this contrary view.

And on the subject of the program’s pedigree with leadeship from the former Northwest and US Airways programs, it’s also worth noting something that I had forgotten, that Northwest (and Delta) imposed – admittedly modest – fuel surcharges on award tickets even for travel originating in the U.S. back in 2008.

This month China has started issuing visas valid for multiple entry over 10 years to US passport holders for tourism and short-term business visits.

Your passport must be valid for at least a year, and you can continue to use your 10 year visa even when your passport expires and you get a new one. (You carry the old passport with you to prove the visa.)

This makes things a whole lot easier, since the Chinese visa can be expensive and it can be a pain to get, so not having to get one each time you visit is a real boon for travelers.

With the new 10 year China Visas, Allied Passport & Visa is offering View from the Wing readers 50% off service fees for a Chinese visa requested by the end of the year.

When I’ve done visas for China I’ve done them myself, I always found living in DC to be good at least for easy access to the embassies and consulates of many countries. But having someone else do it is easier, of course, and for much of the country – new 10 year validity notwithstanding – it’s still inconvenient to process these yourself.

Now, you’ll still pay China Embassy fees of $140 – $160, and you’ll pay the fee to have Allied FedEx your materials back to you ($22 – $45 depending on the priority you request). But you’ll get 50% off of their service fees.

  • Standard processing (10+ business days), normally $45, with this offer $22.50
  • Expedited processing (4-9 business days), normally $100, with this offer $50
  • Emergency processing (0-3 business days), normally $200, with this offer $100

To qualify for this offer just indicate “ViewFromTheWing” referred you on your Allied Order Form.

For avoidance of doubt, I do not get anything at all for the referral. When i highlighted an offer from Allied in the past, readers had universally positive things to say about the experience. So when China started offering 10 year visas, I decided to reach out to them to see if they’d offer a special discount. They were willing to, so I figured I’d pass the savings opportunity along to readers.

For those of you that make use of it, I’m thrilled, please feel free to share your stories in the comments.

And I’d love to hear from anyone that has used a visa processing service in the past, why did you and how did it go? Or do you prefer to do it yourself, and if so why?

News and notes from around the interweb:

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).

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

As I told you to expect last week, the spending requirement to earn a signup bonus with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has gone up — but fortunately not by much, just from $3000 within 3 months of account opening to $4000. No other changes have been made at this time.

Fortunately that leaves the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card as the best all-around, most rewarding personal credit card.

It has one of the best signup bonuses, has strong benefits, and is a great card that rewards ongoing spending (because it has flexible points that transfer to a variety of airlines and hotels, and because it earns double points on all travel and dining).

  • Bonus: 40,000 points after $4000 in spending within 3 months plus 5000 more points for adding a free authorized user to the account and making a purchase within that same time frame
  • Valuable points: Chase points are among the two best currencies of any loyalty program. They transfer to United, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, Hyatt, Marriott, and more.
  • Strong earning: Double points on travel and dining, useful all over the world with no foreign transaction fees, and Visa acceptance.
  • Good benefits: Like primary collision damage coverage on rental cars.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card in my view continues to be the all-around most lucrative credit card in the market as it has been for the past 3 years. There’s no annual fee the first year, then it has a $95 annual fee.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

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.

Emirates has a lot of Airbus A380s. Those are big planes, with a lot of seats, and they need to send them somewhere. Like Dallas.

Emirates wasn’t selling the bulk of their premium seats when they were flying a Boeing 777 on the route. Now they have even more premium seats.

And they’re facing competition to and through the Middle East from both Eithad (which is an American partner, and that helps a great deal in the Dallas market) and Qatar (which as a oneworld alliance member is an American partner, and that helps a great deal in Dallas).

Unsurprisingly, Emirates A380 first class award space is pretty darned wide open. A booked some seats a couple of weeks ago myself using Alaska Airlines miles.

As a result, Emirates is getting aggressive and generous. Here’s what they are offering folks booking their Dallas flight:

  • If you have American AAdvantage elite status, and buy a ticket for their Dallas – Dubai flight, they’ll give you a status match.

  • If you don’t have elite status with anyone, but buy a premium cabin ticket on their Dallas – Dubai flight, they’ll give you elite status in their Skywards program. (Interesting, it’s not clear that they would take the status away if you refunded the ticket after purchase and tier upgrade.)

Here’s How It Works

From the material for travel agents:

Issue an Emirates ticket and register the customer to the Skywards Program
Send the ticket number and the Skywards member number to
The passenger will receive the Skywards membership card to the mailing address.
Please contact if you have any questions about this promotion.

(HT: Hopwise)

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