Alaska Airlines is Giving Away Worthless Sunglasses

Posted on: July 31st, 2004 by: Gary Leff

But at least they’ve got a good tagline for it, with apologies to Timbuk 3.

    Alaska Airlines has a deal so bright that you’ll need shades. Luckily, we’re providing the sunglasses for this endless summer.


    Simply fly on any Alaska Airlines flight during August, September or October and receive a certificate for up to 4 pairs of free Gattaca Sunglasses with a retail value of $79 to $229 a pair
    (a small shipping and handling fee is required).


    You will also receive a certificate to extend your summer with discounted travel to seven sunny Mexico destinations. Discounts include:


    – Save 20% on airfare between September 1 and October 6, 2004
    – Save 10% on airfare between October 7 and December 15, 2004
    – Save 10% on Alaska Airlines Mexico Vacations September 1 through December 15, 2004

I’ll pass on the Gattaca sunglasses but I might find the discounts useful.

Now sing it with me…

    I study nuclear science, I love my classes

    I got a crazy teacher, he wears dark glasses

    Things are going great, and they’re only getting better


    I’m doin’ all right, getting good grades

    The future’s so bright I gotta wear shades


    I got a job waiting for my graduation

    50 thou’ and year will buy a lot of beer

    Things are going great, and they’re only getting better


    I’m doin’ all right, getting good grades

    The future’s so bright I gotta wear shades

Delta Silver Elite Trial Offer

Posted on: July 31st, 2004 by: Gary Leff

Delta is offering Silver Medallion status to members who fly 5000 medallion qualifying miles between August 1 and October 15. The status lasts only through February 2005.


The promotion is targeted, but if you’re interested try to register. One of the nice things about Delta IT compared to most airlines is that they’ll let you know right away whether you qualify for an offer or not (unlike, say, United which makes it look like you’ve successfully registered for a promotion but in the end the benefits aren’t awarded if you weren’t targeted).

Bear in mind that the required flying is 5000 Medallion Qualifying Miles which means more than 5000 miles of flying at low fares and less than 5000 miles of flying at high fares.

More on Air New Zealand Changes

Posted on: July 30th, 2004 by: Gary Leff

I’m still a little unclear on all of the implications of Air New Zealand’s changes to its rewards program. Here is one summary.

    Air New Zealand has unveiled a revolutionary change to its frequent-flyer scheme, becoming the first major airline in the world to give rewards based on ticket price instead of distance flown.

(Side note, America West used to do this. Independence Air currently does this.)

    An unpopular feature of frequent-flyer programmes such as the Air NZ airpoints scheme is the difficulty in redeeming rewards for flights. This has been changed, with any seat on any flight available for airpoints users.

    Air New Zealand, backed by a supplied auditors report from accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, says that 61 per cent of all flight redemptions will require fewer “equivalent airpoints”. A further 15 per cent will need the same, while the rest will need more.


    “Overall, the airpoints dollars required to obtain flight redemptions will be 6 per cent less than the equivalent number of airpoints required under the old programme,” it says.


    On November 16, all airpoints will change and all airpoints will be converted to the new airpoint dollars. Air NZ wants customers to think of them like cash in a bank account, ready to be used when buying their fares.

    Winners and Losers


    Winners


    * Business travellers, who fly on expensive, more flexible tickets and often redeem them for cheaper seats on family holidays.


    * Transtasman travellers will earn dollars at a higher rate than points are earned now.


    * People who use the internet to book their trips.


    Losers


    * Those in the provinces, who will now no longer get a free flight to one of the main centres when redeeming airpoints for a trip overseas.


    * Those who don’t travel much. A new annual fee of $30 is being introduced for all members, which is waived if a commercial fare is bought in the previous 12 months.


    * Those who travel on short domestic sectors (less than 300km) but want to redeem them on longer domestic sectors.


    * Those who fly on the cheapest fares on longhaul international routes.

My own take is that this should make redeeming miles for coach tickets easier but that it’s overall a huge devaluation. If points are used based on the price of a ticket, it will be alot pricier to redeem for awards in premium classes of service.

The biggest question I have (selfishly) is how this will affect award redemption by members of Air New Zealand’s partner programs. If their own frequent flyers don’t face capacity controls, will they maintain a separate set of award controls just for their partners? And how generous will those be (or not be), knowing that they don’t have to satisfy their own flyers with their award seat set-asides? On the other hand, since I expect it to be harder for Air New Zealand frequent flyers to redeem points for business class awards that may make it easier for United Mileage Plus members like myself to do so.

Of course, Air New Zealand may just continue to offer parallel capacity controlled awards that partners and Air New Zealand members can redeem. That’s the implication I draw from the Air New Zealand website, because it seems there are special reduced-price awards for long-haul travel on Air New Zealand that are bookable only with points and not dollars.

I always have my eye on award flights to Tahiti, Auckland, and Sydney, so I’ll be anxiously awaiting more information as it develops.

Science Fiction at the Grocery Store

Posted on: July 30th, 2004 by: Gary Leff

The future of payments is here. That is, if here is the Piggly Wiggly in South Carolina.

    San Francisco-based Pay By Touch has launched its finger-scanning payment system at four Piggly Wiggly supermarkets in South Carolina. Beginning today, Piggly Wiggly customers will have the option of paying for groceries by using a finger scan which is linked to their financial accounts.


    Customers enroll in the Pay By Touch program by creating a “Pay By Touch Wallet” which includes: scanning their finger, selecting a PIN, swiping a supermarket rewards card and entering a debit card, credit card or their checking account information. All data is kept in a secure center.


    The finger scanning technology does not store actual fingerprints; it creates a set of data points that cannot even be reverse engineered back to a fingerprint. The data points are converted into a mathematical equation that allows for a secure identity match at the point of sale.

Who’s Better in Bed?

Posted on: July 30th, 2004 by: Gary Leff

Forbes prefers the Westin bed over the Marriott bed. I agree.

1000 Free United Miles

Posted on: July 30th, 2004 by: Gary Leff

Sign up your Safeway Club card to earn United miles here and earn 1000 bonus miles. (Link via Free Frequent Flyer Miles.)

If you don’t yet have a Safeway club card, go to a Safeway store and get one — but don’t sign up to earn miles. Then go to the link which provides the bonus miles for signing up.


For Alaska Airlines fans, I mentioned a a similar offer the other day.

25,000 Delta Miles as a Signup Bonus for Intercontinental Ambassador Club

Posted on: July 29th, 2004 by: Gary Leff

Priority Club is offering 25,000 Delta miles for signing up as an Intercontinental Hotels Ambassador Club member through October 31, 2004.

Just as a mileage-earning deal, this is excellent. Ambassador Club costs $150 to join, which means that the 25,000 miles cost 6/10ths of a cent apiece. Plus Ambassador Club gets you Gold status in Priority Club and special benefits at Intercontinental hotels.

The terms and conditions of the offer say that you need to be a Priority Club member (sign up before taking advantage of the offer) and that you have to have selected Delta Air Lines as your preferred earning partner (so set this up also before taking advantage of the offer).

Further, I suspect that the offer was intended for a limited audience, though the website suggests no such restrictions. It’s a good idea to print a copy of the front page of the offer just in case.

TSA Intentionally Makes Screening Times Longer at Phoenix Airport

Posted on: July 29th, 2004 by: Gary Leff

The TSA security director at the Phoenix airport has been placed on leave amid allegations that he intentionally slowed down screening to increase wait times in order to justify expanding his staff.

    A Valley newspaper reported Wednesday that federal authorities responsible for security at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport intentionally lengthened wait times at passenger checkpoints at a time when they were asking Homeland Security administrators in Washington to provide more screeners.
    The e-mails written by Fred Carter, screening chief at Sky Harbor, to Florian alerted staffers to the wait-time move on April 5. One of Carter’s emails stated that shifting staff away from checkpoints would allow passenger lanes to be shut down so wait times could be lengthened.

Clearly unacceptable and a failure of leadership. Poor security, hiring of criminals, and violations of civil rights haven’t been enough to turn the country against this new federal bureaucracy. Perhaps intentional customer disservice could finally bring a call for accountability? Maybe it’s time to bring back the campaign to Impeach Norm Mineta?

Comments Have Been Disabled

Posted on: July 29th, 2004 by: Gary Leff

I’m sorry to say that the comments feature has had to be disabled. It’s not that I don’t want to hear your thoughts on what I write — I do — but in the past 24 hours the comments feature has been spammed with about 400 ads for online gambling and other such services. It’s a bit unmanagable and so until we come up with a solution we’ll just have to forgo the comment feature.

Sorry for any inconvenience, but I didn’t want to make readers sift through pitches for Cialis as a condition of discussing miles and points.

Update: Looks like the crack technical folks have gotten things cleaned up a bit and I’m hoping that we’ll have comments back shortly.

1000 Free Alaska Airlines Miles

Posted on: July 28th, 2004 by: Gary Leff

Alaska Airlines is offering 1000 miles just for enrolling (free) in their mileage-earning partnership with Safeway grocery stores by August 31.

Delta Considers Charging Customers for In-Sourcing

Posted on: July 28th, 2004 by: Gary Leff

Since the beginning of the year, E-Loan has been offering consumers the choice of whether to have their loan paperwork processed in India or the United States. Processing in India is accomplished two days more quickly.

Now Delta is considering a similar offer with a twist. They would charge a fee to have calls handled by U.S. agents.

Both versions involve the consumer bearing a cost, but E-Loan’s model is pitched at offering consumers a benefit, “choose to have your loans processed abroad and we’ll finish things more quickly.” Delta’s model is pitched as a tax, “we’re going to charge you for what you want.” They’re two sides of the same coin, but customers aren’t accustomed to paying for this kind of service.

If Delta moves forward with the idea, they would be advised to take a page from the E-Loan playbook: offer callers a shorter hold time if they’re willing to have their calls routed overseas. (Conversely, customers preferring US-based agents would pay for the service through longer hold times.)

How many frequent flyers worldwide?

Posted on: July 28th, 2004 by: Gary Leff

Sometimes it takes an article from India to learn about interesting frequent flyer facts here in the US.

    [W]orld-wide more than 120 million people were covered with frequent flyer programmes of various airlines. “There are over 500 to 500 million cards related to frequent flyer programmes possessed by air travellers,” he pointed out.

(The story was prompted because Randy Petersen was in Mumbai for the the launch of revamped Jet Airways frequent flyer program.)

Man Raised As Chicken

Posted on: July 27th, 2004 by: Gary Leff

Not miles and points related. (Hat tip to the Volokh Conspiracy.)

Delta Gives Away Music

Posted on: July 27th, 2004 by: Gary Leff

Freeipods.com isn’t the only way to get music for free.

Delta is offering several free entertainment products as rewards for flight purchases. Delta’s “carrier-within-a-carrier” Song

    will be giving out a Les Paul Junior electric guitar to people who book two round-trip tickets together on the airline between Aug. 1 and Aug. 12, for travel between Sept. 7 and Oct. 6.

    The promotion will require booking on the Song website. It may well also require registratoin — I don’t yet, and I don’t see details of the promo yet up on the website. So check for details before making purchases.
    Those who book three or more round-trip tickets together will get the mini-iPod from Apple Computer. Those who book only a single ticket will get a 100-song download from Apple’s iTunes music service.

Double Guest Rewards Points

Posted on: July 27th, 2004 by: Gary Leff

Register to earn double points on Amtrak when booking Acela Express and Metroliner trains online in August (for August travel).

Chris Elliott’s Travel Notes

Posted on: July 26th, 2004 by: Gary Leff

I cruised on over to Chris Elliott’s Travel Notes blog for the first time in awhile and Chris is doing a bang-up job summarizing the day’s travel news and offering brief commentary. There’s a lot more content each day than I remember, he seems to be doing a better job keeping his website up to date than I am.

Just as I offer each day’s writing by email, so does Chris. I’ve signed up because I want to read his content but I’m terrible about remembering to check all the websites I enjoy reading.

(I offer a simple solution for regular readers of blogs, just add my RSS feed to your favorite Blog Reader software.)

Taxing Miles in Australia

Posted on: July 24th, 2004 by: Gary Leff

Paying business expenses on personal credit cards for the miles is a time-honored tradition. And there’s even a new company, Zevez, which helps businesses run their accounts payable through rewards credit cards in order to capture cash back or frequent flyer miles.

But the practice of earning miles by charging business expenses to a credit card may be coming to an end in Australia.

Australian taxpayers earning miles on business travel are clearly not liable for the tax. However a new Australian Tax Office initiative (“ATO Practice Statement”) will tax business people earning miles on their personal credit cards.


The tax office will scrutinize Australians who earn 250,000 or more frequent flyer miles in a year to determine whether those miles are being earned by putting business expenses on personal cards “for no economic purpose” other than to secure rewards. (The tax office will judge the validity of the decision – a small business owner might put expenses on a card for convenience and cashflow and in that case it would be alright and nontaxable for them to also receive award points. Bizarre.)

    People who receive more than 250,000 reward or frequent-flyer points in a year will be audited as part of the crackdown, as will anyone who pays business expenditure with their card for no commercial purpose other than to secure a reward.


    Tax experts said the Tax Office might also contact the credit card companies or airlines such as Qantas directly for a list of the names of those who have accrued more than 250,000 points in the year.

Dangerous Mechanical Delay

Posted on: July 24th, 2004 by: Gary Leff

This piece has one of the best opening paragraphs of any travel story I’ve read:

    Our plane went mechanical in Mexico City on the way to Costa Rica. The local mechanics said they didn’t have the parts on hand and it would be at least 38 hours before our aircraft was going anywhere. The airline decided to hedge its bets and set us free for a 30-hour layover at the Mexico City airport hotel.


    That’s when I almost lost my penis.

The rest of the short story doesn’t live up to its opening, so you can choose to read it all or not.

Marriott offer

Posted on: July 24th, 2004 by: Gary Leff

Marriott is offering third night free in conjunction with a United Airlines flight for stays booked by September 2nd for travel through December 25. (Hat tip to Samir.)

Build in extra time to Wichita

Posted on: July 24th, 2004 by: Gary Leff

Wichita, Kansas isn’t a good place to fly to if you need to be on time.

    Nearly one of four flights from major commercial airlines arrived late at Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport in the first five months of this year.

    Late arrivals in Wichita ran an average of 56 minutes behind schedule.


    “The delays at Mid-Continent Airport are not delays at Mid-Continent Airport,” said Bailis Bell, the airport’s director. “They are delays at other airports in the system. Delays at this airport because of congestion, bad weather or equipment are rare.”


    About one-third of daily flights serving Mid-Continent operate between Wichita and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport or Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport. Atlanta ranked 27th out of the nation’s 31 biggest airports in on-time performance. Chicago was last.


    Atlantic Coast Airlines had the most delays of any carrier nationwide, and also led Wichita’s late flights, working as partners with United Airlines out of Chicago.

I suspect that on-time performance will improve as a result of activities far away from Kansas.

Atlantic Coast, the largest carrier at Washington-Dulles for year (operating as United Express), has been an operational disaster to be avoided at all costs. Now that they’ve severed their relationship with United to go forward as the new low-cost carrier Independence Air, things can only improve for United Express markets that they used to serve.

There’ll be a shakeout period as replacement carriers get their feet wet in new markets, but oddly enough Wichita stands to benefit from the creation of a low cost carrier that doesn’t even serve the city.

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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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