by -
4 Comments

Yesterday, I wrote about a probe to GOL that Brazilian prosecutor has initiate due to unannounced changes to its Smiles program (access the piece here).

gol-smiles-back-to-regular-levels

GOL had the old award charts on its website, but had rose the number of miles required to number of destinations. GOL blames this a “system mistake” and will credit the accounts of around 4000 Smiles members that were charged higher number of miles. [click to continue...]

by -
5 Comments

After Avianca made unannounced changes to its award chart back in May (read my take here), GOL decided to do an unannounced stealth devaluation for their award chart too. The number of miles required for awards went up by 33%  and airline had old award chart levels up on its website for days after they were no longer bookable.

gol-avianca

Now, federal prosecutor has given GOL ten days to respond to an inquiry about how many passengers has paid higher than shown miles requirements and how much money was involved in this. [click to continue...]

by -

According to an article on the WSJ yesterday (you can access it here – copy paste the article title on the Google search to have access to the full version), the Brazilian airline GOL is planning to list its frequent flier unit Smiles.

gol-smiles

The Smiles used to be the frequent flier program of Varig, Star Alliance carrier in Brazil that went under, and Gol it and its frequent flier program back in 2006. [click to continue...]

by -
3 Comments

Delta SkyMiles members can earn MQM’s (Medallion Qualifying Miles), Medallion bonus miles, priority check in & boarding (Gold/Platinum/Diamond), and access to GOL’s Smiles lounges (Gold/Platinum/Diamond) in GRU and GIG when flying internationally in either GOL or Delta starting on January 29, 2013. You can read more about this partnership from Delta’s press release.

gol

GOL’s Diamond Smiles members have access to Sky Priority benefits when flying Delta. Diamond Smiles members also have access to Delta’s SkyClub’s in Atlanta, Detroit and New York. [click to continue...]

by -
20 Comments

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).

by -

I have been contemplating to hop over to South America for couple of months. I have spent quite a bit of time in Brazil over numerous trips in the past 10 years, butthere are still quite a few cities that I would like to visit like Brasilia, Curitiba, Florianopolis etc.

golemail

Yesterday, I received an email regarding a good offer from Gol. They are having a sale for all of their destinations except Caracas, Aruba, Barbados, Curacao, and Punta Cana. You need to book for a return trip and the return flight is discounted to R$ 39. Gol prices return trips as two one-ways i.e. you pay the regular discounted fare for GRU-MAO (from Sao Paulo to Manaus) and then the MAO-GRU is discounted to R$ 39. You cannot find these discounted prices on websites that have point of sale outside of Brazil. Gol’s website doesn’t accept any other foreign credit cards than American Express.

gol-destinations

This offer from Gol is only valid for bookings made by 8AM on 16th of May. Roundtrip travel is required and the minimum stay is two days.

lan-15-off

LAN is having a bit different sale. They are offering 15% discount for travel between or within Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela that are booked on lan.com by April 27th for travel between April 14th and November 30th, 2012.

lan-route-map

I have set my eyes on visiting Easter Islands for a long time. When I was in in the Oceania last month, I was thinking of getting a flight to Papetee and from there taking the one weekly LAN flight to IPC. Maybe I will implement this to my planned South American trip later this year.