Matthewonlive and let's fly

Why I Am Keeping my American Express Platinum Card

When I took advantage of a 100,000 point sign-up offer to obtain an American Express Platinum Card last year, I planned to collect the sign-up bonus, use it for a year, take advantage of the $200 in airline credit for calendar year 2013 and 2014, then cancel this month before my next $450 annual fee was due. But even with American Express cutting American Airlines and US Airways as lounge partners, I have decided to keep the card.

With the award chart inflation of United Airlines and ...

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A Salute to Darren Booth (Frequently Flying)


When Darren Booth first began his Frequently Flying blog, he turned to me often for advice—he said I was one of the bloggers who had inspired him to blog and we chatted frequently about blogging, award travel, and our shared loyalty to United Airlines. Darren’s blog quickly grew and he also took on a position as a travel editor at CNBC and used me on occasion in his stories. He loved to talk about travel and flying, and always had an uplifting and kind attitude. He was diligent ...

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Last Day to Book Under Old Hyatt Award Chart


A new Hyatt Gold Passport award chart goes into effect tomorrow, 07 January 2014, and the changes are bad for the most part, particularly for high-end Park Hyatt properties. If you are planning on using your Hyatt points for travel in 2014 to any of these properties, today is the last day to book under the old rates.

The new Category 7 includes six Park Hyatt hotels in Beaver Creek, Milan, Paris, Sydney, Tokyo and Zurich. These properties go from 22,000 to 30,000 points per night. ...

How NOT to Deal with a Flight Attendant who Tells You to Extinguish Your Cigarette

It's bad enough to smoke on an airplane, but the truth is you can usually get away with a few puffs if you play dumb and extinguish the cigarette immediately when instructed to do so. What you cannot get away with is repeatedly trying to smoke onboard then becoming aggressive and violent when told to stop.

Germans love their cigarettes and apparently Mathias Jorg could not even get through a 7hr flight without one.

A MAN is in police custody after he tried to smoke ...

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Special Edition Amenity Kits from United Airlines


Through 01 March 2014, United Airlines is offering customers in BusinessFirst and Global First special edition tin amenity kits that highlight its seven U.S. mainland hubs.

These special edition amenity kits will be available on longhaul international flights departing from the U.S. only and will contain the contents currently found in United's BusinessFirst amenity kit. Global First customers will receive their enhanced Global First amenity kit in addition to the commemorative ...

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United Eliminates Free Alcohol in Transpacific Economy Class

Effective 01/01/14, United Airlines has quietly eliminated free alcoholic beverages on transpacific flights. This comes just days after Delta Air Lines' recent announcement that it will expand its free beer and wine offerings on all longhaul international routes to cover spirits too.

Over the last four years, United has gone back and forth in offering free alcohol on transpacific and Asia routes, briefly eliminating the perk before the merger only to bring it back months ...

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Top 10 Airline Award Redemptions for January 2014

With the new year here and many changes negatively affecting airline loyalty programs now in effect or shortly taking effect, there are still a number of superb deals available. Here are my top ten award travel bright spots for January 2014.

1. US Airways Dividend Miles – 90K miles r/t for business class between North American and North Asia with a Stopover in Europe

Still the best award in the world, it takes only 90,000 US Airways miles to fly between the U.S. and ...

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Additional Business Class Saver Award Space for Elite Members of United MileagePlus Program


United is massively devaluing its award chart at the end of the month and has instituted a minimum-spend requirement for elite qualification in 2014. With deep cutbacks to the domestic front cabin product and few flights with internet, questioning the value of loyalty to United is not unreasonable. But there may be one bright spot, particularly in light of the new award chart: additional space for Platinum/1K/Global Services members in premium cabins on United's own metal. Gold and ...

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Travel Restraint or Status Quo in 2014?

While my travel patterns have remained largely unchanged over the last three years and even the last decade, 2014 will usher in a substantial change in the way I travel and think about travel.

Reaching MillionMiler status on United gives me Star Alliance Gold Status for life—or at least until United decides to yank it. With United’s new $10,000 minimum spending requirement to qualify for 1K status—the effective end of mileage running—and a significant inflation ...

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Myanmar, Melbourne, Malta, Micronesia, & MillionMiler: My Magnificent 2013


2013 flew by incredibly fast—just incredibly fast. Looking back at the year I marvel at what was accomplished and think about how the airline industry and my own livelihood has changed.

When I started law school, I had every intention of becoming a full-time attorney. Thoughts of working in the travel industry did not register outside of a legal role. Having a legal degree in my back pocket is still a remarkably valuable chess piece, but three years into Award Expert, I do not ...

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The TSA Presents: The 12 Banned Items of Christmas (Humor)

I love intelligent humor that not only draws a laugh, but makes a deeper point--perhaps a reflection on an pertinent political issue or on society at large that invites contemplation and discussion. A new video out poking fun at the TSA accomplishes exactly that purpose.

As the Christmas season comes to a close, enjoy this--but also think about the bigger message:  TSA carry-on policy is a joke, an arbitrary and capricious list of banned and permitted items does not make us ...

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Reminder: New Aeroplan Award Chart Takes Effect on 01/01/14


Aeroplan is updating its award chart on January 01, 2014 and the changes are both good and bad.

The Good: One-way awards at half the round-trip cost

Right now Aeroplan charges 67% of the r/t price for a one-way award. Starting on 01/01, that rate will drop to 50%. That means a one-way trip between Europe and North America in business class will be only 45K miles. If you travel on Lufthansa or Air Canada you will be hit with heavy fuel surcharges, but there are a number of Star ...

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3:1 Avianca Lifemiles Today Only


A targeted e-mail went out to Avianca Lifemiles members this morning with a 3:1 mileage purchase offer: buy 1,000 miles and get 2,000 free, today only. 1,000 miles costs $30 + tax, so you're getting miles for one cent, pre-tax. With sweet spots on the Avianca award chart like 110,000 miles r/t for business class between North/Central America and Europe and no fuel surcharges, there is not a cheaper way to secure premium cabin space. Many who did not receive the e-mail offer have reported ...

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The Night Before Christmas: United Airlines Edition

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the air,
The United executives stirred in despair;
The stock had grown on the NYSE with fanfare,
In hopes that great profit soon would be there;
The Chairman was nestled all snug in his bed;
While visions of cutbacks danced in his head;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Sat in the airport lounge pouring over a map,
When out on the tarmac there arose such a ...

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Singapore Airlines Accuses United Airlines of Lying About Pulled Online Award Space

Last week, United announced that it would no longer offer online searchability for Singapore Airlines award space. United stated this was a "mutual" decision but implied that Singapore had requested that United remove the space.

Hi everyone,

I wanted to give you an early heads up about an upcoming change to the Star partner award availability you see displayed online. Singapore Airlines and United have agreed to remove Singapore Airlines inventory from our award flight ...

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Generous Lufthansa First Class Award Availability between Tokyo Haneda and Frankfurt


When Lufthansa recently announced new service between Mexico City and Munich as well as Toronto and Munich, premium class award seats were released on every flight. Even first class, which is normally only released to Star Alliance partners two weeks prior to travel, was made available on the Toronto route. With new routes between Tokyo Haneda and Frankfurt/Munich just loaded into the system, Lufthansa has again released a glut of premium cabin space, including two first class seats on every ...

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Star Alliance Should Pursue Alaska Airlines

For all the complaints about US Airways being a “low-cost carrier” or offering an inferior in-flight product, the carrier has been a valuable member of Star Alliance that will be missed tremendously. With a healthy European route network and an expansive route map in the Southeast and Northeast, US Airways has nicely complimented United’s route network and been very generous with award space, particularly with North American premium cabin space. US Air’s departure from ...

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Air India Again Positions Itself for Star Alliance Membership

When I worked for Star Alliance in 2011, the politics surrounding Air India’s failed bid to join the Alliance were fascinating. I am bound from disclosing the nitty gritty details, but the situation opened my eyes to how much maneuvering and backstabbing goes on in the airline industry. Now Air India is again making a concerted push to join Star Alliance and I think I can get away with saying, buyer be warned.

But for all the pitfalls of doing business with a flailing state-run ...

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Hitting the Million Miler Mark on United Airlines

My first United Airlines flight was from Los Angeles to Denver in the winter of 1995, but I did not start seriously flying United until 2005, the year I decided I did not want to sit behind the curtain any longer. Nine years later, I have logged over 998,500 lifetime United flight miles and this afternoon’s flight from Denver to New York LaGuardia will put me over the million mile mark.

In the coming days, I will recount my years of flying on United as well as look ahead to what ...

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Delta Actually Improves Skymiles Program with Attractive Upgrade Options


Delta Air Lines has led the U.S. airline loyalty industry in duplicity and penny-pinching for several years running (even with a commendable challenge from United last month) so a day in which positive news is announced is quite rare. Yesterday was one of those days, as Delta announced a new confirmed upgrade incentive for Platinum and Diamond elites without the onerous fare class restrictions that have made such instruments virtually useless in the past.

Regional Upgrades for ...

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