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Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) has changed the conversion ratio of Starpoints to LAN’s LANPASS from 2 to 1.5 per Starpoint. This change was done unannounced on June 25, 2013.

spg-to-lan-1-to-2-to-1-5-change

LAN uses and rewards LANPASS Kilometers (KMS) instead of miles. There have been some advantages to transfer Starpoints to LAN and then use them for award trips within South America, where LAN often has award sales. [click to continue...]

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Oneworld just made an announcement that LATAM has chosen Oneworld as the alliance for both airlines. TAM is expected to leave the Star Alliance on the second quarter of 2014. This is full 12 months from now. You can read the Oneworld press release about TAM joining the alliance here.

tam-star-alliance-exit

LAN and TAM merged last year and it was expected that the combined airline would be in the Oneworld alliance. LAN is a member of Onworld and TAM member of competing Star Alliance. When AviancaTaca joined the Star Alliance one condition was that the airline couldn’t  be in the same alliance as TAM. [click to continue...]

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Most of the Oneworld alliance airlines are offering double award miles on Malaysia Airlines flights between February 15 to April 15, 2013. Some of the programs require you to register for this promotion in advance while others have enrolled all their members.

malaysia-airlines-double-miles

Malaysia Airlines joined the Oneworld Alliance on February 1, 2013. You can take advantage of alliance wide status benefits that you may have with one of the members when flying on Malaysia. [click to continue...]

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Oneworld alliance top tier frequent fliers have been in disadvantage compared to their Star Alliance equivalent ones when it came to extra luggage allowance based on the frequent flier status.

oneworld-extended-benefits

Now, Oneworld alliance has announced that both extra luggage allowance (one piece or extra 20 kilos) will apply across all Oneworld alliance carriers and passengers will also have an access to fast track security lanes where available. [click to continue...]

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There was a piece on the WSJ last week, that the negotiation of TAM joining the Oneworld that was supposed to take all the way until March, 2013, is almost wrapped up according to the unnamed sources cited by the paper.

tam-oneworld

When the AviancaTaca joined the Star Alliance earlier this year and when the merge of LAN and Tam was approved, it was made clear that TAM couldn’t stay in the same alliance as AviancaTaca. The only two remaining options are SkyTeam and Oneworld. Delta bought a share of TAM’s domestic rival GOL, so it is unlikely that the alliance choice would be anything else than the Oneworld.

Conclusion

It seems rather likely that TAM will cease to be a member of Star Alliance sometime in the early second half of 2013. Obviously, all the award tickets will be honored past the exit date, but you won’t receive miles or get Star Alliance related status benefits once the airline has exited the alliance.

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There has been lot of noise in the past two weeks about the press conference that was going to take place in New York today. The CEO of Qatar Airways denied that the airline would have been joining the alliance last week contradictory what was published on Financial Times.

oneworld invites Qatar Airways on board

The airline is indeed joining the Oneworld alliance and completion of becoming a member is expected to take from 12 to 18 months. So, we are looking late 2013 or early 2014 as likely official joining date for Qatar. You can access the official Oneworld press release here.

qatar-oneworld-official

Currently the oneworld alliance consists of eleven member airlines; airberlin, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN, Qantas, Royal Jordanian and S7 Airlines.

oneworld-wings

Malaysian Airlines and SriLankan Airlines are currently in the process of joining the alliance. Oneworld alliance member Malev went bankrupt earlier this year and the joining of Kingfisher Airlines was cancelled due to its financial difficulties.

Qatar is the first of the big three of the Middle Eastern carriers to join an alliance. Emirates has always said that they are not interested in joining and they just formed a partnership with oneworld member airline Qantas. Etihad announced earlier today the deep codesharing agreement that they are going forward with Air France-KLM.

It is interesting that Qatar chose Oneworld. It has had more frequent flier ties with Star Alliance carriers like United, US Airways, and BMI than with oneworld ones (none).

Qatar Airways route network

qatar-airways-worldwide-map

The airline already serves 120 destinations worldwide. The latest one was reintroduction of flights to Yangon, the capitol of Myanmar, last week.

Americas

qatar-airways-americas

The airline flies to New York, Washington DC, Chicago (in 2013), Houston, Montreal and to Sao Paulo with a continuing service to Buenos Aires.

Europe, North Africa & Middle East

qatar-airways-route-map-middle-east-europe-north-africa

The airline serves more than 30 destinations on continental Europe. The airline has an extensive network in Northern Africa and in the Middle East.

Africa

qatar-airways-africa

The airline serves nine destinations in Central and Southern Africa + Seychelles.

Indian Subcontinent & Asia

qatar-airways-route-map-asia

The airline servers number of destinations in India and Asia.

Australia

qatar-airways-australia-indonesia

The airline currently serves both Perth and Melbourne

Conclusion

This is interesting movie from Qatar’s part. We’ll see if Star Alliance is able to lure either Emirates or Etihad. For the most part, I have liked the service that I have received on Qatar flights. I am not huge fan of the transfer experience in Doha, but it should get better in 2013 when the new airport is ready.

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The merger saga between LAN of Chile and TAM of Brazil has now been going on for two years. The merger was finally approved at the end of June and the new airline group LATAM was born.

latam

The problem here is that the LAN is a member of oneworld alliance and the TAM is a member of competing Star Alliance. It is widely known that the combined airline will choose oneworld as their alliance. In order for the competing authorities to approve the merger, the airlines had to agree that they cannot be in the same alliance as the recently Star Alliance joined AviancaTaca.

lan-route-map-south-america

LAN is an interesting airline. They have their base in Chile, but subsidiaries all over the South America; LAN Peru, LAN Argentina, LAN Colombia, and LAN Ecuador.

tam-route-maps-gru-int

TAM only has one subsidiary TAM Mercosur in Paraguay.

For now, both of the airlines will continue to operate within their alliances. LATAM has not informed yet, when the TAM will withdraw from the Star Alliance, but the process will likely take months. I would say that the end of 2012 would be a logical choice, but it could happen sooner as well.

You will likely see LAN codes on most of the TAM flights and vice versa. If you are collecting miles on any of the oneworld programs, you won’t get any benefits or miles on LAN flights that are operated by TAM. The same goes for TAM flights that are operated by LAN.

There are now, however, benefits for LAN elite members that take TAM flights and vice versa. You can read more about these benefits and other merger related information here.

I have flown both airlines many times, although TAM only domestically within Brazil. I have few flights coming in on LAN on September in business class; Auckland to Santiago, Santiago to Easter Islands, and Easter Islands to Papeete.

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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.

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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.

oneworld-wings

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.

aa-airberlin

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

ba-airberlin

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

cx-airberlin

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.

ib-airberlin

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

jl-airberlin

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.

qf-airberlin

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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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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Lan, airline based in Chile, has launched a dedicated www.landiversity.com website that is targeted to GLBT audience. You can get a $50 off discount coupon when you sign up for the Diversity email newsletter.

lan-diversity

LAN has grown significantly in the past decade and now has subsidiaries in Peru, Argentina, Colombia and Ecuador. The airline is currently merging with Tam, and the merger is expected to close sometime this year.

So, I decided to sign up for the newsletter. You only need to input your email address and the name. As a matter of fact, you can sign up as many times as you wish. Lan seems to be happy to send out these discount codes. I had been planning to have a greater tour of South America later this year and thought that these might come handy.

lan-diversity-email-code [click to continue...]