Matthewonlive and let's fly

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 ...

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 ...

2 Comments Read more

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 ...

2 Comments Read more

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 – ...

3 Comments Read more

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 ...

6 Comments Read more

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 ...
5 Comments Read more

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 ...

3 Comments Read more

Chinese Tourist Visas Now Valid for 10 Years


President Obama is in Asia this week at APEC and the headline has been the climate change deal he announced with China...but wait, there's more! Of particular interest to travelers is another deal cut with China to extend visas for short-term business travelers, tourists, and students. The new agreement will make travel to China significantly easier.

Here are the details from the State Department, but below is the gist of the new rules--

Tourist and short-term business visa ...
8 Comments Read more

United Airlines' Veterans Day Video

Not exactly a day of celebration here in Germany, but yesterday was Veterans Day (or Armistice Day as I prefer to call it), marking the end of the World War I and a day in the USA to remember the sacrifice of all veterans living and dead. As I read with interest about the placing of 888,246 poppies around the Tower of London, signifying each British military death in WWI, it was a but a small reminder of the millions of lives lost over the centuries due to war.

Thankfully, most ...

1 Comment Read more

Great Deals with November 2014 Flying Blue Promo Awards


I have highlighted the value of Air France/KLM Flying Blue Promo Awards on many occasions, and after several months of rather mediocre sales, November offers a number of discounted awards worth considering. 

Air France/KLM tends to release a lot of saver space to its own Flying Blue members, not just on many dates, but multiple seats per flight. With diminished fuel surcharges in economy class (about $200 each way), traveling families wishing to ...

Photo Tour of American Express Centurion Lounge at SFO


I met my brother for dinner at the newest American Express Centurion Lounge last night at San Francisco International Airport. This fourth U.S. AMEX lounge is great - a welcome addition to Terminal 3 at SFO and a great alternative to the other lounge offerings in the terminal and connected International Terminal.

I arrived around 5:30p and saw two uniformed AMEX employees chatting outside the door. I thought they were there to welcome guests into the lounge, but they were apparently ...

4 Comments Read more

FAQs: American Express Centurion Lounge in SFO Now Open

American Express has opened its fourth U.S. Centurion Lounge today, this one at San Francisco International - I intend to visit it later today and post pictures tomorrow, but for now here is some helpful info on the new lounge--

Q: Who has access to the lounge?

A: All American Express cardholders can use the lounge. If you have a Platinum or Centurion (Black) card, access is free. All other cardmembers may purchase a one-day pass for $50.

Q: May I bring a ...

1 Comment Read more

A Trip After A Trip

I’m out of Africa – mission accomplished. That was more than a week ago.

 But rather than recovering at home from a 4-week trip to Africa, I never even got back to Germany: from Cape Town, Heidi and I flew to London together in Virgin Upper Class then she flew British Airways back to Basel and I flew United back to Los Angeles.

Divorce already? Not at all, instead a long work trip to gather content for this blog that I hope will fill it well into ...

7 Comments Read more

Another Costly Travel Screw-Up: Yellow Fever Vaccinations

I think my last big travel mistake was missing the bus by one minute and having to pay an outrageous taxi fee to travel 50km from central Reykjavik to Keflavik International Airport in Iceland. There have been small mistakes, of course, in the meantime, but nothing really costly…until I tried to fly from Johannesburg to Livingstone, Zambia.

Yellow Fever is a problem in parts of Africa and a seasoned traveler like me should have known better….Here’s a word ...

6 Comments Read more

Bad News for Aeroplan with Stricter Routing Rules


The news just keeps getting worse for Aeroplan members. Lucky wrote a post entitled Aeroplan Improving Routing Rules — No More MPM! a couple days ago and my heart sank immediately when reading it -- I knew the news could not be good. And it isn't.

Most Routings from North America to Asia via Europe Prohibited

I am still sifting through the new rules, but routings we once enjoyed to Asia via Europe are no longer permitted. The official MPM may be gone, but Aeroplan ...

1 Comment Read more

Stopovers Still Permitted on Delta Skymiles Awards...For Now

When Delta's latest IT update eliminated the ability to include stopovers on award trips, most assumed the worst...Delta had stealthy devalued its program again with no notice. Turns out the news is not quite as bad after Delta clarified today that stopovers will still be be bookable over the phone by manually pricing awards, but do not kid yourself--Delta continues to act duplicitously and we can now reasonably speculate that stopovers will not be part of the 2015 Skymiles ...

The Hunt for a Competent American Airlines Agent

Earlier today I posted the following about booking Etihad Airways award space with American Airlines--

American Airlines Cannot Book Etihad Award Space...Again

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways is a wonderful American Airlines AAdvantage partner, offering excellent premium cabin award space to top destinations around the world. AA ran into problems earlier this year confirming Etihad award space and it took several weeks for the problem to be resolved. ...

5 Comments Read more

United Reports Strong Q3 Profit

United Airlines reported a healthy third-quarter profit today of $1.1 billion, a record and also a 99% increase from last year. Here's some of the specifics:

United's consolidated passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) increased 3.9 percent in the third quarter of 2014 compared to the third quarter of 2013. Third-quarter 2014 consolidated unit costs (CASM), excluding special charges, third-party business expenses, fuel and profit sharing, increased 1.0 percent ...

New United Airlines Premier Status Tracking Website


United Airlines has introduced a nifty new website for tracking MileagePlus status: nothing revolutionary, but knowing how much you have to spend to attain or maintain elite status is now very transparent.

Here's the website and watch this one minute video United put out explaining it:

Here's a look at my details with the specifics removed-

Certainly a smooth interface, which also tracks spending ...

2 Comments Read more

United Airlines, Hertz Partnership Adds Elite Benefits to MileagePlus


United Airlines and Hertz have announced a new partnership in which MileagePlus elite members will receive elite status in Hertz’s Gold Plus Rewards program and more miles for Hertz rentals.


Discounts and  Bonus Miles with Hertz

Hertz is already discounted on (up to 40%, though always shop around) and with this partnership, Hertz, including its Thrifty and Budget divisions, will become the exclusive rental ...

4 Comments Read more