Travel

Case Study: Earning Miles For Specific Trips

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In my regular life I work as a high school math teacher. My coworker Daniela is… wait for it… also a math teacher.

This of course means that we have the same vacation schedule; but whereas I like to use my points and miles knowledge to fly business class to whatever interesting place happens to have good award availability, Daniela tends to buy British Airways economy tickets to Prague to visit her parents.

So, you know, basically the same, except she pays more and her flights are not quite as comfortable. As an example of how miles and points can improve all kinds of travel, let’s look at changing that.

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Some New York City Ubers Will Soon Have Video Ads

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Ubers will soon be like taxis in another way, at least in New York City. The New York Post reports that over the coming weeks, about 3,500 Uber and Lyft black cars in New York City will install video screens with ads on them. This is similar to what you’ll find in many New York City taxis, though unlike in taxis, you won’t be able to mute these. Instead the New York City video-ad screens can only be “near” muted and “near” dark. In the future they may add the option to turn off the screens, depending on how users respond.

This is being done by ad company Vugo. Contracts are already signed, and they’re looking for even more drivers. This is being done as Uber and Lyft drivers complain about making less money. Apparently these screens will allow them to earn an additional $100-200 per month, with the potential for that to go up in the future.

The Taxi & Limousine Commission blocked for-hire vehicles from installing these screens back in 2011 (presumably in hopes of not making it lucrative for people to drive for these companies), though Vugo sued, and a federal court judge finally ruled last month that they can’t prohibit this technology.

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British Airways’ Heathrow-Based 777s Will Get Tighter Economy Seats Next Year

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A few days ago I wrote about how British Airways is introducing new high density Boeing 777s at their London Gatwick base. Many of British Airways’ leisure routes are operated out of Gatwick, so the airline is trying to compete more effectively with airlines like Norwegian.

With these reconfigurations, British Airways is increasing seating capacity on their 777-200s from 280 seats to 336, which represents an increase in capacity of 56 seats. The layout is changing as follows:

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Lufthansa Is Introducing (Optional) Buy On Board Meals In Economy

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In 2016, Swiss introduced buy on board food in economy on longhaul flights. This didn’t come at the expense of their complimentary meals, but rather they recognized that some people are willing to pay extra for a better meal in economy, rather than being served something that looks like a Lean Cuisine dish that just came out of the microwave. The dishes were shockingly expensive, though, and ranged from 29-49CHF (~31-52USD — ouch!).

Swiss is part of the Lufthansa Group, so it’s not unusual for them to try an initiative on one of their airlines, and then later expand it. This concept is now being expanded to Lufthansa flights.

Starting in the summer of 2018, Lufthansa economy and premium economy passengers traveling on longhaul flights will be able to purchase one of seven “a la carte” dishes.

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LOVE: JetBlue DOT Filing Details United’s Hypocrisy

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Airlines write letters to the US Department of Transportation over all kinds of things. Sometimes they’re dozens of pages long, so you’d think they’d be super boring. Nope. As it turns out, airline lawyers are often extremely entertaining characters who love to throw shade at their competitors, and that often comes through in these letters.

I just came across a letter from JetBlue to the DOT that’s one of the most amusing things I’ve read in a long time. This. Is. Epic. First let’s talk a bit about the backstory here.

At the beginning of February I wrote about how Air China intends to launch a new flight between Houston, Texas, and Panama City, Panama. Air China already flies from Beijing to Houston, so they’d simply add on a fifth freedom flight from Houston to Panama City, and presumably would adjust the schedule of their existing flight by a bit.

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Surprising: Icelandair Is Eliminating Economy Comfort

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Icelandair just made an announcement that certainly bucks the industry trend. Generally we’re seeing more and more airlines introduce premium economy. This is only natural as the size of economy seats continues to shrink, while the size of business class seats continues to increase. There’s a market for people who are willing to pay a bit extra, but don’t quite want to pay for business class.

Up until now, Icelandair has been offering three classes of service — Economy, Economy Comfort (premium economy), and Saga Class (business class). Icelandair has just announced that they’ll be eliminating their Economy Comfort cabin. The great news is that those who paid for Economy Comfort for travel after it’s eliminated will be upgraded to Saga Class, which is awesome. Wandering Aramean notes that the airline sent the following note to travel agents:

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Virgin Atlantic Introducing Basic Economy & Bundled Extra Legroom Economy

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Virgin Atlantic has just announced some changes to their economy experience. Essentially Virgin Atlantic is aligning their products with Delta, given that Delta owns a stake in Virgin Atlantic and also has a transatlantic joint venture with them. Delta introduced basic economy fares on select transatlantic flights last December, so it’s only logical that Virgin Atlantic will follow their lead. That’s not the only area in which they’re aligning their product, though, as Virgin Atlantic is also introducing a bundled option that includes extra legroom economy seating.

Virgin Atlantic is brilliant at marketing, so as you’d expect, they’re not just calling this “basic economy” and “extra legroom economy,” but rather they’re marketing it differently. Virgin Atlantic is claiming that they’re “unveiling three new ways to fly,” which is perhaps a bit of a stretch. The names of the three “experiences” are “Economy Delight,” “Economy Classic,” and “Economy Light.” They’ll debut in spring 2018.

What should you expect from each of these?

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Great Air Canada Business Class Fares From The US To India

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Per The Flight Deal, at the moment Air Canada has some solid business class fares between the US and India. These aren’t the best fares in the history of the world, though they are very good, especially when you consider that Air Canada offers a good business class experience.

These fares are valid both to Delhi and Mumbai. There are good fares available out of many US markets, though here are some of the best:

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I’ve Failed My Dad When It Comes To Credit Cards

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I’m responsible for the miles & points strategy for my family, just as I’m sure that many of you are responsible for this with your families. Does someone need help redeeming miles? They call me. Does someone have a question about which credit card to use? They call me.

I appreciate that they do this, because I get extremely annoyed when they do things on their own, say “I didn’t want to bother you,” and then redeem miles sub-optimally. However, at times it can be a lot of work to make sure that your family and friends are “on track” when it comes to points, and over the years I’ve also realized that I need to be proactive in making sure they’re doing the right things.

One of the biggest challenges in helping my parents maximize points is finding that happy middle ground between maximizing points on every purchase while keeping the strategy simple. I have no problem using a dozen different cards to maximize my spend in every category, but I also recognize that for others there’s value in a simple strategy.

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