British Airways Avios 25% Hotel Points Conversion Bonus

British Airways is offering 25% bonus for converting hotel points to Avios. This offer is valid until January 13. There is no need to register for this offer and you can read more about it here.

ba-avios-convertion-bonus

 

You can convert points from Starwood, Club Carlson, Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, Priority Club, and Shangri-La’s programs into Avios.

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Conclusion

Airlines tend to intermittently run promotions for hotel point conversion to their miles. These offers tend to vary. Would I convert any of my hotel points to Avios due to getting 25% conversion bonus? I absolutely would not, but it doesn’t mean that this promotion could not work for you.

Here are the terms and conditions of this offer:

  • This promotion is only open to Eligible Participants. An eligible participant is a person aged 18 or over and is a British Airways Executive Club Member (“BAEC”) (membership terms and conditions apply) and is enrolled and registered with one of the hotel partner loyalty programmes. By taking part in this promotion, Eligible Participants confirm that they accept the Terms and Conditions below.

  • Eligible Participants can earn up to 25% Bonus Avios between 13 December 2012 and 13 January 2013 for any qualifying hotel loyalty points converted into Avios. BAEC members must enrol via the hotel property links provided on http://www.britishairways.com/travel/points-to-avios/public/

  • To convert your points, please contact the hotel whose points you wish to convert to Avios.

  • Taxes, fees and charges remain payable by the BAEC member.

  • Bonus Avios can take 4-6 weeks to show on your account from the date of conversion. Once they have been credited, you can start redeeming them for flights, hotels and Avis car hire.· Bonus Avios is non-redeemable for cash and non-reversible.

  • Bonus Avios is issued subject to the BAEC Terms and Conditions http://www.britishairways.com/travel/termcn/public/en_gb and all passengers and baggage are subject to the general terms and conditions of carriage.

  • Reward flights are subject to availability and capacity control and availability may be limited at peak times.

  • Hotel loyalty scheme membership, and earning and redemption of points are subject to the Terms and Conditions of each specific hotel’s loyalty scheme in addition to British Airways Terms and Conditions, as applicable.

  • This promotion cannot be used in conjunction with any other British Airways offers or promotion.

  • Promoter reserves the right to withdraw the promotion or amend these terms and conditions without prior notice at any time, for whatever reason, and without any liability to customers for doing so.

  • This promotion shall be governed by the laws of England & Wales and the exclusive jurisdiction of the English Courts.

  • This promotion is provided by British Airways Plc Waterside, PO Box 365, Harmondsworth, UB7 0GB. Registered No. 1777777 England

Free 500 American Airlines Miles for Two Facebook Likes & Short Survey

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American Airlines just posted on their Facebook page about “Mile for your thoughts” offer of 500 free American Airlines miles for completing a short survey after liking both American Airlines and AAdvantage Facebook pages. You can access this offer here.

american-airlines-aadvantage-miles-for-your-thoughts

As is often the case with these Facebook apps, you need to give them permission to access some of your info.

american-airlines-aadvantage-miles-for-your-thoughts-fb

The questions are super easy. You just need to identify your top two airline programs, what status you have, and what counted the most for making the selection. Then you can also leave a note about your other favorite programs outside the airlines.

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You then just need to submit the short survey and the miles will be deposited in your account in 6 to 8 weeks.

american-airlines-aadvantage-miles-for-your-thoughts-500

After you have completed the app, you can disallow the app to access your data and unlike both AA and AAdvantage, if you so prefer.

Conclusion

Very easy way of getting 500 free American Airlines miles and don’t take too much of your time.

This is also a good way to extend the validity of your miles by another 18 months if you don’t have too much AAdvantage activity.

American Airlines New Choice Options on AA.com

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Once airlines unbundled most of the perks that used to come up with the flying like free checked bags, they have started to introduce various packages and options to reintroduce them as add-ons. You can read more about these options on AA’s website here.

american-airlines-choice-email

Now, American Airlines have introduced three different packages for economy fliers with various add-ons.

american-choices-graphic

American’s round-trip travel options now include:

  • Choice: The lowest fare available in the Main Cabin that gives customers the flexibility to purchase additional products a la carte.

  • Choice Essential: No change fee, one checked bag (or third checked bag for AAdvantage elite and oneworld®  elite members) and Group 1 Boarding for an additional $68 round-trip.

  • Choice Plus: No change fee, one checked bag (or third checked bag for AAdvantage elite and oneworld elite customers), Group 1 Boarding, 50 percent AAdvantage mileage bonus, Same-Day Flight Change, Same-Day Standby, and a premium beverage, such as an alcoholic beverage onboard for an additional $88 round-trip.

  • Fully Flexible: Refundable fare, two checked bags, Main Cabin Extra/Preferred Seats, PriorityAAccess, Same-Day Flight Change, Same-Day Standby, and 500-Mile Upgrade eligibility (upgrades available after AAdvantage elite status members have been confirmed).

  • Business/First: The lowest Business Class or First Class fare, including Instant Upgrade fares, is visible on the Lowest Fare tab.  Customers booking Business and First Class fares will receive all the benefits they have come to appreciate, including priority baggage handling, up to three checked bags and PriorityAAccess.

The new booking interface has been done an infrequent flyers point of view. As I have written before, I much prefer booking my air tickets on non-airline sites for greater price visibility and ability to compare air carriers. Of course, airlines don’t like this. Airlines would prefer that you book on their website so that they can “merchandise” their product using the word that American Airlines spoke person used.

AMERICAN AIRLINES NEW TRAVEL OPTIONS

 Here’s a price display for Ontario (ONT) to Fort Lauderdale (FLL) for random date in January

aa-price-display

The price difference between Choice and Choice Essential is $34. If you are going to check a bag and would need to pay $25 for doing so, the price that you are paying for waiving the change fee is $9.

If you are planning to pay for the Choice Essential, it would make more sense to go for the Choice Plus on this route. The price difference between the Essential and Choice Plus is only $10. The extra award miles alone (about 1160 miles) are worth more than the difference in fare.

Conclusion

These choice Essential and Choice Plus can make sense to those that need to check in a bag and would need otherwise pay for it, and to those that need more flexibility. The change fee that is typically $150 in addition to the fare difference is waived. Note that you still need to pay the fare difference, however.

Then there must be quite a few business travelers that will buy the new Choice Plus just to get the extra award miles….

Starwood Cookie Consent and 130+ Networks They Use for Ad Targeting

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For the past week, I have been in the European Union that has far stricter privacy laws than most countries in Asia or North America. I have seen somewhat annoying messages to deny or allow cookies from number of companies/media whose websites I frequent.

starwood-cookie-consent-tool

When you click the Evidon tab that shows up on the SPG’s website, you are then presented with a Cookie Consent Tool.

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Starwood uses three cookies for storing essential log in information to their website.

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They do use, however, excess of 130 companies/cookies for ad servicing.

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For ad targeting, SPG uses 19 partners.

Conclusion,

SPG, for being a large multinational, works with a number of partners that is well represented by the number of cookies and services they use to serve advertising and personalize it.

If you ask how many cookies LoyaltyLobby stores in your computer, I quite frankly have no idea. The only thing that we use for visitor tracking is Google Analytics.

Complimentary Regus Businessworld Gold Lounge Membership for United Premiers

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United Premier members, not sure if limited to Premier1K’sonly, now have an additional benefit of Business Lounge access at more than 1200 Regus locations worldwide. The fee of joining to Regus Businessworld Gold is waived for United Premier members. I received an email from United yesterday about this.

united-regus

 

You can try singing up here and see if they accept your Mileage Plus number. I have previously been a member of Regus through an offer that they had extended to Delta’s SkyClub members.

united-regus-sign-up

You never know when an access to an office space where one can quickly do emails or have an access to a meeting place can come handy.

regus-packages

Conclusion

Regus has often been extending the base level Businessworld Gold access to tier members of number of airlines. You can utilize their business lounges and refreshments free of charge, but obviously charges apply if you need additional help like a conference room.

Club Carlson Festive Offers + Gift Points for Members in EMEA

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Club Carlson has sent out an email for members in EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Asia) with holiday offers such as 50% discount on awards, double Gold Points and a free breakfast. I have already written about the first two offers.

club-carlson-your-festive-offers

More interesting is the year end gift of few thousands Club Carlson points (may depend of your Club Carlson status).

club-carlson-gold-bonus-points-for-christmas

Please note that I cannot post the personalized link. But, if you received an email from Club Carlson in the past day with the Holiday subject, you should open it and collect the free points.

Conclusion

Club Carlson has had very good promotions this year and sending few thousands extra holiday points for members residing on EMEA is continuance of this.

Here are the terms and conditions of these offers:

Terms and Conditions for Year End Gift Campaign

  • This year end gift is available to Club CarlsonSM members only within Europe, Middle East and Africa.
  • The year end gift is personal and only invited Club Carlson members can register to select their year end gift.
  • The membership account number must be provided by the member at the time of registration for the year end gift, together with member’s name and full contact details.
  • Registration for year end gift is only valid until 27 December 2012.
  • Only one year end gift selection per Club Carlson member.
  • The year end gift is subject to availability.

Bonus Gold Points®:

  • Bonus Gold Points will be calculated and credited to the member’s account by 28 February 2013.
  • Only one Club Carlson member account will be credited (personalised gift and cannot be transferred to another member).
  • Bonus Gold Points are subject to all Club Carlson Program Terms and Conditions.

Club Carlson reserves the right to add, modify, or discontinue the year end gift campaign before the relevant gift is made use of, with or without notice. The year end gift campaign and/or the relevant gifts are void where prohibited by law. By participating in this year end gift campaign, you agree and consent to these terms and conditions.

SPG Power Up Promotion: 2000 Bonus Starpoints for Every Four Nights + 10K Bonus for 20 Nights

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Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) just announced their 1st quarter 2013 Power Up promotion that is valid from January 15 to April 15, 2013, and registration is required by February 28. The registration for this promotion will open in early 2013. You can access SPG’s page for this promotion here.

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You will earn 2000 bonus Starpoints for every four nights (4/8/12/16) you stay during the promotion period for up to 8000 bonus points after 16 nights. You will receive 10000 bonus points for staying 20 nights during the promotional period. You will not receive bonuses for more than 20 nights.

Note that the nights can be over number of stays. Although award nights yield a stay credit, they are not eligible nights for promotional purposes.

Conclusion

This is essentially 500 bonus points per stay if you reach the 4/8/12/16 nights requirements + 10K bonus for reaching 20 nights. If you do 20 eligible SPG nights during the promotional period, the prorated nightly bonus is 900 Starpoints.

Here are the terms and conditions of this offer:

SPG Power Up Terms and Conditions

Text Message Reminders: SPG® members who reside in the U.S. or U.K. can opt to receive a text message reminder to register for the promotion when the registration window opens. Submit keyword “PWRUP” to 44264 in the U.S. to opt in. Submit keyword “PWRUP” to 447950080934 in the U.K. to opt in. Opted-in members will receive three text messages from Starwood for this campaign. One message will be sent right after opting in, asking you to respond with keyword “YES” to verify that you would like to receive the reminder text. Once you do so, you will also get a text confirming that you have been opted in. Then, when the promotion is live, you will get the reminder text with registration information. Message and data rates apply. Supported carriers in the U.S. are AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, Nextel, Boost, U.S. Cellular and Alltel. Supported carriers in the U.K. are Three, O2, Orange, T-Mobile, Virgin and Vodafone. If your mobile operator is not participating, you may not receive a reply to your message. To receive help information, text “PWRUP HELP” to short code 44264 in the U.S. or text “PWRUP HELP” to 447950080934 if located in the U.K. You may also opt out at any time by sending “PWRUP STOP” to 44264 in the U.S. or by sending “PWRUP STOP” to 447950080934 if located in the U.K. We will not share or use your mobile number for any other purpose. We will only use information you provide to transmit your text message.

Earning: Once registration opens, SPG members will have until February 28, 2013, midnight ET to register at spg.com/powerup. Members can earn 2,000 bonus Starpoints® after every four eligible nights, up to a maximum of 8,000 bonus Starpoints after 16 eligible nights. Members can earn an additional 10,000 bonus Starpoints once they have stayed 20 eligible nights. Members may earn a maximum of 18,000 total bonus Starpoints for eligible nights from January 15, 2013, through April 15, 2013 (the “promotion period”).

Bonusing: Bonus Starpoints will post to the registered member’s account within 2–4 weeks after the qualifying stay posts that includes the 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th and 20th eligible night. Bonus Starpoints will be awarded after the complete stay posts, regardless of when the qualifying nights within a given stay occur.

Eligible Nights: An eligible night is a night at any of the over 1,100 SPG-participating hotels and resorts paying an eligible rate during the promotion period. Nights do not have to be consecutive and can be accumulated across multiple stays. An eligible rate is any rate that is eligible to earn Starpoints in the Starwood Preferred Guest® program. SPG-participating hotels and resorts and a description of eligible stays and eligible rates can be found at spg.com under program terms and conditions. See Section 1.4 for the complete definition of eligible rates, but note that certain prepaid rooms where the booking is made through a third party (including but not limited to travelocity.com, expedia.com and orbitz.com) are not eligible rates and do not earn Starpoints or qualify toward promotional earnings.

Qualifications and Starwood Terms: All promotions are subject to the Starwood Preferred Guest program terms and conditions, which are subject to change without notice and can be found at spg.com. Offer is applicable to individual members only and not to groups. Not responsible for omissions or typographical errors. Starwood reserves the right to discontinue this offer at any time. To update your communication preferences or learn about our privacy practices, view our Privacy Statement on spg.com/privacy, or access our privacy information line by calling 1-877-782-0071 in the U.S. and Canada or +353-21-4930474 in all other countries. Starpoints, SPG, Preferred Guest, Sheraton, Four Points, W, Aloft, The Luxury Collection, Le Méridien, Element, Westin, St. Regis and their respective logos are the trademarks of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., or its affiliates. Void where prohibited by law. ©2012 Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. All rights reserved.

United Award & Premier Accelerators

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United happily sells award accelerators for all itineraries that are booked on United ticket stock and associated with a Mileage Plus account. The price and amount of miles and PQM’s (Premier Qualifying Miles) is dependent of your Mileage Plus status and the ticket, although on the following three examples the award and premier accelerators were identical for a Premier 1K account.

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You can access the accelerator when you are managing the reservation at United.com. There is a banner for “Get Extra Miles” and a dollar figure associated with it.

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Note that you cannot only buy Premier Miles but you have to buy the award accelerator as well.

Singapore Airlines Sao Paulo to Sydney via SingaporeUA SQ GRU-SYD NO FF

Here’s what is displayed before you associate the reservation with any frequent flier number.

For Premier 1K, United is offering to sell 30K RDM’s for $630 or 45K for $945. You can ad PQM’s miles for both at 15 cents per PQM – 45K PQM’s for $6750 or 30K PQM’s for $4500.

For non-status member, United is displaying the first offer. You can buy award miles at 2.1 cents each and PQM’s at the same level of 15 cents per PQM as for Premier 1K.

Seattle to Miami entirely on United metal

Again, you need to include United Mileage Plus number to get accelerator rates.

For this 1K, the offer was exactly the same as on the previous example.

For non-elite member, the offer was different, however. United was selling award miles at 2.6 cents each and PQM’s at 15 cents each.

Seattle to Istanbul on Lufthansa, Turkish and United

The display before United FF number is associated with the PNR.

The Premier 1K offer is exactly the same.

For the non-elite member, the offer is 15 cents per PQM and 2.1 cents per award mile.

Conclusion

The purchase price of an award mile under this award accelerator offer is rather reasonable at 2.1 cents each. What you can do is to make a reservation at United.com and purchase the number of award miles you need and then cancel the reservation. You have 24 hours to cancel a reservation without fees that is done on United.com. Alternatively, you can always buy a fully refundable fare that you refund at some point in time. Just make sure that you read the fare rules carefully.

The PQM offer seems to vary depending on your Mileage Plus status. For this 1K that is not even close to qualifying, the offer was always the same regardless of the itinerary in question.  For non-status member, the offer varied.

 Here are the terms and conditions of the accelerators:

  • All award miles purchased are non-refundable. A federal excise tax of 7.5% is included in the displayed price.

  • These miles credit to your MileagePlus account within 24 hours of purchase.

  • The miles you purchase with Award Accelerator are redeemable miles and do not count toward premier qualification, unless Premier Accelerator is added to your purchase.

  • Purchased miles are subject to all MileagePlus terms and conditions.

Increase in Marriott Rewards Platinum Arrival Gift to 400 Points at Courtyards in North America

Marriott just made an announcement on their Marriott Rewards Insiders web forum about the increase in Platinum arrival gift starting from January 1, 2013, to 400 points from the current 200 points at Courtyard hotels in North America. Alternatively, Platinum members can choose a food and beverage amenity.

marriott-rewards-courtyard

The Platinum arrival gift bonus of 250 points at locations outside of the North America hasn’t changed.

Conclusion

You can earn an additional 200 Marriott Rewards points per stay at Courtyards in North America if you choose points instead of the Platinum food and beverage amenity.

AviancaTaca LifeMiles Now Requires 2500 More Miles Per Oneway or 5000 Per Round-trip on Some Awards

AviancaTaca has quietly changed part of its award chart this week, but has failed to update it. You can still access the old chart on their website. You can get the new rates by searching for award space on LifeMiles.com.

lifemiles-star-alliance-award-chart

The change is not drastic only 2500 additional miles oneway or 5000 per return. This does not apply to all awards. It is somewhat worrisome, however, that the airline did this unannounced.

South Asia to South Asia

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This should require 12500 in economy or 17500 miles in business. The new requirements are 15000 and 20000 miles.

North Africa/Middle East to North Africa/Middle East

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For this part, the award calculator on the website agrees with the published award chart. Oneway in economy is 15000 and 27500 in business class.

Europe to North Asia

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The award miles required for Europe to North Asia doesn’t seem to have changes. Oneway in economy is 45K miles.

Conclusion

Some awards have changed while at the same time some others have not. LifeMiles has not, however, updated their award chart.

You have to be somewhat careful with a program like LifeMiles. They did just what Delta did and changed their award chart and thought that nobody would notice. I am sure that they will eventually release an updated chart as well.

The change is not drastic, but rather how it was implemented that gets me worried – without giving any prior notice.

British Airways Avios Award Booking Engine Update

British Airways has updated the award booking engine on britishairways.com to use the same engine that has been use on IAG’s Avios website. You no longer have to choose the engine to show partner airlines. They are now shown by default.

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You just have to bear in mind that BA charges awards by every single segment separately (some exceptions apply within Europe) and just combines the segment prices to come up with a total.

Here’s an example of the new booking engine for HEL-BKK one-way in Y

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Helsinki to Bangkok on a direct Finnair flight

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The price is rather reasonable 25K miles but around $160 of the $180 “taxes” are fuel surcharges

Helsinki to Bangkok on a British Airways flight via London

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The one-way is priced at 37500 miles and the “taxes” are $269.16.

Helsinki to Bangkok via London on Finnair/British Airways

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The miles required is the same as on the BA only flights but the “taxes” are $289.

Helsinki to Bangkok via Narita on Finnair/JAL

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BA wants 60K Avios and $347.35 for this combo.

Conclusion

The new award booking engine is better because it shows the partner airline inventory by default. You just have to make sure and check number of different options to find out the lowest price in Avios. As BA charges per segment, it is better to book a direct flight as a result.  People who are not living in Oneworld hub cities are basically screwed.

Delta Buys Singapore Airlines’ Share of Virgin Atlantic

There have been rumors around for some time that Delta was in discussion with Singapore Airlines to buy its share of Virgin Atlantic. Today, the deal was announced. Delta is buying the 49% share of Virgin Atlantic for $360 million. Singapore Airlines paid $968 million for its share of Virgin Atlantic back in 1998.

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The deal is expected to close at the end of 2013 after US and European Union competition regulators have reviewed the deal.  The airlines are planning to form a transatlantic joint venture for flights between the United Kingdom. Most likely nothing is going to happen interim to the frequent flyer programs of both airlines.

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There has also been speculation on the UK press that Air France-KLM would buy part of the 51% share that Sir Richard Branson owns/controls.

Sir Richard has also been very vocal lately that the airline is likely to join an alliance soon. If this purchase by Delta goes through and Air France-KLM buys part of the share owned by Sir Richard, it is very unlikely that the alliance of choice would be anything else than SkyTeam.

virgin-atlantic-flying-club-partners

Currently, Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club doesn’t have a single SkyTeam airline on its partner folio. It has seven Star Alliance carriers (Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, SAS, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways & US Airways) and one Oneworld carrier Malaysia Airlines (joining Oneworld in February of 2013).

Conclusion

From my personal perspective, I would rather see Virgin Atlantic joining Star Alliance than SkyTeam that I consider being a tertiary alliance compared to Star and Oneworld.

Relaxed Visa Rules for Beijing & Shanghai Starting January 1st – Up To 72 Hours Visa Free Transit

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There has been quite a bit of news lately about the relaxed transit visa rules for Beijing and Shanghai starting on January 1, 2013. Up until now, residents of certain 45 countries could have had 24 hours transit in Beijing and 48 hour transit in Shanghai without need to have a visa.

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First, Beijing announced that visitors could stay in Beijing for up to 72 hours starting on January 1st when they are in transit to a third country.

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Then, Shanghai announced few days later that they are upping the transit time to 72 hours as well.

Thing to note here is that we are talking about TRANSIT. Neither Beijing or Shanghai should be your final destination. You must be en route to some other destinations and rather have a stopover of less than 72 hours at either of these two cities. You are not allowed to visit other Chinese cities during this visa free transit time.

The countries that are included in this 45 country list are:

Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Japan, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States.

You can always use the Star Alliance’s Timatic service to check the entry requirements. This is the same system that is used by airline employees to check the entry requirements. I wrote a piece about it earlier this year.

china-transit-visa-beijing

Make sure that you have a blank page on your passport for the visa free entry stamp. Here’s a stamp that I got in Beijing a week ago when I was just transiting.

Conclusion

This is a welcomed change for those that regularly visit China. You can spend up to 72 hours in either Shanghai or Beijing.  Requirement that you must be in transit to a third country is bit cumbersome, but can easily get around it.

US Airways Club Membership – 3000 Premier Qualifying Miles + 2 Extra Months for Signing Up or Renewing

US Airways has a new offer for getting Dividend Miles members to sign up for Club access. You will get 3000 PQM’s (Premier Qualifying Miles) + 2 extra months added to your membership +  no initiation fee, if you make the purchase by December 13 and use promotional code 2FREE. You can access this offer here.

us-airways-club-offer-december-2free

US Airways had a similar offer in November for 5K PQM’s but without the extra 2 months. Here’s the list of current prices of Club membership.

us-airways-club-prices-2012

Note that having a Club membership will give you an access not only to US Airways Clubs but for other Star Alliance member clubs as well when flying on Star Alliance member airlines. On international itineraries, the club access is a benefit of Star Alliance Gold status. Within the United States you have access to both United and US Clubs (and some other Star Alliance ones like the Lufthansa club in Washington Dulles).

Conclusion

If you are short of qualifying for status with US Airways and this would put you over, I think that it is a good offer. Not only you will receive the club access but also 3K PQM’s.

Here are the terms and conditions of this offer:

Offer is available for all new US Airways Club enrollees, former members with a membership that expired within the past 6 months, and current members within 90 days of their membership expiration. Offer valid from December 17, 2012 to December 20, 2012. Offer cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion. Promo code 2FREE must be mentioned when enrolling or renewing to receive 2 free months and 3,000 Preferred-qualifying miles. New member initiation fee will be waived with this offer. Purchase must be made online or by calling Club Services at 800-828-8522. Offer is valid for annual single memberships only. Customers wishing to purchase a spouse add-on may do so for an additional $225. Dividend Miles membership is required. Please allow 7 days for membership processing. All US Airways Club and Dividend Miles terms and conditions apply.

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