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I have never seen so many different airline related bonus promotions that Hilton would have run simultaneously. You cannot find any of these listed on Hilton.com as they were targeted to various frequent flier groups. These promotions are, however, open to anyone.

My personal favorite that I will take advantage of is the Hilton’s promotion with Virgin Atlantic. I won’t have that many stays with Hilton this quarter so 15K VS points that I will transfer along with the base miles to Hilton for 40K HH for 5 stays.

hilton-hhonors-virgin-atlantic-4th-quarter-offer

Hilton HHonors Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Bonus Offer – 15K Bonus Miles for 5 Stays

Here’s list of Hilton’s airline related bonus offer for the 4th quarter of 2012.

You can get bonus miles or points for American Airlines, JetBlue, United, US Airways or Virgin America for stays at Waldorf Astoria hotels. The bonus is based on nights and expire on December 31, 2012.

Waldorf Astoria: Nightly Bonus Miles & Points for American, JetBlue, United, US Airways and Virgin America

Conrad hotels are offering 1000 bonus miles per night for American Airways, United Airlines, and US Airways frequent fliers. Offer is valid until December 31, 2012.

Conrad Hotels: 1000 American, United, or US Airways Bonus Miles per Night

You can earn 250 Delta MQM’s and double SkyMiles for stays of 2 nights or longer between October 1 and December 15, 2012.

250 Delta MQM’s and Double Miles for Stays of 2 Nights or Longer at Select Hilton Family of Hotels

Hilton is offering double airline miles for American, Aeromexico, AviancaTaca, MultiPlus(TAM) and United on select hotels in Latin America until December 31, 2012.

Double American Airlines, AviancaTaca, AeroMexico, TAM/Multiplus & United Airlines Miles in the Americas on Hilton Family of Hotels

Hilton is offering maximum of 15K bonus Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles for 5 stays. You can always transfer the bonus + base miles back to Hilton HHonors for total of 40K HH points. This promotion is valid until December 31, 2012

Hilton HHonors Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Bonus Offer – 15K Bonus Miles for 5 Stays

Hilton has a promotion with Miles & More (Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian etc) for up to quadruple miles until December 31, 2012.

Hilton HHonors Miles & More Promotion for Up To Quadruple Miles

You can earn 4000 bonus Emirates Skywards miles on your second stay. This offer is valid until December 31, 2012.

Hilton HHonors Emirates Skywards Promotion – 4000 Bonus Miles on Your Second Stay

You can earn 3000 Virgin Australia Velocity points per stay until October 31, 2012.

3000 Virgin Australia Velocity Points for Hilton Stays

Double Air Canada Aaeroplan miles until the end of 2012.

Hilton HHonors Aeroplan Offer: Double Miles Until December 31

Double Qantas points (2000) for Hilton stays between November 1 and December 31, 2012.

Double Qantas Points (2000) at Hilton Properties Worldwide

Conclusion

Hilton has numerous airline related promotions this quarter. You have to choose carefully the one that gives out the best return. In my personal case, it is the Hilton’s promotion with Virgin Atlantic. I will later transfer the points back to Hilton.

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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).

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Miles and More is not just Lufthansa’s frequent flier program, but includes the Lufthansa group of airlines (Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian and Brussels) and couple of smaller European Star Alliance carriers like LOT.

lufthansa-mileage-and-more-mileage-bargains-discover

Miles and More has extensive list of Mileage Bargains from number of European and international destinations. The booking and travel dates are sometimes quite limited, but if you can take advantage of these offers you can easily save close to 50% of the number of miles required.

It probably doesn’t make any sense to book economy awards using Miles and More miles because Lufthansa charges very extensive fuel surcharges on international awards. Sometimes these fuel surcharges can be more than a paid ticket on the same flights. Doesn’t make much sense, but does happen.

lufthansa-miles-and-more-bargains-usa

Here’s an example of taxes/fees for a business class ticket from Atlanta to Berlin. The real taxes are about $200 and the Lufthansa “junk” fuel surcharge is $806.

lufthansa-miles-and-more-bargains-usa-yq

Mileage Bargains ain’t a bargain fee wise, but used correctly can save you a lot of money over business class tickets. Just don’t book economy.

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Tomorrow April 18th is the last day to use BMI Diamond Club miles on awards that include Lufthansa, Swiss, Brussels Airlines & Austrian. You cannot change existing awards that include any of these four airlines after 18th of April either.

At this point, it is still unclear what the situation with other Star Alliance carriers is. I posted couple of days ago that it might be likely that redeeming miles on other Star partners would continue until May 31st, 2012. To be on the safe side, however, I will call in three/four redemptions later today.

The following information was distributed to BMI employees according to a post on FT:

bmi will leave star alliance in two stages.

First stage (legal exit) effective from 17th April 2012.

Second stage (customer benefit end date) effective 31st May 2012. This will include, but will not be limited to, the following changes:

– End of Star Alliance mileage accrual on bmi operated flights.

– bmi DC members will no longer accrue mileage on Star Alliance operated flights.

– Priority reservation, waitlist and standby will cease for Star Alliance customers on bmi and vice versa.

– Priority Check-in, boarding, baggage delivery will cease for Star Alliance customers on bmi and vice versa.

– Additional baggage allowance will cease for Star Alliance customers on bmi and vice versa.

– Lounge access will cease for qualifying Star Alliance customers on bmi and vice versa.

The marketing and product development teams are currently outlining the new customer offering and will let you know the new bmi (non-aligned) product discription in the forthcomining weeks. Please note that bmi will be a non-aligned carrier as it will not join One World.

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In the next few days I am posting reviews of couple of properties in Maldives that I visited this past August/September. Getting to Maldives in style without breaking the bank is bit of a challenge due to not many alliance carriers serving the destination.

In July I was going to be in Morocco and was heading to Bangkok for some time before continuing to my final destination Malé. I have miles and points in various programs. For somewhat complicated itinerary like this, I have learned BMI Diamond Club miles to work best, as they allow oneway redemptions with a stopover. [click to continue...]