60,000 American Airlines Offer Expiring Soon – ACT FAST!

One of the best American Airlines offer is soon to expire. The offer has been around for some time, but is due to expire on Halloween. This offer below however waives the annual fee the first year. It’s not the standard offer, they usually offer. I know, a scary notion no doubt.  However, if you are on the fence about getting this American Airlines 60,000 miles offer, I would jump off the fence and get it before its gone.  No telling when it will return.  The Barclays Aviator AAdvantage MasterCard is offering a whopping 60,000 miles after your 1st purchase. There is NO minimum spend requirement AND the annual fee is waived for the first year. That’s enough miles for a couple round trip coast to coast flights, or premium cabin redemptions, for domestic travel. I personally save these miles for premium cabin international travel, which can used on their partners, such as Qatar or  Etihad, or any OneWorld partners.

The card has some nice perks, which include priority boarding on American Airlines flights (not code-share partners). First bag free, for up to 4 people, and some new perks such as a $25 credit on inflight WiFi purchases, and an anniversary companion certificate for 1 guest at $99 + taxes. Its also a MasterCard, which gives you $10 monthy credit to use at Lyft.

Application Link Annual fee Waived First Year

Application Link – Standard Offer with $99 annual fee

I had this card last year, so I wont be reapplying for it this time around.  I will however, get this for my wife, who has not had this card. As a family of 4, we need 2-player mode to accrue lots of miles for premium cabins.  Are you going to get this card? If so, what are your travel goals for the miles?  Happy Travels!

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Spirit Airlines – Is it that BAD?

We recently needed to book tickets to Las Vegas, and looking around, the ticket prices weren’t all that great.  It seems certain markets cost more than others when booking with Alaska Airlines, our carrier of choice here, and Las Vegas is truly one of those highly priced markets.  I was lucky to be able to book the outbound using British Airways Avios, at just a mere 22,500 points for 3 tickets, but trying to get a return, especially on a weekend using Avios was very tough.  Availability at the saver level on Alaska on a weekend, is almost non-existent from Portland (PDX).  Well, I went to plan B ; a paid ticket on Spirit Airlines. 

Now before you go on, and cuss me out for even thinking of booking a flight on Spirit, read the rest of this post, and you’ll learn a thing or two, and how to make it work for you to make it a pleasant experience.  Here are some tips for booking Spirit Airlines.

  1. Book Early to Save – Like any airline fare, the earlier you book, the more likely you will save money at the end. Spirit is no exceptions. Being a low cost carrier, and depending on the route you are flying, most flights will be full because, the its cheap. If you have to book last minute, don’t count it the savings.  Although, it might be cheaper than the major carriers, or even Alaska Airlines.  The earlier you book, the cheaper it will be, as I have seen in my experience.
  2. Book the BIG FRONT SEAT and BUNDLE  – Depending on the route, the ‘upgraded’ seat is worth it. For us, it was a mere $40 extra, but worth it, as its basically a domestic first class seat, without the cloth napkins, and service. I’d gladly take the additional room any day for that price, and I’ll get to maintain my mental health. Add the bundle at booking, and get all the perks you’re used to with the other airlines, if not more.  For us, it was way cheaper than Alaska Airlines even with the bundles. So Bundle and Save!
  3. Print Boarding Passes at Home or use Mobile – These guys are all about the extra ways they can charge you, and printing your tickets is no exception, so check in online or on your phone, and save some $$$ here too. No biggie, everyone today is on their phones anyway, so after you post a pic of that delicious muffin you just had, check in for your flight. You can use the savings if you want to buy yourself a snack on the plane.
  4. Use Spirit for Short Haul Trips – Would I recommend you to fly from the West Coast to the East Coast on Spirit? No way! A 2 hour flight is probably palatable, in terms of comfort, but being on this airline for hours may realistically suck…..at least for me, and with 2 small kids, even worse. I wouldn’t do it. Unless you can stand that sort of flying (dis)comfort, use Spirit to book small hauls, and avoid the long hauls.
  5. Budget for In-flight Food/Drinks – If you’re like me, you like the experience of warm nuts and a drink before flight. Well, dream on, because that’s a fantasy on Spirit. You can buy on board, and the prices are bit steep, so budget for it, or do what my wife did — buy snacks/drinks at the airport and bring on board. This way, you can choose what you want anyways. We have two small kids, so buying on board could could’ve reduced their college savings a bit.

Big Front Seat is just like First Class

Still cheaper than Alaska, with ALL the perks. $280.58 for 3 travelers!!

Okay, I think this is a good primer for you to use for booking Spirit Airlines, if you really have to.  Quite honestly, my wife said the service was good. The flight attendants were friendly, professional, and the plane was clean. We got to choose a departure time, we wanted, and that was helpful also.  What she really liked about it was that upgrade to the BIG FRONT SEAT.  My twins were comfortable, and they fell asleep quickly, which made Mom really happy. Will I be using them again? Perhaps, or perhaps not, but this experience definition made me take a second look at them, and consider them next time.  Have you flown Spirit Airlines? What was your thoughts and experiences? I’d love to hear ’em.

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American Airlines Allowing for Premium Economy Using Miles

It looks like American Airlines is now allowing folks to redeem their miles for premium economy cabins. This is actually pretty nice, as availability sometimes is hard to get on on international partners, and using them on American Airlines flights, may be easier.  They have released the award chart for it, and the rates seem okay, I guess for flying in a better and more comfortable seat, than a regular coach seat.  Below, it appears if one was to fly from the U.S. to Europe, it would be 80,000 miles round-trip.  However, keep in mind that its only 57,500 for one way in business or first class on American Airlines to Europe.  This may work for some people, especially if availability is sparse in the desired cabins on certain flights.  I may take advantage of this to fly to Europe, as I want to keep my miles for long haul redemptions to Asia and beyond.  Also, it would be interested to know how many premium economy seats they will release for award redemptions, as it could be a great and less stressful way to fly for a family of 4, lets say. Anyhow, its still great to have this viable option for a more comfortable flying experience.  I just cant see myself flying like this even,  for 17 hours somewhere. Currently, there are a few ways to acquire AAdvantage miles, such as :

Happy Travels Everyone!

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Earn More Miles for Holiday Shopping and Beyond

This last holiday shopping season was one of the best on record, if not the best one.  Retailers reported record earnings and the shopping craze is looking to last well past the holiday season online. For me personally, it was an awesome season, as I racked up over 40,000 miles on United and Alaska Airlines taking advantage of holiday shopping bonus offers.  If you aren’t using the portals from the mileage shopping programs, then you aren’t doing it right.  Its an incredible opportunity to rack up huge sums of miles and points, to get you closer to that award ticket of your choice.  Use a strategy like using a credit card that offers 2x on shopping online, or airlines.  Luckily, I have an American Express card, which earns me 3X on airline purchases.  I simply tack it onto the Mileage X app, and buy gift cards for stores like Best Buy, Mayc’s, or whatever, which counts as an ‘airline’ purchase earning 3X points, and United Airlines miles on top. Double dipping my way to that next trip.  If you haven’t been doing that, its never too late to start.  When shopping online, use one of the portals to go through and collect your miles.  Even Chase and other banks have portals, that you can earn points on if you arent into airline miles.  You are going to shop online anyways.

Happy Travels!

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Cathay Pacific Brings Service from Seattle to Hong Kong in April 2019

Flying to Asia from the west coast has always been easy with the options of various carriers, and alliances, but Cathay Pacific’s new service from Seattle to Hong Kong and definitely a golden nugget in my basket.  One of my favorite cities to fly to is Kuala Lumpur, and often times, I’ve had to depart from SFO or LAX to do that, but this new option from Seattle makes things a lot easier for me, since Cathay’s partner, Alaska Airlines has tons of flights to Seattle from Portland.  The service will begin in April 2019, and this may work out perfect, as I plan on going to Malaysia next year sometime, anyways. I found an amazing restaurant there, and I need to hit it up again!!

This makes going to Asia for me even easier, if I can score availability on award tickets..  The aircraft will be serviced by A350-900s, which are super quiet and comfortable.  I flew it before, and was very satisfied with it.  There’s also Wi-Fi connectivity on board, for business , premium economy, and economy.  The flight will have a 4x weekly service, and will hopefully have a lot of award availability so I can use up some of my AAdvantage and Alaska miles to book award tickets.  Of course, you can rack up Cathay Pacific miles also by transferring CITI ThankYou points, or American Express Membership Rewards, into their mileage program, known as AsiaMiles. Happy Travels.

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HURRY! Cheap Alaska Airlines Fares!

Currently, there are some cheap Alaska Airlines round-trip fares from Los Angeles to San Francisco, or vice versa for only $76. This includes the taxes! This is a great way to achieve MVP Gold status, if you are with Alaska Airlines.  This fare is in coach, and upgrades may not be possible.  Play round with the dates to see if you can get this fare. However at this price, who can complain!

Travel Availability:
Departs SFO: June 5-7, 10-14, 16, 18-21, 23, 25-28; July 3-12, 14-15, 17-19, 24-26, 31; Aug 1, 5-8, 12, 14-23, 25-30; Sept 1-15, 17-22

Departs LAX: June 5-6, 9-14, 16, 18-21, 23, 25-30; July 2-5, 10-12, 14, 17-19, 22, 24-26, 29-31; Aug 1-2, 7-8, 12-15, 19-23, 25-30; Sept 1-15, 17-22

Perfect fare for a mini-vacation and bundle it with a hotel for greater savings.  This price is available from Priceline, Expedia, Travelocity, and even Alaska Airlines website. If you have the Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa card, you get 3 miles per dollar, and your 1st bag is checked free.

Happy Travels!

 

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How To Find AMEX Upgrade Offers Available

I logged into my American Express account to view the offers available to me, and I noticed a banner in the middle enticing me to ‘upgrade’ to the Hilton Honors Ascend card, and get 7,500 bonus points after spending $2,000 in 3 months.  The thing that intrigued me was I just product changed (downgraded) my old Hilton Surpass card to the no-fee card, since the annual fee was up, and they sent me the new no -fee card just like two weeks ago.  They even issued the replacement card with the same number, which was cool.

I actually wanted to see if this would work, so I went ahead and accepted the offer. It prompted me for the 4 digit security number, and that was it! No need to fill out an application.  I combed through the terms and conditions and I did not see anything about not getting the bonus if I had the card before, or any other lifetime language associated with Amex cards usually.  Of course, this is just an upgrade, supposedly.

Some people are reporting they are not seeing the offer anymore in their account when they log in. However, there is a nice link that will show you all the offers available to you, and I got it from a rep using secure chat.  Just log into your account from one browser window, then open another window, and copy and paste this link below into the address bar. It will then show you all the off.  Once you click on Request an Upgrade, it will then just ask you again, and that’s it.

https://www.americanexpress.com/us/credit-cards/view-all-personal-cards/?eep=25330&linknav=US-Acq-CCSG-Cardmember-CardsLanding-AllCards-GlobalNav

You can also view other offers that you qualify for.  I was also targeted for a 50,000 bonus point Premier Rewards Gold card, which I would love to get, but probably wont right now. I’m at 6/24 so I’l wait that one out for a bit, as the offer comes and goes.

Are you seeing the offer when you click on the link? Let me know.

 

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SriLankan Airlines Has a Nice Trick

One of the best values for traveling around Asia is SriLankan Airlines.  Their normal fares to cities across Asia through their gateway of Colombo is sometimes a bargain.  With its membership in One World, you can redeem for flights on SriLankan, or accrue miles in your own program by flying SriLankan.  However, there is a little feature that sits on their website that I almost overlooked. The ability to bid for an upgrade on your seat to business class.  The way it works is pretty simple; book any fare for a flight on SriLankan, and you can bid for the upgrade.  No matter where you got ticketed, any fare qualifies. I booked my tickets from US Banks Flexperks.  Depending on where you are going, your chances of approval for an upgrade depends on many factors.  We were going from Kuala Lumpur to Male, which is not that big of a market, so my chances were good.  However, I only bid for the first segment, as it was the longest, at a little bit over 3 hours travel time. The last segment was only an hour from Colombo to Male, which was tolerable, but 3 hours with two 4 year olds, could get turbulent, so an upgrade made sense to me.  I did some research on FlyerTalk on a thread about upgrading on SriLankan to see what others bid before I decided on how much to bid, before deciding at $150USD. They website indicates they will notify you 36-24 hours before your scheduled flight if your bid was successful, or not.  I found they notified me exactly 24 hours before scheduled departure, with a positive email about being approved for the upgrade!

The flight from Kuala Lumpur to Colombo was on an A330 and had kind of an outdated business class cabin, but it was still far more comfortable than coach.  Service was stellar, and flight attendants very professional and friendly.  The meal consisted of a starter, a main course, and a dessert, followed by a tea and coffee service.  The tea was excellent by the way.

Kid tested – Father approved.

Curried prawns and vegetables- spicy and flavorful.

Overall, I enjoyed business class on SriLankan, and hope to fly them again someday.  Transiting through Colombo was kind of hectic, as they changed gates on us, and of course its up to you to figure that out. We almost missed our connecting flight to Male, but at the end, it all came together.  Our departure from Colombo to Male was in the evening, and we arrived in Male at 8PM, which was perfect, because the kids were tired and ready to turn in.  Have you flown SriLankan Airlines? What was your experience like?

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Review: Turkish Airlines Business Class Lounge at Istanbul

If there is one place I would love to be stranded, it would be here – The Turkish Airlines Business Class lounge at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport.  This place is so colossal and grand, it takes a good day to really enjoy all the amenities this place has to offer. You have everything you need from a bed, a shower, and plenty of food, to make the long journey even better.  Business Class passengers traveling with Turkish Airlines, Miles&Smiles Elite and Elite Plus cardholders traveling in Comfort or Economy Class, Star Alliance Gold and Turkish Airlines Corporate Club members can use Lounge Istanbul and enjoy all its services.  The place is a like a two level mall, with eateries in just about every corner of the space.  We landed about 5 P.M. local time, and our Kuala Lumpur flight was scheduled to depart at 12:40 A.M., so we had some serious time to burn, and eat, and sleep, and eat some more.  I wasted no time, and headed to the pide station.  As usual, there was a long line of people waiting to get the freshly made, Turkish style pizzas.  They were perfectly made, with minced meat, spices, and a crispy crust.  I also enjoyed an ayran (Turkish yogurt drink) with it.

After scarfing down the pide, I needed something sweet to finish it off, so I headed to the dessert section.  There was an array of baklava, Turkish delights, and other pastries, that complemented my cappuccino perfectly!

They also have a kids section, with a small playground, which kept the girls busy for sometime, and let us enjoy a little quiet time, which was nice. While they were playing in the kids section, I went over the the pool hall, to people watch, and enjoy a Turkish coffee.

If you go there, dont forget to try the Thai food station. This was pretty popular as the dishes weren’t that bad, actually.  It was quite spicy, and they did their homework on what Thai food should taste like.

 

Lock up your bags and roam around

 

The place is so huge, with spiral staircases, and cool lighting. One thing I forgot to mention is a massage therapist who walks around and gives you shoulder rubs. I totally forgot to do that, as I as too busy eating my way through the lounge.  Oh well, next time…..I promise !

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Review: Turkish Airlines Business Class Chicago to Istanbul

When I started planning for our family trip to Malaysia, the hardest part was finding 4 business class award seats to Kuala Lumpur.  In looking up availability, I came across this flight from Portland to Kuala Lumpur via Istanbul, with Turkish Airlines as a partner.  The caveat? A 9 hour layover in Istanbul, which I didn’t mind.  The reason I didn’t mind is I knew I would be at one of the most amazing lounges in the world – The Turkish Airlines Business Class lounge.  I went ahead and secured my 4 seats using United miles I got from transferring Ultimate Reward points from Chase.  Not traveling for 4 years, and a dash of manufufactured spending, I had racked up well over 300,000 UR points. So in no  time, we were booked for UA 464, TK6, and TK60.

We were seriously worried about missing the Turkish flight because of the tight connection time.  We had roughly an hour to connect to the Turkish flight. I’m not too familiar with ORD, but I do remember going from terminal 1 to terminal 5 takes some time.  With two 4 year olds, it was a little challenging, but we made it.  However, one of our bags didn’t (more on this later).

I had pre-selected the seats via direct message on Twitter with Turkish Airlines, so we were strategically seated.  I love Turkish Airlines due to their 2 – 3 – 2 seat configuration, which makes it great for families, if you are traveling with kids, and need to be seated next to your child.  I got situated and the flight attendant brought the pre-departure drinks. A selection of orange juice, water, and raspberry drinks.  I chose the raspberry drink, which was delicious and refreshing, after that mini marathon to the gate. Doors closed and we were off to Istanbul!

Just a bit before take-off, the on-board chef came around to get our meal selections.  I went with the steak & salad. It was tender and delicious, and most satisfying. Dessert was followed, with some Turkish style tea.

Onboard Chef

Shortly after the dinner service, amenity kits were passed out, which included a nice Bentley kit. They also included a kids amenity kit, which included kid sized headsets, some eco-friendly toys, a backpack, kids size slippers, eye shades, and an old era style pilots headgear.  My girls actually loved them and played with them throughout the flight. Kudos for Turkish Airlines for taking the time to come up with something for the kids!

Awesome Toys

The business class seats are so nice if you are traveling with kids.  They will have a nice restful sleep at night, and the whole whiny kids factor, goes right out the door. My daughter slept a good 6 hours, which gave us both some sanity and relaxation time on-board. The sleep configuration is comfortable and plenty of space to stretch out.

Throughout the flight, a snack area was setup by the galley for business class passengers to gnaw on something during the flight.  I did catch a couple of movies and caught up with emails, as Turkish Airlines has on-board WiFi free for business class passengers. This was very handy.

At about 2 hours before we landed, we were served breakfast. I was so stuffed with the snacks and dinner, I went for a light meal of just fresh fruit, feta cheese, and coffee.

 

The Turkish flight was awesome.  I first flew with them back in 2010, and I fell in love with the service, the hospitality and the overall product. The food was well prepared, fresh, and appealing when served. They really go all out on presentation and make you feel welcome on-board.  Happy Travels!

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