Malaysia Airlines tweeted out a message about flight MH17 yesterday and it’s taken me a day to decide whether to say anything about it or not.

When I saw the tweet I hid myself away, because I don’t do tears, and I cried.

I don’t have any direct connection to the flight, I’ve flown Malaysia Airlines before of course and I feel a certain bond with travelers as such, and much more so in the airport and on planes. in a way that I can’t really describe.

But I have no special right to cry over this. I was shocked by what happened as the whole world was. And when I saw this simple message I Just. Broke. Down.

I decided I should share it as well, in case it touches anyone else out there too that hadn’t yet seen it.

Somehow the image of these flight attendants holding hands through all of this affected me in a way I can’t even describe, thinking not just about the passengers and their families but the airline’s staff going through another tragedy before even getting through the last one.

I hadn’t cried for MH17 before. I don’t like to admit when I do. But now I have, and I guess I’ve told the world that now too.


Southwest Rapid Rewards is offering a 40% bonus on purchased miles through the end of the month.

The price of to buy points with this offer is 1.96 cents apiece. At most Rapid Rewards points are worth 1.42 cents (plus some option value in that Southwest award tickets are cancellable without penalty).

Don’t buy speculatively, even revenue-based programs can devalue.

The only reason to take up this offer would be if you had a very specific award you needed a small number of points to redeem for. Even then recognize the more you buy, the less value you’re getting for your redemption since every mile purchased loses over half a cent.

Points.com processes Southwest points purchases so they do not earn airline purchase bonuses that your credit card may offer.


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. 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 Ink Plus Business Card Card

  • 50,000 points after $5000 spend within 3 months
  • $0 annual fee the first year, $95 thereafter

A 70,000 Point Offer Reported for Chase Ink Plus

Doctor of Credit wrote last night that he found that by going into a Chase branch he could sign up for a limited-time offer of 70,000 points after $5000 spend within 3 months. The annual fee applies even during the first year with this higher bonus offer so this offer is $95 more expensive than my link offers. He guesses this opportunity might last “approximately a week” based on when something similar was done inside of Chase branches before.

This means an incremental 20,000 points for an extra $95, which will appeal to some. I would consider it worth it but for the time and effort to get to a Chase branch — there’s no Chase branch within 100 miles of where I live (although I could seek one out during my travels over the coming week).

Some recent applicants have reported being able to call in and have the offer they signed up with matched to the 70,000 point bonus.

If you are near a Chase branch and want to make the effort to go in, that may be the best route. And Chase has been getting more and more aggressive lately in promoting their new signup offers, their limited-time offers, and the Ink cards especially. So I would be surprised if this was the last shot at something like this!

The Best Credit Card Value Out There From Ink Plus

This is one of the very best business cards, and indeed one of the very best all-around credit cards.

It offers 5X points per $1 on the first $50,000 spent annually at office supply stores, and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services. It has no foreign transaction fees.

Points transfer one-to-one into:

  • Airlines: United Airlines, British Airways, Korean Air, Virgin Atlantic, Southwest Airlines, Singapore Airlines
  • Hotels: Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, IHG Rewards Club
  • Ground: Amtrak

For more background, see:

Chase Ink Plus Business Card 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.


Via Lucky, Japan Airlines is swapping out a Boeing 787 (angled business class, no first class) for a Boeing 777-300ER on their San Francisco – Tokyo Haneda route effective December 1.

  • The Boeing 777-300ER has first class suites and true flat business class on this aircraft.

  • And first class award availability is wide open from the time they make this switch through the end of the schedule. Read More…

Last month I wrote the Ultimate Guide to Constructing an International Award Ticket Using American AAdvantage Miles.

It already needs to be revised! Read More…

Via TravelingBetter I learned about an interesting consumer complaint to the Department of Transportation against American Airlines and an even more interesting response.

It strikes me that there’s a ton of disingenuousness on the part of lawyers for a major air carrier but also some interesting insight into how their systems work at the same time. So I thought it was worthwhile unpacking.

  • American accused the consumer of “creat[ing] fictitious reservations..to block premium seats for the sole purpose of obtaining AAdvantage upgrades.”

  • American took 60,000 miles as a penalty. Read More…

Not from the Onion.

Spirit Airlines has moved away from humans performing customer service on Twitter (they weren’t really very responsive to begin with) to an auto-responder instaad.

[A] big social media team costs money, so we put our feed on Autopilot to save you cents on every ticket.

Other travel providers are concerned with defending their brand online, or want to create customer evangelists.

Customer service, to Spirit, is a cost center. They believe having customers who think you’re bad is a good thing. So why employ a twitter team?

Of course they don’t want to invest in a frequent flyer program that can do more than get you magazine subscriptions free anyway.


Citi Thank You points just got a whole lot more valuable.

Anyone who still has big points balances with the program is certainly rejoicing.

Holders of Citi Thank You Premier, Prestige, and Chairman cards can transfer their points now to:

  • Cathay Pacific AsiaMiles
  • EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
  • Etihad Guest
  • Garuda Indonesia Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
  • Hilton HHonors

In a followup on the specific transfer partners, I noted the best Thank You signup bonus currently. I’ll highlight it here.

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card currently has a 50,000 point signup bonus:

  • 20,000 points after $2000 in purchases within the first 3 months
  • 30,000 points after another $3000 in purchases within the first 3 months of the second year as a cardmember
  • Earns 3 points per dollar on dining and entertainment and 2 points per dollar on airfare and hotels.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • First year annual fee waived, $125 after that

This is the best current offer that I know, and a source of transferable points-to-miles from an issuer that didn’t already have those.

As such, one interesting option is transferring points to Singapore Airlines. You can get cards from American Express (Starwood Preferred Guest, Membership Rewards) and Chase (Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, Ink Bold) whose points transfer to Singapore. And now you can build up Singapore miles with points from another issuer.

And those points are really useful for Singapore Airlines flights (much better availability with their miles) and also for US domestic travel (with no fuel surcharges).

Editorial note: I do receive compensation if you apply for cards in this post. 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.


News and notes from around the interweb:


Historically Virgin Australia has had amazing business class award availability to Australia. That’s been probably the best overall use of Delta Skymiles — searchable online, and without fuel surcharges — since Australia awards and especially during high season are one of the holy grails of mileage redemption.

Space has been cyclical — 4 seats every day, then nothing, then wide open again. But will the space come back?

Virgin Australia is cancelling their Los Angeles – Melbourne flight effective right as United starts up theirs.

The North America – Australia and New Zealand route is served without a stopover in Tahiti or Fiji and without transiting Asia by:

  • United
  • Qantas
  • Delta
  • Virgin Australia
  • Air Canada
  • Air New Zealand

New Zealand awards are harder than Australia awards. Air New Zealand used to open up business class space 60 days out quite reliably. Now you will not get Air New Zealand business class awards. Pretty much ever.

Qantas used to fly to New Zealand. They used to fly from San Francisco. They’ve cut back on capacity, even as they’ve added Airbus A380 equipment out of Los Angeles and are adding it to their Dallas route.

Air Canada award space has existed from Vancouver to be sure but it’s not generous. And United is hit or miss, mostly miss.

As tough as it is to get award seats, and with a flight long enough that premium seats do sell, I’d expect that there’s not enough capacity in the market rather than too much despite having all of these competitors.

Still, Virgin Australia is a fast-growing entity in Australia but the least well known in the US market (despite a partnership with Delta, and competing with Delta to Sydney at the same time). Serving three routes from Los Angeles made them a large player.

Sydney is a bread and butter route. Brisbane is a shorter flight, and better for many connections as a result. Melbourne is too far south for most connections, and now facing competition from bigger players in the Los Angeles market Qantas and United.

It makes sense. The sheer number of award seats on Virgin Australia suggests they aren’t selling enough of their seats, some retrenchment was probably inevitable.

But with fewer seats, there could be fewer awards in our future. And the single best way to get from the US to Australia on points without transiting Asia could become far less reliable.


PointsHound now lets you choose to earn points or rebates for the hotel bookings you make for yourself or others in 18 different currencies.

You can do bitcoin if you wish, basically just earning in a foreign currency.

Or you can earn miles with a bunch of different programs. The newest options are Cathay Pacific’s AsiaMiles and JetBlue’s TrueBlue.

I find the best rates of return to be Alaska miles and American miles (I generally choose to accrue with Alaska).

You can sign up without a bonus, or the standard offer for being referred by an existing PointsHound user is 250 points each with your first booking.

My referral link, though, ups that bonus to 1000 miles.

My favorite things about PointsHound have been:

  • That you earn miles when booking for someone else
  • That they have ‘DoubleUp’ rates that earn miles through them, hotel points through the chain you’re staying with, and credit towards elite status.

However technical problems have paused the availability of these DoubleUp rates.

Nonetheless, I’ve tended to find PointsHound more personally useful than their major competitor Rocketmiles.

Rocketmiles has offered more miles much of the time (and I used to think it was an advantage that Rocketmiles let you earn United miles, but I no longer do). But Rocketmiles has far fewer hotels to choose from. And worth noting that PointsHound earning has increased.

Always check rates on the mileage rebate sites with the best rates you can get elsewhere. It’s often the same, sometimes more, and I’ve even seen hotels for much less with PointsHound. So your mileage may vary and know that the prices can deviate.

Still, booking hotels especially for others who aren’t concerned with loyalty programs, I love being rebates points for doing the favor..


I know, I know, it’s a good idea to refill the gas tank before returning the vehicle.

  • But what if you have a 6am flight? You didn’t fill up the night before, aren’t sure whether gas stations will be open and you overslept anyway…
  • And sometimes it isn’t worth refilling on your own anyway. Gas stations around the airport may be priced exorbitantly high, and rental companies may charge less than you realize to refill for you.

I find that National Car Rental usually wants about $5.65 a gallon or so from me to top off a tank if I don’t do it myself. That’s not cheap, but when I’m cutting it close and I haven’t driven a lot I can justify that.

But it’s a mistake to assume all rental car companies are the same. As I just learned.

Take that 6am flight and the car rental company is Budget. I got a receipt from them and learn that I was charged $77.01 to refill a tank on a Ford Fusion that was returned more than half full. Surely that was a mistake. So I contacted them.

Here’s their reply (emphasis mine):

Dear Mr. Leff,

Thank you for contacting the E-mail Customer Service team.

I am very sorry you were not advised of the cost associated with refueling our vehicle if not done prior to check in. Any time a customer returns the vehicle with less fuel than when it was rented, a refueling service charge is imposed; this service charge does not necessarily reflect current retail gas prices. This fee compensates Budget for the refueling service performed by Budget personnel in preparing the vehicle for the next rental.

The Ford Fusion holds 16.5 gallons and you were charged for 7.866GALS at $9.79 per gallon.

Our records show you were charged correctly, therefore, no adjustment is warranted.

Wow. $9.79 a gallon. That’s 73% more than I’m used. Not that I like the price I’m used to seeing, but in this case it was definitely worth it.

That’ll teach me to decide to rent from Budget when I think they’re cheaper, since for this particular trip they absolutely weren’t.


North Korea plans to build an underwater hotel. (HT: Thomask on Milepoint)

North Korean authorities have announced an expansive development project for the east coast city of Wonsan that will include the construction of an underwater hotel, a Pyongyang Times article said last Tuesday.

The ambitious plan, which focuses on the construction and development of infrastructure and buildings primarily related to the leisure sector, will see Wonsan become a “tourist city,” the Pyongyang Times said.

“Underwater hotel, flower park, international meeting hall, exhibition and exposition hall, stadium and development areas will be built on the Kalma Peninsula,” the article said, adding that “towers and other modern-style buildings” would be constructed in “large numbers” in downtown area.

…“We have confirmed with our local partners in Pyongyang that there are indeed plans to build an underwater hotel in Wonsan,” Lee said, adding that “local authorities are now in discussions on how to build the hotel”.

And in order to visit the hotel, they need an airport.

Despite the fact that tourists from Wonsan’s two closest neighbors – Japan and South Korea – are unable to currently visit the country, North Korea has already made plans to expand infrastructure in the area to facilitate a hoped influx of investors and tourists.

In 2013 NK News obtained architectural designs from Hong Kong based firm PLT, revealing plans to build a $200 million airport in Wonsan to serve as a major transportation hub for area and the wider Special Tourism Zone.

While Air Koryo’s fare sale didn’t pan out, don’t forget that North Korea — or at least their dictator — does have nice things.

I don’t expect the underwater hotel to open anytime soon. North Korea’s 105 story Ryugyong Hotel is only supposedly ‘close’ to being opened and that project began in the 1980s.

Standard criticism doesn’t seem to go very far, certainly in terms of changing behavior in a country that is among the worst in the world in terms of treatment of its people.

So I’m sympathetic to attempts to mock Kim Jong Un on twitter. And even more sympathetic to be subversive through dance. Towards that end, this is just brilliant:


With Chase eliminating the 7% annual points bonus from their Sapphire Preferred Card after first removing the benefit from their marketing materials, it became easy to speculate when seeing other benefits disappear from the Chase website.

I actually believe that — for me, and folks like me although this depends on spending and travel patterns — that the changes to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card are a net positive. The introduction of a primary collision damage for all Sapphire Preferred cardholders is a great benefit. And I think it’s more than fair that existing cardholders keep their 7% annual bonus through all of 2015.

But speculation about change is scary, and also what we do with the lifeblood of miles, points, and travel.

Doctor of Credit tweeted me on Sunday about two Chase products.

It appeared that the Fairmont hotels co-brand Visa had disappeared. Click on the link from the Fairmont site, and you’d get re-directed to the Chase website and not taken to that card.

And the 10% annual points bonus for Chase Freedom Card cardholders who also have a Chase checking account was apparently missing as well.

I reached out to Chase who:

  • Points out to me that the card link on the Fairmont website is again working. So false alarm.
  • The Freedom Card is still included in the Chase Exclusives program, and the annual 10% bonus on points earned is still listed there:

While no guarantees in any case about the future, it looks like these issues from over the weekend were false alarms.

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.


Delta and US Airways have announced the cancellation of flights to Israel following a rocket attack miles from the Tel Aviv airport.

United Airlines currently plans to continue its operations, as does El Al. (Update: United has now cancelled its flights as well.)

Delta’s flight today actually turned around and backtracked to Paris. Via FlightAware:

Delta shows its JFK – Tel Aviv flight 456 cancelled for tomorrow as well.

Norwegian and Korean Air flights were already cancelled.


News and notes from around the interweb:


But you have to sign up to receive text messages from the program.

Here is what you can expect from the Aeroplan Text Message Service

  • No more than 2 or 3 text messages per month.
  • Up-to-the-minute opportunities to earn more miles.
  • Program news and information.
  • If you’re willing to do this, here’s how to sign up.

    You can unsubscribe from text messages after the miles post in 3-4 weeks.

    Last year I called Aeroplan the most devalued program in North America.

    First there was the gutting of their award chart on July 15, 2011. For instance, my favorite award — first class to most of Asia — went from 120,000 miles to 175,000 miles (a 46% increase in one shot). Australia awards went from 75,000 to 80,000 in coach; 100,000 to 135,000 in business (35% increase), and 140,000 to 185,000 in first (32% increase).

    Then the cost of redeeming awards went up hundreds of dollars through the imposition of fuel surcharges on many of their partners effective November 2011.

    And then they increased award prices again. Remember that first class Asia award that two years ago cost 120,000 miles? It now costs 210,000 miles. First class to Australia? 220,000.

    So I guess these days, every mile counts.


    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. 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).

    The Citi Thank You Points program — which long ago used to be one of my favorites — breathed some new life into the offering today with the introduction of airline mileage transfer partners.

    Earlier today I listed (7) airlines that you can transfer points to:

    • Cathay Pacific AsiaMiles
    • EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
    • Etihad Guest
    • Garuda Indonesia Frequent Flyer
    • Qatar Airways Privilege Club
    • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
    • Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus

    Those are the seven listed as partner programs.

    But The Miles Professor points out that the help topic page lists an 8th frequent flyer program you can transfer to: Malaysia Airlines Enrich.

    Is Malaysia a transfer partner or aren’t they? I do not know why the discrepancy.

    Reader Daniel asked earlier for a link to a strong credit card offer for earning Thank You points. The best offer I’m currently aware of is for The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card:

    • 20,000 points after $2000 in purchases within the first 3 months
    • 30,000 points after another $3000 in purchases within the first 3 months of the second year as a cardmember
    • Earns 3 points per dollar on dining and entertainment and 2 points per dollar on airfare and hotels.
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • First year annual fee waived, $125 after that

    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.


    Hilton is offering double points on Monday through Thursday nights, and trip points for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights between August 1 and October 31. Registration is required.

    Because this is Hilton, there will be a ton of hotels that have chosen not to participate. As of now we don’t know which those are.

    In fact, the promotion’s FAQ is still from last year’s version of the offer as I write this. So they aren’t quite ready with this one year, but we know what the next promotion will be.

    This isn’t a huge promotion, it isn’t one that will shift any of my business for sure, but it’s roughly in line with what we’ve seen from other hotel chains of late when rooms are reasonably full and they don’t need to spend big marketing dollars to do that.

    On the other hand, Hilton really should be offering double points now that they charge double points for so many hotel redemptions.


    Two-plus years ago there was much speculation about Citi introduces points transfer partners to the Thank You Points program.

    A year and a half ago they introduces transfers to Hilton HHonors. And that was it.

    Now they’ve gone ahead and done it! Read More…

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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.

    Advertiser Disclosure: Many (but not all) of the credit card offers on the site are from banks from which we receive compensation if you are approved. Compensation does not impact the placement of cards other than in banner advertising (we do not currently control the banner advertising on this blog). We don’t include all US credit card offers available on this site. Instead, I write primarily about cards which earn airline miles, hotel points, and some cash back (or have points that can be converted into the same).

    Editorial Note: The opinions, analyses, and evaluations here are mine and not provided by any bank including (but not limited to) American Express, Chase, Citibank, US Bank, Barclaycard or any other company. They have not reviewed, approved or endorsed what I have to say.