...constantly searching to find the best travel deals and places to visit. A never-ending quest for adventure!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Changes to Chase Sapphire Preferred/UR official

I knew this day was coming - everyone has been theorizing about it and so I officially got the email today detailing the changes upcoming to the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.  While they're not game-changing in anyway, there will be differences in the coming months:

Don't like the removal of the 7% dividend or the extra point per travel if you book on the site.  Boo.

One added benefit is that the car insurance coverage has switched to Primary from Secondary - meaning if you charge your whole rental to the card and decline the extra coverages, you are covered before your normal insurance clicks in.  Not a bad addition.

What do you think of the new changes?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dining promo check-in - you have until August 30th!

Don't forget to keep dining and earning miles toward the various Dining Promotions happening through August 30th.  Both American and United are good options if you're looking for miles - I'm focusing on United for this promo to start building my account balance back up from my last trip to South Korea.

As a reminder, you need to make sure and spend at least $40 at participating restaurants.

Five down for me...five to go!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Blog Giveaway!

Thank you to everyone for checking out my blog and the interview on Million Mile Secrets - glad to have you stop by and hope you keep returning!

And I'm happy to poll the results from the comments for the giveaway:

Congratulations to Nancy for being the winner!  I'll be looking forward to connecting with you shortly on the prize.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Interview on the Million Mile Secrets blog!

A big thank you to Daraius for interviewing and featuring me and my blog on his points website, Million Mile Secrets today.  I am honored to be included in a long list of other bloggers who have chosen to participate and am grateful to share about this blog and my points habit (hobby!).

And as a thank you for everyone choosing to visit my blog, I'm doing my very first giveaway!

Everyone who visits and makes a comment highlighting the one place they'd like to visit the most and haven't yet will receive a $25 Amazon giftcard code!

Only one comment per person - I'll do a random number picker to choose the winner and will be in contact via email, so make sure to include a valid address.  Enter by 11:59pm PST on Monday, July 28th for your chance.

Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The forgotten redemption option...Avios and Aer Lingus

It feels like I'm regularly flight shopping at Kayak.com and the ITA Software matrix, and always trying to make sure I check on just about every option for saving miles and dollars when planning my trips.  It's very easy to type in destinations on the various airline websites, but it's not so easy to remember the finer points of how to search while remembering all of the rules involved.

The one rule I'm always forgetting (it seems) is the Avios options - for those of you who forget like I do, British Airways has a distance-based award chart.  Which means when you're planning things out, you have to look and see what the distance is to base your awards on (along with the hefty fuel surcharges).  You can use their award calculator, or look at the following chart (found via Google):

The one award redemption that makes sense using Avios to get to Europe is flying via Aer Lingus - they are a partner of British Airways.  The best redemption option is via Boston to Dublin - the mileage falls just under the 3000 mile threshold, so economy can be had for 25,000 miles and business for 50,000! (and you can avoid the pesky fees)

How do you find availability?  Just sign up for an account at Qantas.com and search - you can find options rather quickly.  A sample booking for March 3rd-10th, 2015 shows great availability:

When you find the flights you want, just call the British Airways booking number and reserve the flights (and don't forget to mention their website doesn't show these so they should also waive your phone booking fee - never hurts to ask).

Definitely a great option...has anyone had success using their Avios this way?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Would love your support to continue my research in Qatar!

I desperately would like to continue my dissertation research - my topic covers higher education and native student engagement at Education City in Doha, Qatar.  You can read more about my research here:


As you can imagine, it's not easy to get over to Qatar and stay for the time necessary to do research typically due to cost and other factors.  It's a long, expensive flight to be sure.

So, I thought it might be a fun idea to see if there are any interested souls willing to donate to my cause.  I started a page at gofundme.com, and am hoping that visitors to my blog might be interested in helping me.  You can find the information at the following link:


Here's the main gist of my plan: my dissertation research was focused on native students attending Western Universities in Doha, Qatar, and I'm looking to go back to Education City and continue the work I started in 2012.  I'm hoping you might find a similar connection with my work interviewing students and giving them a voice in describing their educational journey.  Since the cost to travel and work in that region is significant, I'm looking for your help to get back!  For those who help, I will also credit you in the final research document for publication.

Please pass the link along to family and friends that might be interested!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Star Alliance Goal - not yet realized...

A little over a year ago I challenged myself to see whether or not it might be possible to fly on most, if not all, Star Alliance airlines.  I wasn't sure whether or not this goal was realistic, only that I know I wanted to try and see what I could do if money and time were available.  At the time I was doing all my primary flying on United, so it made sense at the time to see if it was possible.

In short, it wasn't.

I haven't given up on my goal, but have realized that rising airfare prices have definitely impacted my travel habits.  Where I could usually find $300 or so airfares across the country, I'm now seeing $500+ fares.  As the economy has recovered, the airlines are also recovering their ability to raise prices and hold them out for as long as possible since load factors have continued to increase.

Here's my list - it hasn't changed much:
As a researcher, maybe I could pitch an idea to Star Alliance to sponsor me finishing out the list in exchange for a two-year qualitative study on the similarities and differences between the airlines among paying passengers, based on perceived value of their experience for what they purchased.  I bet there would be unique perspectives between the various nationalities of passengers where these carriers originate.  Star Alliance, if you read this, please contact me if you're interested! 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What credit cards are in my wallet? It's all the rage...

Seems like this question gets asked a lot of frequent travelers who are also after points - if you're in the game at all, you've probably got your favorites for what matches your spending habits and budget.  I'm happy to share what I have as well...friends and family often ask, and there are definitely a lot of options out there.  And, I'm by no means as "all in" as other points hawks are when it comes to getting cards.  I'd rather not have my credit rating take a ton of hits.  :)

So, without further ado, here is my wallet and my cards:

(and yes, this is a Card wallet from the seat-back SkyMall catalog...going on almost 10 years with the same one, no problems)

1. My drivers license - since I can't usually do much without that, especially check-in

2. Chase Debit card - I do most of my bank transactions at the ATM, so having this card is important for me
3. Chase Sapphire Preferred - I put just about all of my daily spend on the CSP, since it gives 2 points per dollar on all travel and all dining.  And if you throw in first friday dining, 3 points per dollar.  Some like to talk up the annual 7% bonus on points accrued every year as well...I enjoy having extra car insurance and lost baggage/luggage insurance.
4. Chase Ink Bold - I love the Ink Bold for its benefits at office supply stores and fuel purchases.  If you're smart about your purchases, you can actually do a lot of points accrual by visiting Staples and Office Depot.  No joke. I also put all of my communications bills here for obvious reasons.  5x points on all communications and office supply, 2x on fuel.
5. Hilton Amex - Now don't laugh at me...you might be wondering why on earth I carry this one.  I used to have the Premier Rewards Gold card, but the annual fee was just too much.  I used it primarily for my grocery shopping.  Since that's out of my wallet now, I use this card for my groceries and the 5x points.  I'm always looking to see if there are better options...
6. Chase Hyatt - I carry this since I never know when I travel if I need to book a stay last minute. It's my preferred place to stay in Europe and so I'm always trying to build up my points balance. 

What does your wallet look like, and what do you carry?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

How to save money on flying? Do your 'business' before you take off

This is being shared courtesy of our friends at Wells Fargo Daily Advantage - thank you to Kathi Kwiatkowski!

There's a story that years ago, an American Airlines CEO had one olive removed from each in-flight salad. The change saved $100,000 in fuel costs. It may just be an urban legend, but FiveThirtyEight crunched some numbers to see how much an airline could save by making small changes.

The airline used in the simulation: Southwest Airlines. The route: Boston to Denver. The plane: a Boeing 737-700 at 85% capacity (122 passengers). Based on its assumptions, total fuel costs for this route equal $7,600. Each additional pound added would increase fuel costs by a little less than five cents. Peanuts (no pun intended). But as FiveThirtyEight points out, Southwest flew 1.3 million flights in 2013. Given this information, how could the airline save money?

  • Don't provide in-flight entertainment. Obviously, it costs a lot of money to install the screens in each seatback, but each device weighs seven pounds. Annual estimated fuel cost savings: $39.7 million.
  • Discourage people from drinking water. All of those free bottles of water take up a lot of room and cost $2.4 million in fuel. Charging for them decreases the number of bottles the plane needs to carry, plus there's extra revenue.
  • If they're not drinking water, they're not using the bathroom. FiveThirtyEight estimated that if every passenger took care of business before the flight, they'd each be 0.2 liters lighter—a savings of $2.1 million. European discount airline Ryanair almost implemented a plan to charge passengers to use the bathroom. The idea got, um, flushed.

Is this the future awaiting airplane passengers? Bored, parched, and needing to use the bathroom (even though you haven't had anything to drink because you refuse on principal to pay that much for a tiny bottle of water, and if you're not paying for water then you're definitely not paying to use the bathroom)? The next think you know, the airlines will start charging passengers based on what they weigh. Oh wait … one already does. Samoa Air, where "A kilo is a kilo is a kilo." Well, if the swimsuit isn't motivation enough to shed those extra pounds before vacation, maybe a few extra bucks will be.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Delta recap...not terrible

It's no secret that I'm not a Delta/KLM/Air France fan.  Ever since I did the big run through the Amsterdam airport to see a connecting flight leave while being told it wouldn't it has soured me for life.  I'm not a fan of their frequent flyer earning program; I'm also not a fan of having to pay for every other type of seat you'd normally not have to pay for.

But...my travels last weekend were not terrible.  I know, I know...what is wrong with me. 

It's been a long time since I've tried Delta, and the experience overall was ok from what I remembered.  It was an award flight, which meant I was really at the bottom rung for any possible perks, etc, but the connections went without issue - the planes were on time - my checked luggage even made it.

This in no way means I'm switching allegiances...it's just pleasant to know that another possible miles option exists should I need it. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Transiting Detroit

So far a pleasant experience, seeing as though I haven't flown through here recently. My redeye was fast and I actually got some sleep...now we'll see if the connection works out alright.

Still not a Delta fan, but I'm not complaining at this point either. The ticket price was right ($10).

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, July 3, 2014

World's Top Airports/Airlines 2014

Travel+Leisure Magazine has released their top airports and airlines list for 2014 - not many surprises again this year between the international and domestic winners.

For airlines, Virgin and Singapore top the list (with JetBlue and Emirates close behind):

Glad to see Alaska once again on the list!  I've also flown on Qatar Airways and found the service and experience worthwhile.

Airports also fared well, including Portland, OR for domestic and Singapore for international:

I've transited Dubai, Seoul, and Zurich, and easily agree with why those are in the top five.  They are easy to navigate and relatively stress-free in my opinion.  Charlotte and Orlando are way too busy in my book...curious about their inclusion.

What are your top airports/airlines?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

MileagePlus Dining Promotion - 10,000 miles

If you're part of the MileagePlus dining program, you may have received a special invitation today for a 10,000 mile promotion on dining!

You need to dine 10 times by August 15th in order to score the miles - take note that each visit must be at least $40, so plan ahead and go with friends if that helps you get the amount needed each time.

I'm tempted to try and see if I can do it - that's a bit of dining by August, but not entirely impossible.

Anyone else giving it a go?