Matthewonlive and let's fly

Customer Friendly? United Softens Blow of New Award Chart

United Airlines left a substantial question unanswered before its award chart devaluation yesterday--what changes to awards booked under the old chart will be permitted without having to pay additional miles? Today, it answered the question and also lessened the harshness of the new award chart by relaxing a convoluted rule that would have forced regional partner flights into a lower class of service.

Here's the official word-- 

The updated Saver and Standard Award ...

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Old United MileagePlus Award Chart Extended Through 02 February 2014!

Just got off the phone with United, where an agent read a memo stating that to "ensure a seamless customer experience" the old award chart will remain in effect through 02 February 2014. All travel booked on or after 03 February will incur the new massively devalued rates. 

My guess is that UA's crack IT team could not complete the transition in time. I do not underestimate the difficulty of this re-code and I still have trouble envisioning how the award pricing will be displayed ...

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Last Day to Book Under Old United Airlines Award Chart

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Final call for what has been the overall most attractive award redemption chart in the industry--tomorrow the United Airlines MileagePlus award chart becomes much, much less valuable between nearly all regions.

For more details about the changes, see this post and this one.

Here's just a few frequently asked questions about the devaluation:

If I book today and want to change later will I have to pay the new price?

Yes, if your routing changes. The bigger ...

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Germanwings (4U) Award Space Now Available on United.com

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United Airlines MileagePlus members have been eligible to earn miles on Germanwings, the Lufthansa low-cost-subsidiary since last October, with the promise that Germanwings flights would soon be available for mileage bookings. Now, Germanwings flights are bookable on united.com in both "business" and economy classes.

Germanwings cities served

Germanwings is a low-cost carrier with hubs ...

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The ANA Award Search Tool is Great, but not Perfect

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Even if it can be a bit cumbersome to use, I have found ANA's award search tool to be the single most accurate source of Star Alliance award availability for several years. Singapore Airlines space has been problematic--ANA automatically blocks out premium cabin space on the 777-300ER and A380-800 even if Singapore has made space available on those flights--but other than that blip and the inability to search for space within four days of travel, I have always found all other partners to be ...

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Why I Went to Afghanistan When I Did

Things in Afghanistan are going downhill...to put it lightly.

The latest headline is Taliban Attack on Kabul Restaurant Rattles Close-Knit Expat Community in which we learn:

KABUL—Shock spread through Kabul's close-knit expatriate community after the Taliban killed 21 people, including the International Monetary Fund's mission chief and a senior United Nations official, in a dinnertime attack on a popular restaurant Friday.

With at least 13 ...

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Politicians, Twitter, and United Airlines

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Two former United States Senators have sounded off on Twitter today against United Airlines, including a six-tweet diatribe by former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) regarding a lost first class seat on a flight to the Dominican Republic.

First up, Norm Coleman, a former Republican Senator from Minnesota who lost out to comedian Al Franken in 2008--

Well, why was your flight delayed? Was it due weather or some other reasons like the pilot computer integration ...

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Scavenging for the New United Amenity Kits

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I flew from Washington Dulles to Frankfurt in United BusinessFirst yesterday and was pleased to receive one of the new special edition amenity kits. I was hoping for either the DC or LAX tins and received the DC one, which has a great shot of the U.S. Capitol and National Mall.

It seems that many passengers, however, were not as enamored by the new tins as I was because I managed to collect 10 of them in the rear business cabin alone! Yes, I'm the packrat who scavenged each seat on the way out for amenity kits that were left behind. Now I can add them to my 200 amenity kits gathering dust in a big box in my garage...

But hey, I've now got six of eight cities (I did not see any Denver or Los Angeles tins) and even have a few extras--so stay tuned for an upcoming giveaway.

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The Food I Won't Leave the Country Without!

refried-beans

I am currently 35,000 feet in the air crossing the Atlantic ocean, on my way to Germany for an extended stay. Most of my trips to Germany are short--just one to two weeks in length--but this time I will be staying longer. While I can normally get by a week or two without my comfort food, this time I am coming prepared, with a special "food" bag that contains one of my favorite comfort food items...

Refried beans!

Yes, beans. Good luck finding quality refried beans in Germany ...

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Delta Adds Complimentary Meals on Transcon Flights for Economy Comfort Passengers

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Delta really is marching to the beat of a different drum. After another incredible Skymiles devaluation on Friday, today the carrier announced a new buy-on-board menu on its premium transcon flights between New York Kennedy and Seattle/San Francsico/Los Angeles featuring fresh wraps by Luvo. Further, the carrier announced passengers seated in Economy Comfort class will receive complimentary (cold) meals on these routes.

Here's a snippet of the press release from ...

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Delta Restricts Lounge Access, Will United and AA Follow?

Because gutting the Skymiles program twice without notice just was not enough, Delta Air Lines used this fine Friday to announce a major devaluation of its Sky Club lounge access policy. Oh, you have a guest? That will be $29. Will United Airlines and others follow the trendsetting Delta?

I really dread Fridays these days, as it seems that each week one of the legacies gives us a lump of coal. Christmas never ends!

Here's Delta's rationale--

We hope you're ...

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"Get Mile High" Ad Campaign by Spirit Airlines

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Americans over the age of 21 are now permitted to buy marijuana legally in Colorado for recreational uses. From the airline that took advantage of the U.S. Secret Service prostitution scandal by advertising “More Bang for your Buck” flights to Cartagena, Colombia comes an ad campaign highlighting the new Colorado law. “The no smoking sign is off (in Colorado)...Get Mile High with $10 off your next flight. Fares so low they’re barely legal in some ...

My Day Trip to Washington to be an Escort

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My family and friends know me as the guy who loves to fly, so I get a lot of requests for travel tips and sometimes even more. Like yesterday, where I spent my entire day between consecutive late-night transcon flights lounge hopping at Washington Dulles in order to escort a friend back to LA.

One of my longtime friends recently moved to Washington, DC, embarking on a cross-country road trip with her mother the week before Christmas and finally arriving in Washington last weekend ...

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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)

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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

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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

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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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