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

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

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

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

Keep Reading!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Except There May Be One Last Shot!

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

The offer appears marketed to new MasterCard cardholders. But…

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

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

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

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

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

(HT: Alan H.)

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

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

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

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

But it isn’t true.

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

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

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

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

The blogger speculates why

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    US Airways Premier World MasterCard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    (HT: The Flight Deal)

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

    There were two factors at play, as I tweeted,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The American Airlines rebranding was incredibly expensive. And while it’s true that the new composite aircraft they’ve ordered need painting rather than brushed metal, painting all the aircraft anew – not to mention changing all the signage, even making new napkins and updating websites, was a huge undertaking.

    I’d suspect it didn’t help them on net to sell a single additional ticket, or a ticket they would have otherwise sold but at a higher price.

    Now Cathay Pacific is about to reveal a brand refresh.

    Here’s the concept:

    “‘Travelling well’ will be a core part of the brand refresh” reveals Dane Cheng, Cathay Pacific’s Director of Sales & Marketing.

    “We see Cathay Pacific as global brand which is not just about the airline but about the lifestyle, about travelling well and travelling in style and being well looked after,” Cheng tells Australian Business Traveller.

    But what does this mean in practice?

    [T]he launch of an online “retail travel platform” in early November through which Cathay Pacific will sell “a range of premium travel products” Cheng says. “Not just airfares but hotels, car hire, the whole journey, which fits into ‘travel well’.”

    They’re going to be an online travel agency selling this like hotels, cars, and other travel-related experiences. Kind of like Expedia. And kind of like United CEO Dick Ferris renaming the company ‘Allegis’ in 1987 and trying to transform the company into a travel cross-selling entity with its owned hotel and car companies. That experiment lasted about 15 months before Ferris was gone and the company was again called ‘United’. (At various points, Westin, Hilton, and Hertz were United subsidiaries — so it’s interesting to see Hertz again in such close partnership with United, while Westin’s parent is hooked up with Delta and Hilton without an exclusive airline dance partner.)

    I have to imagine the marketing consultants that came up with this idea cost a lot of money.

    Which is why the old ideas (which may well be incrementally valuable) get packaged and explained as the airline’s “Asian-ness.”

    “We’re very proud of our Asian roots and we have our cabin attendants from most of the Asian countries, and Asia is very famous for hospitality and service standards, so the whole brand proposition retains a lot of this Asian-ness.”

    Airlines need to stop paying for things like this and spend on their inflight product and capital investments instead.

    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. 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’ve highlighted the 70,000 point signup bonus for the Marriott Visa several times over the past three years such as here and here and also here.

    It’s been available on and off, in recent times on quite a bit.

    Reader Veronica M. let me know that it’s being actively marketed by email currently.

    70,000 points plus a free night (up to category 4) is better than the standard 50,000 point public offer, and for avoidance of doubt this is not a link that offers referral credit.

    Here’s the offer:

    • The signup bonus is 70,000 points and after $2000 spend within three months, and a free night at a hotel up to category four.
    • There is a $0 annual fee the first year and $85 thereafter
    • The card has no foreign transaction fees.
    • You also get 15 nights’ credit towards elite status each year, and an additional elite night credit for each $3000 spend on the card.

    For a Marriott person, it’s worth keeping the card for help towards elite status and the annual free night in a hotel up to category 5 is worth the annual fee.

    But I wouldn’t otherwise put spending on the card — earning 1 Marriott point is worth less than earning an airline mile with most carriers, and certainly worth less than earning a Chase Ultimate Rewards point or Starwood Starpoint (and worth less than earning on a 2% cash back card, since a Marriott point isn’t close to being worth 2 cents).

    But the signup bonus can go farther than with many other hotel cards:

    • It’s worth two nights in a category 7 hotel plus a night in a category 4. Or 4 nights in a category 4 with 10,000 points leftover (you can convert those to miles, or save them – Marriott points do not expire in practice even though the rules say they will).
    • Or it is 1 to 2 nights in a Ritz-Carlton plus a category 4 night.
    • And you can also, of course, top off a Marriott account with Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfers. That’s not generally the best use of Chase points but if you’re close to an award it can make sense.

    It can make sense to get the card for the bonus. And to keep the card for the annual free night.

    But put your spend on higher value cards like the 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.

    There’s a tremendous volume of spam that this blog attracts, sometimes close to 10,000 comments per day. I imagine it’s because of the search value in the blog, and that it’s been around for more than a dozen years.

    Much of it is well handled by the spam plugins set up with WordPress. Some of it I have to go through manually. And if I ever make a mistake and mistag a comment that you’ve made, I deeply apologize. It’s rare, I may not know if it has ever happened and I’m generally pretty good about getting that stuff right. But the volume means that sometimes I could make a mistake. Please let me know if it happens to you and I’ll retrieve your comment.

    Most spam is obvious. I came across the least obvious spam ever, so perfectly targeted for this blog that I actually followed the links myself!

    I received a ‘trackback’ from a site implying a 75,000 point signup bonus for a United credit card. Wow!

    I followed the link. It briefly brought me to a page of gibberish. And then forwarded to a porn site.

    Here’s what vexedme.

    • This spam was really specific to the site. That is, most spam is for things I (and readers) would have no interest in.
    • It used credit cards as the come on for porn. In other words, the supposition is that a big credit card bonus is the kind of thing people would click on, as a way of tricking or enticing them to become interested in porn.
    • Usually it’s the other way around.

    Dare I ask, what that says about signup bonuses?

    For those clamoring for a travel ban, the U.S. has ordered that passengers coming from 3 West African countries are only allowed to enter via five airports.

    Passengers coming from Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea may only enter the U.S. at New York JFK, Newark, Washington Dulles, Atlanta, and Chicago O’Hare.

    Those are the airports where $19 an hour EMTs will look for Ebola as passengers turn up.

    And that’s where 94% of those passengers are flying through anyway.

    So 6% of passengers coming from those 3 West African nations, who might have planned to, say, fly via some European city to Boston, Miami, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Denver, San Francisco, or Seattle will have to re-route.

    A travel ban is both unnecessary and likely ineffective, but politically it is sometimes helpful to “do something” and this, indeed, technically qualifies as “something.”

    American’s 777-200s are being retrofitted, and the first one is now in service with a brand new business class that looks fantastic but no longer offering first class.

    Since American’s 777-300ER aircraft got a new first class, that means the old Flagship Suites are being retired.

    I reviewed American’s first class lounge at New York JFK at the start of the trip.

    From the lounge I proceeded to the departure gate just as boarding was already starting to commence.

    And there she was! It’s like a throwback to what feels like an earlier time. There’s great space, even some ingeniousness to the seat. They’ve enhanced the soft product over the past three years. But at its core is a large first class cabin (too large for modern economcis) with a seat that’s been left behind by the competition, with privacy provided only by passengers being angled away from each other.

    Continue reading to see the full service elements of American’s international first class

    In January 2013 the United Club Card lost one of its best, underappreciated benefits. Cardholders used to get Avis Presidents Club status, which you couldn’t even get through frequent rentals.

    It entailed guaranteed availability and a guaranteed two car class upgrade, sometimes you’d do even better.

    The benefit remained for the legacy (Continental) Presidential Plus MasterCard.

    This was clearly a loss driven by the Avis side of the relationship. My guess was this was in advance of the revamp of Avis’ program which has been gearing up for big changes for an interminably long time and now finally appears about to happen.

    United and Chase has now gone out and put together a relationship with Hertz.

    There are benefits for United elites and for Chase’s premium (not United Explorer or legacy Visa Signature) cardholders: Continue reading to see what United elites now get!

    News and notes from around the interweb:

    USA Today asks but doesn’t really answer the question of why airfares are going up even as fuel prices are down from their peak.

    The answer is simple, though the story behind the simple answer is a bit more complex.

    Airfares are high because planes are full. When airlines are selling most of their seats, they can raise prices.

    Airfares aren’t really directly related to cost, they’re set based on the supply of available seats and demand for those seats.

    Of course, the number of seats an airline is willing to provide at a given price point is determined in the long term by its cost structure, among other things (like how easy it is to access gates and planes, which is related both to cost, structural limitations, and government regulation).

    So the interesting question is why the high prices haven’t induced more capacity into the system. Why aren’t airlines growing quickly as they have during good times in the past?

    And that’s actually an interesting question. One story here would be that the airlines have learned from past mistakes. They know that as soon as they start adding capacity and competing aggressively they lose money. So even if their individual incentive might be to do so, they recognize as soon as they do they’ll eliict a competitive response from other carriers.

    Another piece of this may be industry consolidation — but not in the usual way people think.

    Find out why fares are really higher, and who is being cheated, by reading on..

    Yesterday I wrote,

    My offer for IHG Rewards’ “Into the Nights” promotion — the most generous hotel offer in the market by far — has not changed. But others are reporting that the requirements for them to earn free nights are shifting after the promotion is underway. I’ve reached out to IHG to see whether there’s some sort of technical glitch, or something more nefarious going on.

    IHG Rewards initially gave the wrong — too generous — offer to many members. Their intention to was target different offers to different members, but ‘too many’ (relative to their intention) got the super generous one that I got and still had.

    Here’s what they were telling folks who complained about registering for an offer, staying at IHG Rewards Club hotels to complete the offer, and then having the rug pulled out from under them:

    Initially you were not given the correct set of offers. Upon IHG Rewards Club Service Center realizing this error, the correct set of offers were assigned. The offers you now have are the correct set that have been personalized for you.” Here is a screenshot of the entire email.

    In other words, ha ha, tricked you!
    Continue reading to see how IHG Rewards Club resolved this…

    Christopher Elliott thinks that car rental companies are too quick to blame consumers for damage, and consumers too unwilling to own up to damaging cars.

    Both claims are probably true.

    • As the last renter of a vehicle, a rental car company may assume you caused damage. But a car could have had pre-existing, undocumented damage or may have suffered an incident after the rental was returned.
    • If you ding a rental car, and the company doesn’t say anything about it, are you generally the first to bring it to their attention?

    Although telling businesses they should stop doing what they’re doing, and consumers that they should behave differently too, is certainly tilting at windmills.

    I know that I do not look for dings and dents. If they aren’t major, I won’t notice them picking up a car. And I don’t inspect the car before returning it, either.

    I also generally rent from major brand full service rental companies — Avis and National are where I’ve had most of my rentals, but Hertz falls into the same camp. And generally speaking these major companies, renting and returning at the airport, don’t nickel and dime you for road wear. Small dings and scrapes happen, and are accepted more or less.

    That doesn’t mean they have to be but these companies usually treat them that way.

    The off brand ‘discounters’ and players like Enterprise are a different story entirely. It’s no surprise to me that the examples in Elliott’s column are rentals with Alamo and Enterprise.

    I’ve rented from Enterprise before, but I never want to — first, because the paperwork has always taken interminably long, and second because there’s the collision damage waiver hard sell. The walk around the car of shame. “You’d better note any damage because you’ll be responsible for anything not noted.” I’ve been told that state law requires me to put down the full amount of my insurance deductible when I return the vehicle if there are any scrapes and I don’t take their insurance.

    It’s simply not worth any savings to me to go through the hassle.

    I always pay for car rentals with a credit card that comes with primary collision damage coverage. There are several now, including Chase Sapphire Preferred, United Explorer, and Diners Club.

    If I didn’t have one of these, I’d probably rent with an American Express card and spring for their premium rental car protection, a much better deal than paying for a rental company to let you off the hook for anything your own insurance doesn’t cover.

    If you ding up a rental car, there may always be some hassle. I worry less knowing that most of it is someone else’s problem in the end, my credit card company’s coverage and my own insurance coverage. And I rent from companies that seem to worry less about the minor stuff.

    In the end there still may be disagreements. If there is a claim of damage, I may wind up in the middle of an argument or on the hook for ‘loss of use’ charges, a claim by the rental company that they need to b e paid not just for fixing the car but for the rental revenue they could have earned while the car was out of service. Any insurer should want proof that the rental location was sold out of cars on the days they want to be paid for (fleet usage logs), or else the company didn’t actually forego an opportunity to earn revenue off the car while it was in the shop. And disputes over that can linger on, so I could still wind up paying some rental days in the end.

    And I’m cool with that, for the number of times I’ve probably had rocks hit my windshield or other road hazards scrape the car that I didn’t even realize, and neither did the rental company.

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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.