Matthewonlive and let's fly

Personal Thoughts on Travel and a New Era of US-Cuban Relations


It was seven years ago that President George W. Bush announced his Administration was doubling down on its bid to isolate the communist Cuban regime. More travel restrictions and more money restrictions, all with the end goal of bringing about leadership change and democratic reform. The President made his remarks at the State Department then returned to the White House. I was a young aide in the White House Press Office at the time and a group of colleagues and I ran into Bush in the East ...

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Air New Zealand to Start Auckland to Buenos Aires Route


For Star Alliance flyers trying to connect between Australia or New Zealand and South America, options are not just limited -- there are no flights at all. Connecting via North America or Africa is required, adding hours to an already-long journey. With new aircraft comes new opportunity and Air New Zealand has announced it will commence service between Auckland and Buenos Aires (EZE) in December 2015.

The flight will ...

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New Greeting for AA Phone Reps

This is totally an airline nerd thing, but I spend a chunk of my day each day (sometimes a huge chunk) on the phone with various airlines booking awards. The bulk of my clients are based in North America and lately, perhaps because of the 100,000 AA mile CITI sign-up bonus earlier this year, we have been booking a lot of AA tickets. American Airlines agents have always identified themselves in a very particular way, "American Airlines, first name, last name." Over the last few days I noticed ...

Hyatt Updates 2015 Gold Passport Award Chart


Hyatt has announced its annual update to the Gold Passport award chart and thankfully changes are limited for 2015--here is what you need to know:

70 Hyatt properties are changing categories 22 hotels are moving up a category 48 hotels are moving down a category The new rates apply to all bookings made after 22 January 2015 For the 48 hotels that moved to a lower category, previously booked reservations for stays after 21 January 2015 will ...
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FTU Dallas Tickets Now on Sale


Tickets to FTU and FTU Advanced in Dallas, from 17-19 April 2015, are now on sale at

I will be doing my usual talks on United Airlines, but will also be talking miles and exotic travel at this event.

Sessions at FTU include:

Gary Leff – View from the Wing
Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going

Ben Schlappig – One Mile at a Time
How to Book Your ...

United Airlines Now Processing Lufthansa GPU Upgrades Electronically

United Airlines and Lufthansa were both founding members of the Star Alliance and have maintained a close relationship as both codeshare and joint venture partners over years. United's top-status 1K flyers receive six GPUs (Global Premier Upgrades) each year and as part of that partnership, can use those GPUs to upgrade on Lufthansa as well as United flights. United introduced changes to the Lufthansa upgrade process today, some negative and some possible.

Lufthansa GPU requests will ...
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FTU Dallas Tickets Go On Sale Thursday!

Tickets to the next Frequent Traveler University go on sale Thursday at 11:00AM ET / 8:00AM PT at Tickets for the Advanced seminars at the last three events sold out very quickly, so be warned if you want to attend.

I enjoyed so much meeting many of you in Washington over the weekend (and will send out my slides to all who e-mailed me in the next few days) and am slated to speak at the Dallas event as well. More details as they come, but note the event will be held at the Hyatt Regency DFW Airport from 17-19 April 2015.

UPDATE: Due to a technical glitch, tickets will go on sale one day later.

Business Class Partner Awards on United Airlines Pricing for 115K instead of 140K RT!


I am loath to post many mileage deals that appear to be mistakes on this blog because airlines do read blogs and respond quickly – I may not have the readership of The Points Guy, but it is no coincidence that shortly after I posted instructions on manually booking US Airways awards a fresh memo was circulated to US Airways forbidding them to long sell flights.

> Read More: Diagnosing a Problem: Booking Lufthansa Award Space with US Airways Dividend ...

5 Great Uses for your 50,000 Bonus US Airways Miles


The US Airways MasterCard from Barclays is going out in style with a 50,000 mile sign-up bonus offer after your first purchase on the card. This offer and credit card itself is available for a very limited time and now more than ever, even if you have held this card in the past, it would be prudent to take advantage of this generous sign-up bonus.

>Application Link: US Airways MasterCard with 50,000 bonus miles after first ...

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The Homeless Population of Frankfurt Airport

Recall that I spent a year working inside Frankfurt Airport and one thing that I noticed, but never really thought much of until I saw the video below, was that there were a lot of familiar faces that were not wearing airport badges. 

There was a guy who resembled the Hunchback of Notre Dame who was always perched in a chair next to the smoking patio with his laptop plugged in, just down the hall from the Sheraton. I passed him every evening on my way out from the office and I am ...

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Cyber Monday Bonus: 125% Bonus on Purchased Avianca LifeMiles


Avianca LifeMiles is in the midst of a 100% bonus on purchased miles promotion but is offering a 125% bonus special today only for Cyber Monday. Bottom line: you can buy up to 66,000 miles for $2,178.00 (1.47 cents each) and will receive 148,500 miles in your account -- enough for a business class ticket from North America to Europe, South America and just about enough miles for a business class ticket anywhere else in the world. 

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Update: Still Not Too Late to Register for American Express Small Business Saturday


Earlier today I posted about American Express Small Business Saturday, noting that no further sign-ups were available (AMEX capacity controls the number of sign-ups). A short time ago AMEX re-opened sign-up: it is still not too late!

Click the sign-up link on this page and you can still enjoy up to $30 off your small business purchases today!

> Read More: $30 in free spending with American Express Small Business Saturday

Today is American Express Small Business Saturday


Hopefully you have all registered your American Express cards for Small Business Saturday today, an annual event on the Saturday after Thanksgiving in which American Express offers a cash-back incentive in order to boost small business.

This year's offer is a bit different than in the past -- rather than giving up to a $25 credit for a single-transaction as it did in 2012 or just $10 total last year, AMEX is offering a $10 statement credit for each qualifying transaction, up to ...

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Is the Elimination of Stopovers on United MileagePlus Awards Inevitable?

Delta Air Lines has announced that free stopovers will not be part of the 2015 Skymiles program and it seems likely that the combined American and US Airways AAdvantage program will also not offer complimentary stopovers. That would leave United Airlines as the sole major legacy carrier in the USA to offer award stopovers. Based on United's penchant to mimic Delta and refusal to distinguish itself from other loyalty programs in a good way, it seems all but inevitable that United will also ...

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Thankful for Travel Companions

I recently had the opportunity to experience Lufthansa First Class with my German wife Heidi -- just wait till you read her account of the flight -- and it reminded again that flying is so much more fun with a friend or loved one than by yourself. On this Thanksgiving day, I wish to point out that this flying hobby is great when you do it solo, but what makes it spectacular is sharing it with others. 

We've been reading with both admiration and excitement about Lucky's trip ...

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Three Tips to Get Home for Thanksgiving

A storm has dumped massive amounts of rain and snow along the Eastern Seaboard today, leading to over 500 cancelled flights and endangering the Thanksgiving travel plans of many. But even at this evening hour, you can still better position yourself to get home in time for the turkey by following these three steps--

1. If your flight is delayed, try to rebook yourself online or using your airline's mobile app first. Airline websites and mobile apps have become far more ...

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United Airlines Announces Service to Venice, Additional Service to Dublin and Paris

United Airlines announced three new Summer 2015 routes today, including new service from Newark to Venice and Chicago to Dublin as well as a second daily flight from Washington to Paris.

Newark to Venice

The 767-400 scheduled on this route features 39 business class seats and 203 economy seats, with 70 of those being EconomyPlus - a very decent upgrade ratio. 

Newark – Venice daily 767-400ER service from 04JUN15, until 23SEP15
UA170 EWR1845 – ...

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Sunday Morning to LHR on London Underground


You would think that at the world's busiest airport for international passengers, London Heathrow, with flights around the clock, there would be reliable subway service early enough in the morning to catch the hundreds of dawn departures. Not so on Sundays...when the first Piccadilly Line Underground train does not arrive until 7:50a. Budget travelers be warned.

My wife and I were in London over the weekend, visiting her sister, and we booked an early flight back to Germany ...

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More Devaluations for United MileagePlus in 2015


Christmas gifts have arrived early from United Airlines and like last year, we've all received lumps of coal. As United continues to dismantle what was once the world's best airline loyalty program, several more changes have been announced, all of which negatively affect both frequent and casual flyers of United (even the "valuable" big spenders!).

Here's a summary of the changes and I will discuss each one in detail below:

Copa announces its own loyalty program, ending ...
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United Airlines Mimics Delta, Raises 2016 Elite Requirements


The consultants United Airlines hires to provide strategic advice on loyalty innovation and how to increase profit must have a pretty easy Delta, then copy. Once again, United has mimicked Delta in increasing elite status thresholds for 2016 in a move that makes sense in a season of record airline profits, but remains a poor strategy to win long-term loyalty.

A 20% Increase in Spend Requirement

Like Delta, United has increased 2015 spending requirements in ...

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