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Hyatt has teamed up with number of airlines; Air China, Air France-KLM, ANA, American Airlines, British Airways, China Eastern, Delta Air Lines, Etihad, Lufthansa, Qatar, Southwest, and United to offer up to five times the miles or points.

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This promotion starts on May 1st and end of August 30th, 2012. You will receive the normal number of miles or points for the first stay, triple bonus for stays 2 and 3, and quadruple miles or points for the stays 4 to 11.

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Please note that this promotion is NOT based on nights but rather on stays. You will receive the same number of miles or points regardless how many nights you stay. The promotion is capped at 11 stays.

The cumulative maximum number of points that you would earn by having 11 stays on Air China’s and China Eastern’s programs would be 39200. By crediting 11 stays to Southwest’s Rapid Rewards would earn you 29400 points. In all other programs the cumulative number of points after 11 stays would be the grand total of 24500 miles/points.

This promotion quite frankly works for me. Most of my stays are for one night. Getting 2500 miles for a one night stay is a rather good deal. Maybe I will finally set my foot to Hyatt property this year.

Air China – Phoenix Miles

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Air France-KLM Flying Blue

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ANA Mileage Club

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American Airlines AAdvantage

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British Airways Executive Club

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China Eastern

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Delta Air Lines SkyMiles

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Etihad Guest

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Lufthansa Miles & More

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Qatar Airways – Privilege Club

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Southwest Airlines – Rapid Rewards

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United Airlines – Mileage Plus

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Here are the promotional terms and conditions of the United offer, but they are basically identical for each of these airlines.

More stays means 5X more miles and even more rewards

ELIGIBILITY: To be eligible to participate in the Hyatt Summer Airline Promotion (“Promotion”), you must be a member of Hyatt Gold Passport and a member of United MileagePlus.

HOW TO REGISTER: Between April 1, 2012 and August 31, 2012 (“Promotion Period”), you can register for Promotion via hyatt.com/UNITEDSUM12A or by calling 1-800-228-3360 and requesting enrollment code UA12S. You must register in advance for stays to qualify. Stays completed before registration are not eligible. You only need to register once.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE: After registering for the Promotion, complete two (2) or more stays at any participating Park Hyatt®, Andaz®, Grand Hyatt®, Hyatt Regency®, Hyatt®, Hyatt Place® , Hyatt House™ or Hyatt Residence Club™ hotel and resort worldwide between May 1, 2012 and August 31, 2012 (“Stay Period”) and request United MileagePlus miles for each Eligible Stay. You must provide your United MileagePlus member number at check-in for each Eligible Stay. For each Eligible Stay during the Stay Period, you will earn the award miles as summarized in the chart below. A Eligible Stay is a stay at a participating hotel during the Stay Period with at least one (1) Eligible Night during the stay and request United MileagePlus miles for each stay. For the purpose of this Promotion, an “Eligible Night” is defined as one (1) night at any participating hotel or resort at an Eligible Rate when choosing United MileagePlus miles as the method of loyalty reward upon check-in at a participating Hyatt property and paying an Eligible Rate (as defined below). Award nights do not constitute an Eligible Night. Hyatt Gold Passport members will only receive eligible night credit for the room they physically occupy, regardless of the number of paid rooms. Only stays that occur after registration for Promotion will be counted as Eligible Stays.

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American Airlines has now made awards on British Airways and Hawaiian Airlines bookable on AA.com. If you search for itineraries, results including these two airlines and Alaska Airlines will automatically show up among American Airlines’ own flights.

Note that there are sometimes glitches on award pricing on AA.com as I documented recently. On the following example the return 5K is priced correctly due to HNL being a stopover. On the way to JNB, however, I don’t think that there should be 5K charge for the feeder flight.

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The real shocker is the fuel surcharges on flights involving BA. AA lumps these to taxes and surcharges and doesn’t itemize them. If you click few times around AA further explains about “carrier imposed surcharges”. On my example above the BA “imposed” fuel surcharges are about $1400.

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It is easy to find the real taxes associated with the itinerary. As I was only interested about the BA fuel surcharges, I constructed an itinerary using ITA to find out the actual fuel surcharges on the four BA flights.

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Constructing an itinerary like the one above was fairly easy. You just plug in the origin and destination and AA will display the flights that it can find. You can then choose the ones that suit you best, if there are multiple options.

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This ability to book increasing number of partners on AA.com without having to talk to the reservations, is a welcomed feature. I hope that they would get other partners online as soon as possible as well.

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The deal between the Lufthansa and IAG, the parent of British Airways and Iberia, closed yesterday. Today is the first day that the British Airways is in control of the BMI and the following announcement about the future of the BMI’s Diamond was just emailed:

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Based on the previous announcements made by Lufthansa, BMI, and Asiana, I already predicted earlier that the Star Alliance status & ability to earn and burn on Star Alliance carriers (excluding Lufthansa group of airlines) would stay in place until the end of May. This was the case.

The new twist was the instant equivalent status in BA’s Executive Club for BMI Diamond Club members, and the ability to transfer Diamond Club miles and Avios points between accounts starting from July.

Also, the partnership with other airlines including Virgin Atlactic, BA’s bitter rival, will stay in place for now.

I would encourage everybody to take advantage of status match opportunity from SAS.

BMI has a very useful timeline on their website:

bmi-timeline

Overall, I think that this is an amicable solutions for winding BMI Diamond Club down. BA matches status and you can freely transfer your Diamond Club miles to Avios. Eventually BMI Diamond Club will cease to exists and merges to Executive Club.

Here are Frequenty asked questions: [click to continue…]

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I am currently here in Kuala Lumpur, but will make my way to Europe next week after few days in Shanghai. I will land in Rome where I will spend few days, and then need to make my way to Stockholm from where I have unused business class return to Dubai via Addis Ababa on Ethiopian. To make things more complicated, I need to briefly visit Finland for few hours somewhere between.

For the past couple of months I have been reading customer service and other service failure horror stories about United on FlyerTalk. It is understandable that some things can and probably will go wrong when you are merging two large airlines like United and Continental. I have been mostly shielded of this wreckage as I have been traveling mainly in Europe, Asia, and Australia for the past six months, and haven’t set my foot on any of the US carriers for a while.

My status will most likely drop from Premier 1K to Platinum or Gold with United next year. It cannot go below Gold due to me having more than a million flight miles on the United’s program. I have the same situation with American where I have a lifetime Platinum status due to 2.7 million miles that I have collected.

So my goal today was to book FCO-XXX-HEL-ARN on Star Alliance using United Mileage Plus miles from my account. This award should cost 12.5K miles in economy. American also offers similar awards for intra-Europe travel, and the cost for oneway is 10K AA miles.

So, using KVS Tool I identified the flights on Lufthansa FCO-MUC-HEL and on Blue1 HEL-ARN that had award availability in economy.

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For some reason Continental.com DBA United.com was not able to price it correctly. It was able to price the transfers correctly tax wise, but was requiring double the number of miles than it should have.

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I dialed the ATT USA Direct access number here in Malaysia (free) and inputted the number for the 1K desk. This way I don’t have to pay for the call at all. The call was promptly answered, but for some reason I was immediately transferred to some award rewards phone tree. Second time the same thing. This time, however, I waited for few minutes and listened to the music before hanging up. Apparently some agents are not keen working on award reservations. But, I have zero patience working with United’s outsourced call center workers in Manila or India. It is like banging your head against the wall.

Third time I got an agent that was willing to do an award reservation, but appeared to be challenged when it came to Star Alliance member airlines and transfers vs stopovers.

1. According to the agent Blue1 is not affiliated with United or Star Alliance and they cannot book them. I pointed out the that airline is listed as a Star Alliance carrier on United.com and maybe she should check her info.

united-airlines-star-logos

2. Agent was referring a transfer of less than 24 hours as a stopover, which is incorrect. She was probably confused with domestic US transfer/stopover rules versus international ones.

3. Supervisor refused to ticket it because of the “stopover” and not a valid route. There is a valid MPM based YY fare that has an MPM of 1477. FCO-MUC-HEL-ARN is 1681. This is within MPM + 15. On paid itineraries you can exceed the MPM up to 25% by paying extra.

Overall, it was just a miserable experience with United’s supposedly 1K desk. Was transferred twice and the third agent was obviously very confused. I still have few tricks on my sleeves to get this itinerary ticketed.

Now that I had already wasted about an hour of my time and made three fruitless phone calls, I Decided to have a look at Finnair options using my American Airlines AAdvantage miles. Although I am a Finn, I really prefer flying on Lufthansa, especially if I end up in economy. Last time I flew on Finnair, maybe five years ago, was from Berlin to Helsinki in business class.

As is the case with United, I always want to know the award availability and my preferred routing before I call AA, although I have find it far more pleasant to deal with award reservations with AA than United.

Tried to use my British Airways Executive Club account first to identify Finnair award availability on the route.

The BA’s engine wouldn’t show Finnair availability on the Rome to Helsinki route as they fly it on themselves as well, although it would be quite a detour. Also the number of required miles would be 30K BA & 100+ euros in fuel surcharges etc.

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But because British doesn’t fly Helsinki to Stockholm, you can pull up both the economy and business class availability on that route using BA.com.

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ExpertFlyer does show Finnair’s award availability for economy, but won’t for business. It was easy to identify that I would get from Rome to Stockholm in Economy via Helsinki. Couple of hours would be enough, but I would prefer an overnight transfer.

expertflyer-finnair-fco-hel-arn

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Unfortunately at the moment Finnair doesn’t have any economy award availability on Friday 27th from Helsinki to Stockholm. They do have business availability on quite a few flights, however. I made an ExpertFlyer alert for all the Friday flights that I could take, to alert me when there is availability on the X-class (the fare class that economy awards book into).

ef-hel-arn-0427

I haven’t received my new Platinum AAdvantage card so decided to call the Executive Platinum number for free using the ATT USA Direct Service, the same service that United also uses. Lady who picked up my call transferred it to the “Platinum” desk. The gentleman was able to book the Finnair flights that I had identified to have economy availability and put in on hold for me. The call to AA took 337 seconds. I got the record locator and was able to easily pull up the itinerary on AA.com. The taxes were $57.90 and the number of miles required 10000.

aa-fco-hel-arn-hold_0

Conclusion

It makes sense to participate to number of programs. Although I far prefer Star Alliance over Oneworld, sometimes the Oneworld carrier is a better option. Also, dealing with United can be very problematic and time consuming as I again found out today. Not sure where they find all these surly people to man their 1K desk?

I am almost certain that I will get my preferred itinerary booked using Lufthansa and SAS, but it will take few phone calls.

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Earlier today, I posted a screenshot from Lufthansa’s Miles & More web page that indicated that BMI’s cooperation with Lufthansa would end effective April 19th, 2012. This is the case. The earlier information about the status benefits on BMI flights was wrong, however. Star Alliance status related benefits on BMI flights will be valid until May 31st, 2012.

lufthansa-mm-bmi

The last day to earn and burn Diamond Club miles will end on Lufthansa affiliated airlines (Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, and Brussels Airlines) on April 18th, 2012. This is also the last date to earn and redeem miles on Miles & More program on BMI operated flights.

bmi-keeping-you-informed

Last week, Asiana posted an announcement on their web page about BMI’s removal of Star Alliance. According to the rough translation from Korean, the earning of redeemable and status miles on Asiana’s program on BMI operated flights would end on May 31st, 2012. That would also be the last day to redeem miles from Asiana’s program for BMI operated flights.

asiana-bmi-announcement

It has not been officially announced when the BMI will leave the Star Alliance. It is unlikely that they could announce on April 18th that the last day for redeeming miles and get status benefits on Star Alliance would be April 18th, 2012. But then, who knows exactly what is going to happen.

It is possible and I think likely, based on the announcements that Asiana  & Lufthansa have made, that the earning and burning miles on other Star Alliance carriers besides the Lufthansa group would continue until May 31st, 2012. Certainly, I would hope so.

Anyway, I am going to try getting in few redemptions before the end of the week. Those phone lines at the Diamond Club must be very busy this week.

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There has been lot of confusion about when is the exact date that BMI’s Diamond Club will exit from the Star Alliance. EU recently approved the Lufthansa’s sale of BMI to IAG, the parent of British Airways and Iberia. The expected date for this deal to be finalized was around 20th of April.

bmi-lufthansa

Last week BMI posted on their Facebook page that they intent to start withdrawing from Star Alliance upon completion of the above mentioned deal. Today, however, Lufthansa briefly posted the above announcement on their webpage. It was then removed, but you can still access through Google’s cache.

I would be prepared to have all the Diamond Club miles used by 19th of April, if you are planning to use them on Star Alliance. It does start to look as if the BMI’s Diamond Club WILL exit from the Star Alliance on 19th of April. The last date to use Diamond Club miles on Star Alliance carriers would thus be April 18th. You can ticket as far as there is availability and the award will be honored by the carriers. It is very unlikely that you can do any changes to awards after the exit from Star Alliance besides getting a refund of miles and taxes.

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The latest Hilton HHonors promotion for double points or miles is valid until the end of June. If you are interested only about Hilton HHonors points, it makes sense to consider crediting stays to Virgin Atlantic and here’s why. With Virgin Atlantic you get 1000 miles per stay for Hilton, Conrad, DoubleTree, Embassy Suite, Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton Grand Vacations and The Waldorf Astoria hotels. Crediting Hampton Inn, Homewood Suites or Home2 Suites to Virgin Atlantic doesn’t make any sense due to lower number of fixed miles earner. I would credit these latter three brands to BMI’s Diamond Club.

hilton-hhonors-double-points-2nd-q-2012

Here’s the beauty of Virgin Atlantic’s program. You can transfer Flying Club points to Hilton HHonors points at a ratio of 2 Hilton HHonors points for 1 Flying Club miles. The minimum transaction is 10000 Flying Club points. Alternatively, you can use the miles to book Virgin America flights.

hilton-brands

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So, a night stay at any of the full earning properties would earn you 2000 Virgin Atlantic miles that would turn into 4000 Hilton HHonors points. This is better than double base points, if your folio amount is $300 or so, as you forego some points when you choose double dip option. This only applies to fixed mile option.

hilton-double-bmi-ba

If you are really looking for Avios points out of Hilton, it makes sense to choose BMI as the partner airline. You will earn more than double the number of Diamond Club miles per stay compared to BA’s Avios at minimum. Also, you will earn 1000 BMI miles per DAY up to three days. You earn the same number of BA Avios regardless how many days you stay. British Airways’ parent is in the process of finalizing the deal with Lufthansa to buy BMI. The deal should close later this month. The Diamond Club miles will turn into Avios in not so distant future.

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The saga involving BMI has been now going on for months if not for years. Back in December Lufthansa and IAG agreed about the sale, but it had to be approved by the European Union Competition Authority due to British Airways’ dominance (53% off the landing slots) at the London Heathrow airport.

bmi-logos

Now, the deal is expected to close around April 20th. It is unclear at this point whether the BMI will exit from the Star Alliance on that the day as well. The announcement is unclear. If you have BMI Diamond Club miles left and would like to use them for Star Alliance flights, it would be wise to start booking them now.

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It is really sad to see the Diamond Club being swallowed by British Airways’ Executive Club, and my Diamond Club miles turned to Avios points. Although I have flown quite a bit on Oneworld alliance, the Star Alliance has served me better due to the number of airlines and destinations served.

I have loved the flexibility that Diamond Club has given me when redeeming miles. I have done numerous trips in business and first class that wouldn’t have been possible using other frequent traveler programs. I have never considered my BMI award tickets to be “free”, but rather highly discounted business or first class ones due to high taxes and YQ’s.

Now, it is time to get the last BMI Diamond Club award redemptions in. Just did two last night. Still have more than 200K BD DC to play with.

RIP British Midland International & Diamond Club. You will be missed.  (Not so your Indian call center for award tickets that has probably shortened my life by few years)

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To celebrate the newest member of the alliance not only are Airberlin Topbonus members getting double miles on Oneworld alliance flights, but also all Oneworld carriers are offering double miles for Airberlin flights.

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Oneworld made an announcement about this:

Members of American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN Airlines, Qantas, Royal Jordanian and S7’s frequent flyer programmes will earn double the normal mileage awards when flying on eligible airberlin flights from today until 15 May 2012.

Now here’s the tricky part. Some of the airlines require you to register for this double miles promotion and some do not. I went just through all the websites to find more information.

American Airlines AAdvantage: You need to register to get double miles credited for Airberlin flights. You can do it here.

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British Airways: No need to register to get double miles. You can find more info about this partnership here.

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Cathay Pacific: You need to register for this promotion to get double Asiamiles. You can do it here.

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Finnair: No information about the Airberlin offer on Finnair.com. There is only generic webpage dedicated to Airberlin that you can access here.

Iberia: No registration required. You can find more information here.

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Japan Airlines: Registration is required. You can do it here.

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LAN: Unfortunately there is no information available. Airberlin’s logo is visible on the Oneworld section, but then entirely missing on the earning of miles side that you can access here.

Qantas: Registration is required. You can do it here.

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Royal Jordanian: No info about Airberlin found.

S7 (Siberian Airlines): Page dedicated to Airberlin, but no info about double miles offer.

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Hilton is running numerous airline related bonuses until the end of March. You can find the other airlines from my February hotel promotions master thread. Today British Airways included the following offer with their Executive Club February update. You can also combine this offer with other Hilton points based promotions.

hilton-hhonors-avios-campaign

To participate, you must register at http://www.hiltonhhonors.com/aviosba. Offer is valid for eligible stays completed after registration, at participating hotels between January 1 2012 and March 31 2012. HHonors members choosing Fixed miles award will earn 750 Avios per stay, plus 1,500 bonus Avios per stay. HHonors members choosing Variable Miles award, will earn one Avios per one USD spent, plus two bonus Avios per one USD spent. Customers must be an HHonors member to earn bonus miles. For Hampton Inn, Homewood Suites and Home2 Suites under fixed miles award, 200 bonus Avios will be offered per stay. For Home2 Suites under variable miles award, up to 100 Avios will be offered per stay. Hilton HHonors members must have their earning preference set to ‘Points & Miles’ and must have British Airways as the preferred airline partner. Avios accrued and awards issued are subject to BA Exec Club Terms and Conditions. Hilton HHonors membership, earning of Points & Miles, and redemption of points are subject to HHonors Terms and Conditions. Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer or promotion.

Not sure if Hilton has made a typo here. They are claiming to offer 750 Avios based points for fixed miles earners, but if you look at the earnings chart it is actually only 500 Avios points. I have requested clarification from Hilton for this. It seems to be clear, however, based on the Terms and conditions that the bonus amount is 1500 Avios points.

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Please note that for Hampton, Homewood Suites and Home2 Suites the earnings structure is lower. The bonus is only 200 Avios per stay.

hilton-triple-aviosThis offer is valid for variable miles/points collectors as well. Hilton will triple the number of Avios earned for all other brands than the Home2 Suites. You need to register for this offer prior to your stay and choose the British Airways as your fixed/variable miles partner.

It might make more sense to credit stays longer than two days and/or lower earnings Hilton brands to BMI. You could get 1000 BMI Diamond Club miles per night up to three nights. British Airways is in the process of buying BMI, and Diamond Club will most likely merge with British Airways’ Executive Club turning BMI miles into Avios.

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Last week I wrote about the promotion that Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan was having for their newest partner Emirates starting March 1stdouble redeemable miles, and then there was the big news of ditching the prayer cards from first class (finally).

Alaska Airline is alliance independent, which is rather rare these days. The airline has an agreement with number of airlines i.e. American, Delta, British, KLM, LAN, Air France, and Emirates where crediting Alaska’s Mileage Plan will not only earn you redeemable miles but also elite qualifying miles as well. You can redeem miles on these partners as well (Emirates starting later point this year), but the only drawback is that you cannot mix and match carriers to have multi carrier itineraries. You can have Alaska feeder flights for partner awards though. There are airline partners that only earn redeemable miles as well

alaska-airlines-partners

Alaska Airlines was thought of changing the accrual elite qualifying miles so that the class of service bonus for business and first class wouldn’t count. This, however, turned out to be just a glitch on their website over the weekend that has now been corrected.

Why would I care? I have 32707 miles coming in Emirates paid first class travel starting in the beginning of March (Emirates had a great business and first class sale back in January). I haven’t made up my mind where I should credit these flights. Had a few EK F flights the other year that made me Gold in their program, then I was demoted silver, and finally I will be base level member before these flights will take place. Quite frankly the EK Gold status is fairly useless if you are flying in paid business or first class. It does have some benefits especially for those flights in economy like business class check in, lounge access, extra luggage allowance, more miles etc.

These Emirates flights alone would give me 49K elite qualifying miles on Alaska’s Mileage Plan. Due to the double miles promotion and Mileage Plan Gold status (I could get status match based on my United status) redeemable miles bonus, which also applies to partners, the number of miles earned from these two tickets would be around 115K. It would be a nice enough number for partner redemption in business class

There are some nice status benefits for Alaska’s elites on Delta and American:

Priority Boarding on Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta Air Lines

Checked Baggage Fee Waiver for first two bags on Alaska Airlines and American Airlines, and for the first checked bag on Delta Air Lines for MVP® member and persons traveling in the same reservation. Companion waiver does not apply to group bookings

Priority AAccess™ Check-In and Security Lines at select airports when traveling on American Airlines

Preferred Seating on Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta Air Lines

If I would credit another 41K on Alaska’s plan, it would not only make me Alaska’s MVP Gold 75K but also give a bonus of 50K redeemable miles. The benefits on AA wouldn’t matter for me personally as I made the lifetime Platinum status with that program the other year.

Not sure where I should credit these Emirates flights? The Emirate’s Skyward miles are not that useful for anything else than upgrades from economy to business, or from business to first. The proposition of crediting to Alaska’s Mileage Plan is tempting because I value their miles more, and I would be close to making the Gold status on these couple of tickets. But, I might have Emirates flights coming later this year in economy, so the Emirates Gold status might come handy as well. Luckily, I have another month time to contemplate on this issue as my flights are not before beginning of March.

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bd-baFor the years, I have parked all my premium fares, flown on Star Alliance carriers, to BMI’s Diamond Club program due to generous multipliers for such fares.  Although the program has been devalued somewhat over the years, it has still been my number one for redeeming in international business class flights.

The British Midland International (BMI) has been, however, a loss making operation for years. Lufthansa was forced to buy the carrier back in 2009 when the owners exercised their option to sell.

According to the Financial Times article on this issue, the parties are expected the regulatory approval of this deal on the first quarter of 2012. It is not sure, however, how fast BMI is then forced to leave Star Alliance.

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Time to get the last redemptions in using Diamond Club miles in before they turn into Avios.

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It hasn’t been unclear for a while that Lufthansa has been seeking a solution for its ownership of BMI. Over the years Lufthansa has acquired quite a few European airlines like SN Brussels (airline that came alive after Sabena went bust), Swiss International Air Lines (incarnation of Swissair that also went bust), Austrian Airlines, and quite a few other regional or charter airlines. Lufthansa also owns 19% stake of JetBlue.

Reuters BMI IAGAccording to the article on the Sunday Times since getting involved with the BMI in the 1999 the whole exercise has cost Lufthansa about one billion dollars.  Last week Lufthansa and IAG announced that they had reached a tentative agreement for BMI. IAG would buy the airline. IAG is the holding company that currently owns both British Airways and Iberia. Virgin Atlantic also announced that they were in discussion with Lufthansa regarding buying the BMI. [click to continue…]