Earlier this month, American Airlines rather abruptly changed its requirements for cashing in miles for frequent flyer tickets. There’s some good news, but, as you might guess, there are some downsides to the new rules, as well.
American stopped offering a stopover with an award ticket. You used to be able to get an award ticket for, say, New York to Paris and back. And then you could add another leg from your home base for travel on a future date to, say, Hawaii or Los Angeles.
American had a great award called a Oneworld Explorer Award that allowed you to go around the world on a leisurely schedule for not-too-many miles. That award disappeared overnight.
With the American/US Airways merger, the option of cashing in 90,000 miles on US Airways for a round-trip, business class ticket to North Asia disappeared, too; now it’ll take 110,000 miles—a 22% increase.
This change, however, might be considered a positive: Instead of two award levels for a ticket there are now three. So if you can’t get a ticket for the fewest number of miles—25,000 for a domestic ticket—you’ll have two more higher options rather than just that one, 50,000-mile option.
We’ll see how that goes.
Based on my conversations with hotel executives, I can tell you they expect you’ll pocket all those little amenities. It’s built into your room price, so you’re not stealing.
But some amenities are better than others, and AirfareWatchdog recently listed some of the better brands.
Check into a W hotel, and you’re likely to find good stuff from Bliss, the New York spa to the hip. Among the six Bliss products should be Bliss Fabulous Foaming Face Wash. That’s the brand name, not my endorsement of it.
JW Marriott and Mandarin Oriental hotels boast an exclusive line called Aromatherapy Associates from London, and Fairmont properties offer Le Labo’s Rose 31 line.
You can often order additional product from the manufacturer or even from the hotel. And sometimes you might score something really special. Check into the Carmel Valley Ranch in northern California, for example, and you’ll find a soap made of fresh-pressed lavender that’s harvested from the more than 7,500 lavender plants that grow on the property.
When it comes to the average age of an airline’s fleet, the airlines from the United Arab Emirates are the newest. Airlines such as Etihad from Abu Dhabi and Emirates out of Dubai generally boast the newest, latest jets. The US is way behind.
Blame it on years of losing money or the size of their fleets. But when you step onto a US airline, you’ll likely be flying on some old metal unless you’re flying Virgin America whose fleet’s average age is five years. The average age of Delta’s planes is three times that–about 17 years. United and American Airlines have fleets that average 13.6 years in age
Virgin isn’t the only one with newer planes. Spirit Airlines is right behind Virgin with a fleet whose average age is 5.2 years. And JetBlue is 7.4 years.
Virgin and JetBlue are newer airlines than Delta, American or United, so their planes are newer. But does this make a difference to you, the passenger?
It might mean a plane’s entertainment system isn’t cutting edge, but on the important question of safety, you’re very safe in older aircrafts because they’re regularly inspected for defects and their critical parts are constantly upgraded.
The biggest gripe about hotels, according to surveys of business and leisure travelers, is getting charged to use Wi-fi. And in the last year, the trend seems to have been our friend, as hotels—at least in the US—began dropping Wi-fi charges for guests. Here’s a new wrinkle from Hilton.
A Hilton executive said that that later this year, guests staying at Hampton Inns, Hilton Garden Inns, Homewood Suites, and Home 2 Suites will still receive free Wi-Fi, but for $3.95 a day, they’ll be able to access faster Wi-fi. Which to me suggests the hotels have an incentive to make their regular offering downright sluggish.
I’m well aware that wiring a major hotel in a big city with Wi-fi can cost a quarter of a million dollars or more. But, please, add a couple of bucks to everyone’s nightly bills rather than hitting me with a daily charge.
Hilton hasn’t released any details on the specs detailing the speed of the free Wi-fi compared to the for-fee Wi-fi, so we don’t have much to go on yet. But I’m ready to check in and test the speed by launching Speedtest.net and comparing the two.
As usual, we’ll see if competitors follow suit.
The two New Yorkers left their jobs, rented their homes, and hit the road. He was a digital media strategist, she was (and still is) a photographer. The couple chose simple accommodations but sometimes sprang for a five-star hotel. They had stored up 473,000 frequent flyer miles. They made friends and, obviously, got to know each other really well. They were on the road 675 days.
In those two years, they traveled through six continents, visiting 33 countries and 302 places. And they say they have enough stories and memories to last a lifetime.
But this is even better: They’ll help you plan a long getaway, too. Start with their very polished website called HoneyTrek.com. It’s got lots of reports and pictures from their trips. Some of their postings even include the email addresses of people who were exceptionally kind or inclusive during their long journey.
For reasonable fees, the couple will coach you by Skype on how to plan a long, long trip and how to start a travel blog that might earn you some major perks. Check it out at here.