In some markets, Uber is introducing Corner Store. They’ve just sent an email out in the DC market, for instance.

They’ll bring you what you want from about 100 items so far.

Items include things like sleeping aids, pain relievers, envelopes, Clorox, tissues, batteries, candy, baby wipes, and condoms:

If they’re in your market, here’s how it works:

  • Toggle to the CORNER STORE option Mon-Fri, 9am-9pm
  • Set your delivery location within our coverage area and confirm your address
  • Be prepared when your driver calls to take your order from our inventory list below
  • Upon arrival, meet your driver outside & confirm your order
  • As always, no cash required! Only the items you ordered will be charged to your Uber account (no additional fees)
  • Clearly Uber has to extend itself to other industries if they’re going to actually become worth their $18 billion valuation. I’m not sure they’ll get that by competing with the Stop ‘n Shop, and it isn’t nearly as cool as UberChopper but I could certainly see it having a use.

    If you haven’t used Uber yet they’ll give you $30 off of your first ride. (And I get the same for referring you.) In DC, UberX (a dude with their car) starts at $7 while a black car starts at $12. So make it a worthwhile ride to maximize the credit. For me, a black car from work to the airport is $29 or so for instance.

    Complimentary deodorant is apparently the number one wish from airlines by UK travelers. *

    I think this is misguided.

    1. Most people don’t smell because others fail to give them deodorant.
    2. Very few people who say they want deodorant are the same people who smell.
    3. We don’t really want to be given free deodorant. We want other people to be given free deodorant.

    Deoderant is cheap. Price — at least for those with incomes to support air travel — really isn’t a barrier.

    According to the CheapFlights UK survey, 40% of English adults have flown business or first class. If that were true, British Airways’ financial performance would be stronger. This is simply a reason to doubt the survey. Along with the following claim:

    Passengers who have received a free upgrade from economy are more likely to get one by flirting than by pretending to be ill or other deceitful means.

    Or their deceitful means are focused primarily on answering survey questions. Most passengers receiving complimentary upgrades are not doing so by flirting or faking sick. Although I suppose it’s possible that “more likely” means that 1 customer reported getting an upgrade by flirting (they could simply have been delusional) and none reported getting an upgrade by faking sick. We haven’t seen the underlying data…

    (HT: Alan H.)

    * I might have expected responses of “free dental work” or “food with flavor.”

    Today is free hotel status day here at View from the Wing.

    To add onto earlier posts about signing up for accounts that start off with elite status, it’s worth highlighting that you can still get Le club Accorhotels top tier Platinum status without actually staying at Accor Hotel properties.

    It turns out that Frequent Flyer Italia (yes, the blog is written in Italian but Google translates) flags that you can get this status when you own 50 shares of Accor hotels.

    You used to be able to sign up for Le club Accorhotels instant top tier Platinum status at will almost anytime.

    I last saw an opportunity at the end of 2013, though.

    So worth having your pocket that once you own 50 shares you can record them with Accor for top tier Platinum status. And current rules suggest you keep the status as long as you own the shares.

    As I write this the share price in Euros suggests a cost of 50 shares at ~ US$2368.

    What Platinum Status Gets You

    Platinum status usually requires 60 nights or 25,000 points earned.

    This status is far from the most rewarding, set your expectations accordingly. Earlier this year at the Sofitel London Heathrow, Platinum status meant an upgrade to a king bed.

    Your experiences should be better than that since the program has improved its elite benefits and in addition to bonus points-earning, Platinums now get free internet, early checkin and late checkout subject to availability, and lounge access when the eligible hotel has that amenity.

    Use This Status to Match to Another Program

    Many hotel programs now offer challenges rather than matches, but some like Club Carlson are willing to match Accor status generally.

    Get a Rebate for Your Accor Hotels Booking, Too.

    In addition to frequent sales offering discounts of 30% or more on the room rate, TopCashBack sometimes offers 8% or larger rebates on Accor hotels bookings. Start out at TopCashBack, your mileage may vary as to whether the offers will be stackable (whether your cash back will report). But it makes sense to try, as there’s no reason to leave money on the table.

    News and notes from around the interweb:

    The free mid-tier elite status offer has been extended through the end of 2014 for Visa Infinite cardholders and HSBC Premier members and perhaps others.

    Langham Hotels 1865 Voyager status normally requires 5 stays within 12 months.

    Key benefits are:

    • complimentary room upgrade subject to room availability)
    • free internet access
    • 6pm late checkout
    • welcome amenity

    Use this link to go to the enrollment page. Then enter the invitation code 453826123 into the top box and click ‘enter’. Membership tier should change to ‘Voyager’.

    The offer is valid through December 31, and status is scheduled to last for 12 months once you register. Status should get renewed with just two stays per year.

    A Ritz-Carlton Rewards credit card comes with Gold status and United MileagePlus Gold members and above get free Marriott Gold status.

    But if you don’t have any Marriott status, then the company you work for may give you Silver just for showing up. I’ve covered this before, two years later the advice is the same.

    Here’s how Marriott signs up people at the Silver status level from a variety of companies that they have corporate agreements with.

    There’s a simple link, the format is

    So the link for Accenture is

    And the link for the University of California is

    … to give a few examples, each of which open new accounts at the Silver level. You can try to enter your own company name to see what’s offered, if anything. (For instance, Microsoft has a page which gives silver status, the IBM page does not.)

    The benefits of Marriott Rewards silver status aren’t exceptional, but it’s better to be Silver of course than a non-status guest.

    Whatever link you use, Silver status should be instant. It’s simple, they don’t need to check with Accenture’s travel manager to confirm employment, they just give you the status.

    More big news out today in frequent flyer-world:

    Thrillist has a piece today declaring the airline route that’s “the most popular/busiest in the world” Hong Kong – Taipei.

    At 4.9 million passengers last year.

    Wait just one second.. That didn’t sit right. That’s only about half the passengers as the route with the greatest passenger volume. And it took me a couple of minutes to figure out what’s going on here.

    The data being reported was for the busiest international routes by passenger volume. All of the many routes with more passengers are domestic ones.

    Here are the busiest international routes by passenger volume last year:

    And here are the busiest routes with most passengers, without excluding domestic flights.

      (Passenger count reported in thousands.)

    The latter data is showing 2012 passengers, and the chart with international routes only is passenger totals for 2013, but order of magnitude this should be correct.

    Six of the eight busiest routes in the world are Asian domestic routes. A seventh – also dubbed busiest international one in the world – only counts on international depending on whom you ask (flying between a Chinese ‘special administrative region’ and the Republic of China).

    Interestingly, this list doesn’t include any US domestic routes. Department of Transportation data suggests that 3 US domestic routes might squeak into the top 10.

    San Francisco – Los Angeles transports the most people, and that’s followed by another Los Angeles route — to New York — and another New York route — to Miami.

    Interestingly, though not on the list above, New York – Chicago actually has more daily flights between the two metropolitan areas than any other domestic route.. albeit with smaller aircraft and not always full.

    Unquestionably, the most important US market is New York followed by Los Angeles. San Francisco, Chicago, and Miami are key as well though a notch below.

    I answered a question earlier today that I realize could be useful to others — it’s basic stuff for the seasoned international traveler, but worth sharing for the first-timer going abroad: power adapters and converters.

    A converter alters the power so that it matches the needs of your device. For instance, Europe runs on 220 volt electricity while the US is 110 volt. Most devices do not need a converter. Nearly all modern electronics are dual voltage meaning they work on both 110 and 220 volts. You do not need a converter just an adapter so you can plug them straight into the wall. This almost certainly true for your laptop and mobile phone.

    On the other hand hair devices (curling irons, flat irons, hair dryers) that aren’t dual voltage [and most aren't] will need a converter, and you need one rated for the wattage of the device you’re using.

    An adapter makes your cord, shaped for US outlets, stick into a socket where the shape in other countries is different. You can by a cheap ‘universal’ adapter for ~ $10 or buy country-specific ones for ~ $3 with shipping.

    The question I was asked was specific to Europe and there’s no such thing as a Europe-wide plug. This underscores that while there are just a handful of different outlet types they do vary by country and for differing historical reasons.

    The UK has its own 3-prong outlets (also used in places like Hong Kong, I wonder why…). That’s different from France (2 prong, rounded) and also different from Italy. France’s is what’s usually termed ‘Europe’ though parts of Europe do use different outlets. If you’re buying country-specific adapters, make sure you have the adapter that will work where you’re traveling.

      European Power Adapter

    I’ve made a mistake before and used a device that required a converter, simply plugging it into the wall. I fried the (cheap) device and also blew a fuse in the room.

    One thing I do that both protects my device (a little) and means I don’t need as many converters or adapters is I’ll have one, plug into the wall, and plus a compact travel power strip into them. That way I can run multiple devices off a single outlet.

    It’s said that, evolutionarily, engagement rings are diamonds because less expensive items would be given out by men much more frequently. Since they’re so expensive, most men can only give them out to a but one woman. And by handing over a large portion of one’s net worth, it serves as a hostage to ensure fidelity.

    On the contrary, I always thought that Diamonds were for buying online from Costco and returning in-store.

    Well it turns out that engagement, and marriage itself, has a back-end approach to mileage-earning if things don’t work out. And I don’t mean lawyers who take compensation in the form of gift cards purchased at office supply stores, or who take payment directly by credit card.

    Now I’ve done a lot of crazy things in my life to earn miles. I had a hair loss consultation for 20,000 Delta miles (even though I am far from balding). Then there was the Lasik eye exam (I don’t wear glasses). And the Wendys-Airtran promotion which led to a rash of dumpster diving.

    Once upon a time you could even earn miles by donating blood.

    A couple of years ago I wrote that you can earn miles for making child support payments in some states by paying with your credit card.

    This doesn’t even involve Evolve money, but it does seem like something you could do to unload gift cards.

    Last I looked MasterCard and Discover were accepted by Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin. It’s one of the few times I’ve ever seen MasterCard accepted and not Visa.

    Fortunately Visa and Mastercard are both accepted by Arizona, Illinois, and Pennsylvania.

    New Jersey no longer accepts credit cards. That deal has been killed. It turns out they eliminated the credit card option two weeks prior to my posting on the subject, so there’s no clear link to the deal’s overexposure.

    At the onset of the financial crisis and Great Recession there were several great jokes. One was that if you bought a new toaster, you’d be given a free bank! Another was how the financial crisis was different from divorce? With the financial crisis you lose half your assets but you’re still married.

    Now here’s an opportunity, if you’ve gotten divorced with kids, you may have lost your assets but you gain miles.

    News and notes from around the interweb:

    We know how it generally works for airlines. They make seats available as ‘saver’ awards when they don’t expect to sell those seats for cash.

    A year in advance they’ll have some idea what seats those might be, and may make some award seats available when the flights are loaded into the schedule. Very close to departure they’ll have a pretty good idea which seats that haven’t sold will go out empty, which is why the very last minute can be about the best time to book awards (but also a gamble, because sold out flights – which many are nowadays – won’t be bookable at saver award prices).

    Hotel programs generally work differently. The economics aren’t always the same but in general most now offer a room for points whenever the base or ‘standard’ room type at the hotel is available for sale.

    Hotels used to operate like airlines, they would evaluate which rooms were likely to go unsold n a given night and make only those rooms available as awards. As a result, it could be as ‘tough’ to use hotel points as it is to use airline miles. Read More…

    Using miles for things other than travel has been an increasing trend, the loyalty programs have been offering several new options over the past few years — whether it’s redeeming miles for other travel like hotels and rental cars, or for LCD toasters.

    The idea is that miles are a general currency, they can be spent like money. Heavy travelers may not want more flights. And if there are limited award seats available getting members to spend miles on other things satisfies those members rather than frustrating them.

    But frequent flyer programs can buy saver awards (likely to go unsold, spoiling inventory) at a deep discount, a much deeper discount than they can buy toasters — especially since mileage programs aren’t usually the ones in the fulfillment business actually warehousing and shipping the toaster. So merchandise rewards are rarely a great value, especially compared to travel.

    One of the very first merchandise options that was introduced was magazine subscriptions. And it’s remained a part of several programs for years, in part because it’s an inexpensive item so folks with very few miles can get something rather than saving up longer than an individual member’s time horizon (and thus the option can help such a member from getting discouraged).

    When it comes to stranded or expiring miles, I always prefer to add miles to an account rather than give up and burn miles — whether to just ‘use up’ orphan miles (in a program where mileage expiration can be extended, earning more miles will eventually yield higher value awards) or to extend the life of a mileage balance.

    But there are a few times when spending miles for magazine and newspaper subscriptions can make sense. Read More…

    Hotel franchise manuals contain all sorts of interesting tidbits, from the specific details of brand standards (the experience they’re obligated to provide to you as a guest) to how they allocate rooms for reward nights.

    Back in December I shared juicy tidbits from Best Western’s document.

    Loyalty Lobby mentioned that the Holiday Inn Express franchise manual (from 2012) could be found online, unprotected. So I googled it. Here is the .pdf.

    It tells you everything from the maximum price to send a fax or for photocopies, that all Holiday Inn Express hotels must provide complimentary tooth brush, tooth paste, comb, and razor/shaving cream, and that the hotel’s computers must load McAfee protection software, among other items.

    Here are some of the things that I found interesting.

    Hotels are required to set aside at least 5% but not more than 10 rooms per night at an employee rate, except under defined circumstances. The employee rate price is based on the hotel’s average daily room rate, and is set as follows:

    Hotels are fined $75 per violation of IHG’s Best Price Guarantee.

    This is what franchisees are told about award nights.

    Reward Nights

    All hotels must accept Reward Night reservations. Reward Night inventory equal to 5% of the hotel’s guest room inventory will be allocated in the HOLIDEX® Plus system for both HIRO and non-HIRO hotels. The recommended price point for the IVANI (Reward Night) rate code is 5% off C1. All hotel benefits, excluding Upgrades for Platinum Members, must be honored for Priority Club® Rewards members in conjunction with their Reward Night stays.

    Hotels have quota for enrolling members into the rewards programs.

    Gold and Platinum elites must be preblocked into rooms prior to 8am. Dedicated elite check-in space is a requirement.

    IHG Rewards really scams their hotels that host meetings. They bill the hotel 1.2% of meet revenue, and only award a maximum of 60,000 points. So a $100,000 meeting would cost the hotel $1200 for those 60,000 points when you and I could buy those points for $420.

    Hotels pay IHG Rewards for the points earned by guests, but elite bonuses are funded by the program itself not the hotel.

    This is what the hamper in the fitness center must look like:

    ‘Walked’ guests are entitled to first night’s lodging at alternate accommodations plus transportation cost to the new hotel (and phone call expense to notify family).

    Newspapers no longer have to be delivered to guest rooms, but can simply be made available complimentary to guests. USA Today constitutes a newspaper.

    The American AAdvantage online shopping portal is offering 1000 bonus miles for spending $200 or more, cumulatively on purchases (all of your purchases can add up to $200 – it doesn’t have to be for a single item), through August 25. No registration required.

    In other words, make your online purchases by starting at the AAdvantage online mall and clicking on the retailers you’ll buy from at their site and you’ll pick up an extra 1000 miles on top of the miles you’d normally earn for doing so.

    The AAdvantage portal is run by Cartera commerce. I interviewed their President earlier this year, and tried to shed some light on how these online shopping portals – which offer you a rebate for the shopping you’ll do anyway – work.

    Meanwhile, the Hawaiian Airlines shopping portal is offering up to 2000 bonus miles for $500 spend (4 extra miles per dollar), with lesser bonuses at the $100 and $250 level. Since I’m not especially a fan of Hawaiian’s mileage program I won’t be earning that bonus.

    Regus has furnished offices all over the world. You can rent an office for a day, a week, whatever you need.

    They also have ‘business lounges’ which are open lounges in their offices, with wireless internet and coffee and tea. Some people like to use them, but I’ve never found it all that much more appealing than going to Starbucks or a similar venue.

    Even business lounges can be expensive to use, I suppose there are people who pay for it (you can even earn American Airlines miles if you do).

    But they’ve long given away free access to use their business lounges, which can’t cost them much to do.

    I have a ‘Gold’ membership from them, which I think was marketed to me in an email from American AAdvantage. Gold ‘sells for‘ $600 per year and includes unlimited use of their business lounges and you get 10% off if you want to book an office.

    I noted back in January a great post by Head for Points with links to several available offers for free use of their lounges (actual private offices would still be charged).

    There are still Virgin Atlantic and Delta offers for free Gold status that I’ve been able to find. The former for Skyclub members, the latter for elites, though it’s not clear to me whether any of this would be verified.

    The National Car Rental offer says you get Gold but takes you through to a page that offers only Preferred.

    Preferred though is probably good enough. It’s 15 free visits in a year. It also comes with 2 ‘guest passes’.

    The Preferred offer from TripIt Pro comes with one free day of an office as well. (TripIt Pro comes free with the Barclaycard Arrive Plus World Elite MasterCard.)

    Regus also has a new lounge at London Heathrow’s terminal 5.

    I do my own visas where needed, and I’ve never used a service. But it can be a pain in the bum and having a professional handle it can save time and hassle that many consider worth the money.

    One company offering this service is Allied Passport & Visa and they’re points and miles community members who participate in and even write for blogs at times.

    Since I haven’t used the services I haven’t written about them, but they came up with a great offer for readers of the blog that I couldn’t resist passing along.

    I like that their website has examples of how to fill out forms. Often the forms aren’t really clear and I worry that I’m answering a question wrong, that I’ll run into problems getting approved or worse.

    They’ve offered me to try their services to try for free in the past. That wasn’t something I’m cool with, and I liked the of letting readers try their services for free instead!

    So they’re offering blog readers a discount on their services and they’re offering the service for free for China visas.

    You’ll save the usual service fee on a visa to China if you get them to do it for you by the edn of next month. You’ll pay only shipping fees and the fee that China itself charges.

    Of course, if you’re only going to be staying a short time and depending on the airport you can likely turn up and receive 72 hours on arrival without getting a visa in advance. But if you plan to spend time outside of the most major cities, or you plan to spend more than 3 days, you’ll need a visa. This will cut down on the hassle.

    Here’s the offer:

    To introduce their services to View from the Wing readers, Allied has agreed to waive their service fees for any tourist visa to China from now until the end of September. You must also hold a USA passport for the free service. Here are the details:

    To qualify for Allied Passport’s waived service fee offer, you must:

    • Submit documents 10+ business days (standard processing) before your departure.
    • Ship your documents using FedEx before September 30th
    • Carefully follow the directions on their website and provide comprehensive country requirements.
    • Provide payment and mention “View from the Wing” on your Allied Order Form.
    • For China, the cost is $140 + return shipping. Click here to apply.

    There is no limit to the number of travelers that can participate in this promotion. Combined shipping rates apply to 4 or less passports, and a small fee will be added for groups of 5 or more.

    If you’d like to use Allied Passport’s services for any other country you can receive a $5 discount on your order for mentioning View from the Wing.

    If you’ve used them, or plan to, I’d love to hear about it. And if you’ve used a visa expediting company before, please share your experiences as well. I haven’t, so reader input would be invaluable.

    Get it…?

    Spanish police have arrested a 43-year-old Venezuelan woman who landed in Madrid’s international airport trying to smuggle 3.7 pounds of cocaine via her breast implants.

    She appeared nervous going through customs, was searched, and eventually ‘copped’ to smuggling cocaine in her breast implants.

    Just replace saline with cocaine (they even rhyme) and you’ll usually get through (airport security mantra, “you don’t get on until we get off” notwithstanding).

    You just have to hope that the cocaine doesn’t leak, or the mule may die of one massive overdose.

    (HT: Alan H.)

    KL shares the link to a new card offer that will provide a bigger rebate on general spending than pretty much anything out there.

    • It’s bigger than the 2% cash back on everything with the Fidelity Investment Rewards American Express.
    • It’s bigger than the 2.2%+ rebate towards travel from all spending on the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard.

    But you have to have $100,000 in cash and investments that you can deposit with Bank of America to take advantage of the offer.

    Bank of America Travel Rewards gives you 1.5 points per dollar on all spending. That equates to a 1.5% rebate (2500 points = $25).

    Bank of America Preferred Rewards members earn an additional bonus of 25%, 50%, or 75% depending on the volume of assets on deposit with BofA.

    Here’s the requirements:

    • $20,000 or more gets a 25% bonus
    • $50,000 or more gets a 50% bonus
    • $100,000 or more gets a 75% bonus

    Bank of American Travel Rewards provides an annual 10% bonus on points earned for qualifying Bank of America accountholders.

    Unfortunately it is not stackable with these other bonuses.

    So if you have $100,000 in total assets with Bank of America, you get a 75% bonus on top of 1.5 points per dollar — or 2.625 points per dollar, equivalent to a 2.625% rebate.

    But this only makes any sense if you happen to have these investable assets and don’t care who holds them.

    You can still have them invested as you wish, the same as if you held the cash or investments with Chase (Private Client) or Citibank (Citi Gold) or any other firm.

    This isn’t a play for most frequent flyers, but it will be useful to some.

    News and notes from around the interweb:

    « previous home | top

    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.