You’ll Also Want to Be Sure to Read:

The Park Hyatt Buenos Aires is a great city hotel, set in an upscale neighbor apart from the hustle and bustle of the city and just a few blocks from the Four Seasons. Service is excellent, and it’s a great value to stay there as a Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond member especially when cash and points is available.

My Park Hyatt Buenos Aires review begins with arrival at the property. There are two separate buildings, connected via underground walkway or outside through the garden. There’s the original Palacio and there’s a new tower.

    park hyatt buenos aires review

I came in through the historic wing, which is their main reception though the building has only a couple dozen rooms. Once I identified myself I was escorted across to the other tower for in-room check-in.

    park hyatt buenos aires review

The booking was made with cash and points, so just 10,000 points and $125 per night while room rates there would have been over $600. The hotel is known for treating Diamonds well, and I was brought to a Park Executive Suite for my two night stay… a complimentary upgrade, not something I had confirmed with a Diamond suite upgrade award. My room, incidentally, was ready when I arrived a little before 11 a.m. Continue Reading to Learn More About the Park Hyatt Buenos Aires, and Hyatt Gold Passport member benefits!

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).

The signup offer for the British Airways Visa Signature® Card has just gotten better.

The card still offers 50,000 bonus points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

What’s new is that the annual fee is now $0 the first year, $95 thereafter (instead of the $95 applying in year one). So that’s great!

  • It’s a lot of points
  • And with a low spending requirement to get them.
  • Which can be put to great use
  • Without having to pay an annual fee in the year you earn the bonus

The card earns 1.25 points per dollar on all spending (2.5 points per dollar on British Airways spend, and cardholders get a 10% discount on purchased British Airways tickets).

If you spend $30,000 on the card in a year you earn a Travel Together award ticket — your companion’s award ticket on British Airways or OpenSkies flights costs 0 points (you pay taxes and fees).

There are no foreign transaction fees with this card, and with their distance-based award system short-distance non-stop flights start at just 4500 points each way including on their partners American Airways, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines

What If You’ve Had This Card in the Past?

As I explained earlier in the month, Chase has gotten a lot more generous welcoming back past cardmembers to their card products.

This bonus offer is available to you as long as you have not received a new card member bonus for this product in the past 24 months.

The Short-Distance Non-Stop Solution

I consider short-distance domestic flights to be the best use of Avios. 50,000 points is literally 11 flights between Washington DC and New York LaGuardia on the US Airways shuttle, or any number of other flights on American, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines that are under 650 miles.

These short flights are often expensive – my one-way shuttle flights or DC-Chicago flights can run up near $400. I never expect to get more than 2 cents a point domestically, and I frequently get 7 cents per point when redeeming Avios. And there are no last minute booking fees.

Here’s the award chart showing price per flight based on its distance:

Note that business class is double the price of economy, and first class is triple.

The Companion Award ‘Travel Together’ Ticket Doubles the Value of Your Points!

If you spend $30,000 in a calendar year on the card you earn a companion award ticket which allows you to book two passengers on an award ticket for the mileageprice of one award. You still pay taxes and fees for both passengers. And two award seats must be available in the ticketed cabin for both passengers as well.

The basic rules for the travel together ticket are:

  • Each calendar year that you spend $30,000 on your British Airways Visa Signature Card, you earn a Travel Together Ticket valid for two years. Travel must begin by the expiration date of the certificate.
  • Since the vouchers are valid for two years, if you earn one in each calendar year it is possible to have two vouchers in your account at the same time. You can use both on the same itinerary so that four passengers can travel for the mileage cost of two awards (plus taxes and fees).
  • You can earn only one companion award ticket per British Airways Visa primary account. Spending $60,000 on the card does not earn two.
  • All travel must originate in or return to the US.
  • The person who earns the voucher (the visa cardholder) must be one of the passengers on the award ticket.
  • Only flights on British Airways aircraft may be used on the award.
  • Regular award space must be available for all passengers.

Since the companion ticket works for British Airways flights to and from the US only, you need to fly British Airways metal, that means routing via London.

I find that these vouchers are best used for travel to and from Europe as travel beyond can get costly in miles.

This travel together ticket can be one of the most strategic plays in the frequent flyer universe.

For instance, a couple can sign up for two of these cards and have 105,000 points after meeting minimum spend requirements. They link their accounts into a household to share the miles. They spend $30,000 on one card, $2000 on the other and they now have 140,000 points and a travel together ticket.

That 140,000 points is enough for both passengers to travel roundtrip first class from the East Coast, and nearly enough from the West. In a sense, those miles can be spent twice.

Again, you pay taxes and fees on both tickets — I view it as being like buying a deeply discounted non-mileage earning coach ticket and getting a triple upgrade to first class.

And it’s the only way I know for two people to travel in premium cabins to Europe off of only two credit card signups, though it does take spending $30,000 on the card to earn a travel together certificate in order to do it.

British Airways premium cabin availability can be really good out of some gateways like Washington Dulles and New York JFK, Chicago and Philadelphia. Like with any award ticket, flexibility helps a lot.

Double Your Bonus With British Airways Family Accounts

British Airways offers family accounts — you can set up your account with family members so you can pool your miles towards a single award.

This means you and a spouse, for instance, could each get the card. After meeting the minimum spend for to earn the bonus, you’d have earned a total of 105,000 for the two cards. Even though the miles are in two different accounts, you can spend them on one award ticket as though they were in a single account if you link the accounts together.

Creating a family account — which can be undone — means you can only redeem awards for people that are linked in the family account.

And you can have up to 7 people in a family account, at the extreme if 7 people linked through a family account each got the card and earned the bonus that would be 367,500 miles to spend as though they were all in one account.

The Elephant in the Room: Fuel Surcharges

There aren’t any fuel surcharges if you redeem your points for US domestic flights, or between the US and South America.

But like most frequent flyer programs based outside North America, British Airways adds fuel surcharges onto the cost of an award ticket — whatever that charge would have been on a similar purchased ticket.

Here’s how to keep the cost down (or even eliminate fuel surcharges entirely) when redeeming awards through British Airways:

  • Fly US domestic economy. It’s what I do most with my Avios, just 4500 points each way on flights 650 miles or less.

  • US – South America flights have no fuel surcharges. Australia domestic is a great deal here, too. Japanese domestic flights can literally have $0 in taxes and fees.

  • The fees are cheap for many destinations in Asia. And remember that business class (not US domestic first class) is just double the cost of economy. On short routes that can be a really good value, especially when it comes with free baggage and lounge access.

  • Open an Iberia Avios account as well. Transfer your British Airways points over to Iberia (one-to-one into an account that’s been open three months and has had some points activity). The fees are de minimis when using Iberia points to fly Iberia. Here’s how. And note that Iberia business class award availability is generally excellent.

  • British Airways partner Aer Lingus (Bsoton and New York to Dublin and Shannon — and beyond) has really low charges.

  • airberlin, a oneworld partner, does not add fuel surcharges onto their fares.

  • Remember to check whether two one-way awards are cheaper than a roundtrip.

  • You can fuel dump an award ticket, adding a segment to make the itinerary extend to a destination beyond where you are going that charges lower fees. But with the British Airways program it will cost you additional miles to do it (since BA charges separately for each flight segment except for UK domestic flights).

Other Ways to Get British Airways Avios

You can transfer points at ‘full value’ from three programs:

  • Chase Ultimate Rewards: The Chase Ink Plus Business Credit Card offers 50,000 points after $5000 spend within 3 months. The Sapphire Preferred Card is offering 40,000 points after $3000 spend within 3 months plus 5000 points for adding a (no fee) authorized user to the account and making a purchase. These points can be transferred instantly.
  • American Express Membership Rewards: The Amex Everyday Preferred is probably the strongest Membership Rewards points-earning card, with a minimum earning of 1.5 points per dollar if you use the card 30 times in a month. In the past Membership Rewards has offered transfer bonuses to BA, and the points transfer instantly.
  • Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints: Points don’t transfer instantly, but there’s the built-in bonus of 5000 points when you transfer 20,000. The The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express has been in my wallet since 2001.

Finding Award Space and Booking Your Award

The easiest place to search for availability of all (3) partner airlines for those short haul domestic non-stop flights is the American Airlines ( website. That site isn’t great for most of its partners, but it does cover American, US Airways, and Alaska.

Of course you have to make your booking directly with British Airways. You can search American and US Airways inventory directly on the BA site, but their site won’t search for or book Alaska Airlines flights, you’ll have to call to book Alaska Airlines flights.

For most other awards in the oneworld alliance the British Airways website is quite good for searching space and making initial bookings.

Making changes to awards though has to be done over the phone, by a special department, and then tickets get queued for re-issue and if travel is in the future it can take a week or more for the re-issue to happen. Book one-way awards, cancel them online (it’s cheaper, forfeit the taxes on a domestic award instead of paying a fee), and rebook instead of changing.

British Airways Visa Signature® 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.

Delta is short-term award sale.

Delta wants you to ‘book your dream trip’ but your dream had better not include business class, because the sale is for coach only. And you had better not want to travel on peak holiday dates — because those are blacked out.

Here’s the deal: For tickets issued by November 3 and travel between December 3 and February 18 (but subject to blackout dates), Delta is offering discounts of 4000 – 10,000 miles on economy awards within the 48 contiguous U.S. states and between those 48 States and the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central and South America.

Not all cities get the discount, either though as the promotion excludes travel to Caracas, Venezuela; Cancun, Mexico; and Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

Blackout dates are:

  • December 19 through December 24, 2014
  • December 26, 2014 through January 5, 2015
  • January 16, 2015
  • January 19, 2015
  • February 13, 2015
  • February 16, 2015

In other words, you don’t get the discount on holiday travel dates you’d want to fly.

Tickets to/from Brazil, Argentina, and Chile require a 7-day minimum stay, and all travel on this promotion has a 30 day maximum stay.

I didn’t love it when they offered something similar last month — too many restrictions — and I still don’t get excited about it.

The discounts certainly aren’t big enough that they ought to entice travel you wouldn’t otherwise take, which sort of seems to be the idea of discounting awards now.

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).

I’m a big fan of American Express Centurion lounges in US airports, which I get complimentary access to as a Platinum Card from American Express cardholder.

What Is An American Express Lounge?

American Express has begun operating their own network of “Centurion lounges,” which are a step above what travelers have become accustomed to from US airline-operated lounges.

I consider the American Express Centurion lounge in Dallas my favorite lounge in the U.S.. It’s also one of the lounges I visit most often.

Other contenders for best lounge would be the New York JFK Virgin Clubhouse, first class section of Lufthansa’s club, and British Airways Concorde Room.

There’s a Centurion lounge also at New York’s LaGuardia airport and in Las Vegas. Additional known lounges are in the pipeline for San Francisco and Miami. Others will surely come.


  • Centurion and Platinum cardholders: Cardmember may bring in their spouse and children or two guests
  • Other American Express cardholders: $50 per adult (children complimentary when accompanied by paying adult)

I keep my Platinum Card from American Express largely for access to the Centurion lounges. Here’s a full review of the card that explains why the signup bonus and airline fee credit make the card a no-brainer to me. (American Express even added a couple additional benefits since I reviewed the card.

See San Francisco Opening Details and News on Upcoming Lounges

Global Entry is fantastic skipping the immigration and customs queues when you return to the U.S.

I didn’t love the fingerprinting or background check that went along with it, but I figured all my cell phone data was being logged anyway long before Edward Snowden was cool. So if the surveillance was inevitable I figured I might as well at least get the convenience.

Now that I have it, it’s hard to imagine life without it — and not just queuing up at immigration, but also that I always get PreCheck at TSA now rather than having it be hit-or-miss through my airline elite status.

A Customs and Border Patrol agent can mark you down with a strike that can take it away from you, though. So you’d better cross your I’s, dot your T’s, and respect their authoritah.

A reader shares this experience getting one ‘strike’ on her Global Entry: Read More…

Just days ago I shared my elite status update and why I chose each program. Since that was meant as a window into my actual travels, and I reported just 4 stays and nights with Hilton for the year, I thought an update was appropriate.

I now have Hilton HHonors Diamond status.

Downgraded to Silver

I was a Silver. For the past several years I’ve been an HHonors Diamond from credit card spend. I figured that I would get a soft landing to Gold, which in the limit is just as good, but was given silver instead when I didn’t requalify.

Hilton bumped me up to Gold as a courtesy, a generous offer which I declined. They moved me back to silver. Keep Reading to See Where I Got My Hilton Diamond Status Instantly, for Free..!

On net I think the details of how American AAdvantage 2015 plans to combine with US Airways Dividend Miles in the second quarter of 2015 is the best possible outcome we could reasonably have expected.

I did expect that the combined program would have 4 elite tiers (as US Airways has today, and as both Delta and United have as well) and would move to a system of unlimited complimentary upgrades or all members (though I don’t think that system is better for lower tier elites, because it pushes down their success in actually getting upgrades — a system that has them ration when they request upgrades means they are more likely to get upgrades when they do request it).

As far as what could have happened — award chart increases, going revenue-based like United and Delta, imposing minimum revenue requirements for elite status — American didn’t pursue any of those.

Instead they basically kept (at least for now, and for the immediate term!) the American AAdvantage platform that is great for members, and they’re folding US Airways members into that.

Nonetheless, there’s no way to combine different programs in a way that would make everyone happy and better off. Take upgrades: if you like a system that requires using a limited number of earned upgrade instruments then you would be unhappy with unlimited complimentary upgrades (which increases competition for a given upgrade seat). American had the former system, US Airways the latter. So unless they doubled the size of their first class cabins (and gave every member a pony!) any integration becomes bound to disappoint some members.

So I thought I’d outline who gains and who loses given the specific way American will be combining its program with US Airways.
Keep Reading to Find Out How YOU Will Do In the New Program!

I receive compensation for many links on this blog. 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).

Back in March I spoke with David Rabkin, American Express Senior Vice President of consumer lending, about the biggest new credit card product launch from American Express we’ve seen in a long time.

What Amex had in store was:

Cool New Offer Adds In Amazon Prime to Both Cards

They’re both really valuable cards, different people will find or the other a better bit but they make sense in a lot of wallets.

Everyday is great for earning flexible points that transfer to miles with no fee, or warehousing Amex points that have been built up on another card. Everyday Preferred is one of the strongest-earning cards for your ongoing spend.

Neither has a gigantic bonus, but they’ve added a pretty good sweetener. Both cards currently come with a year of Amazon Prime as part of the signup bonus offer. That means free two-day shipping, unlimited instant streaming of movies and TV shows, and more. I’ve been paying for Amazon Prime for quite awhile out of pocket.

Amex Everyday: It’s Not Even Called American Express. For Many Folks, It’s Better.

The Amex EveryDaySM Credit Card from American Express is a no fee, true Membership Rewards-earning card.

One of the interesting things is that Membership Rewards itself used to come with an annual fee to earn and redeem points, and then some cards started bundling the program — but it was a premium program for premium cards.

I get asked all the time by folks who decide premium products like the American Express Platinum or Premier Rewards Gold isn’t for them, they want to downgrade their card so they still have an American Express product and can keep their Membership Rewards card active, what should they do? But there’s only been one no fee card that can house your Membership Rewards points, and that was a business card (which didn’t allow points transfers out to miles, so you’d have to get another Amex card later in order to do that). As a result many people wind up transferring points out of their account to a mileage program just to not lose the points.

All of this points to American Express missing part of the market with their consumer cards. And I think they’ve filled that gap with Amex Everday.

  • No annual fee
  • Earns full membership rewards whose points transfer to airline and hotel programs
  • 20 charges per billing cycle on the card earns a 20% bonus on points earned for the month
  • The card also earns double points at US supermarkets (up to $6000 spend per year)
  • Signup bonus is 10,000 points after $1000 spend in 3 months

The Premium Version of the Card Can Earn 1.5 Points Per Dollar on All Spend — Or More

The Amex EveryDaySM Preferred Credit Card from American Express is a premium $95 fee version which offers more bonuses and up to 1.5x on ALL spend.

  • Earns 3x at US supermarkets, and 2x at US gas stations. Supermarket bonus earn is capped at your first $6000 in spend each year.
  • 30 swipes in a billing cycle will get you a 50% bonus on all of your points-earning for that month — and the bonus even applies to the supermarket and gas station bonus categories (so supermarkets are up to 4.5 points per dollar).
  • 15,000 point signup bonus after $1000 spend in 3 months

I attended the launch party for the card in April and got a sense of what they’re after.

    free amazon prime

The cards aren’t “American Express” and they don’t use the logo of the Centurion (Roman Soldier) — too masculine.

They set out to design a card primarily marketed to women, multi-taskers, a card to use for all their purchases, large or small.

    Amex Everday

And they wound up designing the strongest travel rewards card in their arsenal, which seemed pretty ironic to me.

The cards are chip and signature. Both cards will offer additional cards on the account for free, and spending by secondary cardholders will count towards the 20 or 30 uses per month to earn that month’s bonus.

These aren’t all-purpose killers, they don’t waive foreign transaction fees which makes sense because their target market isn’t international travelers, and terms and conditions apply on all the offers and benefits. They don’t have the biggest bonuses. And while they come with standard American Express protections, they aren’t premium benefits cards like Platinum.

What they are is the strongest cards for earning American Express Membership Rewards points for ongoing spend. 1.5x earning on all spend (for making 30 charges in month) on the premium version of the card is huge, and that’s before we even get to the category bonuses. Triple points with 30 swipes in a month at gas stations is really strong.

Unless the vast majority of your spending is already getting bonused, then Everyday Preferred gives you the best rate of return for your spend – and it earns one of the three most valuable currencies.

Meanwhile, for someone just getting started and looking for a no fee card (or a card to use to retain Amex points already earned), there’s no other no annual fee card that offers full transferable points.

For ideas on how to use the points, here are the Best Amex Points Transfers Based on Where You Want to Travel.

The Amex EveryDaySM Credit Card from American Express
The Amex EveryDaySM Preferred Credit Card from American Express

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.

Aeroplan may seem like the kind of thing only our friendly neighbors to the North care about, but it’s actually one of the most useful American Express Membership Rewards transfer partners.

Aeroplan has access to the same awards that United does thanks to the Star Alliance. Their award chart is reasonable for many destinations. And their website is pretty good. Transfers from Amex are instant. Aeroplan costs just 45,000 miles each way in business class to nearer Europe.

Winter is Coming for Aeroplan Routing Rules

Two days ago I noted that Aeroplan routing rules were changing in terms of how they determined whether flights were permissible for award redemption.

Every city pair has a published ‘maximum permitted mileage’ — a number of miles you can fly when going from A to B. Some city pairs have more than one set of allowable mileages, for instance flying between North America and Asia has one limit if you’re crossing the Pacific and another higher limit if you’re going via the Atlantic.

Aeroplan allowed you to exceed this published maximum by 5% and sometimes by more when redeeming miles. This was really quite generous.

One Mile at a Time was excited at the prospect of Aeroplan eliminating even this restriction.

I didn’t think this would work out so well, especially because along with the elimination of the maximum permitted mileage rule Aeroplan was going to start automatically pricing awards instead of having agents check whether awards were ok under the rules.

That sounds great, but if they are only allowed to book itineraries that autoprice in the computer there’s lots of room for glitches.. or hidden award constraints that simply don’t price.

Now that the rules are in effect we know that they are worse for flyers than before, much of what used to be allowed when using miles no longer is.
Continue Reading to Find Out What’s Going on With Aeroplan, and What it Means for Your Award Tickets…

News and notes from around the interweb:

Next year Delta is only going to award miles based on the cost of a ticket.

Right now though you can earn the actual miles flown on Delta plus 5000 miles for your next flight.

The only catch is you have to credit the flight to Delta’s Skyteam partner Alitalia, registering for your new Alitalia Millemiglia account by November 28 and taking that flight within 3 months of enrolling. Continue Reading to Unlock the Secrets of Crediting Delta Miles to Their Skyteam Partner Alitalia..!

This is my best read and advice, not something that Delta has officially confirmed, just something I believe they have tipped their hand on.

Delta rolled out IT changes that caused stopovers not to price correctly a couple of days ago. Adding a stopover in Europe on a business class award cost 50,000 miles more than a roundtrip.

Instead of 125,000 miles, stopping in Paris instead of just connecting there was 175,000 miles:

It turns out that Delta didn’t mean to eliminate stopovers. Their IT just started charging more now. Continue Reading to See How Delta Tipped Their Hand…

US Airways offers a paid status challenge program where you get temporary status for 90 days and then have an opportunity to fly to keep that status on an accelerated basis.

At the beginning of the month US Airways eliminated the ability to buy miles towards status, which used to be a great alternative to mileage running for those last few flights you’d need to qualify.

But how long will these paid challenges still be around?

Reader Mike P. asks,

Any thoughts or predictions on how long US Trial Preferred will be around?

I would like to start a trial as late as possible so that much of the
trial activity can be in earning year 2015. But then again, I’m
nervous they will pull the program.

Mike would like to fly his challenge in 2015 so the flying also counts towards qualifying for 2016 status.

To do that he needs his 90 day period to extend into 2015, and wants as much of the period as possible to, so he would like to wait to register. But he’s nervous the program will be eliminated before he signs up.

I think he’s right to be concerned. Continue reading to see why…

This morning I wrote that Delta had started charging more miles for stopovers on international awards and that one of two things were possible:

  • An unannounced devaluation, with stopovers no longer permitted on a roundtrip award (even though no such announcement had been made and the website said stopovers were still allowed)
  • A glitch with the pricing engine.

I showed a pricing example, where a stop in Paris on the way to Prague cost an extra 50,000 miles on a business class award ticket. Drop that simple Paris – Prague flight and the price came back down.

We didn’t’ have enough information to know which scenario it was though — unannounced devaluation, or technical glitch. As I wrote,

Delta doesn’t appear to be pricing US-Europe awards correctly, stopovers are costing extra. It’s either an unannounced devaluation (no more stopovers on these awards permitted), or an IT glitch — the pricing engine just isn’t working properly.

At this point we don’t know which it is. I certainly find ‘problem with the pricing engine’ a plausible scenario because Delta’s pricing engine hasn’t worked properly, and has been full of errors, for years. This would just be a new error.

One working theory I read elsewhere was that Delta had removed the ability to book stopovers on international award tickets because they’re introducing one-way awards in 2015.

That alone, though, didn’t seem persuasive.

  • Plenty of programs around the world allow stopovers on one-ways. Delta hasn’t said theirs will not.
  • United allows one-ways and stopovers on roundtrips
  • American only eliminated all stopovers on one-ways THIS YEAR, when they introduced one-ways they still allowed stopovers at the international gateway city.

Delta doesn’t yet permit one-way redemptions, and their announced plans are for them not to begin to do so until 2015. So why eliminate them now — without notice — and when the website states they’re still permitted?

Since there was no announcement of a change I thought it only fair to speculate that technical issues was an equally plausible explanation for this particular set of facts. Continue Reading to Find Out Delta’s Explanation of a Glitch, and How They’re Sticking It To You Anyway…!

This is probably the ultimate first world problem sort of complaint, but American has replaced the first class warm cookie of deliciousness with one that isn’t worth eating, and that I decline now every time.

Perhaps that’s good — I don’t need it anyway — but I share my experiences and thoughts on this blog both large and small, I compliment the little things and criticize them too.

Meal service isn’t just about whether there’s a meal, but what’s served. When I first started flying for work in the mid- to late-90s, lunch on a cross country flight might be a steak, served in courses after an appetizer of shrimp. I remember how controversial the ‘gourmet’ burger was on United in early 2001, and it was much better than the cheeseburger on American and Continental in the late 2000s.

Goodness knows there’s an uproar when airlines cut ice cream sundaes from first class.

Back in August, American sought to reassure us that they were keeping warm cookies.

But as I wrote about six weeks ago, it’s a different cookie.

No, Really. Click to Continue Reading, Because the New Cookie Needs to Go!!

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).

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.

Key Links:
The US Airways Premier World MasterCard®:

    40,000 points after first purchase

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®:

    50,000 points and 2 lounge passes after $3000 in purchases within 3 months of account opening

Yesterday I noted that Barclays, which issues the US Airways MasterCard, started to show some real aggressiveness. When the US Airways and American programs merge, it won’t be possible to get the US Airways MasterCard any longer.

Meanwhile there’s also a better than usual offer for the Citibank American Airlines credit card.

There’s are short window of time where there’s more than one co-branded credit card — issued by different banks, so you can apply at the same time even if you want – where the miles will get combined into a single frequent flyer account.

One of the Best Deals of the Year: 90,000 Miles for $89, and a Low Spending Requirement

When new applications for the US Airways card disappear with the integration of Dividend Miles and the American AAdvantage program, it will be a shame. The card offers an easy 40,000 miles without any minimum spending, just a single purchase. The annual fee for the card is $89. That’s about a quarter of a penny per point.

With the integration of US Airways and American programs months away, this is a great time to get the US Airways card. Your US Airways miles will then become American AAdvantage miles.

It’s a really unique opportunity, because you can also get an American Airlines credit card. And that’s a totally different signup bonus. They’re issued by different banks so you may even be able to get them both at the same time.

There’s a limited-time offer right now for the American Airlines co-brand MasterCard: 50,000 points after $3000 spending within 3 months of card opening. The card has a $0 fee the first year, and it’s $95 thereafter. There have been unofficial links offering 50,000 miles for awhile, and I’ve written about those. What’s actually limited time is the additional throw-in of 2 American Airlines Admirals Club passes to boot.

Combined that’s 90,000 bonus miles from these two cards, and the total spending requirement is just $3000 on the Citibank-issued card and one purchase on the Barclaycard-issued US Airways one.

How good is this?

  • Earlier this year many would say the deal of the year was Citibank’s offer of 100,000 miles for their American Airlines Executive card. That required $10,000 in spend and had a net cost of $250 after statement credits, but did bundle American Airlins lounge membership.

  • Here these cards are offering just 10,000 fewer bonus miles.. but with $7000 less spend required, and for $161 less out of pocket.

  • What’s more, unlike United and Delta miles, we learned today that American miles aren’t likely to become worth less any time soon.

So this pretty well represents one of the very best deals of the year as well.

Here’s What You Can Do With the Miles

With these two cards, once you have met the $3000 spending requirement, you’ll have at least 93,000 miles. Those miles will get combined into a single frequent flyer account when US Airways and American Airlines programs get merged in a few months.

With that in mind, you can of course pick up domestic roundtrip tickets at 25,000 miles a piece. But that’s not what I would do.

A business class award to Europe or South America is 50,000 miles each way. First class is 62,500 miles each way

American’s own premium cabins can be tough to get on points, but their partners are easier. I’ve flown British Airways first class across the Pond, albeit that does incur fuel surcharges.

American AAdvantage oneworld partner Iberia has really good business class award space between the US and Europe without big fuel surcharges.

A business class award to Southeast Asia (‘Asia 2′) is 55,000 miles each way. First class is 67,500 miles each way.

I’ve taken Cathay Pacific first class to Asia and back too many times to count. Folks have joked that I ‘live’ in Cathay first. But for the past five years award availability has been pretty good, I’ve been able to get it, so why not? I’ve taken their New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Toronto flights (Toronto no longer offers first class). I’ll take the Los Angeles flight for the first time in a few weeks.

It’s been my ride of choice on trips to Bali, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and more.

A business class award to India and the surrounding region is 67,500 miles each way. First class is 90,000 miles each way.

I’ve taken Etihad from New York and from Washington Dulles to Abu Dhabi in first class, and on to the Maldives.

Need a head start on booking your award ticket with the points? Here’s my Ultimate Guide to Booking Award Tickets Using American AAdvantage Miles.

The US Airways Premier World MasterCard®
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®

Frequent Traveler University, December 5-7, Hyatt Regency Crystal City (near Washington’s National Airport)

This promises to be the largest gathering of frequent flyers ever, bringing together some of the best minds in miles and points and creating an opportunity for folks interested in the hobby to learn, trade tips, and build friendships (and networks for sharing knowledge offline as well).

I’m excited to be helping to put it together, and I’m giving away two packages to FTU on the blog this week. Each of two winners will receive:

  • A complimentary ticket to FTU ($149)
  • 2 hotel nights for the event (valued at $99+tax per night)

So that’s over $350 in value per prize, with two prizes, an all you have to do to enter is comment on this post as I explain below. And of course everyone who buys (or wins!) a ticket receives Hyatt Platinum status.

And don’t worry, you can go ahead and buy one, if you win the contest I’ll make sure your purchase gets refunded – or refund it myself!
Continue reading to see how easy it is to enter and win!

American Airlines just announced when their AAdvantage program and the US Airways Dividend Miles program will be combined into one, and what the program will look like.

I’m going to outline the program below, based on the announcement that American made and also based on clarifications that I got yesterday speaking with AAdvantage President Suzanne Rubin and members of her team.

We’re Keeping the American AAdvantage Program, Mostly As-Is

Throughout the past year the mantra at American, as they proceed with the US Airways merger, has been “integrate before we innovate.” The goal has to become one airline, not to make changes. So it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that they’ve basically announced that they are keeping the current American AAdvantage program, with a few minor tweaks.

And while there’s going to be more detail on all of this to share, I came away from talking with Suzanne with a clear understanding that the goal here is to set expectations of members about what they will experience going forward. They never make commitments not to change things in the future, but they do look like they’re carrying forward the AAdvantage program, as it currently exists, for the most part — rather than becoming revenue-based or upending the award chart. Which is great news for flyers.

Suzanne told me, “what we’re trying to do is help people understand what to expect as we bring the programs together.”

What’s more, as they focus on integrating the two airlines first rather than making changes to AAdvantage, she points out that they “won’t be done when the frequent flyer programs integrate, there is a lot of work with the reservation systems and single operating certificate to bring two carriers together,” so that’s the airline’s focus. It sounds like they’ve shared the new status quo with us, at least for now. Suzanne emphasized that they will continue “the balance and restraint we’ve shown”as they look at what changes other carriers make to their programs.

Timeframe: They will combine programs and accounts on a one-to-one basis during the second quarter of 2015. They haven’t set a target date, and there’s lots of IT work to do, but they sounded optimistic to me about hitting their deadlines on the early, rather than late, side of the calendar.
Continue to Read All the Details on the New Program, Including What You Won’t Find in the Press Releases or On the Website!

lancexfang emailed me about an issue this afternoon that seems to be new today with Delta. (He also pointed me to the Flyertalk thread he started.)

Delta international awards have allowed one stopover and one open jaw.

In other words, you could fly Atlanta – Paris (stop for several day) – Prague (destination) and then return home to Atlanta. That’s an example of a stopover.

You could also return from, say, Warsaw or from Paris. Then you would have a stopover as before and an open jaw, returning from a city other than the one you arrive into.

Today Delta seems to be still allowing open jaws — but pricing stopovers at an extra mileage cost.

Delta’s price for North America – Europe in business class is 125,000 miles.
See What They’re Charging Members Instead — You’ll Be Shocked and Offended!

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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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