30% off and Free Shipping from W Hotels Store

Posted on: December 30th, 2009 by: Gary Leff

Promo code D6T8V is good for 30% off and free shipping through January 10 at the W Hotel Store.

For beds and bedding I’d wait until the 40% off and free shipping specific to those items comes around, it seems to several times a year.  (Though if you were considering getting a W Hotel bed, and didn’t want to wait, this is still a reasonable offer.)

But for non-bed items, like stocking up on Bliss products, this is the best deal going most of the time. I admit, ever since I started staying at W properties I’ve used Bliss soaps and shampoos at home, and I refill my own supply when 30% off and free shipping comes around.

Flights to Canada and Hotel, 2 people from $150 plus 5000 United Miles Per Person

Posted on: December 30th, 2009 by: Gary Leff

Here’s the deal, and the Flyertalk thread.

Use promo code GOCANADA to take $600 off the package price, airfare for two people with hotel and minimum spend of $750. Book by December 31st 7 p.m. eastern time and travel needs to be complete by April 30. Each traveler will also receive 5000 bonus United miles per reservation.

Cheapest options will usually be two night stays for two people.  Of course you only get $300 off per person, so you’re better off booking for two even if traveling solo.  There are some nice properties available with this promo as well, including three Fairmont properties — one of which will also throw in a $100 food and beverage credit to boot.

Hilton Gold Fast Track Offer

Posted on: December 30th, 2009 by: Gary Leff

Hilton is offering Gold status after just four stays within 90 days of registration.

Terms and conditions of the offer do say “Offer available only for Savings at Work-eligible Corporate Cardmembers for stays paid for with a Savings at Work eligible American Express Corporate Card and is not transferable” but I can’t imagine that this is the case in practice.

(Via Frugal Travel Guy.)


Posted on: December 30th, 2009 by: Gary Leff

Let me just hand the mike to Lucky.

Poor, poor Chris Elliott. And while I almost always disagree with him, this time it’s different. I support him. As we all know, the TSA didn’t exactly do a great job making the new security initiatives clear. So in trying to help the public out (for once), Chris Elliott posted the security directive on his website, which wasn’t supposed to be published. Now, aside from the fact that this wasn’t supposed to be made public, I don’t see anything in there that I’d consider confidential or surprising. In other words, Chris wasn’t compromising our national security.

But apparently someone from the government showed up at his house last night with a subpoena, wanting to know who leaked him the document. Overkill much? You’d think they have bigger things to worry about, like, oh, I don’t know, terrorism?

Makes me happy I didn’t post…. oh, nevermind. :D

Alamo $10 Weekend Rentals

Posted on: December 29th, 2009 by: Gary Leff

Alamo’s $10 a day weekend rates are back from January 6 through February 8. (Thanks to mrp alert for the pointer.)

Book using corporate ID 7015238. Pick up the car 9am on Thursday or later, return by Monday, and the key to getting the deal is keeping the car Saturday night.

Rates are $10 for compact up to $20 for premium vehicles. Rates are capacity controlled and only available at airport locations.

I Have Little to Add to Recent TSA Commentary

Posted on: December 29th, 2009 by: Gary Leff

I had only just been joking about the shoe carnival at checkpoints, the unfortunate legacy of ‘shoe bomber’ Richard Reid.  Thank goodness he wasn’t the ‘pants bomber’ was my joke, or we’d all have to take off our pants at security.

So it’s cruel irony that the December 25th failed attempt has become known alternately as the pants bomber and the crotch bomber.

TSA has been roundly criticized, no mocked is more like it, for their silly response to last week’s events.  Somehow we need extra security measures on flights into the U.S. because somehow Amsterdam’s security is less thorough than that at US airport, or perhaps because there aren’t already terrorists in the U.S. and so we have to keep all would-be bombers from staying warm with blankets.  And if they’re really bored while flying due to lack of inflight entertainment they won’t want to fly great distances to harm us.

I flew yesterday from a small airport that has always had crazy security lines.  They use one gate and don’t let passengers into the gate area until about 45 minutes prior to flight.  They have all the TSA-issued propoganda signs up, and signs about different lanes for expert travelers, casual travelers and families — even though there’s only one line and one x-ray machine.  This airport has long required everyone to take of their belts, and is the only place I’ve been required to take out my freedom baggie rather than just having my liquids in them and ignored by screeners.  And since very few people who have flown since 9/11 actually pass through this airport, the extended screening process is a nightmare.  But it was no different yesterday than it has been in the past few months.

Scott McCartney makes sense on this issue.

[T]here’s a difference between unpredictable and silly. Rules have to actually deter terrorism, not simply leave passengers cold and running for bathrooms when deplaning.

Already many of the stupidest rules are being relaxed (“left to the discretion of the pilots”), a tacit admission that the TSA just felt the need to ‘do something’ because it couldn’t be seen as complacent, but that ‘something’ was indeed silly and they realize it.

I hesitate to refer to the Christmas Day terrorist wannabe as the pants bomber because I don’t want the TSA requiring me to take off my pants at the checkpoint. But it’s sheer incompetence that this individual was on terrorist watchlists but not the no fly list, and yet we all have to provide our names matching passports with dates of birth and gender now just to fly domstically. And ultimately the failure of our entire approach to security comes from (a) our focus on finding bad things rather than bad people, (b) our obsession with security theatre rules that have little to do with actual security, like checking IDs and throwing away water into bins next to checkpoints.

Ultimately though many pixels are being spilled on the December 25 incident and the silly things the government is doing that offer little in extra protection. And I suppose I have little original to contribute here. So you won’t be hearing much, and certainly not much more than usual, from me on these issues.

Update: When the ‘nothing on your lap’ rule came out for the last hour of flights headed to the US, I joked “What about lap babies?” According to this AP piece, lap babies would actually have been banned by TSA rules for that last hour of flight. This Flyertalk thread offers suggestions on what to do with the babies:

Babies must remain in the overhead bin. …

Or in checked luggage. Just don’t forget to puncture a few holes. ..

Here is what I do with my baby:

1500 Mile Frontier Signup Bonus — Good for $6 at Starbucks

Posted on: December 26th, 2009 by: Gary Leff

Frontier is offering 1500 miles for signing up for their frequent flyer program by December 31. (Hat tip Frugal Travel Guy.)

Even if you’re never going to add more miles to your Frontier EarlyReturns account, it’s worth signing up. You can transfer your points out of Frontier and into other programs for free at Points.com.

1500 Frontier miles yields your choice of:
372 Air Canada Aeroplan points
311 Alaska Mileage Plan miles
329 American
637 Cathay Pacific AsiaMiles
296 Delta Skymiles
592 HawaiianMiles
348 Midwest Miles
637 Priority Club Rewards points
296 US Airways Dividend miles

or $6 in Starbucks.

Hilton 50% Off Weekends (Many Hotels Weekdays, Too) in Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Asia

Posted on: December 25th, 2009 by: Gary Leff

Loyalty Traveler points to the new Hilton 50% off weekends sale for Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

The sale is valid for bookings made throughout January. Hotels in the Americas are excluded. Rates are fully prepaid and non-cancellable, and include breakfast and late checkout.

And while perhaps this will be corrected, currently many hotels are offering the weekend 50% off rate during the week as well.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is a Delta Diamond

Posted on: December 21st, 2009 by: Gary Leff

Mike Huckabee explains this status to the New York Times.

Are you prepared to deal with Delta reservations agents, whom you describe in your book as robotic and unreasonable? You’d think they’d be nice to ex-governors.
What does give me cachet is not that, but the number of miles that I fly a year. There’s a new designation that Delta is cranking up in January called Diamond, and it’s for people who are so far above the Platinum status that they are going to put in a unique category. I qualify for that!

I’m glad you’ve achieved supreme status in at least one realm of life.
You know, if you can’t be president, by gosh, get to the highest level of frequent-flier rewards.

Of course, if Huckabee doesn’t like dealing with Delta res agents, I have some outsourced call center agents from United that he could talk to, to see whether he’d like a Hertz rental car or if they’ve met his travel needs…

There is, it seems, something about Republican governors and Delta. Mark Sanford cashed in Delta miles for his fateful trip to Buenos Aires. More likely, perhaps, is just folks in the South being forced to connect through Atlanta wherever they’re going..

(Hat tip to Alex.)

Flyertalk Makes it On Oprah

Posted on: December 21st, 2009 by: Gary Leff

Up in the Air director Jason Reitman explains to Oprah,

Jason Reitman: I think it’s a combination of things. One, it’s the thing that you first brought up—it is a community. If you look at a website like FlyerTalk.com, for example, you will find a group of people who have banded together in their passion for this kind of lifestyle of living continuously on the road and who have an unusual definition of the word home. It’s a group of people that are just as comfortable if not more comfortable living in constant flux—hotel to hotel, airport to airport—who get a sense of thrill from being surrounded by those destination boards knowing that they could suddenly be off to any city in the world. People who live by their daily itinerary. And I think one of the reasons they have this not only passion, but indignation, is that there’s been enough movies like Planes, Trains and Automobiles, there’s been enough news pieces and articles on the frustrations of travels. It’s an easy enough conversation point, so if you love travel then you angrily defend it.

(Hat tip Randy.)

Starwood’s Brand Positioning

Posted on: December 20th, 2009 by: Gary Leff

London’s Sunday Times carries a puff piece on Starwood Hotels CEO Frits van Paasschen “whose mantra is ‘refuel the cool'”

He has his work cut out for him, though I’m not sure he realizes just how.

Starwood has had four unique selling propositions, two of which were loyalty program-related and three of which have been matched or bettered by the competition over the past couple of years.

1) SPG True Redemption. This was the best program for award redemption, period. Not only no blackout dates but no capacity controls. But now Hilton and Hyatt both explicitly matches this, and in practice Priority Club seems close.

2) Platinum suite upgrades. Intercontinental Royal Ambassador has long had a better upgrade policy, but the program was too small for Starwood to worry about. Hilton doesn’t offer a suite benefit. Marriott’s rules were revised a few years back to explicitly exclude suites. Starwood = suites. But not Hyatt has trumped — with 4 confirmable upgrades per year at booking, not catch as catch can at checkin. At a minimum, this no longer sets Starwood apart (although Hilton and Marriott still lag).

3) The Heavenly Bed, which they extended to the Sweet Sleeper, the Four Comfort, etc. And a concept they tried to leverage in the bathroom, and the curved shower rod was a real improvement. They forced the rest of the industry to improve their beds and for the most part they have.

4) Better properties. Aspirational properties. There remain more Starwood properties that discerning guests actually want to be at, dream of, strive towards. There are some nice Marriotts, a handful of good Hiltons. But the number of unique high-end Starwood properties is a real benefit. There are some great Hyatts of course, and some very nice Intercontinentals (e.g. Bali). And of course Starwood doesn’t compete with Aman or Peninsula. But the larger brands don’t come close to the unique positioning that Starwood offers at the higher end.

They can ‘refuel the cool’ all the want. But they have to understand they offer a reasonable product otherwise, but no longer own a trump.

And I do believe — and certainly a number of people inside SPG at least do understand — that they need to recapture that.

Fixing Air Traffic Control in the United States

Posted on: December 20th, 2009 by: Gary Leff

Reason.tv‘s video, Your Flight Has Been Delayed… And It’s Washington’s Fault makes the case for folowing Canada’s lead and prviatizing Air Traffic Control. 

Of course this weekend’s delays weren’t Washington’s fault. But certainly transportation funding priorities are out of whack, air traffic control technologies are terribly outdated, and Canada’s private model seems to operate better (in spite of more snow up North!).

That said, I’ve long wanted to imrpove plane-to-plane communications and make planes more like cars

Just Over a Week Left to Take Advantage of the US Airways 250% Holiday Shopping Bonus

Posted on: December 20th, 2009 by: Gary Leff

I’ve written plenty about this offer already, but there are likely several people still on the fence so I thought I’d write it up as simply as possible in one place.

The bonus offers the opportunity to buy US Airways miles at about 7/10ths of a penny apiece. That’s buying business class from the US to Europe for ~ $700 (plus taxes and award redemption fee). First class to Hong Kong on Star Alliance partner awards becomes ~ $850 per ticket (again, plus taxes and fees). So it’s a pretty amazing offer.

The basics of the deal:

* You need to have (5) transactions with different merchants in order to reach the 250% bonus level. The 5th needs to be Track It Back which normally offers 40 miles per dollar but becomes 140 under this deal (hence the approximate 7 cent per point price).

* Now, since you don’t actually want/need the Track It Back items you can even consider donating them to a qualified charity for a tax deduction… (others have noted that you may want to keep the amount donated in a year under $5000 to not be burdened with an IRS requirement for an appraisal, even though the valuation is clear — it’s the market price for the brand new item). But if you did successfully donate the items that would push your cost basis down in the range of half a cent per mile. Hardly necessary to make this a worthwhile offer, just a way to maximize it.

* You just need to figure out how many miles you want (where do you want to go? how many people? what class of service?). My suggestion is not to buy more miles than you have a vision for how to use within the next year and a half or so. That’s because I tend towards overcautious, and don’t really want to be bundling a bet into all of this on the future of the airline!

Each purchase should be made by clicking a link on the holiday promo page.

You can accomplish your four non-TrackItBack purchases quite inexpensivel, such as:
1. Purchase a $2 tree from Gaiam (Dividend Miles Shopping Mall merchant)
2. Purchase a $5 Sears/KMart gift card with free shipping
3. Purchase a $5 Omaha Steaks gift card with free shipping.
4. Purchase a $5 gift card from Barnes & Noble, costs ~ $7

Then make a purchase from TrackItBack, whatever number of miles you want divided by 140 will tell you how much to spend.

Personally, again because I am uber-cautious, once TrackItBack points post (the regular 40 miles per dollar — the bonus miles won’t post until March 1), and those post within a week or so, I then make another couple of minor purchases just in cases one of the earlier four don’t post on their own. A couple of examples:

– 99 cent wallpaper sample from Home Depot plus the cost of a postage stamp
– If you send flowers to anyone via FTD, those’ll earn 70 miles per dollar
– Open a Sharebuilder account with $5 and buy $1 worth of stock (earns 10,500 miles with bonus)

Finally, just be sure that your TrackItBack purchase is done earlier rather than later in the sequence of purchases, my preference is to make it purchase #5. That’s because only the first 10 transactions count for a bonus.

All transactions need to be made by (and post with a date no later than) December 30. I wouldn’t push it that late, though. Sometimes a purchase will post with a shipping date rather than a purchase date, so no guarantee a December 30 purchase posts with a December 30 date.

In other words, get on the ball now .. before Christmas .. don’t wait.

Well Done Diners Card Worldwide Marketing Campaign

Posted on: December 19th, 2009 by: Gary Leff

I like the new Diners Club international marketing campaign, I thin kit’s really well done. It’s available on YouTube in multiple languages. Here’s the South African version of the ad, the diference being a mention of winning 1 million South African Airways miles and displaying the URL for the South African website.

The ‘belong’ theme is common, travelers will recognize it for sure. The theme of a credit card connecting you to your values and using your money to accomplish things that matter is, umm, hardly new. (Mastercard, anyone?) And yet the images and language appeal to a more upscale demographic. Yet the benefits of the card really aren’t positioned the way that American Express positions Platinum or Centurion. So intellectually I’m a bit skeptical of the commercial. And yet it resonates.

Here in the U.S. you can’t apply for a Diners Club card at the moment. So I’m actually thankful that I have one, dating back years and years, because it’s my default card when American Express isn’t accepted — because despite the substantial devaluations over the years it’s still the best rewards program with Mastercard acceptance in my view, and I love the primary rental car insurance coverage.

I’m hoping that Bank of Montreal’s acquisition of Citibank’s North American Diner’s Club franchise will reinvigorate the card, rather than leading to further cuts. I imagine they might want to, you know, actually let people apply for the card at the very least. Developing…

New 80% Off Restaurants.com Discount Code

Posted on: December 18th, 2009 by: Gary Leff

Through December 25, promo code Santa is good for 80% off purchases from Restaurant.com. A standard e-certificate costs $10, so this code makes it $2.

Now, I don’t really use these certificates. But Restaurant.com is a frequent shopping partner valid for various promotions. And for the US Airways Holiday Shopping 250% mileage bonus, you can purchase Restaurant.com certificates through ThanksAgain to earn a partner. And of course you need 5 total partners in order to reach the 250% earning threshold. So here’s a $2 option.

United’s Most Frequent Flyer: 700,000 Miles Per Year in the Air

Posted on: December 18th, 2009 by: Gary Leff

Scott Mayerowitz has an ABC Travel piece on United’s most frequent flyer, tied to the movie Up in the Air (hint: Tom Stuker flies twice as much as Ryan Bingham), and writing about airline top tier elite programs like United’s Global Services and American’s Concierge Key.

About Tom Stuker’s flying,

Stuker has flown nearly 700,000 miles this year alone, criss-crossing the globe for work as an automobile sales consultant. Over the years, he has racked up nearly 8.8 million miles on United Airlines, making him the top member of the airline’s Mileage Plus frequent flier program.

If this is accurate — if the 700,000 figure is actual butt-in-seat miles rather than elite qualifying miles (juiced by double elite qualifying mile promos and class of service bonuses) then it is truly impressive. Actually, it’s impressive either way. I’ve never known anyone personally who does more than 350,000 actual flown miles in a year. 700,000 would be a Los Angeles-Sydney roundtrip four times a month all year. But it doesn’t sound like Stuker is doing ‘occasional’ simple straight-turns to Sydney, since he says he once ate 23 straight meals on planes. (Sidenote: he’s a Flyertalk member, he travels frequently with his fiance and works with his son, so he’s not George Clooney’s loner from Up in the Air.)

The article isn’t quite as strong discussing United’s Global Services program, which is portrayed as hush hush super secret and ultra-service when in reality plenty is known about it (see for instance this extensive Flyertalk discussion which dates to the introduction of the program in 2003), there are published benefits and published requalification criteria, and when it’s even somewhat of a mass market product (although not an easily attainable club for most). In fact, for folks who were members of United’s old VIP program prior to Global Services being introduced, Global Services was a devaluation of the truly personal benefits. Stuker still apparently receives some real personal treatment, but that’s not really a function of the Global Services program per se. He receives special treatment not due as part of the Global Services program.

My favorite bits from the piece:

At the United Los Angeles first class lounge, “I am treated like a king,” Stuker said. He walks in the door and his favorite drink — a Bacardi and Diet Coke — is waiting. When he leaves, the staff hands him a personally packed doggie bag of his favorite snack for the next flight: chips and guacamole.

Now, if I were king, I would probably want my doggie bag filled with dim sum or satay. But to each their own!

“If I was in coach, I would shoot myself,” he said.

I’ve been known to make such over the top claims myself, and yet I’m planning a two and a half hour coach flight in a couple of weeks (fortunately next week’s transcon is not in coach!).

The piece touches on American’s Concierge Key program, which is much more personalized and service-oriented than United’s Global Services (though the article doesn’t go into the details that would tell you this). Concierge Key doesn’t really help with upgrades, it does offer escorts and assistance at the airport. (Global Services members at United clear upgrades before 100,000 mile flyers, in contrast.)

Apparently Jason Reitman, director of Up in the Air has been given Concierge Key membership. I guess writing a movie set in the airline’s planes and about a quest to earn its miles makes him one of their very best customers! He was already an American Airlines elite member who has discussed mileage running to retain his Executive Platinum status in the past.

(Update: Lucky beat me to the punch discussing this article, read his comments as well.)

A Case Study in Starnet Blocking: Booking United Awards to South Africa

Posted on: December 18th, 2009 by: Gary Leff

As many of you know, I probably book more frequent flyer award tickets than anyone else in the world. So I get a lot of regular experience dealing with a wide variety of frequent flyer programs. After Delta, United is my second least-favorite to deal with (Singapore is no bargain, either). All for different reasons.

Delta just offers the least amount of premium cabin international award availability at reasonable mileage prices, and has all sorts of hidden rules like too many segments bumping up mileage prices (when they’re the ones who force you to go looking for extra segments to find available flights in the first place).

While United as a Star Alliance carrier has access to some incrediblle partners and award inventory, regular readers of this blog kow that they are the only Star Aliance airline that blocks there members from booking partner awards — and the blocking varies from very light (e.g. only refusing to book Thai Airways premium cabin flights from Europe to Bangkok) or very heavy (won’t book a single Lufthansa flight between Frankfurt and Munich all month, let alone a transatlantic flight). It varies based on where they project they’ll be for the quarter with a given airline compared to their budget for spending on partner awards with that airline. It’s airline by airline, and the blocking goes into effect route by route and day by day. So United might block Asiana’s Seoul – Chicago flight one day but not the next, even though Asiana offers award availability on both days.

United is most famous for blocking Lufthansa transatlantic awards as well as intra-Europe awards. Their award availability just tends to be so good — you can usually find what you’re looking for on Lufthansa — that it’s unsurprising that United members would find themselves wanting to book seats frequently with Lufthansa, and United doesn’t like paying for them to do so. Of course every other Star Alliance airline lets you book any award seat being offered by other Star Alliance airlines to their Star partners. Only United engages in ‘blocking’.

The most frustrating thing for me is the lack of transparency. Since United doesn’t allow access to partner awards on their website, and doesn’t publish what they’re blocking and not blocking at any given time, you have to hunt and peck for flights on the phone with United agents. You can start with flights you find using the All Nippon Airways website, for instance, since ANA publsihes awards for most Star partners (notably absent are Air China and Swiss). But while this works well when calling US Airways, with United you never know what you’re going to get until you’re on the phone.

My United strategy is always to put together perhaps four different potential outbound itineraries, using a mix of different airlines, and four different potential returns as well. That way when I call I have backups, I can go through each in order until I find one itinerary that’s offering award seats that United will actually let me book. Sometimes I’m successful on the first try, other times I get down to number four.

For the past few weeks, United has been pretty good about allowing members to book Lufthansa transatlantic award seats (though they did deny me a couple of flights last week when award seats were being offered). I had them set up Denver-Frankfurt but then got stymied when they claimed no availability on Frankfurt-Istanbul, which had at least four business class award seats available.

Here’s what I found when trying to book with United miles to South Africa in a premium class of service (for about the third time in the past month):

* South African Airways business class awards from New York or Washington, DC to Johannesburg are virtually non-existant. There might be only 1-2 days in two months where the DC flight is available. Inventory on the JFK flight is a bit better. But don’t count on getting these. South African is equally hard to get on Europe-South Africa routes like London and Munich to Johannesburg. I have never had United block South African, though.

* JFK to Cairo (in first class) and then to Johannesburg (in business) is widely offered on Egypt Air. But United seems not to permit this routing. Continental even suggests it on their website (since Egypt Air can be booked online with Continental miles). I might be able to play hang up and call back enough times to get someone to ticket it, but I’m consistently told no routing via Middle East to Africa.

* Lufthansa from Germany to South Africa goes in fits and spurts of availability, I’ve seen it pretty good in the past but recently it’s been tough to get. Looking for May, 2010 I found one date in the first half of the month where Frankfurt-Johannesburg was available in first class (nothing in business), and one date for the return where first was available in the second half of the month (nothing in business). Fortunately and surprisingly, United was not blocking this availability. Unfortunately, the outbound and return dates didn’t line up with my needs, I grabbed the return but needed a different outbound.

* Swiss availability is amazingly good for Zurich-Johannesburg (and in general, really). Maddeningly, United was blocking Swiss flights to and from South Africa virtually ever single day of May. I could manage Johannesburg – Nairobi on South Africa connecting to Nairobi-Zurich on Siwss (likely to push over the maximum permitted miles on a routing to JFK but not to Denver, though only slightly, and a decent agent will still book it or get approval to book it). Still that adds an extra flight onto what’s already a long trip. United didn’t seem to be doing much blocking of Swiss transatlantic, for what it’s worth.

* A consistently workable option is Turkish. I have never seen United block Turkish. Availability from JFK to Istanbul is outstanding, but grabbing that flight when you aren’t starting in New York (or San Francisco, Los Angeles, or DC) is a real pain involving change of airports, as United doesn’t offer any Chicago or Denver to JFK flights. Turkish does offer flights from Chicago to Istanbul as well. From Istanbul they fly to Johannesburg and onto Capetown, and as with most Turkish routes availability is outstanding. What’s more, United permits the routing. So this was the outbound I had to use.

My number one frequent flyer wish for the New Year remains an end to Starnet blocking. But if that won’t come to pass, then some upfront guidance as to what is being blocked, either by putting Star partners online for booking via united.com or some other method to just tell me upfront not to bother searching for Swiss awards, because even when I find the seats they’ll tell me know anyway. Then I would save huge amounts of my time and agent time and have a much more satisfying award booking experience.

Update: For the sake of completeness, I realize that when posting early early this morning I neglected to mention Star Alliance service from Lisbon to Johannesburg 3 days a week on TAP Air Portugal…

Details of Starwood’s First Quarter Promo – Register January 5

Posted on: December 18th, 2009 by: Gary Leff

From January 5 through April 15, Starwood is offering double points on 1 and 2 night stays, triple points on 3 night stays, and quadruple points on stays of 4 nights or more. This is in addition to usual 50% elite bonuses and any other bonuses on offer. Registration is required, beginning on January 5.

While most properties are participating, not all are. They advertise “over 850″ but you may want to check the participating properties list so see whether where you’re staying will be awarding the bonus points.

5000 Bonus Miles on First Transfer of American Express Points to British Airways Miles

Posted on: December 18th, 2009 by: Gary Leff

One Mile at a Time noted yesterday that British Airways was now live as a U.S. American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner. I hadn’t expected this until January, they’re a few weeks ahead of schedule.

He also notes that they’re offering 5000 bonus miles for making your first transfer.

And, indeed, the Amex Membership Rewards website says:

“In honor of this new partnership, you can receive 5,000 bonus BA Miles when you transfer Membership Rewards® points to British Airways before January 31, 2010. You must be enrolled in the British Airways Executive Club in order to participate in this offer, visit http://www.ba.com to enroll. Bonus Miles will be awarded by February 28, 2010. One bonus per Cardmember. Taxes, fees, charges & surcharges, including airline surcharged, apply.”

So I can transfer 1000 Amex points to BA and receive 6000 miles.

As I noted back in August, I consider Amex adding British Airways to their U.S. program to be a real, meaningful addition. Truly glad to see it.

And The Monster Outlets-To-Go Powerstrip Giveaway Winners Are…

Posted on: December 17th, 2009 by: Gary Leff

The winners in the Monster Outlets to Go Giveaway Are…

Well, before I actually tell you who won I’ll hold onto the suspense for just I moment (I know you’re all waiting with bated breath). There were 669 eligible comments, submitted by the deadline of noon eastern time yesterday. Thanks, folks! I didn’t check to see just how many were submitted by the same folks, multiple entries were eligible, but I know that commenting in this thread became a favorite pasttime for many. What will you all do now that the contest is closed?

I used an online number generator to come up with (3) random numbers in order to determine which comment numbers were the winners. But I had a little problem the first time through.

The initial winners were Erich and Autumn and…. Autumn. Now, I didn’t declare this in the original rules but c’mon, people, you can only win once. So I drew again, and came up with Lisa. Those are the three winners!

I have each of your email addresses, I’ll be sending them along to the Monster folks who will contact you for your address to ship these out. And I apologize if you happen to share a name iwth one of the winners and aren’t actually the winner, if you don’t hear from the Monster folks and you think you might be the Erich or Autumn or Lisa feel free to drop me a line for clarification.

And thanks for participating in the contest. Y’all should enjoy their Outlets to Go Powerstrip. And thanks to Monster for supplying the items for the contest, as well as to all of my readers for commenting in the thread — the comments were uniformly positive and friendly, and I much appreciate that!

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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.