Today Only, No Fees! Father’s Day Promo for Amex Gift Cards through Alaska Mileage Plan Shopping Portal = 3 points/$

If you need to order a  last minute gift card for dad today or you just want to stock up on Amex gift cards, head on over to the Alaska Airlines shopping portal for Mileage Plus. There is a promo for today only for 3 points per dollar spent plus when you use promo code FPDAD, there are no gift card fees. Shipping still applies for mailed gift cards.

This an excellent offer to accrue Mileage Plan points plus additional points through Membership Rewards, Ultimate Rewards, etc! Direct link is here.

 

 

alaska-air-promo-fathers-day

United Status Match Success!

With all the recent buzz about the negative changes to United’s Mileage Plus last week, I did get a glimmer of good news from United. I had recently gained elite status with Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan and decided to put it to good use with United. I’ve been a fairly loyal United customer over the last few years which is quite rare for a DFW based flyer.  United is currently advertising their status match program through July 31, 2014 at no cost on United.com. American Airlines also offers status match but they do charge a fee based on the status level you are requesting.

united status match

Email of course is the fastest and easiest way to send in your status match request. I simply sent in my personal details, Mileage Plus number, and a copy of my Alaska Airlines MVP card. The site says 7-14 days to process, but in less than 24 hours I logged into my United account and I was Premier Silver! Yes, for all you seasoned road warriors out there, I know Silver is quite amateur but it’s still pretty cool to me! Now you must achieve a certain number of United  premier qualifying miles in 90 days to maintain your new status for the remainder of the elite year. I should be set for this as I have enough United travel booked in the next 90 days to maintain my elite status.

With Premier Silver, of course I’m not expecting my flight experience to change dramatically with United. However, 10 minutes worth of work will now save me a couple hundred bucks in checked bag fees, upgrades to Economy Comfort, and who knows, perhaps First on a very empty flight!

1,000 Bonus Alaska Mileage Plan Miles with Budget Car Rental

For those of you who are fans of Alaska’ Mileage Plan, you may have noticed that there are rarely any decent bonus mile offerings for car rental partners. Untied and American seem to have them going on all the time. Well I received this one in my inbox this morning for 1,000 bonus miles when you book for 4 days+ on rentals that begin before Aug 30, 2014. You can book through this link. 

 

budget-alaska-promo

That Cat’s Out of The Bag…..United’s Mileage Plan is Going to a Revenue Model

It was one of those mornings as a miles addict that when you open Twitter, and your morning has been shot. Delta did this to us a few months ago and now United has followed suit: United’s Mileage Plan is flipping from a mileage based rewards program to a revenue based one.

Of course, those of us who follow the airline and miles world daily, we knew this was inevitable in the U.S. airline industry. European carriers have fuel surcharges and now the U.S. carriers are going to revenue models. I had a feeling that United would be the first to follow Delta’s lead.  Many of us were hoping that the industry would wait and see how Delta fared with their revenue based program before jumping on that ship. Of course Southwest and Virgin America are revenue based but their model has always been different. I view those carriers with a completely different strategy.

For me personally, it stings. I’m a rare bird in the sense that I’m Dallas based and somewhat United loyal. They aren’t always my #1 choice and I don’t even have status with them. But I like the Star Alliance group and I can find decent award availability with United for the places I want to go. United always seems to have great European deals out of American hubs. But now that I’ve gone elite with Alaska, my strategy to gravitate with American, Delta, and Alaska will only strengthen. American and Alaska could go revenue based at any point but I think their a lot smarter than United. They won’t jump the gun and I don’t think they’ll be as lazy and uncreative  as United. United’s new revenue model is a mirror copy of Delta’s.

 

united reply 61014

 

United’s social media team wants me to give the program a chance.

 

United of course is promising all kinds of exciting changes to benefit Mileage Plan members with things  like using your miles to buy Economy Plus seats and checked baggage subscriptions. These are not genuine perks for customers but merely a gimmick for uninformed travelers to waste their miles on. If United wanted to go the revenue route, they should have at least made the model more attractive than Delta’s to lure customers.

Of course all the credit card bloggers claim they aren’t worried about the change because they’ll keep applying for dozens of rewards credit cards. But I disagree because airlines going the revenue route further limits the options for the everyday traveler to accrue miles. Credit card spending and bonuses are only a small part of my miles strategy. I actually enjoy air travel and the hunt for a sweet mileage run deal. I’ll keep modifying my miles strategy as the game changes but today was another defeat for travel hackers.

LAX to Madrid $680, Athens $735 – Aeroflot – #FlightDeal or #MileageRun – Nov/Dec 2014, As low as 4.1 CPM

Don’t mind connecting in Moscow to get to Europe? Here’s a great opportunity to accrue lots of extra Sky Team miles when heading to Europe. Lots of available dates in Nov/Dec 2014, primarily around Thanksgiving. Sample deals are below to Athens and Madrid.

 

**Be sure to review Russian transit visa rules for your Moscow layover**

 

 

LAX to MAD

Sample Departure Date: Mon, Nov 24, 2014

Sample Return Date: Fri, Dec 5, 2014

Airline: Aeroflot

CPM:   4.1 CPM 

Total Base Mileage Earned: 16,414 Base Miles

Routing:LAX-SVO-MAD-SVO-LAX

Total Roundtrip Fare: $680

aeroflot-lax-mad

 

LAX to ATH

Sample Departure Date: Mon, Nov 24, 2014

Sample Return Date: Fri, Dec 5, 2014

Airline: Aeroflot

CPM:   4.9 CPM 

Total Base Mileage Earned: 14,944 Base Miles

Routing:LAX-SVO-MAD-SVO-LAX

Total Roundtrip Fare: $735

aeroflot-lax-ath

 

Need a hotel in Madrid or Athens?

Cheap of the Week – Save an extra 20% on hotels with code: JETSET. Offer valid 6/9 – 6/15/14.

LAX to Amsterdam over Thanksgiving – Aeroflot – #FlightDeal or #MileageRun – Nov 2014 – $787 R/T – #SkyTeam

Don’t mind connecting in Moscow to get to Europe? Here’s a great opportunity to accrue lots of extra Sky Team miles when heading to Europe.

**Be sure to review Russian transit visa rules for your Moscow layover**

Sample Departure Date: Wed, Nov 26, 2014

Sample Return Date: Wed, Dec 3, 2014

Airline: Aeroflot

CPM:  5.3 CPM 

Total Base Mileage Earned: 14,782 Base Miles

Routing:LAX-SVO-AMS-SVO-LAX

Total Roundtrip Fare: $787

aeroflot-lax-ams

 

Need a hotel in Amsterdam?

Cheap of the Week – Save an extra 20% on hotels with code: JETSET. Offer valid 6/9 – 6/15/14.

Global Entry Approved….Finally!

I’d been contemplating registering for Global Entry on and off for a few months and finally decided it was worth the $100 bite for five years or enrollment. I travel internationally somewhat regularly but the added bonus of TSA Precheck was the perk that won me over. There’s a lot of info out there with folks sharing their various experiences with the Global Entry application process. But the average American probably doesn’t know what Global Entry is or how to sign up. Most frequent travelers love this since they despise the thought of too many folks getting in the TSA PreCheck lines. But who can blame them as the whole point of TSA PreCheck is to save time and longer lines will only defeat that.

Fortunately for myself, I’m not based out of LGA or another overcrowded airport with a half million other frequent travelers enrolled in a Trusted Traveler program. The security lines at my main airport, Dallas-Fort Worth, has very short security lines most of the time. I also use Dallas Love Field frequently which can have some heavy peak TSA lines but still nothing like LAX or LGA.

The process of applying for Global Entry does require a bit of patience. I’ve heard varying timelines of both the application and scheduling of the interview. Depending on where you live and how many Global Entry centers are nearby plays into how quickly you can get your interview. If you are applying for Global Entry, you will begin by registering in the Homeland Security GOES web portal and submitting an application for Global Entry. You can also apply for TSA PreCheck and Nexus through GOES. However, you must be near the Canadian border for your Nexus interview as Nexus centers are only in Canada and the Northern border states. If you do live near a Nexus center, it is a better value than Global Value at only $50 vs. $100 for five years.

Once you’ve submitted your application through the GOES system, the application will head off to Homeland Security for review. I’ve heard applications take as long as a couple weeks to as short as a couple days. Mine was the latter at just about 2 days to receive preliminary approval. As long as you don’t have a history of breaking the law or violating customs rules, I wouldn’t sweat being approved. The GOES system will notify you by email when there are changes to your application status. Once you receive you pre-approval electronically through the GOES system, you have 30 days to schedule your interview at a Global Entry center. DFW Airport is the only Global Entry center in the Dallas area. DFW currently has a very full schedule through the summer. I checked other airports around the country and airports like SFO, JFK, and DEN had availability for interviews much sooner. I got pre-approval in early April and the next available slot was at the end of June. After that, the next slot wasn’t until August. Not too efficient, eh?

All the travel blogs will tell you to check daily for cancellations and earlier slots to open up. I recommend this as well but it took a long time for an earlier slot to open up. A couple weeks ago, a slot opened up on June 7th. Of course, I took it. For all the waiting weeks or months for your interview, the actual interview only took me about 10 minutes of waiting in the lobby and 3 minutes for the interview. They take a quick picture and take your fingerprints. Other than long wait to schedule an interview, it’s very painless.

You’ll receive your Trusted Traveler ID number on your pre-approval letter but it won’t be any good until after your interview. Homeland Security tells you it takes 48 hours to receive the final approval email but I got mine about 2 hours later. Of course, as soon as I got home I entered my Trusted Traveler ID into all of my existing reservations and my frequent flyer profiles. I should receive my Global Entry card in about 2 weeks. I hope my picture looks nice!

Here’s to looking forward to lots of TSA PreCheck selection and painless, short U.S. re-entry!

Share your own experience with Global Entry in the comments below.

 

 

DFW to London and Dublin in Premium Economy over Thanksgiving – British Airways – #FlightDeal – Open Jaw – Nov 2014 – $1403 R/T

A great fare to travel to the UK and Ireland in the comfort of British Airway’s Premium Economy. Limited availability in latter half of November. Cheap flights between London and Dublin can certainly be had for as low as £73.

If you are banking your miles to Alaska’s Mileage Plan like me, this is a tempting deal!

Sample Departure Date: Mon, Nov 24, 2014

Sample Return Date: Tue, Dec 2, 2014

Airline: British Airways

CPM:  13.0 CPM (Yes, high but for Premium Economy over the holidays, a great value!)

Total Base Mileage Earned: 9,752 +10% Class Bonus for a total of  10,727

Routing: DFW-LHR, DUB-LHR-DFW

Total Roundtrip Fare: $1,403

dfw-dub-lhr-premecon-nov24

 

Need a hotel in London or Dublin?

Save an extra 20% on hotels with code: SUMMER20 – Offer valid 5/27 – 6/1/14.