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There is competition brewing over Frontier’s frequent fliers in Wisconsin. Frontier has drastically cut their flying activity from Milwaukee and as a result made an offer for EarlyReturn members to transfer their frequent flier miles to Delta’s SkyMiles program.

frontier-early-returns

This offer was launched on June 5th and EarlyReturns members that had their account address in Wisconsin on June 4th are eligible for the offer. This offer is valid until August 31st, 2012 and Delta is offering Frontier’s elite members a status challenge as well.

Things quite didn’t go as planned. Southwest launched a counter offer on June 20th, 2012 for Frontier’s frequent fliers. Southwest would match the number of miles that Frontier’s frequent fliers would donate to EarlyReturn charitable program participants. Southwest would also match EarlyReturn status on their program. Members were only required to email a copy of the statement that would show the number of miles donated to Southwest.

frontier-donation-suspension

Frontier probably didn’t see this coming, but they were able to suspend the mileage donation program in just couple hours.

frontier-southwest-new-offer

Then on June 26th Southwest extended another offer for EarlyReturn members. Southwest would match their mileage balance for up to 50K miles until August 31st, 2012. The status match campaign is valid until that date as well.

Here are the instructions from Southwest to take advantage of their offer:

To take advantage of this one-time offer, Wisconsin EarlyReturns members should take the following steps:

  • If they haven’t done so already, enroll in the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards program.
  • Submit a copy of their Frontier EarlyReturns statement that denotes their current account balance along with their name, Rapid Rewards account number, and phone number to RapidRewards@wnco.com.

To take advantage of this status-matching offer, EarlyReturns Ascent and Summit members should take the following steps:

If you have a Frontier frequent flier account, you should absolutely take advantage of the Southwest offer. There is absolutely no downside.

Here are the terms and conditions of the Southwest offer:

Offer only valid for Wisconsin residents who are Frontier EarlyReturns members.  EarlyReturns member must be a Member in the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards program and to participate in the Tier Status match, a member in the AirTran Airways A+ Rewards program.  The date reflected on the Frontier EarlyReturns Account Balance must be between June 20, 2012, and Aug. 31, 2012.  Name on EarlyReturns account must match the name on the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards account and A+ Rewards account.  EarlyReturns member must submit Rapid Rewards account number, and phone number to RapidRewards@wnco.com between June 20, 2012, and Aug. 31, 2012, to be eligible for Rapid Rewards Point match.  Any incomplete submission may delay and/or eliminate qualification for promotion.   All submissions will be verified before “match” processing occurs.  For every qualifying EarlyReturns mile in member’s account, Member will receive one matching Rapid Rewards Point up to 50,000 points.  EarlyReturns Ascent or Summit members must submit proof of current, valid tier card or statement, name, Rapid Rewards account number, A+ Rewards account number, and phone number to RapidRewards@wnco.com between June 20, 2012, and Aug. 31, 2012, to be eligible for Elite Status match.  EarlyReturns Ascent or Summit members who are granted Rapid Rewards A-List status will receive Tier status and benefits with an expiration date of Dec. 31, 2012.  EarlyReturns Ascent or Summit members who are granted A+ Rewards Elite Status will receive Elite status and benefits with an expiration date of 365 days from processing.  This promotion is a limited, one-time offer; therefore, EarlyReturns member may only request point and Elite Status match once.  Rapid Rewards and A+ Rewards may terminate the promotion at anytime. Rapid Rewards may revert back to the rules of the June 21, 2012, promotion at any time. “Matching” Rapid Rewards Points will not count towards A-List, A-List Preferred, or Companion Pass qualification.   Please allow four to six weeks from the date of submission for matching Rapid Rewards Points and Tier Status to post to your account.   Rapid Rewards matching promotion may not be reversed once EarlyReturns member has submitted request to RapidRewards@wnco.com.  Promotion may not be combined with any other offer or promotion.  Members who were successful in donating their EarlyReturns mileage in accordance to the original June 21, 2012, Donation Match offer and submitted his or her request between June 20, 2012, and June 25, 2012, will only be eligible for the Donation Match offer and be subject to the Terms and Conditions set by that promotion. All Rapid Rewards rules and regulations apply.  All A+ Rewards Rules and Regulations apply.

Frontier, Frontier Express, and EarlyReturns are among trademarks and/or service marks owned by Frontier Airlines, Inc.  Frontier Airlines, Inc. is in no way affiliated with Southwest Airlines or this program and does not endorse this program or any other Southwest Airlines product or service.

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Now that the BMI Diamond Clubs is coming to an end, I will start again using Virgin Atlantic as my Hilton HHonors fixed miles double dip partner. I have several times referred that one should always double dip with either BMI or Virgin Atlantic.

hilton-double-dip-brands

hilton-double-dip-brands-virgin-atlantic

When you choose Virgin Atlantic (not Virgin America or Virgin Australia) you will receive fixed 1000 miles per stay at all Hilton brands excluding Hampton Inn, Homewood Suites, and Home2 Suites brands.

With Hilton HHonors you can choose variable miles, fixed miles, or additional Hilton HHonors points for double dipping. The default option is Hilton HHonors points. Please note that you will receive the base points and all elite level bonuses regardless, whether you have miles as your double dip option or not.

hilton-double-dip-earning-options

Here’s the reason why it makes sense to choose Virgin Atlantic:

Let’s say that your one night stay is around $200. You would earn additional 1000 Hilton HHonors points by choosing Points + Points as your double dip selection. By selecting the Virgin Atlantic you would earn 1000 Flying Club Miles.

Even if you don’t have any plans to fly on Virgin Atlantic or any of their alliance partners, here’s what you can do with the miles:

You can transfer 1000 miles to 2000 Hilton HHonors points. The minimum number of miles you can transfer is 5000 that will become 10000 Hilton HHonors points once the transfer hits your account.

hilton-hhonots-virgin-double-dip-virgin-to-hilton

So, instead of 1000 Hilton HHonors points, you would earn 2000 points by having the miles credited to VS and then transferred back to Hilton. The difference is even greater if your rates are lower. This is not a good option for expensive longer stays, however.

hilton-hhonors-virgin-double-dip

Here’s one example from last year. Hilton had a promotion with Virgin for TRIPLE miles per stay. In essence, I was actually earning 6000 Hilton HHonors bonus points per stay, if/when I transfer them to Hilton HHonors from Virgin Atlantic.

Conclusion

I know that it may sound confusing to credit fixed miles to Virgin Atlantic, if you only want Hilton HHonors points, but it simply makes sense when you stay at full service hotels and the folio amount is low. I have used both Virgin Atlantic and BMI to greatly enhance my double dip earnings.

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Now Club Carlson has included their fourth brand Park Plaza Hotels & Resorts to their summer promo line up. You can earn 50K bonus Club Carlson bonus points for a stay by August 28th, 2012.

club-carlson-park-plaza

HERE IS HOW IT WORKS:

  • Register for the Promotion by clicking on the “Register and book your stay today!” button below, you’ll need to be a Club CarlsonSM member to register. Not a member? No problem, it is free to join. Just follow the “Join Club Carlson” link after the video.
  • Watch a short video showcasing Club Carlson and complete the short online form.
  • Complete a qualifying stay at any Park Plaza hotel around the world between 28 June 2012 and 28 August 2012.
  • The 50,000 bonus Gold Points will be deposited into your Club Carlson account within 6 – 8 weeks of completing your qualifying stay. That’s enough points for a night at any Park Plaza hotel around the world.

You need to register for the promotion at www.parkplazaultimatenightgiveaway.com after watching a short promotional. You will receive an email confirmation after the registration.

club-carlson-park-plaza-locations

There are quite a few Park Plaza hotels in Europe and Asia. There is only one location in each of North America (Minneapolis), South America (Sao Paulo), and Middle East (Tel Aviv). There are none in Africa or Australia/Oceania. I am going to check out the two locations next week in Bangkok. You can search for closest Park Plaza location for you at www.parkplaza.com/destinations/.

There are three other Club Carlson promotions going on at the moment; Radisson Hotels & Resorts Bight Night Giveaway for 50K bonus points, Country Inns & Suites Stay One – Get One for 44K bonus points, and Park Inn by Radisson Stay One – Get One for 44K bonus points. These are absolutely the best hotel promotions for the summer of 2012.

Club Carlson redemptions start at 9K points per night, although the properties you actually want to stay at are more expensive.  You also have option of using Points & Cash option to pay for stays that is considered a qualifying stay for promotional purposes also.

I wrote a piece about different status levels that Club Carlson has and also how the status match program works. You can also read about my experience and points earnings from a Radisson stay for the Radisson version of this promo.  Radisson Blu is the highest brand of the group and I stayed at their property Radisson Blu Denarau Fidi back in February this year.

Here are the terms and conditions of this promotion:

The Park Plaza® Ultimate Night Giveaway Promotion (“Promotion”) is available only to Club CarlsonSM members. To be eligible for the Promotion, members must register online for the Promotion at www.parkplazaultimatenightgiveaway.com (“Promotion Registration”), provide their Club Carlson member number at the time of reservation or check-in of the Qualifying Stay, and then complete one Qualifying Stay at any Park Plaza hotel worldwide (“Participating Hotels”). Guest must check in for the Qualifying Stay on or after June 28, 2012 and check out must be completed no later than August 28, 2012 (“Promotion Period”). A “Qualifying Stay” is defined as a stay of one or more consecutive nights in the same room at a Participating Hotel regardless of the number of check-ins or check-outs on a rate for which Gold Points are awarded in accordance with the Club Carlson Program Terms and Conditions. Guest must be present at the Participating Hotel at both the time of check-in and check-out, enrolled in Club Carlson at or before the time of check-in, and registered in the Promotion no later than the time of check-out (to enroll in Club Carlson, visit www.clubcarlson.com). The first 20,000 guests who complete the Promotion Registration will receive 50,000 Bonus Gold Points after the completion of their Qualifying Stay. After the first 20,000 Promotion Registrations, every guest who completes the Promotion Registration will receive 15,000 Bonus Gold Points after the completion of his/her Qualifying Stay. These Bonus Gold Points are in addition to the standard Gold Points awarded for a stay. Only one Club Carlson account per Qualifying Stay will be credited with the Bonus Gold Points. Maximum of one Bonus Gold Point award will be credited to a member with a Qualifying Stay under the Promotion regardless of the number of Qualifying Stays completed by the member during the Promotion Period. Allow 6-8 weeks for the Bonus Gold Points to post to the member’s account. The Promotion and Gold Points are subject to all Club Carlson Program Terms and Conditions. Rates for each night of a Qualifying Stay may vary and Promotion is subject to availability. Promotion void where prohibited by law. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Park Plaza reserves the right to add, modify or discontinue these terms and conditions or the Promotion at any time with or without notice. Park Plaza is not responsible for: interrupted or unavailable network, server or other connections, miscommunications, computer hardware or software or technical failures, Internet Service Provider/network/website accessibility or availability, garbled or jumbled transmissions or other errors of any kind, whether human, mechanical or electronic; including without limitation the incomplete, incorrect or inaccurate capture of Promotion Registration information and any late, lost inaccurate or misdirected Promotion Registration information.. By participating in this Promotion, you agree and consent to these terms and conditions.

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There was an interesting news piece that I came across yesterday. Starwood Capital (not Starwood Hotels as some news sources were referring the seller) was selling four hotels to Katara Hospitality, a Qatari hospitality company, and these hotels are supposedly going to be managed by Hyatt per the unnamed sources.

reuters-katara

The hotels in question are Martinez on the Cote d’Azur, Concorde Lafayette, l’Hotel du Louvre in Paris, and Le Palais de la Mediterranee in Nice, according to a French newspaper Le Figaro.

martinez

This is a very interesting development that would bring nice properties under the  Hyatt umbrella. You would likely to be able to earn and burn Hyatt Gold Passport points eventually too.

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Last week, I was in Kuala Lumpur and needed to get to Jakarta for the weekend. KLM has some tag on flights here in Asia like KUL-CGK, SIN-DPS, and TPE-MNL.  I have also taken the now discontinued BKK-TPE flight in the past with KLM.

klm-plane

These fifth freedom tag flights tend to be very competitively priced as was case with my Kuala Lumpur to Jakarta return. I sometimes buy these in business class, but this time I decided to pay only for the economy because the flight time is around 90 minutes or so.

Due to the short flight time and for the fact that the KLM provides a full service on these flights, it often makes sense to order a special meal. These are often delivered first and offer more variety than the food that they provide.

I sometimes order a MOML (Moslem meal), KSML (Kosher Meal), or any of the numerous other special meals the airlines offer. As my flight was from Jakarta on the return, I decided to check out how is the KSML option out from predominantly Muslim country, Indonesia.

The choosing of special meal on KLM’s website is very straightforward. I wish that all the airlines would have this process implemented as seamlessly as KLM. There were plenty of options and I chose KSML for both the KUL-CGK and CGK-KUL sectors.

klm-check-in-cgk

The check in was chaotic even at the business class counter that I can use as a SkyTeam Elite member. I was offered an upgrade by the check in agent for 700K that is around $70. I made a counter offer of 500K IDR and we agreed to 600K IDR. Here starts the interesting part. They were not able to accept a credit card for the payment. Cash would have been the only option. I am truly wondering had KLM seen a penny of this upgrade for cash or if it had been just distributed by the outsourced employees working for KLM.

klm-kosher-box

Anyway, I was then told that I am NOT eligible for the upgrade for pay because I had ordered a special meal.  BTW this is really often the case. If you have ordered a special meal, you are then not eligible for the paid or complimentary upgrades, because they do not have available your special meal in an upgraded cabin, and apparently they are not able to serve your economy diner in business class.

klm-kosher-meal

Business class at this price for this short haul would have been a decent deal; bottle of champagne, business class amenity kit, one of those Dutch houses that they distribute, and some edible food. But it wasn’t the end of the day that I didn’t qualify due to the special meal that I ordered. The actual flight time was 90 minutes and somehow I survived, although the Kosher meal was not the RIGHT choice.

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Le Club Accorhotels has teamed up with Planet 21 and is offering 210 bonus points for weekend stays between June 22nd and July 15th, 2012 at any of the 628 certified sustainable Accorhotels that are booked by June 30th, 2012.

accor-planet-21

It might have made sense to Accor to send emails about this promotion BEFORE it started. The booking window to get bonus points is short as is the stay period too. Oh well. It never hurts to get some bonus points for the stays.

accor-planet-21-text

Here are the terms and conditions of this offer:

1. General Le Club Accorhotels terms and conditions apply to the “Planet 21” offer.

2. This offer is valid for every stay with an arrival date between 06/22/12 and 07/15/12 for stays booked between 06/05/12 and 06/30/12), with at least one weekend night, that is, at least one Friday, Saturday or Sunday night.

3. This offer entitles Le Club Accorhotels Loyalty, la carte ibis, Accor Favorite Guest Business and A|Club Favorite Guest program members, regardless of their status, to benefit from earning 210 points per stay at hotels participating in this offer.

4. Bonus of 210 points is offered according to the points earned by the member based on “Classic” status, without point acceleration.

5. You must book your stay ahead of time on-line (on accorhotels.com or websites of participating brands) or via call centers to benefit from this offer.

6. You must provide your loyalty card number or member number when making your reservation, and present your card at the reception desk of your hotel when you check-in for your stay.

7. Reservations that include several rooms covered by the same member during his or her stay are only counted as one stay.

8. This offer may not be combined with other current offers or advantages and does not apply to groups.

9. This offer is subject to availability. General sales terms and conditions apply for reserved public rates specific to each hotel.

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Last week, I wrote about eight Priority Club bonuses that one should sign up for. These were offers that were emailed to a number of Priority Club members and are supposedly “targeted”. With Priority Club these targeted offers are open for anybody, however.

Besides these eight there are number of ongoing public promotions that one should take advantage of:

Quarter 2 Stay bonuses

These will come to an end on June 30th, 2012. There are still few days left

Quarter 3 Stay bonuses

These will start on July 1st and end on September 30th, 2012. You should sign up for an offer that you know that you can achieve

15K Bonus Points + Gold Status for 6 InterContinental Nights

This is a nice bonus points promotion for InterContinental stays in the Americas.  You need to get the stays in by the end of July, 2012.

5000 Bonus Air Canada Aeroplan Miles for a Stay

This is a nice bonus for a stay in Canada. You need to have the stays by December 30th, 2012 to be eligible for the bonus miles.

Summer Bonus of up to 20K Priority Club Bonus Points

You will get 1000 bonus Priority Club bonus points per nights + 250 points per stay for booking online. This offer is valid until September 3rd, 2012.

Priority Club Vacation Pay Offer

You can get a $75 prepaid MasterCard after a rebate for a two night weekend stay. This offer is valid until September 3rd, 2012.

5K/10K/15K Bonus Points for 3/5/6 InterContinental Nights

This promotion cannot be combined with the 15K Bonus + Gold after 6 stays. This offer is valid until the end of July, 2012.

$50 Travel MasterCard for Two Night Weekday Stay

This is similar to the weekend offer, but is valid for weekday stays. This offer is valid until August 2nd, 2012.

2000 Bonus Points for Priority Club Surveys

You can get couple of thousand bonus points for completing bunch of short quizzes.

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Part of the InterContinental Ambassador program are the gifts that both Ambassador and Royal Ambassador members are supposed to receive. This is actually written on the terms and conditions of the program. You do receive them most of the time, but I rarely found them good enough to take with me, however.

On LoyaltyLobby: InterContinental Royal Ambassador program.

Here are two good ones from the past month. One of them is better thought than the other though.

InterContinental Manila – Really nice USB charger with number of different plugs

intercontinental-manila-ambassador-amenity

I think that this is probably the best Ambassador amenity I have ever received, and it really cannot cost the hotel more than a buck or two when they buy them in large quantity. Who wouldn’t have a use for charging cable that has built in number of tips for various cell phones and devices? It is also small enough and includes a pouch as well that reminds you about the property every time use it.

InterContinental Singapore – Swiss Army Branded Knife

intercontinental-singapore-ambassador-amenity

This is nice, but not convenient for a traveler that doesn’t check bags. You are not supposed to have even a small knife like this in your carry on.

These were the two gifts that were memorable from the past couple of months. Both were good actually. The latter one is not suitable for business traveler, however.

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You have through June 30th, 2012 to decide the option of the SPG nice Choice Summer promotion that fits you the best. Sad to say, but this is the worst SPG promotion for the past four years for me.  It can work for some, however.

spg-nice-choice-june

I have written few pieces about this promotion before it was launched. I got hold off on an internal Starwood memo about this promotion. They were expecting this promotion to drive few million extra room nights during the promotional period. Hope that it is the case. In my case it has merely made me to book away from Starwood.

Later, I had a post about a strategy you should take. You should read the original post I wrote about these offers.

Here are the “real” choices again:

1. Choose double points if you have no idea about the number of nights you will have.

2. Choose triple points if you are sure that you will have more than 15 nights.

You may entertain the following options as well:

1. Free weekend night cat 1 to 5 certificate (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) after 10 nights. Max 2. Downsides are the category, day of use requirement and the expiry before the end of the year. This can “theoretically” be worth 16K SPG if you use it during the high season.

2. 3K SPG after every 6 nights – max 18 nights and 9K SPG.

3. 500 extra Starpoints per night at Sheraton hotels.

Remember that you need to register for this promotion through June 30th, 2012.

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Hyatt has one of the most unstable hotel websites that I have ever used to book hotels. It can be down for several hours midweek for “scheduled” maintenance.

The only problem is not the instability of the site, but also the functionality. I have had the website to withdrawn points twice for award stays multiple times. It is easy to catch this when there are two deductions on the account history, but that is not always the case. Sometimes the points are withdrawn twice, but there is only one line on the account activity. Last time I noticed this only, because I thought that the balance quite didn’t seem right.

Don’t miss out on any important information about Hyatt Gold Passport program. Like LoyaltyLobby on Facebook.

This is probably not a problem if you only have a small number of points in your account. When you have hundreds of thousands or millions, like some of my friends have, it is not as easy to spot a double deduction of points.

Here’s what have been happening with my account. I made a reservation for the Grand Hyatt Jakarta for the Friday night. When the website prompted for a credit card to confirm it, I just double clicked the field and it was populated with the Amex number that I had inputted previously. Apparently there is something wrong with the syntax because I got the following screen next:

hyatt-problem

When I go back and correct the card number manually, I then get the confirmation number.

hyatt-problem-confirmation

When I go back and check my account balance, you can see that Hyatt has now withdrawn the number of points required TWICE for this.

hyatt-problem-confirmation-double-points-withdrawn

As I posted above, I have had this happen in the past when there has only been one line, although the points were withdrawn twice. When I have called the Gold Passport they were able to see this on their internal systems and correct the double withdrawal of points.

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Hyatt Gold Passport has just launched a summer promotion for buying points. You will get 30% bonus for buying Hyatt Gold Passport points between June 20th and August 31st, 2012. The maximum number of points that you can purchase is 40K for $960. With the bonus the total number of points that you will get for $960 is 52K. In essence you are paying 1.85 cents per point.

hyatt-gold-passport-buy-points-summer-2012

Hyatt had a similar promotion back in January.

Don’t miss out on any Hyatt Gold Passport promotions. Follow LoyaltyLobby on Twitter.

Does it make sense to buy Hyatt Gold Passport points at 1.85 cents per points? In most cases the definite answer is it does not. But, as always, there are some exceptions to the rule.  Back in January my case was Park Hyatt Sydney where buying points and then using them for “free” nights would have made sense. Not sure if the situation has changed since January with this specific property.

hyatt-gold-passport-buy-points-summer-2012-price

hyatt-gold-passport-buy-points-summer-2012-price-final

The other good example is Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo, where I have been few times. I don’t like the location of this hotel that is inconvenient unless you are visiting the nearby companies. My personal favorite of the international hotels in Sao Paulo is the Marriott chain’s Renaissance that is located in the Jardins district of the city.

The paid rates at Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo are really high. Currently the price is around $500 per night.

grand-hyatt-saopaulo-paid-rates

You can also use Hyatt Stay Certificates to pay for your stay. You can cut your price to $249 per night by going this route.

grand-hyatt-saopaulo-stay-certificates

hyatt-stay-certificates-saopaulo

Surprisingly the hotel is only 8000 Hyatt Gold Passport points per night. If you buy the points during this sale, your nightly cost would be down to $148. That is a very good deal for Sao Paulo at the present as the Brazil’s economy is overheated.

grand-hyatt-saopaulo-points

One thing to remember is that you won’t earn stay or night credits for stays paid using points or stay certificates. You do earn points for the incidentals during the stay. These stays do not qualify for any possible bonuses that the Hyatt is running. My advise for those that need a stay credit is to pay for the first night and then use points or certificates for the subsequent nights.

Here are the terms and conditions of this offer:

Offer available for purchases made between June 20 to August 31, 2012 inclusive. Bonus points will be awarded upon completion of individual transactions. Offer only available when points are purchased for the purchaser’s account. Offer not valid for transactions gifting points. Offer may be withdrawn or changed without notice. Offer cannot be combined with any other offer. Only purchases made online are eligible for the promotion.

Price includes all applicable fees. GST/HST will be charged to Canadian residents. This transaction is completed by Points.com and will be billed as “Points Purchase Hyatt.” Purchased points are not refundable and transactions are non-reversible. Purchased points are applicable toward all Hyatt Gold Passport awards. Points purchased using this option will post within 24 hours. Purchased points do not count toward Hyatt Gold Passport elite membership tiers. All Hyatt Gold Passport Terms and Conditions apply.

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It has been quite a year for the Star Alliance. Spanair went bust back in February and the parent of British Airways bought the BMI back in March. The BMI then left the alliance in April. TAM, the Brazilian airline, is expected to later withdraw from the alliance once the merger with the oneworld member LAN is complete.

star-alliance-avianca-taca-copa

Yesterday, Star Alliance welcomed three airlines to the alliance; Avianca and Taca, that both belong to the same AviancaTaca group, and Copa, an airline based in Panama  City.

aviancataca

Avianca

avianca

Avianca has its main base in Bogota, Colombia, from where the carrier serves destinations in Europe, Latin, and North America.

avianca-route-map

There is also separate Avianca Brazil that used to be OcenAir. This is not part of the Star Alliance, however.

I have not flown Avianca, but I have Avianca Brazil, when it was called OceanAir.

Taca Airlines

Taca has its main hubs in Lima, San Salvador, and San Jose. The airline operates a narrow body fleet in the North and South America.

taca-route-map

Couple of years ago, I took Taca from Mexico City to Havana via San Jose in business class. To my surprise the airline didn’t have dedicated lounge for its business class passengers in San Jose, but this might have changed. The flights and the service were both very good, however. I especially loved the dark rum Nicaraguan rum they served on board.

Copa Airlines

Copa is based in Panama City, Panama and was founded in the late 1940’s by Panamanian investor group and Pan Am

Late 1990’s Continental bought 40% off the company, but was fully divested by the mid 2000’s. Copa used Continental OnePass and now uses United Mileage Plus as its frequent flier program.

Copa has an extensive route network in Central and South America using its fleet of narrow body aircraft.

copa-central-america

copa-south-america

copa-north-america

Somehow I managed not to fly Copa yet. This is probably due to my somewhat limited travels in the Central America. My goal is to have couple of extensive trips in the Central and Northern South America later this year or early next year.

Conclusion

All of these three airlines are a welcome addition to the Star Alliance. They must, however, get Avianca Brazil to the alliance once TAM moves to the oneworld. Otherwise the Star Alliance has a huge black hole on South Americas most populous and economically important country, Brazil.

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You can earn Starpoints for wining and dining at Starwood hotels even when you are not a guest. Starwood recently launched a promotion for their SPG Restaurants & Bars program to drive more non-guest traffic to these food and beverage outlets. You can get up to 30% discount off your bill for just being a Starwood Preferred Guest program member and earn some Starpoints in the process.

Last week I had a “dinner” of two Grey Goose on the rocks and couple of frozen margaritas at the bar of the W Koh Samui. I don’t normally bother getting Starpoints for items like this, but I decided to check out the process how they handle these.

The bill was about 2K THB that is $60. Four Starpoints per dollar should make it to around 240 points credited to my SPG account. I have an image of my card with the SPG number stored on my phone. So, I just informed the waitress that I would like her to make sure that I would get Starpoints for the purchase and handed the phone to her.

spg-fb

She filled out a slip that looked like an old fashioned credit card one with my SPG info and attached a copy of the receipt to it. Then she gave me a carbon copy. A week later nothing has posted to my account yet. We’ll see…..

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Over the years, I have used Hilton’s “Diamond Force” also known as “Diamond Reservations Guarantee” quite a few times to force an award stay in an otherwise sold out hotel. This is a unique feature of the Hilton’s program. At all the other hotel programs, which I participate to, you can usually use an override to open up a paid room at a very high rack rate, if the hotel is sold out.

Read my review of the Conrad Koh Samui hotel. 

I was going to Koh Samui on 13th of this month and had an award certificate from a friend that was going to expire the following day.

The Conrad Koh Samui didn’t have any availability, paid or award, for 12th or 13th of June.

conrad-koh-samui-no-availability

Sometimes when you choose the date and then proceed the availability somehow opens up. It was not the case with this Conrad, however.

conrad-koh-samui-no-availability-after

I thought that this would be an easy case for the Diamond Force, but how wrong I was. I called the Hilton’s Diamond desk to open up a case. They give me case number and informed that someone will contact me in the next 48 hours to confirm the request. I was really surprised to receive an email the following day that my request had been denied.

conrad-koh-samui-diamond-request-denied

The Diamond reservation guarantee is very clear about this:

The Diamond Reservations Guarantee allows Diamond members to place a guaranteed reservation at a sold out hotel when made 48 hours prior to arrival, except during Extraordinary Demand Date periods, when the hotel becomes overbooked on inventory by more than 10%, and for some hotels when the hotel becomes overbooked on inventory by more than 2%.

48 hour guaranteed room reservations can be made by Diamond members online at HHonors.com by clicking “Reward Stays” or over the phone by calling the Diamond Member desk or the Hilton Reservations and Customer Care office nearest you. These reservations are only applicable to paid stay reservations for all room types and reward stay reservations for standard rooms. Promotional Rewards are not applicable for reservations booked under the 48-Hour Reservation Guarantee. For complete details, click here.

But the small print about the non-participating properties:

conrad-koh-samui-no-guarantee

So, it was entirely my mistake of not reading the terms and conditions of this Diamond Reservation guarantee. The moral of the story is to ALWAYS read the small print. Luckily, the property did have award availability the following day and I was able to use the award certificate on the date it was going to expire.  I then used the “Be My Guest” certificate for the 15th of May.