Turkish Airlines 40% Discount for Health Workers

In support for the heroes risking their lives on the fronts of Covid-19, Turkish Airlines is now offering a 40% discount for air travel, and also extends it to their families. This is a great gesture on a super airline such as Turkish. The join a list of airlines offering perks for health care workers in recent months.  However, please do note they have made some changes in their cabin service, in light of the coronavirus outbreak. Ben aka Lucky,  at One Mile at at Time, has a great post on that, and you can read about it in THIS LINK. 

Be sure to sign up for a Miles&Smiles account before you register, as it will not let you register for the promotion unless you have an account.  The good thing is, you don’t have to be a member for a specific amount of time, in order to take advantage of the promotion.

I love Turkish Airlines, and its probably my favorite airline to fly in business class.  I have yet to experience Qatar and the QSuites, so for now, Turkish Airlines stands at number one, for me.  As from my previous post, my Seychelles trip was canceled due to Covid-19, and I was scheduled to fly Qatar back to the U.S., and was booked in Qsuites.  Oh well, life goes on.

Here is the promotion link with all the details on how to book tickets using the 40% discount.  I hope you are able to take advantage of this.

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Our Dream Vacation Canceled …. (For Now)

As I was on hold with Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Center, to the tune of U2’s It’s a Beautiful Day, I just can’t help to think it was not a beautiful day, at all. Last Friday, we were forced to cancel our family trip to the Seychelles.  A dream trip I have planned for the past year.   My daughter woke up a day before our scheduled departure on American Airlines, with a fever, and of course alarm bells went off.  My wife was concerned, as we were transiting through Abu Dhabi, and if the body thermal scanners caught this, we would surely be pulled aside and given a free two week un-wanted lodging stay.  Either way, a serious trip interruption, that outweighed any benefits at the moment.

I didn’t purchase trip insurance for this trip, so I was banking on cancellations with full refunds.  The sucky part about this whole ordeal, like any award reservation trip, is it’s a puzzle made of different pieces. I had to work on each puzzle one by one…but, not impossible.

In my case, I had air, and hotels, but they were all from different programs.  Here’s the end results of my extensive long refund phone calls.

American Airlines AAdvantage:

We had booked 4 tickets using American Airlines AAdvantage miles to the tune of 75,000 miles per passenger in business class from Portland (PDX) to Mahe, Seychelles with a layover in Abu Dhabi (AUH).  Our routing was PDX-PHX-ORD-AUH-SEZ, and the return was a layover in Doha on Qatar Airways. That routing was SEZ-DOH-DFW-PDX, where we were destined to enjoy one of the best business class cabins out there right now – Q- Suites.  I guess that’s not going to happen.  We got lucky as the agent waived all the fees, and redeposited the miles back onto the account, without penalty.  That’s a savings of $150 per passenger for the redeposit fees. Total hold time for this call, 2.5 hrs.

Chase Ultimate Rewards:

For our long layover in Abu Dhabi, I had opted for a night stay at the Premier Inn Abu Dhabi Airport Hotel.  I used Ultimate Rewards to stay here, and after calling the Travel Center help desk, and being on hold for roughly 1 hour while they conversed back and forth with the hotel in Abu Dhabi, only to tell me they put in a ticket for a refund.  Not sure what that means, but I am assuming I will have to call back just to follow-up.  Total phone time spent on this one : 55 min.

 

Hilton Honors:

We booked a 7 night stay using our Diamond benefits at the Hilton LaBriz Seychelles Resort and Spa.  Our cut-off date to refund/cancel was past, so I had to contact the hotel directly and talk to their manager.  Having done so, the only option given to me was to reschedule at a later date without penalty, but I am unable to do that right now.  I figured why not call them in early in the morning on my way to work. I decided to call the Diamond desk line, which showed up on my Hilton app, and the nice lady there was able to assist me in forcefully canceling the reservation and giving me back my points, with one caveat ; I may be charged for one nights stay.  She did however contest that. and wrote a ticket to their reservations team, to see if they can waive that.  She said the process can take up to 72 hrs for a response.  Total phone time spent 45 min.

UPDATE: did NOT get charged for the one nights stay.

Expedia.com:

I used a ton of points acquired from my Barclays Arrrivals+ World MasterCards, to offset a travel expense for Expedia, in which I used to book The CoCo de Mer Hotel and Suites on Praslin Island, Seychelles.  This was to be my second hop on Seychelles, and we were going to rent a car and visit the various beaches such as Anse Lazio and Anse Georgette.  Initially I was offered only 50% of my total expense for the reservation, and that was A LOT still.  My wife contacted Expedia directly, and they worked it out with the hotel and refunded ALL my money back to my Arrivals+ card.  Whew! This one was a big one, and I’m glad it was resolved.  Would’ve been a huge Debbie Downer, if I didn’t get all my money back from this.  Total time on the phone ..3.5 hrs.

US Bank Flexperks:

We used about 45,000 Flexperks to book 4 intra-island flights from Mahe, to Praslin in the Seychelles on Air Seychelles.   I booked it through their travel center, and these guys so far have been the hardest to get refunded, as they keep giving me the run around.  These flights aren’t until the 20th, so I will wait a few more days to attempt calling them.  We were on hold with them for over 4 hours, to talk to someone, only for them to tell us to call or contact Air Seychelles.  I emailed Air Seychelles under their guidance, and they replied back with instructing me to ‘contact the travel agent who did the booking’, as they couldn’t refund it. I will of course follow up with this one, as soon as the stampedes are over in the coming days.

At The End of the Day….

It’s been a mess all around for everyone and I’m glad we didn’t end up going because, honestly it would’ve been a headache worrying about everything that’s going on.  Half the fun of traveling on points is enjoying the journey to the destination, and that pretty much has fizzled out with this virus fiasco.  Im just very happy the programs all were flexible with refunds and coming through for their customers. I will wait until the smoke clears and reschedule our family trip for a later date. I’ve done all the research for the destination, so that will make things even easier when I do schedule it again.  Heck, my buddy Ivan Acosta, even hooked me up with some Seychellian Rupees to help me out upon arrival there. For now, the bag stays put, the passports back in the drawer, and the camera turns off….. Did any of you cancel your plans? What are your future travel plans now?

 

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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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