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Marriott Rewards has various Travel Packages redemption options where for instance you get a 7 night hotel award + a variable number of airline miles in your chosen airline for a set number of points.

Marriott Rewards Travel Package

In my opinion, this is the best way to use Marriott Rewards points. You get a 7 night hotel award and then can “purchase” airlines miles at ONE Marriott Rewards point per ONE mile with Package 1 airlines. [click to continue…]

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Here are five reader questions from the past week that I have decided to reply to publicly. You can always email me, leave a note or private message on Facebook, or Tweet me with your questions.

Reader Questions January 31 2015

Note that I can shorten the emails and edit them for clarity. I always remove the personal information of both the reader and front line employees. If there are managers involved, I may leave their names intact, however. [click to continue…]

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Star Alliance had launched a Gold Game that testes your knowledge of the alliance by asking five questions. You can win one of the 36 prizes of Star Alliance Gold status in one of the participating programs.

star-alliance-gold-game

This offer is valid for all other current Star Alliance members except TAM that leaves the alliance in March and US Airways that is trying to merge with American Airlines and exits the alliance upon merger completion. [click to continue…]

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Fairmont is offering double airline miles (American Airlines, Air Canada, Cathay Pacific, United & Air China) for stays until April 30, 2013, that are booked using “Everyone’s an Original Winter” offer by January 31, 2013. You can access this offer here.

fairmont-winter-offer

There are some blackout dates that are property specific. The base number of miles (500) is doubled. The doubling of miles doesn’t apply to the elite bonuses. [click to continue…]

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Shenzhen Airlines officially joined Star Alliance on November 29, 2012, at a ceremony that took place at its main base in Shenzhen Airport (SZX). The airlines parent, Air China, was sponsoring the airline’s joining to the alliance.

Shenzhen Airlines
Shenzhen Airlines

Shenzhen Airlines operates a narrow body fleet of more than 100 airplanes and serves domestic and regional airports. According to the press releases, they are planning to order some wide body airplanes and that would imply long-haul flights sometime in the future. The airline was founded in 1992 and started operations in 1993.

shenzhen-airlines-plane

You can already earn and burn on Shenzhen airlines. The earnings rate for United (check your Star Alliance airline’s page for your earning info these are not uniform) frequent fliers are rather low on discounted economy and you don’t earn Premier bonuses on Shenzhen as you do with some other Star Alliance airlines.

shenzhen-airlines-united-mileage-accrual-chart

The award inventory is not available on United.com yet. It is, however, available already on Air Canada’s Aeroplan. So, it should be soon on United and other Star Alliance carriers websites that allow online award bookings too.

Conclusion

It is really difficult to tell any differences between Chinese airlines. I have flown China Eastern and China Southern (both are SkyTeam members), and Air China (Star Alliance member and the parent of Shenzhen). I have yet to fly Shenzhen but for sure will at some point.

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The Hilton’s triple mile offer is valid for their Chinese airline partners as well. Note that Air China & China Eastern offer is valid for stays between November 1 and December 31, 2012. The Hainan offer is valid for stays between October 1 and November 30, 2012. You need to register for airline specific promotion to receive the triple miles or kilometers. You can read more about Double Dipping with Hilton HHonors here.

Please note that the earning structure is different with these three airlines, so I will cover each one of them separate

Hainan Airlines – Fortune Wings Club

hilton-triple-miles-hainan

The Hainan version of this offer is valid from October 1 to November 30, 2012. You can register for this offer here.

Whether you should choose Variable or Fixed miles is dependent of the amount of the folio and the brand you are staying at.

At full service properties (excluding Hampton Inn, Homewood Suites and Home2 Suites), you should choose Variable miles if your eligible folio amount is more than $800. You will get 1 mile per dollar for variable option compared to 800 (2400 when tripled) miles per stay for fixed one.

If your stay is at Hampton Inn or Homewood suites, you should choose variable miles for stays that your eligible folio is more than $160. Fixed miles are capped at 160 (480 when tripled) at these two brands.

Note that the fixed mile option doesn’t exist for Home2 Suite brand. Your only choice is variable miles that are capped at 100 per stay.

Air China – PhoenixMiles

hilton-triple-miles-air-china

The Air China offer is valid for stays between November 1 and December 31, 2012. You can register for this offer here.

Note that Air China doesn’t participate to the Points & Variable Miles Double Dip option. Your only choice is fixed miles.

You will earn 800 miles (triple to 2400) per stay at full service brands. At Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites hotels, the miles earned are fixed at 160 (480 when triple). You won’t earn any miles for stays at Hilton’s Home2 Suites hotels.

China Eastern – Eastern Miles

hilton-triple-china-eastern-miles

The China Eastern triple miles offer is valid for stays between November 1 and December 31, 2012. You need to register for this offer prior to your stay.

For stays at full service properties, you should choose variable miles if your eligible folio is greater than $800. You will earn 1 point per eligible dollar compared to 800 (2400 when tripled) fixed miles.

You will earn fixed 160 miles (480 during the promo) for stays at Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites. Note that you cannot earn variable miles at these two brand.

You cannot earn any miles for stays at Home2 Suite hotels.

Conclusion

You should familiarize yourself with Hilton’s Double Dip options. I have written an article about this option that is somewhat difficult to comprehend.

Here are the terms and conditions of the China Eastern offer:

Offer valid for eligible stays completed between November 1 and December 31, 2012 (“Promotion Period”) at any participating hotel in the Hilton Worldwide portfolio. Hilton HHonors™ members must first register at HHonors.com/ChinaEasternTripleMiles prior to check-out of your stay within the Promotion Period. Registered HHonors members will only receive bonus miles for nights completed during the Promotion Period, regardless of a check-in date before the Promotion Period begins or a check-out date after the Promotion Period ends. To be eligible for this offer, you must (1) be a Hilton HHonors member; (2) be a member of Eastern Miles; (3) register for the promotion on this page; (4) select China Eastern as your preferred Double Dip™ partner. Ensure that you select Points and Variable Miles or Points and Fixed Miles as your Double Dip™ Earning Style within your HHonors profile. A preferred airline must be selected in your HHonors profile.

Please allow six to eight weeks from completion of your stay for miles to appear in your Eastern Miles account. Offer is not transferable, is not valid for groups and cannot be combined with other select offers. Hilton HHonors™ membership, earning of Points & Miles™ and redemption of Points are subject to HHonors Terms and Conditions.

Here are the terms and conditions of the Air China offer:

Offer valid for eligible stays completed between November 1 and December 31, 2012 (“Promotion Period”) at any participating hotel in the Hilton Worldwide portfolio. Hilton HHonors™ members must first register at HHonors.com/AirChinaTripleMiles prior to check-out of your stay within the Promotion Period. Registered HHonors members will only receive bonus miles for nights completed during the Promotion Period, regardless of a check-in date before the Promotion Period begins or a check-out date after the Promotion Period ends. To be eligible for this offer, you must (1) be a Hilton HHonors member; (2) be a member of Phoenix Miles; (3) register for the promotion on this page; (4) select Air China as your preferred Double Dip™ partner.  Ensure that you select Points and Fixed Miles as your Double Dip™ Earning Style within your HHonors profile. A preferred airline must be selected in your HHonors profile. Please allow six to eight weeks from completion of your stay for miles to appear in your Phoenix Miles account. Offer is not transferable, is not valid for groups and cannot be combined with other select offers. Hilton HHonors™ membership, earning of Points & Miles™ and redemption of Points are subject to HHonors Terms and Conditions. All Phoenix Miles program rules apply. To review the rules, please visit Air China. Certain negotiated and group rates are ineligible for participation, for a full listing of excluded rates, please click here.  Reward stays are not eligible for this offer. Other restrictions may apply. Hilton HHonors™ membership, earning of Points & Miles™, and redemption of points are subject to HHonors Terms and Conditions.

Here are the terms and conditions of the Hainan offer:

Offer valid for eligible stays completed between October 1 and November 30, 2012 (“Promotion Period”) at any participating hotel in the Hilton Worldwide portfolio. Hilton HHonors™ members must first register at HHonors.com/HainanTripleMiles prior to check-out of your stay within the Promotion Period. Registered HHonors members will only receive bonus miles for nights completed during the Promotion Period, regardless of a check-in date before the Promotion Period begins or a check-out date after the Promotion Period ends. To be eligible for this offer, you must (1) be both a member of Hilton HHonorsTM and Hainan Airline Fortune Wings Club; (2) select Hainan Airlines as your Double Dip earnings partner in your HHonors Profile, and (4) you must be a HHonors member to earn Points & Miles for hotel stays. Ensure that you select Points and Variable Miles or Points and Fixed Miles as your Double Dip™ Earning Style within your HHonors profile. A preferred airline must be selected in your HHonors profile.

Please allow six to eight weeks from completion of your stay for miles to appear in your Hainan Airlines Fortune Wings Club account. Offer is not transferable, is not valid for groups and cannot be combined with other select offers. Hilton HHonors™ membership, earning of Points & Miles™ and redemption of Points are subject to HHonors Terms and Conditions.

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Marriott Travel Packages are the best way to use Marriott Rewards points IF you need some airlines miles as well. These packages consists of 7 nights stay at a chosen category or tier (Ritz-Carlton & Marriott Vacation Club) hotel and set number of miles at various airline programs. You will also get a 25% coupon for Hertz rental that I have never been able to use as rates that are not discount eligible have always been a better deal.

marriott-travel-packages

The reason why these are such a good deal is that you will get a nice chunk of airline miles in the process. You can collect airline miles on your Marriott stays but it is far better just continue crediting towards Marriott points and take advantage of MegaBonuses. Then, when you have enough points in your account to redeem for a Marriott Travel Package, you just issue one.

Marriott Travel Packages Levels
Marriott Travel Packages Levels

You can essentially “transfer” Marriott Rewards points at 1 to 1 level for airlines like United, US Airways, and British Airways.

Here’s an example of redeeming for cat 1 to 5 travel package + 120K airline miles

If we assume that you would use the 7 nights at category 5 property, it would cost you 25K per night but you would get the 4th night free. The number of points required would be 150K.

marriott-travel-packages-airline-miles-levels

The travel package at category 1 to 5 costs you 270K Marriott Rewards points. If we deduct the point value of the room part (150k), you “transfer” the 120K Marriott Rewards points to 120K airline miles.

Choosing the number of airline miles level

Each of the travel packages has four level for number of airline miles you would earn by redeeming a travel package. I would suggest that you go for the highest level if possible.

Upgrading the hotel category part of the travel package

If you redeem for a category 1 to 5 package and would later want to stay at the category 6 property, you can do this by paying the difference in points that is 30K. You need to call Marriott Rewards customer service and they can do it instantly.

Downgrading the hotel category part of the travel package

I always suggest that you should issue the travel package at the lowest category first if you are not sure how you are going to use it. You can always upgrade it.

But if you issued the package at the higher level that is required for your stay, you can always call the Marriott Rewards customer service and request them to downgrade it and get the difference in points deposited to your account.

Extending the hotel certificate

The hotel certificate that is deposited to your Marriott Rewards account is valid for 12 months after issuance. I have personally, however, been able to extend these more than twice. You need to contact the Marriott Rewards customer service to achieve this. I cannot guarantee that it will work for you, but it has for me.

Unable to use the hotel award

Try extending the award certificate. I have managed to do this few times. If they are not willing to do it, consider giving it away as the number of points you get back is not a lot. If you issued it higher than the lowest category level, downgrade it to the lowest level and get some points back to your account.

If you are not able to use it or give it away, you will get some points back for unused certificate and it is dependent and what mileage level you originally issued it.

Here are some values that you can expect to get back IF you need to redeposit unused hotel certificate from the travel package

Travel package with highest number of miles redeemed:
Cat. 1-5 : 10K points
Cat. 6 : 25K points
Cat. 7 : 40K points

Travel package with lowest number of miles redeemed:
Cat. 1-5 : 40K points
Cat. 6 : 55K points
Cat. 7 : 75K points

When to redeem

Some airlines like US Airways and American Airlines, which used to be a Marriott partner, tend to run promotions once in a while for transfer from hotel programs. They might give you a 35% to 50% bonus for miles transferred in. This is the time to redeem. I redeemed 3 or 4 travel packages when the partnership with American Airlines was ending and AA was offering bonus for points transfers. I made my first Million Miles status with AA with the help of Marriott.

Few of other tips

– You can use the ward certificate for less than 7 nights but you won’t receive any points back. Just do a reservation online for 7 nights and leave early. Otherwise, you can contact the Marriott Rewards and have them to make the reservation for you

– If there is a day in between that is not available for points, you can pay for it in cash. You need to arrange this with the Marriott Rewards customer service i.e. you stay at the hotel for 10 nights and use travel package for nights 1 to 3 and 7 to 10. You can pay for nights 4 to 6.

Marriott Travel Package: Hotel + Air Package 1

marriott-travel-package-1

Note that you will receive 50K, 70K, 100K or 120K miles in any of the participating airlines: Aeromexico, Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, GOL/Varig, Hawaiian Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways or Virgin Atlantic

Marriott Travel Package: Hotel + Air Package 2

marriott-travel-package-2

Note that you will receive 35K, 50K, 70K or 85K miles in any of the participating airlines:

Aeroflot, airberlin, Air China, Air France/KLM, Alitalia, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Avianca-TACA LifeMiles, Cathay Pacific, China Eastern, China Southern, Emirates, Japan Airlines, Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines, LAN, Lufthansa Miles & More, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines  or TAP Air Portugal

Marriott Travel Package: Hotel + Air Package 3

marriott-travel-package-3

This package is reserved entire for Southwest. You will receive 50K, 70K, 100K, or 120K Rapid Reward points that are COMPASSION PASS QUALIFYING. If you redeem the highest package and deposit the points to Southwest, you receive a Southwest Companion Pass for a year.

Marriott Travel Package: Hotel + Air Package 4

marriott-travel-package-4

This package is for JetBlue TruBlue and Virgin America Elevate members. You will receive 25K, 35K, 50K, or 60K points.

Conclusion

IMHO this IS really the best way to use Marriott points IF you prefer getting a lot airline miles along the way. There are some drawbacks to this as well that I listed above and workarounds like extending the certificate for a year.

Here are the short terms and conditions of this award:

To redeem for a Hotel, Air & Car Package reward:
Contact the airline you will use as your carrier.  (You must be a member of their frequent flyer program.)  Inquire about the number of miles needed to travel from departure location to your destination and remember to take into account the number of people traveling in your party.

Once you know the number of miles needed, call
1-800-MARRIOTT to make your hotel reservation.  Make sure to inform the reservation agent that you are using a Travel Package Reward.

After your reservation is confirmed, you can complete the reward order over the phone or order online.

Reward Delivery Information

  1. Hotel certificate will be issued electronically and will be available at the hotel upon check-in.
  2. Airline miles will automatically be sent to your frequent flyer account.Please allow approximately 6 weeks for your miles to be posted to your frequent flyer account or contact your local Marriott Rewards office to inquire about express service (may include a fee).

    Miles will automatically transfer into the frequent flyer mileage account that matches the name on your Marriott Rewards account.  Once processed, airline miles cannot be transferred back to your Marriott Rewards account.

  3. You will receive a paper certificate for your Hertz rental.Please allow 10 business days for US delivery, 4 weeks for delivery outside the US, or contact your local
    Marriott Rewards office to inquire about express service (may include a fee).