So why would you want to put an award ticket on hold?
There are a couple of reasons. Most important is this: If you see an award ticket you want but don’t have enough miles to buy it, you might need time to transfer, say, some American Express points to top off your airline account. Putting that ticket on hold means you won’t lose it. The solution is to lock it in so no one else gets it while your extra miles or points drop into the right account. You might also want to check with someone else’s schedule or simply consider the idea for a few hours before committing.
But not all airlines are created equally in this regard, points out Scott Grimmer of MileValue.com.
American, for example, gives you five days before you have to commit. US Airways gives you three days. But Delta and United are a bit trickier. It’s too complicated to explain on the radio, but here are links to Scott’s columns on the Delta and United.
I often rent cars by bidding for them on Priceline.com because I can usually score a car for 35% below retail. Sometimes more. First I went to Hertz and priced a small car for 22 days. $1,800. Over the December holidays when business travel is slow? Ridiculous. I check out Avis and Enterprise. Also $1,800.
Maybe demand is much higher than I thought.
So I went to Priceline, shaved enough off the retail price to score a car for maybe $1,200. Sorry, said Priceline–$1,800.
Every frequent traveler knows airport rental car locations add all kinds of steep taxes and fees to pay the airport and maybe even build a local sports stadium—local politicians love to stick visitors with extra taxes.
So I called Hertz and found that if I picked up a car at the Loew’s hotel in Santa Monica, my total price would be less than $700. That’s a saving of $1,100. I took a bus for $1.50 from the airport to Santa Monica.
Lesson learned: You’ll almost always pay much more to rent a car at an airport.
Yup, you, too, can attend Oxford.
That’s just a taste of the programs open to anyone during Oxford’s summer program. And every January, I alert you to this offering. You’ll live and study at Christ Church, one of the most prestigious and beautiful of Oxford colleges. And you’ll be provided three, full meals a day in the hall that you’ll recognize from Harry Potter films.
During your week, you can join excursions to nearby stately homes, cathedrals, pubs, and other attractions. Participants come from around the world and vary widely in age, though most folks are Baby Boomers.
Oh, and there are no exams or papers to write.
Sign up for a week or as many as six weeks. The price has gone up slightly since last year: $2,000 covers a one-week course including tuition, lodging, and meals. Excursions and private bathrooms come with surcharges.
The courses run from the end of June through early August, and the registration deadline is May 1st. For more information on the Oxford Experience, click here.
I read an interesting statistic recently from a study conducted by the Center for Responsible Travel, or CREST. It turns out that viewing bears in the wild generates far more revenue than shooting them.
Researchers went to the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia and tracked the number of tourists versus the number of hunters. The researchers then calculated the amount of people both groups employed and how much money each group spent.
In 2012, Crest found that bear viewing generated 12 times more visitor spending than bear hunting. Bear-viewing companies directly employed 510 people that year while guide hunting companies generated only 11 jobs.
The government of British Columbia received $1.7 direct and indirect revenue from bear watchers but a measly $90,000 from hunters. And 186 hunters killed—or “harvested,” as they say—113 bears.
That year the Coastal First Nations, which represents about 20,000 First Nations people—what we would call “Native Americans”—announced a ban on trophy hunting. But the provincial government argues it has control over hunting rules and regulations.
This just-release study would seem to strengthen the hand of First Nation advocates in future discussions. Oh, and I’m guessing the bears are all for more tourists and less shooters, as well.
Yes, three people died last July when an Asiana jet misjudged its landing at San Francisco’s airport last year. But among US carriers, the last incident involving a passenger’s death was in February of 2009 when a Continental commuter flight, Colgan Air, crashed near Buffalo, NY, killing 44 people on board.
How do we account for such an extraordinary record?
I asked Patrick Smith, a pilot for a large, commercial airline in the US and author of the book Cockpit Confidential. He attributed the excellent stats to better crew training, more advanced cockpit equipment and improvements in airport infrastructure, and better collaboration between the government, airline unions, and airlines.
It’s something to keep in mind when you’re next inconvenienced by a flight delay, your bag goes missing, you find yourself crowded in a middle seat, or your choice of an entrée isn’t available on your flight.
Incidentally, each day, more than nine people die in auto accidents in the US.