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Simplicity: The Key to a Smooth US Airways Award Booking

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US Airways mileage awards are perhaps the most enigmatic because there is seemingly no rhyme or reason to what is permitted and what is not. I laid out some general guidelines about booking US Airways awards, but six phone calls will result in six different interpretations of the rules. Still, I have found one method that generally results in a much smoother booking process--a simple routing.

That's rather intuitive, I suppose, but not when you consider the routings you can book ...

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TSA-Approved "Detention Pods" at Syracuse Airport

As part of its $60mn renovation, Syracuse International Airport has installed new exit portals that it says will replace the need for security guards or TSA agents to be stationed at exits to the secure part of the airport. The new system has been branded by some as a "detention pod" because of the ability to lock passengers in.

It should be noted that "security" is the stated purpose for this move rather than merely a way to cut labor costs.

"We need to be vigilant ...

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Generous Premium Award Space On British Airways' 787 Between Austin and London in August 2014

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I help a lot of families use their miles and points to book family vacations and even with depressed business demand for premium seats during the summer, finding three or more business class seats on the same flight often poses a challenge. British Airways is starting a new 5x weekly service between London Heathrow and Austin on its new 787 at the end of March and has released generous amounts of award space in all three cabins--economy, premium economy, and business class--on nearly every ...

The Real Reason Behind United's New Service to Atlantic City

United Airlines announced new service from Houston Bush Intercontinental and Chicago O'Hare to beleaguered Atlantic City, New Jersey this week in a deal that brought NJ Governor Chris Christie and United CEO Jeff Smisek together for a special ceremony on Thursday. But if you think this announcement is about service to Atlantic City, think again.

From Chicago, United's flight to Atlantic City will depart at 8:10 a.m. daily, arriving at 11:17 ...

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German Supreme Court: "Loyalty points are currency"

The German Bundesgerichtshof (Federal Court of Justice) (BGH) held today that loyalty points are a type of currency that should not simpy expire.

Rewe, a grocery store chain across Germany, ran a promotion in 2011 in which you could collect stickers based on in-store spending and use those stickers to send away for knives at a steeply discounted price. I actually remember the promotion and still have some of the stickers I collected from it...

The promotion was ...

Leaked US Airways Memo: Agents Forbidden to Manually Request Award Space

US Airways apparently did not appreciate my story on how to book blocked Lufthansa award space, because a new memo has been issued that explicitly instructs Dividend Miles agents not to manually request award space on any flight.

It was only in late September when US Airways told me "If a customer should request a long sell (which we don't think happens that often), and the agent actually knows how to do this function we will try to accommodate the request as best as we ...

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Merger! US DOJ Settles Lawsuit Against US Airways and American Airlines

US Airways and American Airlines have reached a preliminary deal with the U.S. Department of Justice concerning their planned merger. Details are still emerging.

Under the proposal, American and US Airways would sell 104 takeoff and landing slots at Reagan National Airport in Washington, 34 slots at La Guardia Airport in New York, and various assets at five other airports, including O’Hare Airport in Chicago, Los Angeles International Airport and Boston Logan International ...

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Overnight Train from Baku to Tbilisi, Georgia

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Each night an overnight train runs from Baku to Tbilisi, leaving Baku at 08:45p and arriving into Tbilisi the following morning at 11:40a.

Baku's central railway station is in the heart of the city and accessible by cab or Metro.

 

I purchased my ticket the evening before, but my train was lightly filled (granted, it was February and a bit chilly). If you are traveling during the spring and summer you are advised to purchase your ...

Are Airline Safety Videos Worth Playing?

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For years we have been told to set aside our reading materials while an airline safety video is played prior to takeoff, but few people comply with that request. In fact, most openly ignore it--continuing conversations, remaining focused on reading material, or even sneaking a peak at electronic devices. With electronic devices now permitted during all stages of flight, even more will ignore the safety videos. Does that compromise safety? Or have these safety videos outlived their ...

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Delta Skymiles Logic: A Devaluation Before the Devaluation

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You have to wonder what is going through the minds of the decision makers at Delta Air Lines when they announce a devaluation of their Skymiles award chart effecting all travel on or after 01 June 2014 then decide that was not enough and today implement an interim devaluation effective for travel on or after 01 February 2014, now less than three months away. 

Here's the "logic" from Delta--

This afternoon, you’ll be able to see some updates to our Award Ticket ...

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Book Your Summer 2014 Family Vacation in Lufthansa First Class with United Miles!

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Lucky shares that Lufthansa has opened the award space floodgates on its new route between Toronto and Munich that begins on June 5, 2014. Space is going fast already but Lufthansa has released eight business class seats and four first class seats on every flight! Typically, Lufthansa First Class award space is only bookable by Star Alliance partners 15 days or less prior to travel, but on this route Lufthansa has released space not only to Miles & More members but to partners as ...

An Armed TSA is a Threat to All

In the wake of a lone wolf gunman storming a Terminal 3 security checkpoint at LAX last Friday and murdering a TSA screener, some are now calling for a cadre of TSA screeners to be armed at every airport. I sense this issue is dead on arrival, at least for now, but let us explore why this would be a very bad idea.

On Monday, the union representing 45,000 federal security agents called for the creation of a class of armed TSA officers with law enforcement training and the authority ...

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Review: Park Hyatt Baku

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Other than its barrage of CNN advertisements, you don't hear too much about Azerbaijan. When you do, it is usually a story encouraging investment by heralding the country's favorable interest rates and stable government or perhaps a blurb on the continuing tension with Armenia. But there is another layer to Azerbaijan that you have to see to believe—the charming capital city of Baku hosts an array of restaurants, shopping, and attractions. The former ...

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Baku Metro (Pictures)

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Every time a population surpassed one million in a Soviet city, Soviet law allowed for construction a Metro system. The Baku Metro, which debuted in 1967, was the fifth Soviet Metro system and boasts a similar blending of utility, opulence, and ideological propaganda that characterize systems in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Paintings, statutes, sculptures, murals, and chandeliers decorate the deep underground caverns and the ...

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The Other United Airlines Devaluation: Fewer Upgrades at a Higher Cost

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The big news Friday was United's devaluation of its MileagePlus award chart starting 01 February 2014, particularly for premium cabins on Star Alliance partners, but United also announced a policy change eliminating complimentary upgrades on flights to/from Northern South American and within Asia:

The following restrictions apply to upgrades on flights to/from Northern South America and within Asia departing on or after February 1, 2014: (1) Complimentary Premier Upgrades ...

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Clarification from United Airlines on Award Chart Changes

United has addressed some initial confusion stemming from its announcement yesterday that on 01 February 2014 the award chart chart will be massacred.

1. United claims the cost of premium seats on partner carriers is "out of sync" with what current mileage levels.

Frankly, the levels at which we currently offer these awards, particularly in the premium cabins, have not kept up with the increased cost from our partners to United. It’s been several years since ...

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Fly The Unfriendly Skies of United: Massive Devaluation of Award Chart

Another Friday, another devaluation at United Airlines. United posted an updated award chart today and it is not pretty. Targeting primarily premium cabins on partner airlines, mileage required will rise by as much as 87% over current levels! The new chart takes effect on February 14, 2014 and transforms the MileagePlus program from the most lucrative airline loyalty program in the world to one that now will require careful evaluation before future crediting. This is truly bad ...

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Delta and JetBlue Moving Quickly to Allow Electronic Devices Below 10,000 Feet

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Now you won't have to hide your cell phone anymore as the flight attendants walk by!

With the ink still drying on the FAA's decision to lift the ban on the use of electronics below 10,000 feet onboard aircraft, Delta and JetBlue are moving fast to allow the use of devices like iPads and Kindles during all stages of flight. Perhaps as early as tomorrow we may never again hear "please power off your electronic devices" when flying on those airlines and others will soon follow. ...

The Real Reason United is Blocking Award and Upgrade Space from Expert Flyer

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Friendly Skies reported earlier today that United has asked Expert Flyer to stop displaying upgrade and award space beginning Friday, October 30, 2013. United responded this evening, blaming Expert Flyer for accessing space in an unauthorized manner and promising there would still be other avenues to check this space.

Currently, Expert Flyer provides an easy way to check upgrade and special elite-only award space across one week intervals between ...

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Baku – A City of Illusions?

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Walk around the city of Baku and you cannot help but to be impressed. It is clean, well-manicured, and burgeoning with skyscrapers. Historic districts have been restored with beautiful façades and shopping and restaurants abound. Families are out for a stroll in the park or enjoying ice cream and there is a sense of tranquility that pervades many cities. But if we roll back the veil of Baku, is there more to Azerbaijan than a country trying to integrate itself into Europe through ...

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