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Qatar increases baggage allowances

Qatar increases baggage allowances from 23kg to 30kg for economy and from 30 to 40, 40 to 50 resp. for Biz and First. http://ow.ly/o9Kug

Bonus BA Avios in First/Club World & World Traveller Plus

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Every 2 sectors (or 1 return flight) flown on BA (or eligible flights with their partners) will earn you an additional 15,000 or 30,000 bonus Avios.  (on top of your normal earnings)

Here is how the bonus avios will be awarded :

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A sector is a single eligible flight between the point of departure and final destination with no scheduled change of aircraft. A direct return flight counts as 2 sectors (ie: London – New York – London). If you connect to an onward flight, this will count as 4 sectors (ie: Lagos – London – New York – London – Lagos)

Notice the promotion is valid on Club World and NOT Club Europe.  Flights valid for this promotion are those with a BA prefix and flight on BA’s partners (Finnair, AA, Iberia) that are part of the Joint-Business transatlactic agreement. (flights between between the EU, Norway, Switzerland and North America, Mexico and Puerto Rico)
OpenSkies fligths are valid as well.

Registration for this promotion is required.  Even if you have no plans to fly BA or their partners today I would register as you might forget about this promotion the day your plans change!

Funny things you wouldn’t expect to hear in a plane

“Funny things you wouldn’t expect to hear from your flight attendant or pilot”.  Read this post to create a smile on your face.  Those pilots and flight attendants are not always as serious as you would imagine: http://ow.ly/o2NTM

Have a funny story yourself?  Share it in the comments below!

Hilton – Three times faster!

Just recently I wrote about the HHonors program and how they often have promotions that allow you to earn points faster.

Here’s your first chance to implement this strategy by registering for double or triple points with HHonors and start collecting masses of points.
(the bonus points are calculated based on the base points, any bonus you might earn as an elite member of the program will not be doubled or tripled)

You will get:
– Double points for stays on weekdays
– Triple points for stays on weekends (Friday nights and Sunday Nights are seen as weekend nights)
– The promotion runs till end of September
– You have to register to be eligible.  Do this now!  I always register for all promotions that I encounter.  You might not have plans that would benefit from this promotion at this time but things might chance really quickly and at that time you could have forgotten about the promotion.  It would be a pity to loose that promotion and registering costs nothing except a few seconds of your time.

As always with promotions from Hilton a number of Hotels do not participate.  This list can be found here.  You will see it’s a very long list and I find it sad that Hilton allows these exceptions (and certainly so many of them)

Mercure 40th Birthday promotion

Mercure is celebrating its 40th birthday and therefor Mercure is running a promotion with discounts up to 40% and extra bonus points.  (2300 in UK, 2000 outside the UK)

mercure london paddington

Mercure London Paddington

To enjoy this promotion you don’t need to register, you just need to book the special rate you will see when you book your stay.
You need to be a member of Le Club Accorhotels.  If you’re not yet a member but you could profit from this promotion this might be a good time to become a member.  Membership is free!

All details about the promotion can be found here.

I did some searches and was not succesfull in finding huge discounts.  I found the rates that were offered to be slighthly below the flexible rates and slightly above the fixed/restricted rates.  The promotional rate does include breakfast whilst these other rates come without breakfast and off course you get your bonus points. 2000 bonus points are exactly worth 40€.

Here is an example taken from a test booking I made for the London Paddington hotel.In this case the rate is the same as the unrestricted rate.  The promotional rate includes breakfast and a 40€ discount for your next stay, the unrestricted rate off course does not.  The promotional rate is 12€ more expensive than the restricted rate.  If you would not be able to use your 40€ discount on your next stay you have to consider if the 12€ is worth it to have breakfast at the hotel.  I think it’s not a bad deal for a breakfast in London.

London Paddington Hotel Booking

London Paddington Hotel Booking

I have yet to find hotels that offer 40% discounts so this promotion seems to be not as exciting as it sounds but if you can make good use of the bonus points that are offered you can collect some serious discounts towards your future stays.

The free breakfast is a nice touch.  The bonus points is what makes this promotion really interesting. 

As is always the case with promotions, you have to consider if it’s interesting for your personal situation.  If you can make good use of these bonus points towards discounts for your future stays don’t miss this opportunity.

Devaluations all around…

A quick question to all of you that have a bunch of miles or points standing on their frequent flyer accounts: When was the last time that you made good use of them?

Don’t forget that your miles and points are subject to devaluations just as is the case with money on your bank account.  The ongoing crisis reminded us painfully how hard it is to fight these devaluations.  The good news it’s not as hard to fight devaluations with your miles and points.  The only thing you need to do is use them.  You basically got them for free and don’t need to worry about savings like you would with your money.

You might wonder how devaluations work in frequent flyer programs.  There’re actually many ways that this can go.  Airline programs will typically increase the number of miles required to fly between destinations or increase the nominal fee you need to pay to book the reward ticket.  Hotel programs tend to change the hotel categories.  Marriott for example states that the changes in hotel categories are done based on demand (hotels that are often booked as rewards moving up, others moving down).  The changes in categories implemented by Marriott in 2013 however resulted in 1% of the properties that decreased by one or more categories and a dazzling 36% of the properties that increased by one or more categories.  I wonder how this can be the result of their statement that this is based on demand…

Hotel programs are also implementing extra categories on top of the existing ones.  Marriott’s program has added a category for each of the last 2 years.  Hilton added 3 categories beginning this year.  Hilton also implemented seasonal awards resulting in higher redemption rates in high season.

Another devaluation just recently (beginning this week) implemented by Club Carlson is their reduced mileage when you transfer their points to frequent flyer programs.

– 2000 points used to earn 250 miles, after the devaluation only 200 miles
– 50000 points used to earn 8000 miles, after the devaluation only 5000 miles
– 100000 points used to earn 18000 miles, after the devaluation only 10000 miles

Honest programs, in my opinion, should always announce devaluations upfront to their members but unfortunately reality tells me this is not always the case.  The Club Carlson devaluation came unannounced in the middle of the year. (most devaluations occur at the start of a new year)
Unfortunately the number of announced (and unannounced) devaluations seems to increase.

So, 1 big advice I give to all of you, use these miles when you can.  It’s fun to have a look at your account and see a figure of 1 million miles or more but it’s even more fun to take a free trip!

If you like my blog please like and come back later!  Also don’t forget to follow me on twitter for more news!

How it is to be ‘elite’

We already spoke about elite perks in the previous post.  Now let’s get into some more detail about what these elite perks mean to you and to your traveling experience.

Most airline programs offer 3 or 4 elite levels.  This harmony is mostly enforced because they’re part of an alliance and need to align their elite levels to their partner airlines.  If you’re elite on one airline in an alliance you’re treated accordingly when you travel on the other airlines in the alliance.
Hotel programs most of the time have the same number of levels.  We will cover hotel programs in more detail in the next post and will focus on airline programs in this post.

There’s only one way to achieve elite status on the airline programs.  You have to fly!  Each airline has some specific requirements to achieve status.  They’re all based on a minimum number of flights or points (sometimes called level or status miles). Here are some examples how to achieve the first status level:

– British Airways Executive Club requires 300 tier points or 25 flights.
– Flying Blue (Air France & KLM) 25000 level miles (30000 if you live in France+Monaco) or 15 flights.
– Miles&More (Lufthansa and partners) requires 35000 status miles

It pays to compare programs in the same alliance.  Aegean (Star Alliance) requires 16000 miles to achieve Gold Status (2nd elite level).  Miles&More, also member of Star Alliance, requires 100,000 miles to reach the same Gold Level.

Note that level or status miles should not be confused with the miles you earn for redemption towards free flights.  In many cases you will earn both but this is not always the case. eg. Flying Air Malta will earn you redeemable miles with Lufthansa but these will not count towards status.  Most of the time flying airlines within an alliance will earn you level or status, others won’t. (exception is Korean Air that is part of Skyteam but does not earn Medaillon Qualification Miles or MQM on Delta)

British Airways is slightly different from Miles&More and Flying Blue.  British Airways is more generous and grants 100% redeemable miles on the most discount economy tickets. (Miles&More and Flying Blue only 25% or 50%).  They’re not as generous with their points towards elite status.  To see how many tier points you would earn you can use their calculator on their website.

Some airlines offer shortcuts to elite status.  They may match your status if you’ve earned status on another carrier or they may offer you status for flying a lower amount of miles in a short time span.  Contact me for the exact details of your carrier of choice.

Now you know how to become elite we should still cover the benefits for you.

Benefits vary with each airline but generally include:

– a bonus on the number of  redeemable miles you earn. (25% to 50%)
– privileges of checking-in at the business counter even if you’re traveling in economy class

Sometimes you may get a higher baggage allowance or priority tags for your bags so you should get them faster at the baggage claim.  (although my experience is that the priority tags don’t really affect the speed your baggage is delivered)  Those airlines that offer seat selection for a fee (like British Airways) will generally offer them for free some days in advance to elites.  This gives you the opportunity to pick those better seats before everybody else can.

These are just a few perks.  I’ve listed those that I enjoy most.  As I mentioned the list varies by airline.  I will compare some programs in detail in a next post.

The Lufthansa First Class lounge at Frankfurt ...

The Lufthansa First Class lounge at Frankfurt International Airport, Germany. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Access to airline lounges is also a nice perk which is most often offered as of the second elite level.  (Aegean Miles&Bonus is an exception where this is a benefit in the first and only elite level).  I enjoy lounge access a lot.  You get to escape the crowd at the airport and relax in quiet area reserved for elites.  Some drinks and snacks are complimentary.

As already mentioned, detailed comparisons of the benefits of the programs will follow.  I hope this post could already give you some idea what elite status is about!Contact me and I will be happy to help you with your questions.

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