Dubai is a modern miracle in the desert, one of the United Arab Emirates that has little oil revenue compared to its neighbors. But with the world’s highest skyscraper, largest shopping mall, and a skyline of modern high-rises, Dubai is a liberal outpost in a Muslin neighborhood. Now it wants your family to visit.
Dubai is seen mostly as a place for business types or adults who want to go to nightclubs and drink at the bars of sleek hotels. Even though liquor and gambling are forbidden on the street, alcohol is legal inside. And with the world’s busiest airport and rapidly expanding airline network, Dubai is making itself a worldwide crossroad.
Now comes its ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, with a plan to spend about $2.7 billion to build a 25 million square feet amusement park he hopes will eventually equal Disneyland as the go-to location for families. The Six Flags folks and Legoland are already on board, and a local investment group has licensed Time Warner’s Cartoon Network characters and Walt Disney’s Marvel Studios characters.
This year 12 million people will have visited Dubai; the emirate hopes for 20 million within another six years. Hey, take the kids!
First is the opportunity you might have to facilitate air travel for wounded, injured or ill service members, as well as for veterans and their families. For all of this month, Delta Air Lines will match your donation of Delta miles up to 10 million miles. You may contribute miles to the Fisher House Foundation or Luke’s Wings via Delta’s Skywish program.
Maybe you’ve always wanted to visit World War II battlefields in Europe? There are lots of tours that do that, but how about going by river boat? Viking River Cruises offers a “Paris & the Heart of Normandy Tour” as well as an “Elegant Elba” sail that features a visit to Dresden. An eight-day cruise starts at $1,400 per person. Details at Viking River Cruises.com.
And a new book titled America & World War I is a thorough guide to a war even Baby Boomers don’t know much about. It’s by Mark D. Van Ells and is published by Interlink Books.
We all know how to collect airline miles without flying. Just get a credit card affiliated with an airline, and you generally collect a mile for every dollar you put on that card. Two miles if you use the card to buy a ticket on that airline.
But what about triple dipping?
Almost every major airline has a deal with a company called Rewards Network that partners with airlines, many restaurants, and ANY of your credit cards. You register your card—or cards—at the airline’s dining site, and every time you dine at one of the restaurants on the Rewards Network’s extensive list of restaurants, you get a mile per dollar spent.
So you get miles when you fly, when you use your credit card, and again when you use your card at participating restaurants. The restaurants come in all flavors—Fogo de Chao, the Brazilian meat chain, is a participant, for example, as is my favorite Thai restaurant just down the street from where I live.
Speaking of Fogo de Chao, use an American Airlines-linked card there by Nov. 26th, spend $50 or more, and get an extra 250 miles.
Check your favorite airlines web site and register.
Even if you’re a frequent flyer, you may not know the following: TSA agents are not officers of the law. They can’t arrest you. They are basically security assistants. If they find you’re carrying drugs or—god forbid—a bomb in your luggage, their only job is to call in a police officer.
So my friend Charlie Leocha had a very good idea recently.
Charlie runs Travelers United, a consumer advocacy, non-profit group that argues in DC for airline passenger rights. And he’s the one that termed TSA employees “security assistants.” Charlie says he knows lots of flyers don’t like the security procedures at airports, so he suggest dialing down the police state and confrontation factor.
Why not get rid of those official-looking TSA uniforms with epaulets and stripes and let the men and women of the TSA wear more casual clothing? Like khakis and a pleasant-looking, button-down shirt with a TSA logo? (Charlie suggests pastel polo shirts.)
Few passengers enjoy going through airport security, and TSA agents have no police powers, let’s all relax a little.
Good idea, Charlie.
I’ve talked in the past about these guys who know all the ins and outs regarding the smart use of frequent flyer miles. Two of them run the best sites, ThePointsGuy.com and MileValue.com. Both send out daily emails that we can all learn from, and both—for a fee—offer a trip-planning service that will maximize your rewards for specific trips.
Now there’s something new.
From Brian Kelly, aka “The Points Guy,” comes an app that tells you which credit card you should use when you make every purchase. It has a geo-locator feature, so it knows where you are when you take your wallet out of your purse of pocket. And if you’ve registered the names of the credit cards you carry, the app will instantly tell you which card will get you the most miles or points at that store, gas station, hotel, or wherever.
And it’ll keep you abreast of special bonus point opportunities that card companies often run, like triple miles this month at gas stations or double points at supermarkets.
You can find the app for iPhones and Androids by searching “The Points Guy.”