web Musings of The Global Traveller

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Travel update

Sorry for the lack of recent blog posts. While I haven't had as much travel lately as normal (blame the need to stay in the country while my passport gets some visas for upcoming trips), I certainly haven't been grounded and have still been busy with travel-related plans.

I managed to rush through ticketing some trips that became "impossible" to ticket after the move to e-ticketing.

Star Alliance has a new member, Egypt Air, and so I have been checking how I can leverage that in an upcoming trip. There normally are some welcome to the alliance type promotions. Since I belong to many frequent flyer programs I can pick the promo that best suits my travel. Check out Flyer Talk's Star Alliance forum for more info.

In the middle of a couple of big trips later in the year, I've planned some side-trips to places I haven't been before and perhaps not so easy to get to. 2 of these are now ticketed and I have 2 more to sort out.

The Qantas frequent flyer program finally launched their response to Virgin Blue and Air New Zealand's any seat redemptions. My analysis is it is a pale imitation - awards are more expensive (some simple round trips are well over a million posts!) and yet Qantas will not allow any seat redemptions on the cheapest fares. The ability to flex the any seat award cost between points and $ is interesting, but worthless given the ridiculously poor value assigned to a point. There is also concern that less regular awards will be made available. Conclusion - the changes are good for small business owners who earn vast amounts of points from credit card spend and a yawn for everyone else.

A number of schedule changes have been made with varying impacts on my upcoming itineraries. The worst will have me spend 2+ hours in the middle of the night waiting for transfers to open up (the alternative was spending 3 hours landside with no amenities).

After a long absence I had some more domestic travel - by air and by train. I appreciated that the lounge staff (3 different cities for 2 airlines) had noticed my absence!

I've had to chase up several flights that have not been credited from earlier trips. The amount that failed to credit automatically added up to almost 100,000 miles so worth my spending some time following up.

I have decided (I think) to switch my hotel loyalty. I've been with Hilton a few years mostly as Diamond (and a couple of years as Gold). However the issues I had earlier in the year (see here for example), plus problems getting my earned status recognised, a total absence of promotions and terrible room rates at the hotels I usually stay at frequently; means it is no longer worth it to me. I still have to figure out how best to cash in my points while I still have some status (thus better award availability). In the meantime I requalified for Priority Club Gold in just 2 1-night stays and by my calculations should reach Platinum with another 3 or 4 nights, thanks to some decent promos.

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