Choice Hotels Promotion – Stay Two Separate Times & Earn One Free Night

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Choice Hotels is about to launch their spring promotion. For every two stays you will receive 8000 Choice Privileges points that are enough for a free night at the lowest Choice redemption category hotel. There are more than 1500 Choice hotels that are at 8000 Choice Privileges points per night. This promotion runs from March 8th to May 8th, 2012 and requires a registration.

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There’s bit of a small print attached to this offer. For promotional purposes a stay is defined at least 2 consecutive nights at the following brands: Econo Lodge, Rodeway Inn, Suburban Extended Stay Hotel, and MainStay Suites. For all other Choice brands (Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Cambria Suites or Ascend Collection) a stay can be 1 night and qualify for this promotion.

Personally, I am not a huge fan of these motel style hotels and haven’t stayed at one for quite some time. I am sure, however, that I could survive a night here and there, if the points earned are high enough. You can redeem Choice Privileges points for Preferred Chain properties as well.

  • Register now to earn unlimited free nights during the promotion
  • Book at ChoiceHotels.com or 800.4CHOICE and after your second stay with arrival between March 8 and May 8, 2012 you’ll receive enough Choice Privileges® points to redeem for a FREE night at over 1,500 hotels
  • Elite Diamond and Elite Platinum members can book through any channel

How You Should NOT Behave on an American Airlines Flight – YouTube Video From Flight AA 50

Friend sent me an interesting link to a YouTube video today. This was shot on an American Airlines flight AA50 from Dallas to London. Apparently someone got really intoxicated and had to be constrained. Police came to pick him up upon landing to London Heathrow.

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) Priority Club Last Minute Reward Nights Out For March

IHG just released a list of last minute rewards nights for this coming weekend. These last minute rewards nights are offered at 50% discount of the usual number of points needed. This time they have 84 hotels of which 11 are InterContinental hotels.

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You can use the following link to book these.

InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa Hotel, Natadola Bay, Fiji – Review of My Stay

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Last week I had had enough of Denarau Island and Nadi, and decided to make my way to the city of Suva, the capital of Fiji. Of the three hotels that I visited in Denarau the Hilton was by far the best. I wasn’t very satisfied with either Sheraton or Radisson Blu hotels. I also had a quick overnight at the Mercure hotel. This hotel is bit on the pricey side and thus it is very good value using Priority Club points/Points and Money rewards as I pointed out.

Location

This InterContinental is located in Natadola Bay, which is about an hour drive from Nadi International airport. The actual distance is only 40 kilometers, but the road itself is in terrible condition. There are numerous villages that you pass by and very deep potholes.

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I am sure that the hotel can arrange a transport from the airport to the resort. Whether you need a rental car is entirely dependent what you are planning to do. If your main focus is relax in the resort and only fly in/out, I wouldn’t rent a car. If you are planning to get around and maybe visit the Suva, renting a car is basically essential. I got a pretty good deal from Europcar for the days I needed one. There are quite a few car rental agencies at the airport. You might be able to negotiate something on the spot, but I made the reservation over the website, however.

There are few signs on the main road, but they are easy to miss if you are driving in the dark. I would suggest that you try to get to the resort during the day light hours. Also, the GPS in my phone was not able to work properly on the Pacific. I did get an approximate location based on the cell phone towers, but not the exact one.

Check in

The check in could have been better. For some reason their system showed me as a Gold member even when the correct InterContinental status is Royal Ambassador. I didn’t have the card with me so I had to log in to the Priority Club website to show them that I was indeed RA.

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Not sure what is the usual Royal Ambassador upgrade here but the entire Club section of the hotel was closed due to low occupancy during the southern summer. You can see the club buildings on the attached map. They are further away from the main pool and beach. I would rather be on the buildings that are next to the beach.

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They hadn’t prepared a suite for me as they had the wrong status on their system. I was told that it would take 10 to 15 minutes for them to prepare a suite for me. I went to the bar by the pool and had a margarita while waiting.

Suite 2112

This was a beautiful ground floor suite with an outside terrace that had a nice bath tub. You could walk on the grass to the beach or just relax on the couch outside.

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The living room had a really long sofa, work desk, entertainment system, a hair, and the access to the patio.

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Bedroom was anything you would expect from a modern hotel. There was obviously another TV and wired internet connection. The hotel didn’t have wireless internet access in the rooms.

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Bathroom had a shower and a toilet, but as I noted above the bath rub was actually on the outside patio.

Royal Ambassador Amenities

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This hotel honored all the Royal Ambassador benefits even on an award stay. Per the program they don’t have to extend them beyond paid stays. It is always nice, however, when they do. I had a nice white wine amenity and a fruit display brought to the suite. Late checkout 4PM was granted and the minibar was complimentary as well, although I didn’t have time to take extensive use of it.

Beach/Pool

There are two main pools around the property. According to the map there might be one in the club area as well, but that was closed as I noted earlier due to low occupancy. The main pool is by the beach and is infinity style. There are plenty of sun chairs and loungers around. You can watch the pool while eating or drinking in the pool bar/restaurant.

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The other pool is closer to the buildings. There are quite a few loungers and sun chairs in this area as well. I think that this pool is a lot swallower than the infinity one.

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The beach here is much better than in the Denarau area, but I would still probably spend most of my time by the pool or in the private patio. There is also a small island on the other side, that you can access during the low tide by just crawling. During the evening you can see quite a few local people crawling in the water and doing some fishing.

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Restaurants

There are two/three restaurants on the property, and as one might expect this being a resort they are all on the high side when it comes to the price. There aren’t any local other options around. I only had a snack on the restaurant in the evening as I had arrived rather late. In the late morning I had a lunch of fried calamari and fries. Both were fine.

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Fitness Center

They had a modern fitness center that was housed in one of the buildings. It had all the modern equipment that one has come to expect.

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Conclusion

This property surprised me very positively after subpar Hilton, Starwood, and Carlson properties in the Denarau area. This was truly made for international InterContinental standards and the target audience is definitely more upscale clientele than those of the above mentioned other hotels. The pool and beach area is basically fantastic. Employees were mainly Fijian but the GM and one lady working in the guest relations were from Australia/New Zealand.

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I am glad that I decided to stay here for a night on my way from Nadi to Suva. Could have easily spent few days, but unfortunately it wasn’t possible on this trip.

Complimentary Accor A|Club Platinum Status Just For Signing Up – CITIBANKPLAT2011

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Please note that this offer is not currently valid. Sign up for our free email alerts so that you won’t miss when this is available next time.

Accor has run number of promotion with various banks for giving Platinum Status for their customers. Apparently now it is Citibank’s turn. This promotion is supposed to run to May 31st, 2012 but these tend to end earlier. Last time Accor run similar promotion with HSBC.

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The terms and conditions indicate that you would need to reside in the United Arab Emirates to be eligible for this offer. I just signed up my brother, who lives in Finland, and all went through just fine.

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You can sign up for the Platinum status using the following link: http://bit.ly/accorplt

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Marriott Properties that Are Moving Up & Down in Award Categories in March 15th, 2012

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Marriott just released a list of hotels that are moving up and down in award categories in 2012. According to the release 100 hotels are moving down (I counted 97) and 526 are moving up (I counted 516). In percentage terms 3% are moving down and 14% are moving up. The rest are staying at the current category level. Marriott also has four Ritz-Carlton moving from Ritz-Carlton Category 4 to 3, two moving from category 2 to 3, and another two from 3 to 4.

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Starwood released their category changes on February 16th. They had 13% moving down and 17% moving up. InterContinental Hotels Group announced on January 3rd that 25% of their hotels are moving up and 20% are moving down. They didn’t, however, provide a list of actual hotels moving in categories due to “competitive” reasons.

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The vast majority of Marriott Rewards hotels are still in categories 1 – 4. I would argue, however, that the hotels that me and you would actually like to stay at are in categories 5 and higher.

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You have until March 15th to book the hotels that are moving up in categories at the old point levels. You can download the PDF file that Marriott made public about the changes here.

American Airlines “Enjoy Your Global Elite Privileges Now!” Email & 1000 Bonus AAdvantage Miles For Playing a Game

American Airlines sent an email few hours ago regarding global elite level benefits. They invite you to play a game and to earn 1000 AAdvantage bonus miles after finishing it. According to the email I received, the bonus AAdvantage miles are only for the first 20000 participants. It already had more than 35000 participants when I just played it, so getting the bonus miles at this point are unlikely.

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It never hurts to try, however, and you will be eligible for a chance to win a two Oneworld Explorer 3-continent tickets.

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This seems to be a Flash-based game so it will take some time to load on slower connection. I am here in Shanghai right now, and I had to refresh it couple of times before it started correctly.

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Good luck!

Gold Level Room

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Platinum Level Room

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Executive Platinum Level Room

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Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) Priority Club Points And Money Awards

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Priority Club has had these Points and Money awards for already some time. If the hotel has award availability, you can always choose to pay partially by cash. This is, in essence, buying points from Priority Club.

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I took advantage of it for the very first time last week for a stay at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & SPA. I would have had enough points just to do a basic redemption, but decided to buy 10K Priority Club points for $60. I could have bought 5000 Priority Club points for $40.

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What happens here is that Priority Club sells you the points first, as you can see from the attached account statement, and then withdraws the number of points required for the award night. If you later cancel the award night, you will get the full amount of points credited back to your account. Priority Club will not reverse the point sale transaction.

Kingfisher Airlines Kings Club Offering Transfer Bonus + Upgrade Vouchers + Free Tickets for Mileage Transfers In

Kingfisher Airlines has had a tumultuous month. Its entry to Oneworld was put on hold and it was temporarily suspended from IATA clearinghouse membership. Also, there has been reduction in scheduled number of flights, and discussion also of unpaid wages for its employees.

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Now, Kingfishers King Club is offering bonuses for mileage transfers into its program. Whether this makes any sense it is really a gamble. If the airline somehow manages to stay afloat, this offer appears to be quite lucrative.

  • Convert your loyalty points equivalent to 1,000 to 4,999 King Miles in one shot & earn 20% bonus King Miles
  • Convert points equivalent to 5,000 to 9,999 King Miles in one shot and earn 25% bonus King Miles and 1 upgrade voucher
  • Convert points equivalent to 10,000 King Miles in one shot (and then onwards in multiples of 10K) and earn 30% bonus King Miles + 2 upgrade vouchers + 1 One-way Kingfisher Class/Red domestic ticket (base fare) free

There are number of partners that you can use to transfer miles in. The ones that caught my eye are Amex Membership Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, and Marriott Rewards.

Starwood offers a bonus of 5000 miles for every 20000 Starpoints transferred. Transferring 40K Starwood points would yield 50000 King Club miles. And with the 30% King Club transfer bonus this would become total of 65000 King Club miles. You would also get 5 one-way Kingfisher domestic tickets + 10 upgrade vouchers.

There are terms and conditions attached to both of these “free” tickets and upgrade vouchers making them not entirely free. This offer is valid for transfers that are posted to the members Kings Club account by March 31st, 2012.

Terms and conditions of the transfer offer:

Air France-KLM Promo Awards (50% Discount) Are Out For March – April 2012

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It is always good time to burn miles when airlines temporarily lower the number of required miles. Air France and KLM’s Flying Blue program does this every couple of months. They just released the list for destination that they have at 50% for March and April 2012. The booking window starts on February 28th, 2012

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Thing to note is that you can book these also as one way.  These are not only for originating from Europe as all the destinations are for both directions. The discounted awards within Europe, however, are only from the listed cities. Other awards allow the origin/destination in Europe to be in zones 1, 2, and 3 basically meaning that these awards are valid from/to anywhere in Europe.

Thing to remember is that Flying Blue charges rather hefty taxes and fees for award tickets. The fees are mainly fuel surcharges (YQ) that they collect. As a result, it rarely makes sense to redeem for an economy class ticket. Also, there are no changes or cancellations of any kind allowed on promo tickets. You either use it or lose it.

You can sign up for the Flying Blue account and have a look at the availability. I would suggest first trying to find availability for the long haul flights and work the connecting fights, if needed, separately

Europe

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Africa & Middle East

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Asia Pacific

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Caribbean

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North America

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South America

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Sheraton Fiji Resort, Denarau Island, Nadi, Fiji – Review of My Stay

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Sheraton Fiji resort is located on the Denarau Island that is a basically a huge resort area. There are two other Starwood properties in the same complex; Sheraton Denarau Villas and a Westin hotel. Right next to Sheraton is also a Radisson Blu hotel, where I stayed the previous night before moving to Sheraton. Close by is also a Wyndham timeshare property, Sofitel hotel, and a Hilton resort where I spent one night also.

Getting to/from hotel

Easiest way from the airport is to take one of the taxis that are waiting outside. Although they are bit more expensive than the regular ones, the fare shouldn’t be more than 20 to 25 FJD. The ride takes about 20 minutes.

There really isn’t much in the Denarau island besides these hotels and a “harbor”. There are quite a few restaurants in the harbor including a Hard Rock Café.  You can catch a boat to one of the island excursions from there as well. There is a hotel hoppa style bus that can transport you from any of the hotels to this entertainment venue for a daily flat free.

Check in

Was a borderline disaster. Only one person working who was checking someone out that was taking forever. Didn’t see a Platinum check in area anywhere. Finally a front desk manager was able to sort out the check in and escorted me to the Ocean Studio.

Room 1370

This was on a second floor of the beach front building. From the patio was an ocean/garden view. The studio was fairly good sized with a work area.

sheraton-fiji-ocean-studio-1370-view-of-the-room

Pool/Beach

The beach in all of the hotels in the Denarau area is unremarkable. The key is just to spend time by the pool. There are number of them in the entire resort area.

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Fitness Center

This hotel doesn’t have one. You can use the one at the Westin apparently.

Platinum Benefits

Beyond the studio upgrade? None. No welcome letter, no fruit or any other kind of amenity.

Check out

Was equally as disastrous as check in. Took about half an hour.

Conclusion

This was very average/below average Sheraton hotel. Most of the clientele is from package tourists from Australia and New Zealand. This hotel is fine if you are only looking for a getaway that is not too far from where you live. This is NOT a place to experience anything Fiji related, however.

Virgin Atlantic 50% off Reward Sale & Why It Is NOT a Good Deal 99% Off the Time

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Earlier in the week I received an email from Virgin Atlantic offering a 50% off reward sale on selected routes. This offer is valid for tickets issued between February 20th and March 5th for flights taken until May 31st (Cancun & Vancouver have longer redemption period). This offer is only valid for economy awards.

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Here’s the reason why this offer is in fact terrible. Virgin Atlantic charges huge fuel surcharges that they lump with taxes/fees. In lower economy fares the fuel surcharge portion is in fact much higher than the fare itself. It only makes sense to redeem Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles for Premium Economy and preferably Upper Class business class tickets only.

Here’s a simple New York to London economy redemption that Virgin Atlantic on their email advertises for 29500 Virgin Flying Club miles.

You can see that the price is 29500 miles and $615.60 in taxes, fees and surcharges

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When you click the Fare Breakdown you get the following screen. Virgin must be ashamed of their actual breakdown that they still don’t present it.

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Only after you click the taxes, fees, charges and surcharges link you will get the actual breakdown.

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On this “award” ticket the fuel surcharge is $438. That is nothing but pure revenue that is masqueraded as some sort of tax component.

Let’s look at some Virgin’s revenue fares for the same period and the same route. It is easy to find a revenue fare of $729.90. As you can see Virgin publishes fares as low as $45.50 for this route one-way. So, in essence your 29500 miles can be worth as low as $91. Not even considering that you would actually earn miles on that $91 fare.

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Here are the terms and conditions of this offer:

StarAlliance Offering Status Transfer for Spanair’s Silver & Gold Members and Oneworld for Malev’s Duna Club Silver, Gold & Platinum Members

This was a bad month for both Star Alliance and Oneworld alliances. First Spanair, Barcelona based Star Alliance carrier, went under and few days later Malev, Hungary’s flag carrier and Oneworld member, ceased its operations.

In both cases the frequent flyer members lost all their banked miles. Some airlines continue to accept tickets that are issued by Malev and Spanair, although it is very unlikely that the operating carriers will get reimbursed.

Spanair Status Transfer

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Now, Star Alliance has initiated an official status match campaign for Spanair’s Silver and Gold level elite flyers. The following airlines are matching Spanair’s status in their respective programs:

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You need to follow the link on StarAlliance.com that takes you to a Surveymonkey site. You need to complete the status transfer request by March 16th, 2012.

Malev Duna Club Status Transfer

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Finnair, Airberlin, Japan Airlines are offering a status match for Malev’s Duna Club members. Unlike the StarAlliance match, Oneworld carriers require in Japan Airlines’ and Finnair’s case at least one flight to be taken before the status takes effect. Airberlin matches the status for four months and will extend the status further depending on the number of points or flights taken.

  • Malév Duna Club Platinum cardholders are being offered Platinum membership of Finnair Plus, Japan Airlines JAL Mileage Bank (JMB) Diamond or the equivalent tier in airberlin’s topbonus scheme, enabling them to retain their top level Emerald status in oneworld.
  • Malév Duna Club Gold members can transfer to Finnair Plus Gold, Japan Airlines JMB Sapphire or the equivalent airberlin topbonus tier, enabling them to continue to enjoy oneworld Sapphire services and benefits.
  • Malév Duna Club Silver members can transfer to Finnair Plus Silver, Japan Airlines JMB Crystal or the equivalent airberlin topbonus tier, enabling them to continue to enjoy oneworld Ruby services and benefits.

Hyatt Gold Passport Discontinues Partnerships with Air Canada (Aeroplan), Alaska Airlines, Frontier & US Airways

Hyatt announced today that they are discontinuing partnership with Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, Frontier, and US Airways on March 15th, 2012. You cannot earn miles based on your stay or exchange Hyatt Gold Passport with these partners after that date.

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It is always sad to see partners go because sometimes transferring miles from a hotel program is the best way to hit a promotional offer that airline partner is running i.e. US Airways. Discontinuance the partnership with Aeroplan is somewhat surprising considering that they were recently running a promotion.

Here’s the list of partner’s as of today:

Airline Partner You Earn
Aeromexico® 1,000 Kilometers
Aeroplan (Air Canada) 500 Miles
Air China 800 Kilometers
Air France / KLM 500 Miles
Alaska Airlines 500 Miles
All Nippon Airways 500 Miles
American Airlines 500 Miles
Amtrak 500 Miles
Asia Miles Airways 500 Miles
Asiana Airlines 500 Miles
British Airways 500 Points
China Airlines 500 Miles
China Eastern Airlines 800 Points
Continental Airlines® 500 Miles
Delta Air Lines® 500 Miles
Emirates 500 Miles
Etihad Airways 500 Miles
Frontier Airlines 500 Miles
Hawaiian Airlines 500 Miles
Japan Airlines 500 Miles
Jet Airways 500 Miles
Korean Air 500 Miles
LAN Airlines S.A. 1000 Kilometers
Lufthansa 500 Miles
Qantas Airways (600 or 1,000 Points)2
Qatar Airways 500 Miles
Royal Brunei Airlines 500 Miles
Singapore Airlines 500 Miles
South African Airways 500 Miles
Southwest Airlines® 600 Points
Thai Airways International 500 Miles
Turkish Airlines3 500 Miles
United Airlines® 500 Miles
US Airways® 500 Miles
Virgin Atlantic Airways 750 Miles

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