AwardsBooker helps you to book international first class and business class travel using your own frequent flyer program points or miles.

Tuesday
Nov292011

Adios to Avios? Bad news for long haul, good news for US short haul domestic.

A while back I explained that British Airways would be changing their loyalty program on November 16. Out go the old BA miles and in come Avios miles.  This is a result of British Airways acquiring Iberia – the frequent flyer programs of both airlines are now based on Avios.  The thing that had everyone worried was the fact that BA never gave any indication beforehand as to what the changes might be. Well the changeover time came and went and as with most things there is the good and the bad.

Before the change, BA offered an one partner award chart that would work extremely well for booking free flights from the USA to South America or from the USA to Hong Kong. The price of the tickets in miles was relatively small and the fuel surcharges and taxes were much less then actually using BA through London. You could fly LAN to Easter Island with two stopovers in South America in Business class for 80k BA miles and about $120 in taxes and fees or you could go round trip from Chicago to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific in First Class (one of the best frequent flyer tickets out there) for 150k and about $150 in taxes and fees. These were set redemption levels that didn’t depend on how many miles you actually flew on the award booking.

Well this has changed; all award travel is now based on the actual miles flown. So if you want to go to South America the price is 150k miles for business class on LAN, that’s an 88% increase in miles needed. And the Chicago to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific is a 210k round trip, up from 150k. BA has also cut out the generous stopover rules. You are no longer allowed an extended stopover period and you can only have one stop on the way to your final destination. You used to be able to get an award from London to Sydney and stop in Singapore for as long as you wanted before you went to Sydney and could do the same on the way back. BA no longer lets you do this.

These changes have actually affected me and my travel plans. I expected the change to a strictly “awards based on miles flown” chart but what I didn’t expect was the limit of one stop to the final destination. This really, really hurts most North American BA Avios mile holders who want to book award travel for international trips.

My trip with my companion was going to be from Washington DC to London and then on to Sydney. BA has to stop in Singapore to get to Sydney from London and under the old scheme that was not counted as a stop as you had to stop there to get to Sydney. Now it’s counted as a stop. This means that the Washington to London is now considered a separate award and the London to Sydney is a separate award. So what was going to be one award will now be two. This has caused our trip to go from 320k miles for First Class all the way up to 420k miles. This has also made it impossible to use our credit card promo two-for-one coupon for the whole trip because it’s now two awards and not one. In other words it’s time to get creative.

Luckily we have miles on American too. So, now we’ll try to use a combination of BA Avios miles and AA points to get from the East coast to Sydney via London and Singapore using BA and another OneWorld partner.  More and more often we have to combine miles creatively from different schemes for customers of our award travel booking service. 

All in all – it’s much more expensive in miles all around to go anywhere using miles. And even before this change I considered BA miles to be some of the most expensive in the industry. Now I think it’s just not worth it to collect them at all if you’re resident in North America except in certain cases I’ll tell you about next. Awardsbooker.com helps people use points to get international long haul premium tickets.  The amount of miles now needed to get to these destinations has just gotten ridiculous.  This along with the taxes and the huge fuel surcharges turns Avios into Adios for me.

But if you only want to travel in the US the changes are actually good for you. Because Avios award travel is now based on miles flown, an award that was 12.5k one way no matter where you went in the US could now be as low as 7k one way. Now this is coach and is not my - or my business’s - cup of tea but for those of you trying to get free coach tickets for you and your family to visit, let’s say family in Florida from the east coast, this is a really good deal. Also, the taxes and fuel surcharges for domestic flights are very low, think around $20.

They have also added a Bronze membership level. It doesn’t get you much but it’s better than a shot in the head as my father used to say.

I along with other bloggers in the business expected this devaluation in British Airways’ loyalty program because of the way they were printing miles over the last year. The 100k bonus miles alone for getting their credit card put millions and millions of miles out there that would need to be used. The only way to protect themselves, apparently, was to make using the miles more expensive and that’s exactly what they’ve done.

So from now on if you are a OneWorld flyer in the US I would recommend that you credit all your flying to American Airlines. The miles will go much farther and the taxes and surcharges are not nearly as bad as in British Airways Avios program. The AA frequent flyer program is unlikely to suffer much in the bankruptcy – it wasn’t a big deal at United and US Airways, who have three bankruptcies between them! 

 

Wednesday
Nov162011

Avios = Adios

Looks like British Airways has further devalued their loyalty program significantly. Avios is the new name and it's already being call Adios.

Thursday
Nov032011

Great Deal for 75,000 American Express Membership Awards Points

Just a quick note on an amazing deal that seems to be only for today.  If you own a business, American Express is offering 75,000 bonus miles for getting their Small Business Premier Awards card and spending $10,000 on it in the first 5 months of receiving the card. The card is much like the personal card in that you get 3x the points on airline spend and 2x on groceries and gas with 1 point for all other purchases. The annual fee of $175 is waved the first year.

This one is a no-brainer for those of you with small businesses. You can transfer those points to Delta, British Airways, ANA and others and that translates into a free Business class ticket to Europe all for pretty much spending what you normally would using this card.

Act now as it’s a very limited time offer.

Tuesday
Nov012011

Keeping up with the latest news in award travel.

I’ve been traveling a lot the last few weeks with little time to spend on the blog unfortunately.  The best bit about the travel I was doing is that I ended up at the Flyertalk seminar in Chicago this last weekend. The seminar was a chance for like-minded people to get together, to share ideas and to learn from the experts about topics having to do with frequent flyer travel, miles and points.

The best thing about these seminars is that you can get the tricks and trips of the trade that even bloggers will not write about.  Many times when a blogger writes about a deal it just happens to disappear because the travel companies have employees to read blogs so they can keep on top of current events and happenings. They will research the blogs every day to find mistake fares on airline tickets or some way of doing something that can circumvent a fuel surcharge or super-high taxes. Once they read about it you can guarantee that the deal will be dead in 24 hours.

ABC’s nightline were there filming us for an expose on all of us travel crazies but when it came time to expose the insider “secrets” they had to leave the room.  It was fun seeing the cameras around and listening in as they interviewed certain people. Alas, there was no 15 minutes of fame for me. 

Now, if you’re expecting me to tell you about some deals you’re going to be sorely disappointed. I had to sign a non-disclosure agreement to attend the meeting. Besides, my business is about using your miles and points to get premium award travel to exotic locations. We specialize in unique routings and maximizing your hard-earned miles so you get the very best bang for your buck.  Seminars like this help me to stay on top of the latest developments.

Who knows, next year they may ask me to speak at the seminar.  

Thursday
Oct132011

Another Travel Deal I had to pass on.

And a chance for Awardsbooker to help you utilize it.

So it seems that http://www.tripalertz.com is offering $10 credit for everyone you get to sign up with them for a new account.

From their website:

  • There’s NO LIMIT to the amount of Trip Cash you can use. If you have lots of friends, you could travel FREE.
  • Trip Cash can only be used for our Exclusive Getaways listed on our homepage. Trip Cash cannot be used for airfare or hotels booked through our standard booking engine or affiliates.
  • Trip Cash is redeemed during the checkout process.
  • You have plenty of time to use Trip Cash. It expires 2 YEARS from the date it was issued.
  • Void where prohibited or restricted by law.
  • The Traveler is responsible for all taxes, if applicable.
  • The Trip Cash Program is subject to change at any time.

Simply follow my link (yes I get the credit too) and put your email address and password you would like to use in the sign-up page. Once you’re logged in you can go to the trip cash page and either choose to share with people on Facebook etc., or you can use the generated link to have people sigh-up. Personally I will only us the link because I don’t like companies knowing my Social Networking information. 

After you get 47 people to sign up you can use that money for a trip to the Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino along with other specials on the main page.

We like free money. And remember, if you need help with your airfare getting there send Awardsbooker.com an email and we’ll be happy to help.