A New Gender Option for Passports, United Adding First Class Meal Option, and Europe to End Mobile Roaming

News and notes from around the interweb:

  • 6th Circuit Court of Appeals rules for right to trial over no-fly order

  • Very smart improvement at United. Starting November 1 customers can decline the first class meal and get complimentary buy on board item from coach.

  • Did the TSA really make a 90 year old woman remove her bra? The agency denies it.

  • Republic Airways pilots ratify a 3 year contract which should save the regional carrier from bankruptcy and passengers of major airlines a whole lot of headaches.

  • A third gender choice for passports?

  • Quartz carries a piece on taking points as an asset seriously. (I’ve been writing about miles as a proprietary currency without central bank or currency board for over a decade.)

    Just like cash, the biggest risk with points is that they may lose value before you use them. “They aren’t getting more valuable,” says Gary Leff author of the popular blog View from the Wing. His greatest fear is point devaluation, which he sees as inevitable as points become easier to accumulate and fewer seats are available on flights. He and the other gurus of point management always preach spending your points as soon as possible—the idea being they will depreciate faster than other assets, including cash. But this advice doesn’t always hold up.

    …With more people flying and fewer seats available, it’s harder to cash out your awards. Being able to use your points is just as important as the number of points it takes to book a ticket. It tends to be harder to use points when the economy is booming and more people travel. Conversely, Leff observed it was much easier to use award points during the Great Recession. In this sense, award points have what’s called a negative beta, meaning their value improves when most other assets tank. This relationship makes award points quite valuable because they are a great hedge against the rest of your wealth. If you care about taking a vacation or visiting faraway relatives every year—no matter the state of your cash wealth—points hold a valuable place in your portfolio.

  • Europe will scrap mobile roaming charges. Europe will be a single zone, great for picking up one sim card for Europe rather than several.

  • My views on a potential Hyatt acquisition of Starwood discussed on RT Boom Bust last night (HT: Alan H.):

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I’m not understanding why UA hasn’t followed AA by allowing it’s passengers to pre-order meals. I like the fact that FC pax can now get something from coach if they do not like what is being served up front, but then again, if someone doesn’t want a meal in FC then that says a lot of the meal choices.

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