Matthewonlive and let's fly

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


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 ...

5 Comments Read more

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 ...

10 Comments Read more

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 ...

6 Comments Read more

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


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


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 ...

10 Comments Read more

Baku – A City of Illusions?


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 ...

8 Comments Read more

"I Can't Give Away this First Class Seat!"

Once in awhile on United I see a domestic flight go out with open seats in first class despite a long waitlist of elites waiting for a complimentary upgrade. This is usually attributable to a lazy or rushed gate agent, who just wants to get the flight out on time or cannot be bothered to follow upgrade protocol. Today though, I experienced something different--the agent could not give away the last unclaimed first class seat!

A friend and I were traveling from Chicago to Washington ...

3 Comments Read more

Istanbul to Baku in Azerbaijan Airlines Economy Class


I arrived into Istanbul with about seven hours between flights and was informed at the transit desk that it was too early to check in for my Azerbaijan Airlines flight to Baku. I headed upstairs to the lounge where I spent the next five hours recuperating from what had been a lot longer journey than my originally planned direct flight from Newark to Istanbul.

Two hours prior to departure I headed back downstairs to the transit desk where an agent tried ...

3 Comments Read more

American Express Transfer Bonuses

Update: Offer Expired

American Express launched two transfer bonuses last week that are far from earth-shattering, but still valuable under the proper circumstances. Through December 31, 2013, AMEX was offering a 20% bonus on points transfers to partner British Airways and through November 30, 2013, AMEX is offering a 30% transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic.

Both Virgin Atlantic and British Airways have obscene fuel surcharges on their own flights, with a round-trip from ...

United Airlines Reduces Free Checked Baggage Allowance for Star Alliance Gold and Silver Members


United Airlines has quietly reduced domestic checked baggage allowances for both Star Alliance Gold and Silver members, clandestinely updating its baggage policy with a posthumous disclaimer.


Holders of Star Gold status outside of the Mileage Plus program who once enjoyed up to three free checked bags weighing up to 70lbs each now may only check a single bag without cost on domestic itineraries, weighing up to 50lbs. Star ...

United Airlines Customer Service Shines at JFK After Mishap


On our way back from Asia last week, my brother and I split up at JFK, with him flying to SFO for work and me flying home to LAX. His 5pm flight appeared full in the newly refurbished BusinessFirst cabin and upon check-in he was not allocated a seat. An agent in the United Club told him not to sweat it and to check back later on for a seat assignment (the flight was overbooked by one in business).

His flight departed before mine and about 30 minutes prior to departure, he left the ...

5 Comments Read more

Last Day for 100% Bonus on Shared US Airways Miles

Update: Offer Expired.

US Airways' amazing 100% bonus on miles transferred between accounts ends tonight. If you have US Airways miles and are considering an award redemption next year, this offer could help you reach that goal and save a lot of money in the process.

At least with my family transfers, the miles posted immediately--

Share miles bonus

For a limited time, when you share miles, the recipient will get a 100% bonus – up to 50,000 miles. Just ...

Kuwait City to Istanbul in Turkish Airlines Economy Class


A 3.5hr flight at 2:20a is not all that memorable, but a few observations from Turkish Airlines Economy Class—

1. New Airbus A321 with "real" business class seats

Unlike many of its European counterparts, Turkish is slowly introducing a "real" business class seat on its shorter, narrowbody flights. The seats are not lie-flat, but they are also better than the standard domestic first class seats offered on U.S. carriers. Turkish has such a pot pouri of aircraft interiors ...

Pearl Lounge – Kuwait International Airport


Kuwait is a dry country and there were no exceptions in the Pearl Lounge, upstairs past security and passport control at KWI (an additional security check would occur at the gate). I had not eaten during my jaunt into Kuwait City, but was still full from my large pre-arrival meal on United so I skipped the generous food offerings—primarily Indian it appeared.


What I did find appealing, and perhaps got carried away drinking, was the ...

Six Hours in Kuwait City


With six hours before my next flight, I figured I could see what my Kuwaiti friend once called "the most boring city in the world." It wasn't that bad, but…

Immigration is a breeze for American citizens in Kuwait, but can be a bit confusing. A vending machines dispenses visas to those that need them but no visa is needed for most American visitors. There were no customs/immigration forms distributed on my United Airlines flight from Washington to Kuwait so I first followed the ...

9 Comments Read more

Washington Dulles to Kuwait City in United Airlines BusinessFirst


After being thrown off my flight to Istanbul, settling on a new flight plan to get me to my ultimate destination of Baku was no easy task.  It was late in the day and most flights had already departed. I saw there was a flight to Washington leaving in 30 minutes, a connection to Kuwait City with plenty of business class availability, and then a connection to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines, getting me into Istanbul with some time to spare before my new flight to Baku one day ...

3 Comments Read more

Sorting Meal Orders by Status on United Airlines?

In December 2012, an official e-mail was sent to all United Airlines flight attendants with the following instructions--

Benefits like bonus award miles, upgrades, priority airport services, fee waivers and discounts help us deliver a distinct and memorable level of service to our most frequent business travelers, especially our valued Global Services (GS) and Premier 1K customers. They tell us they appreciate being recognized for the value they bring to United.

8 Comments Read more

US Airways 100% Bonus on Shared Miles is Back!


Last week I highlighted the benefits of US Airways' frequent 100% bonus on purchased miles promotion and predicted it would be back this month. Instead, US Airways has announced an even better promotion! Through October 15, 2013 US Airways is offering a 100% bonus on Dividend Miles transferred from one account to another. For those with miles already, this deal is even more cost-effective.

The promotion works like this: you can transfer up to 50K ...

1 Comment Read more

Why the US Airways Dividend Miles MasterCard is Still Worthwhile


I remain deeply unsatisfied with the indifference US Airways has shown to booking Lufthansa award space I wrote about last week, but US Airways miles remain highly valuable, particularly when compared to partner Star Alliance carriers. For that reason, I still recommend picking up the US Airways Dividend Miles MasterCard before the current 40K offer is pulled--those points just helped me book a massive trip.

My brother and I have wanted to explore Cambodia for some time and ...

10 Comments Read more

United Airlines Comes Through in a Pinch. Again.


It is easy to rag on United Airlines for its many shortcomings, but United once again came through in a pinch over the weekend, leaving me very pleased to be a Premier 1K member and wondering whether I can ever give up this status. 

Last June I had a death in the family that required a next-day flight to Denver. At that time I was determined to divert my business to American Airlines, but United's schedule and price were too convenient to pass up for that particular journey. I ...

5 Comments Read more