Must-read Earlier Installments:

On arrival in Hong Kong you head to the nearest transit point where you show your connecting boarding pass and proceed through security. Laptop out, shoes stay on, there’s rarely much of a line. Once past the checkpoint you head up the escalator (or elevator, as you wish) to the departures level and on to your gate or lounge.

Cathay Pacific’s flagship lounge is ‘The Wing’. For departing passengers originating in Hong Kong it’s just past immigration (turn left). It’s near the lowest numbered gates one through four.

Hong Kong’s airport is a huge sprawling complex with a ton of walking, so if I had arrived at a far gate, and especially if I was departing from one, I’d have used a different lounge like The Pier. But since I both arrived and would connect onward from close-in gates I used the Wing for a quick shower and to catch up on e-mail before my onward connection to Bangkok.

I’ve been to the Wing several times, including this report and this one since its renovation.

The open lounge’s refresh is most apparent in the restaurant space which is larger and brighter, more aesthetically interesting, and now with better food including options cooked-to-order rather than jsut a buffet and also in the cabanas which are enlarged and made more modern. The cabanas are the best airport showers anywhere.

On this visit, though, for the first time I wasn’t able to get a cabana and had to settle for one of the shower rooms… also nice, just smaller.

After a quick refresh I went into the lounge. I wasn’t hungry so I didn’t pop into the restaurant this visit, I just found myself a seat to get some work done.

It’s worth noting, since I’ve given other lounges criticism for this, the Wing has only local-style electric outlets. It’s apparently an airport regulation, although The Bridge lounge has USB power ports as well.

No bar time for me, no champers either. It was early, and I had to head to my next flight.

In my post about earning miles by referring your friends to the Barclays US Airways card, I point out that Barclays has been making an offer of 50,000 miles plus 10,000 miles at card renewal available, marketed to US Airways elite frequent flyers.

Many consider the 10,000 mile offer at renewal ‘better’ but as I point out it’s the same as the regular 50,000 mile signup bonus unless you plan to keep the card for a year (and likely pay a second annual fee). Now, I do consider 10,000 miles worth $89 (9/10ths of a cent per mile) but many have long disagreed with me about hanging onto the card for that.

But is Barclays cracking down on non-US Airways elites signing up for the offer?

Commenter tassojunior shares this experience:

I used the Preferred link and got denied in 1 second. Phoned Recon and csr said since Dec. 1 Preferred DM #’s are programmed in Barclay’s computers and immediately reject non-elites. Follow-up rejection letter said the same and many people on every blog are also getting denials for this reason.

Although no credit check is run, you’re barred from any more Barclay’s apps, even the non-Preferred US one, for 30 days.

For years there have been ‘better’ offers for the US Airways card marketed at elites, or even top tier elites. And that’s always just been a marketing focus, not an exclusion for other members from signing up for the offer.

I receive compensation for many links on this blog. You don’t have to use these links, but I am grateful to you if you do. 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).

Citibank Points Have Gotten Much More Valuable This Year Thanks to Airline Mileage Transfers

Citibank introduced airline miles as an option for redeeming Thank You points over the summer, instantly increasing the value of their Citi Thank You Cards points substantially.

And a month later they even added a transfer partner, signifying that they weren’t done building the program.

” target=_blank>Thank You Premier and Prestige cardmembers can now transfer points to:

  • Air France-KLM
  • Asia Miles
  • Etihad Airways Guest
  • EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
  • Garuda Indonesia GarudaMiles
  • Hilton HHonorsTM
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus

Of these, Singapore Airlines has the broadest and best uses in my opinion. You can now transfer points from Chase, Starwood, American Express, and Citi over to Singapore. And that’s a really great option.

Singapore Airlines Krisflyer is a surprisingly useful program.

If you book on the Singapore website you get a 15% discount of the prices on the award chart. So, for instance:

  • San Francisco – Hong Kong in ‘suites class’ is 70,125 miles one-way.
  • Houston – Moscow in first class is 57,375 miles one-way.
  • New York JFK – Frankfurt in suites class is 57,375 miles one-way.

You can have one enroute stopover on a roundtrip award.

Singapore adds fuel surcharges to awards (whatever the cost of a fuel surcharge would be on an equivalent paid ticket).

If you want to fly Singapore Airlines, which really has one of the world’s best first class products, the way to do it is with Singapore’s own miles.

    citi thank you cards

There are also strong values redeeming Singapore miles on partners. Singapore’s partner award chart is here. The chart lists roundtrip award prices, but one-way awards are half the cost of roundtrip. These awards have to be booked over the phone.

  • US – Hawaii costs 35,000 miles roundtrip in coach, 60,000 miles roundtrip up front (in ‘business class’ — United classifies their domestic first class as business class for award purposes, for experts out there that means United’s domestic first class awards book into “I class”.)

  • North America domestic first class awards cost just 40,000 miles roundtrip (again, because United books their domestic first class into “I” which is Star Alliance business).

  • North America – Europe is 130,000 miles roundtrip in business class; 160,000 miles roundtrip in first.

  • North America – Middle East is 115,000 miles roundtrip in business class, 150,000 miles roundtrip in first.

  • South Africa is 145,000 miles roundtrip in business class.

There are no fuel surcharges on US domestic awards (or awards between the US and South America).

Air France’s Flying Blue does come with some real benefits as a transfer partner as well (and they’re a Starwood and Amex partner also).

  • Air France award availability is really good, as long as you aren’t trying to book using Delta miles.
  • Air France regularly runs discounted promo awards.
  • They have most of their partner airlines online for award booking, though the website isn’t always perfectly functional.

On the other hand, they add fuel surcharges to awards. Their call centers are frustrating. And their award chart is no longer that cheap.

Citi has several truly unique partners, not duplicated by other programs. In general they aren’t going to be as valuable as some other mileage programs, but there are niche uses, such as redeeming Etihad Guest points for Philippine Airlines business class awards.

The Three Cit Thank You Cards, and What They Do For You

There are three different ‘levels’ of Thank You Points cards — Preferred, Premier, and Prestige. Only Premier and Prestige let you transfer points to airline miles. Although you can combine points, and even gift points to anyone you wish (something that American Express and Chase have both cracked down on).

Citi Thank You Preferred has no annual fee and a signup bonus of 30,000 Thank You points after $2000 spend within 4 months. It earns double points on dining and entertainment. But without having one of the premium Thank You cards like Prestige and Premier you can’t transfer points to miles, you only get to use them at a penny apiece. Having one of the premium cards increases the value of points earned from this card.

Citi Thank You Premier is a $125 annual fee card but $0 the first year and offers up to 50,000 points as a signup bonus — 20,000 points after $2000 spend within 3 months and 30,000 more after $3000 spend in the first 3 months of your second year with the card. It offers triple points on dining and entertainment and double points on airlines, hotels, and with travel agencies.

Points can be transferred to miles, or used at 1.25 cents apiece in value towards airfare, and the card has no foreign transaction fees.

This is a strong card for dining, better than the double points offered by Sapphire Preferred if you value Citi’s mileage transfer partners. And entertainment purchases include concerts, theater, movie theaters, amusement parks, zoos, museums, sports promoters, theatrical promoters, movie theaters, amusement parks, tourist attractions, record stores and video rental stores.

Citi Prestige offers 30,000 Thank You points after $2000 spend within 3 months (I’ve heard of a 60,000 point offer that requires $15,000 spend, available in-brand). The card has a $450 annual fee although Citigold customers (who have significant financial relationships with Citi) pay $350. The card earns triple points with airlines, hotels and on spend with travel agencies and double points on dining and entertainment.

The card comes with an annul $250 air travel credit which can be used for airline tickets. This to me is a huge offset of the card’s fee. The card has no foreign transaction fees.

They provide American Admirals Club access, something the American Express Platinum card lost at the end of April, and also a Priority Pass Select card just like the American Express Platinum does — except the Citi Prestige offers Priority Pass Select with a free guest whereas Amex Platinum’s charges for guests.

It also offers a credit for the $100 Global Entry application fee. This expedites immigration (skip the lines, use a kiosk) and gets you TSA PreCheck as well.

Instead of 1.25 cents per point towards airfare, Citi Prestige gives you 1.33 cents a point — or 1.6 cents if you spend the points on American Airlines travel.

How Citi Prestige Compares to American Express Platinum

If you value Citi’s points transfer partners (some of which – Air France and Singapore – overlap American Express’) then Citi Prestige is probably the better points earning card because of the category bonuses.

I’ve long viewed American Express Platinum as a card you get and keep for the benefits but don’t put spending on.

  • It gets you access to American Express Centurion lounges and Delta lounges, which Citi Prestige does not.
  • But Citi Prestige gets you American Airlines lounges, and free guests with the Priority Pass Select (Alaska lounges and many international lounges)
  • Platinum has more benefits — like Starwood Gold status and National Car Rental Executive status.
  • Both cards get you a Global Entry fee credit, but Amex offers TSA PreCheck fee credit as an alternative (useful for people ineligible for Global Entry)
  • Platinum has unlimited Boingo internet and the Business Platinum is getting 10 gogo inflight internet passes a year.
  • The Citi Prestige airline fee credit is more flexible, eligible for airline tickets directly.

Which card makes sense to carry depends on how you’ll use it. If you value American Express and Delta lounges, Platinum is the obvious choice whereas if you value American Airlines lounges Prestige is the better card (personally I carry the Citi Executive card only because I can spend $40,000 to earn 10,000 elite qualifying miles, which can top off towards my Executive Platinum — so American lounge access is entirely duplicative for me).

Of course I’m also a Starwood Platinum and National Car Rental Executive Elite, so those benefits from American Express Platinum don’t help me.

Nonetheless, I found it worthwhile to get another American Express Platinum card.

The Missing Elephant in the Room: American Airlines Transfers

Citi issues the co-brand American Airlines credit cards, and issues the only personal cards that provide American lounge access.

So it’s strange that American AAdvantage isn’t a transfer partner. Surely they must have tried to work this, but haven’t been able to make it work with American.

That means for American miles you’ll want Citi’s personal card and their small business card, both of which are offering 50,000 points and 2 lounge passes after $3000 spend within 3 months of account opening.

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.

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.

As a result my own Platinum status, which I didn’t renew, has expired. And I received the most blunt downgrade email ever — subject line: Your Platinum status has been downgraded.

There are two ways I know to get Platinum status back without actually staying with Accor.

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.

And points from any source count towards status.

That means I can earn with any of their partners.

Interestingly there’s even one airline whose points transfer into Le Club Accorhotels. Transferring in 25,000 points would earn Platinum status from scratch.

Is it just me, or do you get the feeling of being in a dentist’s office rather than soaring with a Thai boutique airline?

Bangkok Airways does, of course, have a passion for really bad lip syncing.

I’d recommend they take lessons from the professional, skilled lip sync singers of Munich airport.

News and notes from around the interweb:

Must-read Earlier Installments:

I’ve flown Cathay Pacific first class many times. I’ve even called their Hong Kong – New York JFK service my favorite flight in the world.

They don’t offer suites with doors. There’s not really great ground service to speak of. The food is fine but hardly amazing. But they have several things going for them:

  1. The seats. They don’t have doors that close, but they are quite private and very spacious. Instead of four seats across in the cabin, they offer just three seats across, and a cabin with just 6 seats.
  2. Attentive service. You do need to know that they are unobtrusive, they tend not to check on you during the flight, you should call on them if you need anything but they’re eager to assist when you do. They don’t disturb you, but it’s still very good service, and easy to perform with only 6 passengers at most in the cabin.
  3. Good amenities. I like the old Shanghai Tang pajamas better, for sure, but all of the amenities are consistently high quality.
  4. Midflight snacks. I do think ANA does a better job here overall, but the midflight snack options are varied, substantial, and high quality. That’s an area, for instance, that Singapore Airlines could use work.

While fewer seats overall (with the retirement of 9 first class seat cabin 747s, and introduction of long haul flights without a first class cabin) and improving economy mean that Cathay Pacific first class awards aren’t as easy to get as they’ve been over the past five years, they still do exist — often just one seat early in the booking window, though they continue to release unsold seats in the days before departure approaches.

I sleep better flying Cathay first, for the most part, than on any other carrier. Since I like it quite a bit, and it’s been very easy to get, I’ve flown it over and over.

I always look forward to these flights, and I’ve never really had a bad one. They’re just darned consistent.

I headed over from the oneworld lounge to the boarding gate.

And I was in for a pleasant surprise. Each time I flew Cathay earlier in the year I hoped for their new first class product, which isn’t much different than the old one – just a refresh – but I still hand’t seen it. And each time I didn’t get to. But this flight I’d finally see first-hand the (very minor) differences.

The new first class has new seat upholstery, new carpeting in the cabin, new artwork, and new power ports and seat controls.

The seat itself is otherwise the same.

Continue reading to see the rest of the service elements that are different – and those that remain the same – with the new Cathay Pacific first class!

I gifted a domestic first class award. It was for a fairly well-known personality who offered to speak at an event for a non-profit I’m involved with. A non-stop first class flight was a requirement, and he was doing us a favor after all. Neither we nor I was going to come out of pocket for it (it was basically a transcon and pricey, no discounted first class available) so I offered to burn some miles.

I needed to book a one-way flight, since there was saver availability on US Airways for the outbound and saver availabiltiy on United for the return. So I used American miles for the US Airways flight. (US Airways does not offer one-ways at half the price of roundtrip.)

A couple of months pass, and I receive an e-mail e-ticket update from American. The US Airways non-stop flight was now an American connecting itinerary through Dallas. Hmm… that’s strange.

I look up the original flight and two things had happened:

  • There was a 10 minute schedule change
  • The flight number had changed.

Since ‘my flight’ was no longer available after this change, American’s systems rebooked the passenger in first class on their own flights.

That wasn’t going to be ok, since the agreement was that we provide a first class ticket. So I rang up American. Continue reading to see the big mistake I made, and learn how you can easily avoid making it yourself…

When the US Airways Dividend Miles program is folded into American AAdvantage sometime during the second quarter of 2015, Barclays loses the ability to issue new US Airways credit cards. They’ll keep servicing existing cardholders with new AAdvantage Aviator Red and Silver cards.

So they’re trying to sign up as many cardmembers as they can now. First they bumped their bonus offer to 40,000 points and then to 50,000.

And now they’re offering existing cardmembers miles for referring friends to sign up for the 50,000 mile offer.

Check your email box for your referral link. While I was offered 5000 miles per person I refer, some are offered 10,000 miles.

There’s also a version of the card marketed to US Airways elites that offers 10,000 miles each cardmember anniversary (and thus for an additional $89 annual fee).

Referred members don’t get the 10,000 anniversary bonus miles each year (that they keep the card after year one), something only some cardmembers will do of course. That’s a bonus that will continue after the US Airways cards become American cards.

News and notes from around the interweb:

DirecTV is offering two free weekend nights at almost any Hilton property as a signup bonus.

That’s a new offer for the service I hadn’t seen before, although some will prefer 25,000 miles or more as their signup bonus.

This is similar to the bonus offered on the Citi Hilton Reserve credit card which also comes with Hilton HHonors Gold status.

Some folks have been burning through these accounts and getting plenty of signup bonuses for awhile, earning bonuses and then getting service again through family members. Generally you can get a new bonus in your own name 24 months after cancelling your last service.

There are really attractive offers for people that want DirecTV and it may be a reason to choose DirecTV over cable. But it’s not a way just to buy miles or night cheaply without valuing the DirecTV service in some way.

(HT: Free Frequent Flyer Miles)

Mommy Points posted that Hyatt was giving away surprises to people staying with them this weekend who tweeted.

Already this morning I have seen them hand out suite upgrades, food and beverage credits, and more. Even if you don’t have a Hyatt stay this weekend, check out the hashtags #HyattHoliday #InAHyattWorld to watch Hyatt put some smiles on some virtual faces. We have seen them do this before around Valentine’s Day and it was really fun to watch.

So… I sent over a tweet myself. And wound up with a $100 food and beverage credit in response. It seems plenty of people tweeting them were generously rewarded, and they were pretty liberal with their interpretation of what ‘counted’ — one person who saw my tweet asked if their Martin Luther King Day stay would count, and it appears that it did, even though that’s not exactly ‘this weekend’!

Hyatt has certainly liked the surprise and delight approach lately.

Thanks to Mommy Points for prompting me to send the tweet, and to Hyatt’s elves!

Reader Barry asks,

Any thoughts on the pros and cons on timeshare ownership, namely Marriott? Even if you could maneuver a 20 to 25% discount off the purchase price?

I am not an expert in timeshares, but I’ve certainly been around plenty of horror stories about them. So let me share a general framework for thinking about them.

  • There are certainly good deals to be had with timeshares, but these are serious investments and you need to be educated. The people selling them to you certainly are. You don’t want to make a big purchase with a big information asymmetry so if you aren’t educated you’re probably getting killed.

  • While there are some benefits that may only accrue when buying a timeshare as the original owner directly from the chain, in general the timeshare resale market may provide you with better deals for a materially similar product.. and at the very least you should investigate the resale market to give yourself insight into the market value of the asset you’re purchasing.

I’m generally pretty against timeshares for most people, and for most savvy miles and points hobbyists especially.

They’re a big financial commitment, you’re very much in the hands of the program and how it chooses to manage itself over time, and I’ve seen tons of program devaluations. (You think mileage programs are shady with this…!)

You also need to understand how you’ll use what you’re buying. With many programs you’ll need to be flexible if you actually want to book something, especially outside your home property and without converting to points which frequently isn’t a great deal (you may not be buying your points especially cheaply – and remember do not calculate based on the value of those points you’d get today but on what you think an award chart might do years into the future). Booking a year out for popular places isn’t for everyone.

Personally I earn and use points for my hotel needs, so I don’t want to fork over a lot of cash upfront. But others find it a way to provide lodging at a fixed upfront price (plus maintenance fees) that can work out well.

I end where I started, buyer beware in this market and it’s important to become a very educated consumer about the product you’re buying — don’t turn up at a seminar and buy on the spot ever.

Michelle asked about…

strategy for choosing credit cards for sign up bonuses. Should I stick with one or two programs at first or diversify widely?

In general I think it’s a great idea to be strategic about where you acquire points.

  • What award(s) are you most likely to want? Pick programs that will help you get those awards.
  • Make sure you have enough points in the right accounts to get those awards.
  • Then once you have enough points for the award you want in one program, move onto another program and start building points there.
  • That way you wind up with enough points in more than one program for the awards you want — increasing your chances of getting the availability you need when it comes time to travel.

Here’s where one-way awards really come into play. It’s easier to build up points from credit card signup bonuses for a one-way award than it is for a roundtrip. Two people traveling together, earn enough United miles one-way for an award and then you can use American miles (for instance) for your return.

The other key ingredient here is transferable points, like Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints are especially useful. You can put the points into a variety of airline mileage programs, and you can choose where they go later based on the award you want to book or the account you need to top off.

It’s also useful that several transferable points programs even let you transfer points into the same places. For instance, Starwood, Chase, and American Express all let you transfer points to British Airways and they all let you transfer points to Singapore Airlines. That makes it really easy to earn those currencies.

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 got better at the end of October, but it turns out to have been a two-month offer..

The card gives you 50,000 bonus points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. a href=”” target=_blank>The annual fee became $0 the first year, $95 thereafter (instead of the $95 applying in year one).

This deal expires December 31 according to the application page.

It’s worth considering now:

  • 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:

british airways no fee offer

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 $4000 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.

(HT for offer end date to Dan’s Deals)

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.

So you know things have gone too far when a pilot threatens an emergency landing over your behavior. Of course, it’s always the other person’s fault, right?

A brawl involving three women erupted on a Chinese flight from to Chongqing to Hong Kong yesterday when two of them complained to a mum that her baby was making too much noise.
The women, all believed to be Chinese, were warned that the pilot would be forced to turn back and make an emergency landing if they didn’t stop fighting.

Naturally, “[T]he two women reclined their seats fully backwards, which aggravated things further. A scuffle ensued, with one of the women hitting on her head on the overhead locker..”

There’s a video.

When there are screaming kids on a plane, don’t do this. A year ago I asked readers how to handle such situations, and there was lots of great advice (and some not great advice, too). Here’s the Coasian approach.

(HT: Alan H.)

Read the post to see how to enter to win one of two $150 credits towards lounge access!

Lounge Buddy is a useful app that – if you have an iPhone or other device in the Apple ecosystem – just got more useful.

They will now sell day passes to lounges, sometimes at regular price and sometimes at a discount.

Now, I don’t generally buy lounge access at regular price on a per-use basis. I have ongoing access to American, Delta, Alaska, American Express and other lounges via credit cards. And I was a little confused at first by the marketing claim that by buying access in advance you would be guaranteed lounge space and not turned away for crowding (I’ve only ever heard of such things happening to United elites trying to enter Star Alliance partner lounges, and then only very occasionally).

Available Lounges via LoungeBuddy

Then I got a look at their initial list of lounges and it all made sense, and I started to get a little jealous that I don’t have an iPhone, as there’s no current Android functionality. The initial list of lounges is small but interesting. Here’s the current list of lounges they’re working with.

There are (7) lounges presently in the U.S.: Alaska Airlines Boardroom locations (LAX, Portland, Seattle, Anchorage) and Minute Suites (Philadelphia, Dallas, Atlanta). I walk by Minute Suites in the D terminal at DFW all the time and have always been curious to check it out.

There are also (19) lounges in the U.K. across 13 airports… so not just London although 4 of the lounges are at Heathrow and 2 at Gatwick.

Here’s the Alaska lounge in Portland, easily accessible when flying other carriers including American.

LoungeBuddy Giveaway: $300 in Lounge Credits, Plus Everyone is a Winner!

LoungeBuddy offered some credit to me and to readers, but as is my practice I don’t accept such things and pass the value along to you instead. Continue for the easy way to enter to win…

News and notes from around the interweb:

This question is prompted by Anthony M..

There’s noting illegal about a ‘legal’ connection.

A legal connection is a term of art that really means a permissible connection.

Each airport has a set amount of connecting time that’s considered necessary to transfer from one flight to another. That time varies based on:

  • Whether you are connecting domestic-to-domestic, domestic-to-international, international-to-international, or international-to-domestic. That’s because you may or may not have to go through immigration formalities.
  • Whether there’s a change of terminals involved. That may be baked into ‘domestic-to-international’ (where domestic and international flights are in separate terminals) or by exception (because certain airlines mean you’re flying in and out of different terminals.
  • The airline and flight you’re connecting to and from. Again, some connections are more arduous than others.

Assuming your flights are on time these connections have been measured out so that under normal circumstances and for most people it should be possible to make it from one flight to another in a standard amount of time.

That’s considered the minimum connection time.

A legal connection is one that gives you at least this minimum connection time between flights.

An airline generally will not sell you a ticket that does not have at least this much time between flights. An online travel agency won’t either. Their systems are updated (usually correctly) to account for the airport, terminal transfer, and airlines that may be involved in your connection.

If you absolutely much ‘force’ a connection that is less than this minimum connecting time, you usually have to do it by buying separate tickets. You can buy whatever you wish separately in most cases, but if you circumvent minimum connecting time and do not make your connection you’re generally on your own without the airline being obligated to help (beyond whatever its standard standby or same-day confirmed policies are for putting you on another flight after you miss yours).

Even if you’re flying the same airline for both segments, and the airline is at fault for you missing the connection, two tickets that do not satisfy minimum connection time guidelines mean the problem is yours and not the airline’s.

There’s no easy way to look up minimum connection times for free.

  • You can Google it for a given airport, or given airline. Many airports show minimum connection times on their websites, though this isn’t uniform. Many airlines put standard or average connecting times on theirs, and may also put the actual times for their hubs, on their website.
  • Pay service shos them.
  • So does pay software KVS Tool

If you face a schedule change and your itinerary no longer meets minimum connection times, an airline is going to be obliged to change your flights or refund your tickets.

Must-read Earlier Installments:

This was my first visit to the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX since it was renovated, and boy what a difference. You notice it from the moment you step up curbside. It’s no longer entirely an entirely an embarassment (well, it’s still part of LAX). It’s modern and bright and far better organized. Ok, it’s still part of LAX. But it’s a huge improvement.

I checked in and proceeded through security. Unfortunately there’s no PreCheck, but the nude-o-scope was backed up with passengers and so they allowed me to proceed through the metal detector only — no opt-out required.

I was confronted by the array of shops that’s now the terminal, with signage directing you to essentially walk circuitously around and through the shopping before proceeding to the lounges. I made a cut-through some of the shopping an expedited my arrival up to the oneworld premium lounge.

The lounge entrance is stylish, and a great way to set the tone for the entire lounge. At entry they explained that the first class lounge had not yet opened, so I was welcomed into the large business class facility.

Come look around inside the lounge!

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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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