US Airways joined the oneworld alliance just a short couple of weeks ago, and a lot has changed in that time with the frequent flyer programs of both American and US Airways.

Since they joined oneworld I’ve done what I can to cover many aspects of redeeming US Airways miles for travel on oneworld, and vice versa, including:

But beyond that American has made some substantial changes to both the AAdvantage and Dividend Miles programs last week:

American AAdvantage changes:

US Airways Dividend Miles changes:

Anyway, all that leads me to the point of this post. While American and US Airways are now “one company,” they still maintain separate mileage currencies, and there’s no way to transfer miles between AAdvantage and Dividend Miles yet.

So which program’s miles are more valuable — AAdvantage or Dividend Miles?

I’m in the process of sharing my updated valuations on miles, as the last time I shared my valuation of miles was a bit over a year ago. At that time I valued the two currencies as follows:

  • American AAdvantage – 1.8 cents/mile
  • US Airways Dividend Miles – 1.6 cents/mile

So with all the changes the past few weeks, which miles are now more valuable — AAdvantage or Dividend Miles?

First, here’s a chart with the major policy differences between the two programs:

American AAdvantageUS Airways Dividend Miles
One Way AwardsYes! All awards are one-way.No. All awards price at the roundtrip rate.
StopoversNo.One stopover at a OneWorld hub or US Airways transatlantic gateway city.
Open JawsYes, because all awards are one-way.Yes, if you don't already have a stopover.
Routing RulesCan exceed MPM by 25%, but can't transit a third region outside of certain exceptions. Over the water carrier must publish a fare for the route.No more than five segments per direction, otherwise nearly anything goes.
Change/Cancellation PolicyRouting can be changed for no cost provided origin and destination stay the same.Awards cannot be changed or modified once travel has commenced. Otherwise can be changed for a fee.
Fees For Non-Elites$150 to change origin/destination city
$75 Close-In Ticketing Fee
$150 Cancellation Fee
$50 Dividend Miles Processing Fee
$75 Close-In Ticketing Fee
$150 Change/Cancellation Fee

Now lets look at each individual policy and which carrier “wins:” Read More…

Starwood has just announced the details of their global 2014 summer promotion, entitled Earn Away Get Away.

Starwood-Earn-Away-Get-Away

Starwood Earn Away Get Away promotion dates

The promotion is valid for stays between May 1 and July 31, 2014. Starwood’s current Bring On The Nights promotion runs through April 30, 2014, so it’s nice that there will be no “gap” between promotions.

Starwood Earn Away Get Away promotion details

Through this promotion, Starwood is offering double base Starpoints on stays at eligible properties, and triple base Starpoints for stays that include a Sunday night (Saturday night in the Middle East).

So this basically means you earn four base Starpoints per dollar spent at eligible properties on stays that don’t include a Sunday (Saturday in the Middle East), while you earn six base Starpoints at eligible properties on stays that do include a Sunday (Saturday in the Middle East).

As usual, as a Starwood Gold or Platinum member you would earn one bonus Starpoint per dollar spent, and you can earn additional bonus points for paying with your Starwood American Express Card.

Starwood Earn Away Get Away promotion non-participating properties Read More…

Reader Beefeater left the following comment on the “Ask Lucky” page of the blog last week:

Now that you’re moving into hotels have you considered giving LHW a try for something a little different. It would be interesting to find your take on whether it’s worth it to go with their program given that you can have 4 or 5 one night stays at their more reasonable properties at a rate around $200 and then redeem a night at a higher end property like ritz london, hotel de paris, or presumably even the newer lacaula resort in Fiji which goes for a mind boggling $4000 a night.

To be honest I hadn’t ever considered the program. While I know the major hotel chains like the back of my hand, I actually kinda get a lot of the smaller chains mixed up. You have Leading Hotels Of The World, Global Hotel Alliance, etc., and I don’t really know which hotels belong to which chains.

But I had a look at the Leading Hotels Of The World program, and it’s intriguing if nothing else, so I figured I’d share what I’ve found out.

What is Leading Hotels Of The World?

For those of you not familiar with the group, they have 423 properties around the globe as of now. The group consists largely of independent high end hotels, though also has some chains among it, like Kempsinki, One&Only, Rocco Forte, Taj, and many more.

LHW-Locations

It’s worth noting that many of their properties belong to Virtuoso and American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts, which gets you benefits like complimentary breakfast, room upgrades, late check-out, and a property specific amenity, just for booking through them.

Leading Hotels Of The World status can be outright purchased

What makes Leading Hotels Of The World so interesting is that they have two status levels, and they can both be outright purchased. There are no qualification requirements and for that matter there’s no way to actually earn the status, no matter how many stays you make. It’s all about whether you’re willing to shell out the cash or not.

InterContinental does the same with their Ambassador status, which costs $200 per year ($150 to renew). Meanwhile their top tier Royal Ambassador status is invitation only.

The LHW status levels are as follows:

  • Leaders Club: $150 per year
  • Unlimited: $1,200 per year

Leaders-Club

 Leading Hotels Of The World Leaders Club status Read More…

Through April 30, 2014, the US American Express Membership Rewards program is offering a 30% bonus on points transfers to Virgin America Elevate. The usual transfer ratio is 200:100 (Membership Rewards:Elevate points), so through this promotion the transfer ratio will be 200:130. The bonus is hard coded into the transfer ratio, meaning the bonus points should post instantly and you can take advantage of the promotion as often as you’d like.

Membership-Rewards-Virgin

Redeeming Virgin America Elevate points for travel on Virgin America

Virgin America has a fixed value award chart for travel on their own flights, so their award pricing is based directly on the cost of a revenue ticket. Each Elevate point typically gets you ~2.2 cents towards the cost of a Virgin America ticket, meaning a $220 ticket would cost you ~10,000 points.

So even with the transfer bonus you’re looking at a maximum of ~1.45 cents of value per Membership Rewards point. That’s not half bad if the alternative is using the “Pay With Points” option (which isn’t how you should redeem Membership Rewards points, but I know that doesn’t stop lots of people).

Redeeming Virgin America Elevate points for travel on other airlines

Virgin America does have some interesting partners, including Emirates, Virgin Australia, Virgin Atlantic, and Singapore, and there are some tempting redemptions there under specific circumstances. The problem is that I don’t find any of their premium cabin redemptions on those airlines to be the best options out there.

The redemption rates on many of these airlines are quite good, though the issue is that they also impose fuel surcharges. For example:

  • A roundtrip between New York and Milan in Emirates business class will run you 59,000 Elevate points, though there are $1,090 in taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges on the ticket
  • A roundtrip between New York and London in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class will run you 35,000 Elevate points, though there are $1,130 in taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges on the ticket
  • A roundtrip between Los Angeles and Sydney in Virgin Australia business class will run you 80,000 Elevate points, though there are $920 in taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges on the ticket

So the values aren’t bad in terms of the number of points required, but the fuel surcharges sting.

Bottom line on Virgin America transfer bonus

For a bit of context, Membership Rewards offered a 40% transfer bonus to Virgin America this January, a 40% transfer bonus to Virgin America last September, and even a 50% transfer bonus earlier last year.

Overall unless you have a specific redemption in mind I don’t find this transfer bonus to be especially compelling. I think the most compelling way to use points through this promotion is towards the cost of a Virgin America ticket, since each Membership Rewards point will get you ~1.45 cents towards the cost of a ticket.

Still, there are definitely better uses of Membership Rewards points than Virgin America Elevate transfers, and there have been better transfer bonuses in the past.

Every month I make a post with what I consider to be the best credit card sign-up bonuses of the month.

While there are several excellent long standing credit card offers, the specifics of the best offers are constantly changing (be it the annual fee, minimum spend requirement, or even amount of the sign-up bonus).

If you read my blog on a daily basis then by all means skip this post, but for me it’s a useful, “current” place to refer people that ask about which cards they should sign-up for, a question I get a daily basis. For reference, here is my list of the best credit card sign up bonuses for March.

With that in mind, here are what I consider to be the 10 best credit card sign-up bonuses for this month (and for the first time since I’ve started this series, the best offers haven’t changed compared to last month):

1. Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard

Current offer: 100,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $10,000 within three months, plus $200 statement credit
Annual fee: $450

Why it’s a great offer: This is the first 100,000 mile sign-up bonus I’ve ever seen on a card accruing AAdvantage miles, and I’m amazed how long it has lasted.

While the minimum spend is high and annual fee is hefty, you do get a $200 statement credit, which basically brings down the annual fee to $250. Furthermore, the card comes with Admirals Club access, which is useful since as of March 22, 2014, American Express Platinum cardmembers no longer have access to Admirals Clubs. It’s also worth nothing that some have had luck earning the sign-up bonus on this card multiple times.

At least until last week I valued American miles at ~1.8 cents each (I’ll share my new valuation in another post shortly), so this sign-up bonus is worth $1,550 to me ($1,800, minus the $250 annual fee after you factor in the $200 statement credit).

Citi-Executive-Bonus

2. Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage MasterCard

Current offer: 50,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $3,000 within three months
Annual fee: $95, waived the first year

Why it’s a great offer: American miles are extremely valuable for OneWorld travel, and offer some of the best premium cabin redemptions out there, like first class between the US and Asia on Cathay Pacific for 67,500 miles one-way. Using a valuation of 1.8 cents per mile, this sign-up bonus is worth $900.

The “catch” is that as of a few months ago you typically won’t get approved for a second card if you already have another version of the card. In other words, in the past it was possible to earn the sign-up bonuses on both the Visa and the MasterCard, though at the moment that doesn’t seem to be possible.

3. Ink Plus® Business Card and Ink Bold® Business Card

Current offer: 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 within three months
Annual fee: $95, waived the first year

Why it’s a great offer: Both cards accrue Ultimate Rewards points, which I find incredibly valuable due to their extensive transfer partners. The Ink cards have a competitive sign-up bonus, and generous category bonuses which help sole proprietorships and small businesses maximize points on everyday credit card spend, including 5x points at office supply stores, and on cell phones, internet, and cable TV, and double points on gas and hotels.

So this is a card that’s good for both for the sign-up bonus and for everyday spend. I value Ultimate Rewards points at 1.5 cents each, so to me these points are worth $750.

4. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Current offer: 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $3,000 within three months, plus an additional 5,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you add an authorized user to the card that makes a purchase within three months.
Annual fee: $95, waived the first year

Why it’s a great offer: Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to Korean Air, United, Hyatt, and many other programs. The card is also great for everyday spend given that it offers double points on dining and travel, plus a 7% annual points dividend. I value the sign-up bonus on this card at $675. This is probably the most-used card in my wallet

5. British Airways Visa Signature® Card

Current offer: 50,000 Avios after spending $2,000 within three months
Annual fee: $95

Why it’s a great offer: British Airways has a distance based award chart which is extremely lucrative for shorthaul travel, as awards start at just 4,500 Avios one-way. Given that short flights are often disproportionately expensive when paying cash, I’ve found Avios to be incredibly useful. You can also earn a British Airways Travel Together ticket for spending $30,000 on the card in a calendar year.

I value British Airways Avios at 1.3 cents each, so to me the sign up bonus is worth ~$650.

For what it’s worth Chase was also offering a 100,000 Avios version of the sign-up bonus, though the link seems to be unavailable and it required $20,000 of spend to get the full sign-up bonus.

6. US Airways Barclays Mastercard

Current offer: 40,000 Dividend Miles after the first purchase
Annual fee: $89

Why it’s a great offer: Now that the merger with American is underway, chances are that this card will be discontinued at some point. US Airways is keeping their award chart for the immediate future though, and there are some great award redemptions in the meantime. It’s an easy 40,000 Dividend Miles given that you get the miles after the first purchase. I value US Airways miles at 1.6 cents each, so this sign-up bonus is worth ~$550.

For what it’s worth they offered a 35,000 mile sign-up bonus with no annual fee the first year for a long time, though unfortunately that offer is now dead. I’d say this one is pretty comparable, though.

7. Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from American Express

Current offer: 10,000 Starpoints after the first purchase, 15,000 additional Starpoints after spending $5,000 within six months
Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $65

Why it’s a great offer: Starpoints remain the most valuable points currency out there to me, and are a great value for both hotel redemptions and airline mileage transfers. I value Starpoints at 2.2 cents each, so this sign-up bonus is worth $550 to me.

8. Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card

Current offer: 50,000 points after the first purchase, and an additional 35,000 points after spending $2,500 on the card within 90 days.
Annual fee: $75

Why it’s a great offer: As I’ve written about previously, the Club Carlson card has a ton of value, including 85,000 points after completing the minimum spend, a 40,000 point anniversary bonus, Gold status for as long as you have the card, and most importantly, the second night of award redemptions are free, potentially doubling the value of your points.

You earn 5x points per dollar spent on the card, so once you’ve spent $3,000 on the card you’ll have 100,000 points. Many of Club Carlson’s best hotels cost just 50,000 points per night, so that’s enough points for two sets of two nights at some of Club Carlson’s top properties. You can also redeem points for premium rooms and suites, which really increases the value of these points.

9. Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card

Current offer: Two free weekend nights at most Hilton family properties after spending $2,500 within four months of account opening
Annual fee: $95

Why it’s a great offer: These free night certificates are redeemable all the way up to Category 10 properties, potentially making this sign-up bonus worth the equivalent of 190,000 HHonors points.

So in terms of buying power, the value of these certificates has hugely increased compared to the buying power of HHonors points. Furthermore you get HHonors Gold status for as long as you have the card, which gets you free breakfast and internet. As far as I’m concerned those are the two most useful hotel elite benefits, and you get that all for the low annual fee on the card.

The Chase Hyatt Visa Card and Fairmont Visa Signature Card also offer similar sign-up bonuses of two free nights after completing the minimum spend, though I’d say the thing that gives the Citi Reserve Card the “edge” is that it gets you their mid-tier status as well, which is extremely valuable.

10. Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® – Earn 2x on All Purchases

Current offer: 40,000 miles after spending $3,000 within 90 days
Annual fee: $89, waived the first year

Why it’s a great offer: Each point can be redeemed for one cent towards the cost of travel, and you get a 10% refund of redeemed miles, making each point worth 1.1 cents. This is also a great card to use in conjunction with award tickets on airlines that levy fuel surcharges, so can be a huge cost-saver. This sign-up bonus is therefore worth $440, and you can earn a pretty great 2.2% cash back towards travel for every dollar spent on the card.

Anyway, those are my top 10 cards based on sign-up bonuses this month. If you have any questions or other cards you think have great sign-up bonuses, let me know in the comments section!

(In the interest of full disclosure, I earn a referral bonus for anyone approved through some of the above links. Thanks for your support!)

Through May 31, 2014, Starwood is offering up to a 25% discount on the purchase of Starpoints. The discounts are tiered, where you receive a bigger discount the more Starpoints you purchase, as follows:

  • Buy 500-9,500 Starpoints Save 10%
  • Buy 10,000-14,500 Starpoints Save 15%
  • Buy 15,000-19,500 Starpoints Save 20%
  • Buy 20,000 Starpoints Save 25%

Starpoints-Bonus

Basic terms of the promotion

Starwood ordinarily charges 3.5 cents per Starpoint. You can only purchase a maximum of 20,000 Starpoints per account per calendar year. Accounts have to be at least 14 days old to take advantage of this promotion.

Starwood household points transfers

One way to get around the limit of purchasing 20,000 Starpoints per account is by making a household points transfer. Starwood allows members registered at the same address to transfer Starpoints between accounts. This means if you have four people at your address with Starwood accounts, you can all purchase Starpoints through this promotion and you could then transfer the points to one account.

Starwood-Points-Transfer

Crunching the numbers on the promotion

If you max out the promotion and purchase 20,000 Starpoints it will cost you $525, which is 2.625 cents per point.

Starpoints-Bonus-1

Is it worth taking advantage of this promotion?

Everyone has to crunch the numbers for themselves, but this probably isn’t a rate at which I’d speculatively purchase points.

You have a couple of options that could potentially work in your favor, though:

Transferring points to an airline partner

Starwood has about two dozen airline partners, and when you transfer points to them you receive a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points you transfer. So 20,000 Starpoints gets you 25,000 airline miles, which you’d be paying $525 for. That’s 2.1 cents per mile, which isn’t a bad rate at which to top off mileage in some programs.

Cash & Points and Fifth Night Free

Starwood’s two most lucrative hotel redemption options are Cash & Points and Fifth Night Free. Through Cash & Points you can redeem part cash and part points for an award stay, though it is capacity controlled.

There are no blackout dates on Fifth Night Free. Basically when you redeem Starpoints for a five night award redemption, the fifth night is free. So let me give an example of how you can come out ahead here.

Say you want to stay at the Walt Disney World Swan over New Years. The paid rate is $331 per night, while it’s 10,000 Starpoints for a free night. Five nights would cost you a total of 40,000 Starpoints (with the fifth night free), which averages out to 8,000 Starpoints per night. If you picked up Starpoints at 2.625 cents each, you’d be paying $210 to purchase the points for a $331 hotel room — that’s a nice deal!

Disney-Swan

Bottom line

This promotion runs for over six weeks, so you have plenty of time to decide whether you want to take advantage of it or now. There are definitely circumstances where it can make sense to, though it all depends on what you’d usually redeem points for.

Last week IHG Rewards Club announced that 100 hotels would be going down in cost by 5,000 points per night as of April 15, 2014. My first thought was “okay, and I assume that means 200 hotels are going up in price?”

Nope, as it turns out IHG Rewards Club was legitimately just lowering the award redemption rates at ~100 hotels by 5,000 points per night.

LoyaltyLobby has the full list of properties going down in cost. Of the 100 properties, a vast majority are Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express properties. There’s one InterContinental and there are a handful of Crowne Plaza properties.

IHG-Points-Decrease
The InterContinental Shanghai Puxi decreased by 5K points

Why do hotels (typically) shift award redemption levels? Read More…

Well, it’s official. As I wrote about last week, I’m now “homeless.” Yesterday I officially vacated from my apartment, and as of today I’m living in hotels full time. I have a lot of thoughts to share, though let me start by sharing my experience on what was my biggest moving “obstacle” as of last week:

Still not sure what I’m doing with my furniture

Yeah, I have to move out in the next week so it’s probably something I should have put some thought into, but I’m still going back and forth. Ultimately I work best under pressure, so I’m sure I’ll get it figured out. But I still can’t decide between selling everything on Craigslist, getting a storage unit, and shipping it to Florida.

And it’s really tough for me to make an educated decision, since I have no clue where I’ll move in a year.

Obviously if a year from now I decide I want to stay in the Seattle area I’d be best off getting a storage unit here. If I decide to move back to Florida in a year I’d be best off shipping my stuff. If I decide to live in hotels long term, I’d be best off selling it.

So based on that I’m really not sure what I’m best off doing…

So while it’s not directly travel related, you guys were so helpful with this move that I figured I’d share my experience.

I decided to sell (almost) everything on Craigslist

I crunched the numbers best I could, and ultimately decided in favor of trying to sell everything on Craigslist.

I could have rented a storage unit. They’re kind of expensive in the Bellevue area, and I’m not sure how long I’ll live in hotels and where I’ll move after that. So it would be silly to rent a storage unit and then two years later still move it cross country.

I could have just moved my belongings cross country and stored them in Florida, but by the time I factored in the cost of moving them and the fact that I’m not sure where (or when) I’ll settle down somewhere, that doesn’t make sense either.

So I figured I’d do my best selling things on Craigslist. It would be a learning experience, if nothing else.

I decided to sell everything in a period of 72 hours

I work best with tight deadlines. A friend was kind enough to fly in Friday to help, and by Monday we had completely moved out. That turned into 72 mostly hellish hours, since we weren’t just selling furniture, but I was going through my wardrobe and sending stuff to Goodwill, cleaning, etc.

And while it was crazy hectic, I’m happy we did it that way. I wouldn’t want to draw out the process longer and basically start getting rid of furniture further in advance. And if anything I found having a sense of urgency made people more quick to respond. That being said, a bit of prior organization wouldn’t have hurt.

Now, on to the actual process of selling stuff on Craigslist…

For the most part there’s a “culture” to Cragislist

Other than browsing the “Missed Connections” section of Craigslist for entertainment, this was my first time actually using it. And I was pleasantly surprised on the whole. People were sane, and most people seemed to be “down with the program,” even if I had no clue what I was doing. They showed up when they said they would, didn’t try to bargain too much (for the most part), and were generally decent people…

Some people suck

Craigslist

LO… NO!

Some people suck even more Read More…

Reader John Delta left the following comment on the “Ask Lucky” page of the blog last week:

lucky,

Well, you probably have guessed that I am bailing on Delta after more than 4 decades with them. Like you (were), I am Washington resident and am asking you where should I begin to place my loyalties and get a sizeable jumpstart on my new loyalty program? I have not signed up with DELTA’s Washington resident bonus program, but might consider that for 2014…and sure am interested in the possible benefits of the “Battle in Seattle.”

Should I go with Alaska, United, American (US Airways), or simply go with a credit card loyalty program (SPG, HHonors, Ink, or?) With all the rapid changes, I need to find a new, stable place to put my loyalties and efforts to maximize our rewards. American Express is our current card…but I am open to any suggestions for a new home for us as well (referring to your newly upcoming nomadic lifestyle.

There’s no doubt that the airlines have made it really, really hard to be loyal the past few years. And the challenge isn’t specific to one airline, but rather the industry as a whole.

When the airline industry is losing billions of dollars they’ll do anything to keep customers. When they’re making billions of dollars, loyalty is about as important to them as to someone that spends hours a day trolling the personal ads section on Craigslist (“but I was just looking…!”).

If an airline makes changes you don’t like, the good news is that in most cases another airline will match your status. The issue in this case is that we’re kind of out of good options. And there’s a huge switching cost to changing airline loyalty.

Delta SkyMiles actually is really lucrative in this case

Looking at John’s situation specifically, he’s presently loyal to Delta, and living in Washington there has never been a better time to be loyal to Delta. Delta is offering residents of Washington state double redeemable and elite qualifying miles through the end of the year on all routes to/from Seattle.

That’s ridiculously lucrative, and means that as a Diamond member you’re earning 325% redeemable miles and 200% elite qualifying miles for all your flying. 62,500 flown miles gets you qualified for Diamond. The big “catch” here is that you’ll be requalifying for status in a program which will be revenue based next year.

On one hand Diamond status is valuable — this year for the first time Delta added actually useful international upgrades. And Delta status has always been valuable for someone that primarily flies domestically. But you’re earning Diamond status in a program that will be substantially less rewarding next year if you fit the profile of the “average” traveler.

There are no “safe” options to switch to

When Delta and Northwest first merged, it was easy to switch to American and United since their programs seemed pretty “stable” at the time. Then United and Continental merged, and it seemed pretty “stable” to switch to American at that point. Now American and US Airways are merging, and all bets on stability seem off.

So living in Washington state, you know exactly what you’re getting into with Delta this year. You get lots of rewards this year in a program that won’t be nearly as rewarding next year. But the alternative is a program like American, which, all things considered is still very rewarding, though likely won’t be as rewarding next year.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, right?

There’s a cost to switching loyalty

While I’d like to think status matching is seamless, it’s not. There’s ultimately a huge cost to switching loyalty. You often have to complete a challenge, you have to learn a new system, you’ll get less value out of your existing miles with the other airline eventually (since you won’t have fee changes when redeeming those miles), and ultimately it’s often “once in a lifetime” (whatever that means nowadays given the rate at which the industry is changing).

Avoid being loyal if you can

Nowadays the question shouldn’t be which airline you should be loyal to, but rather whether you should be loyal to an airline. As I wrote about last week, loyalty might be overrated but miles most definitely aren’t. It’s easier than ever before to earn miles, just not through actually flying.

At the end of the day you can get entry level elite benefits with most airlines just for having their co-branded credit card. If you fly mostly internationally you should be able to come out ahead by strategically buying miles when there are sales, and in turn redeem those miles for international travel.

Bottom line

Being loyal has never been less rewarding. And not only are there fewer rewards for being loyal than ever before, but there’s also more uncertainty. So I tend to think more than in the past it’s either worth being loyal on a “year to year” basis since there’s no long term certainty, or doing what you can to be a “free agent” and simply accrue miles through other means.

At the end of the day the most stability you’ll get with miles or points is “investing” in currencies like Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, or Starwood Preferred Guest. They’re far from devaluation-proof, but given that they all have many transfer partners, you’re at least hedging your bets somewhat.

Per a press release I was just sent, Lufthansa will add fees to pre-assign seats in economy class on longhaul flights for passengers booked in select fare classes:

Early seat reservation for passengers booked in selected booking classes (designated W, S, T, L, K) will incur a €25 per seat charge on long-haul flights in the future. The optional service will be introduced as of April 28, 2014. This change brings the additional advance seat reservation service fees in line with those incurred on domestic and European routes, which have been offered at a price of €10 since November 2013. As in the past, all guests may choose their preferred seat at no extra charge when checking in, up to 23 hours before departure.

Advanced seat reservation in these lower priced booking classes becomes an optional service at the time of booking. For the remaining Economy booking classes, advanced seat reservation remains free of charge. This service also remains free of charge in the upcoming Premium Economy Class, Business and First Class. For HON Circle members and Senators, advanced seat reservation is free of charge in all booking classes.

Seats can also be reserved during or after the booking process with travel agents, online via LH.com, or at Lufthansa ticketing locations.

Of course this isn’t good news, though at the same time it’s hardly surprising. It’s “easy” revenue for the airlines, and much of the competition charges similar fees. At least they’re not as bad as British Airways, which charges fees for seat assignments in Club World (business class) on longhaul flights. Now that’s a slap in the face, in my opinion….

For what it’s worth, typically when airlines charge for seat assignments in advance it’s still possible to secure a pretty good seat if you check-in as soon as possible, since most people won’t pay for pre-assigned seats.

Why US airlines haven’t started charging for economy class seat assignments across the board kind of surprises me…

« previous home top

One Mile at a Time is owned by PointsPros, Inc. Some links to credit cards and other products on this website will earn an affiliate commission, and this website has a financial relationship with several credit card issuing banks. All content unless otherwise noted or quoted is the author's own, and not provided or commissioned by any other entity. This site is for entertainment purpose only. The owner of this site is not an investment advisor, financial planner, nor legal or tax professional and articles here are of an opinion and general nature and should not be relied upon for individual circumstances.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.