United Removes Flight Bucket and Upgrade Inventory Availability from United.com & Gone From Experflyer As Well

United made an announcement late on Friday about discontinuance of award, upgrade space, and fare bucket availability from United.com. Later in the day this information was no longer available using ExpertFlyer either. This information was useful when one was searching for flights based on GPU (Global Premier Upgrade) or RPU availability (Regional Premier Upgrade).

United Announcement About Removal of Availability Display
United Announcement About Removal of Availability Display

Later United clarified their position:

United Announcement Clarification
United Announcement Clarification

This information used to be available using ExpertFlyer as well but as of today the information is no longer available:


You still have access to the regular fare bucket availability using ExpertFlyer:


American Airlines still continues to publish this information via GDS that ExpertFlyer can access:



Unlike American Airlines, United requires you to buy a W fare or higher in order to use their upgrade GPU instrument on long haul international flights. W fare costs hundreds of dollars more than discounted coach and it is wise only to book flights that one can confirm to business or first class at the time of ticketing, if one wishes to use upgrade instrument. Now, this information has been withdrawn from United.com.

The United spokesperson was referring for confusion that displaying this information has lead. I really would like to believe their spokesperson, but she just doesn’t make any sense. How booking a flight that has upgrade space available and then using one of the upgrade instruments can lead to confusion?

Marriott Status Match Silver, Gold & Platinum – Taste of Silver, Gold or Platinum


Marriott recently changed their status match requirements. The old one was based on number of NIGHTS stayed during the match period. Now, the requirement is based on STAYS. Note that one stay can consist of multiple nights and would only count as one stay. This new requirement is easier to those that can switch between Marriott branded hotels and have one night stays.


You can get a temporarily match to Silver, Gold or Platinum status with Marriott rewards, and then you have at minimum three months to complete the requirements of  the challenge you requested/were targeted for.

The normal Silver status requirements is 10 nights, Gold status requirement is 50 nights and Platinum status 75 nights within a calendar year.

Hyatt, Hilton, and Club Carlson have similar programs available. You can read about Starwood options here, Hyatt’s procedures here, Hilton options here, and finally Club Carlson one here.

The new Marriott taste of Silver/Gold/Platinum requirements are:

1. Silver 3 stays during three month period + the month when you sign up

2. Gold 6 stays during three month period + the month when you sign up

3. Platinum 9 during three month period + the month when you sign up

Marriott uses somewhat interchangeably words Taste of Silver/Gold/Platinum, status match, and challenge when it comes to accelerating the status with the program.

The key is to start the challenge after the 1st of the month. If you start the taste of challenge on September 1st, you have only September, October, and November to complete it. By starting September 5th you would have not only September, October, and November, but also December to complete it.

Marriott will give you an instant Silver, Gold or Platinum status for the duration of the taste of period and will extend it upon completion of the required number of nights.

If you fail to successfully complete the challenge, you can do it again after 12 months from the ending of the challenge period.

The best time to apply for a challenge would be right at the beginning of the month. Then you would have the temporarily Silver, Gold or Platinum status close to 4 months and, if you successfully completed the challenge, the status would be valid until February 2014.

Then in 2014 you can probably do another Taste of Silver/Gold/Platinum or simply buy back the Gold/Platinum status for additional year. Marriott Rewards has offered every year a chance to buy back the previous status, if you have been downgraded. You can read more about the process on a recent piece that I wrote.

How to request?

You can call your local Marriott Rewards customer service number. I would, however, rather request the challenge by email. This way you have everything in writing and there is no chance of miscommunication or misunderstanding the requirements. Marriott tends to be quite fast at replying to emails.  Email addresses that you can use for requesting challenge are rewards.procedures@marriott.com, marriott.concierge@marriott.com, or elite.member@Marriott.com.

What if I am denied the challenge that I requested?

There are few reasons that Marriott tend to give when they are denying the challenge.

1. Account not eligible

2. Not enough commitment to have Marriott stays

3. No forward bookings

All these are rather easy to argue. If you are switching from another chain, it is rather obvious that you don’t have prior stay history with Marriott or have future Marriott bookings. You can always reiterate the number of stays that you have had with competing chains and that it would be difficult to switch to Marriott, if you don’t get the elite status benefits during the “transitioning” period.

You may get different answer depending what email address you use and/or if you call Marriott. If the answer you received is not to your liking, it doesn’t hurt to contact Marriott using other contact channel i.e. phone.


It is normally rather easy to get a status match challenge from Marriott. The number of stays to get Platinum status extended is only 9 during the month you sign up + 3 full months. If you start the challenge at the beginning of the month, you have close to four months to complete it.

Trying to requalify the hard way is somewhat problematic though. Marriott requires 75 nights during a calendar year and only paid nights count. If you don’t requalify and would prefer maintaining the status, you can always use the Buy Back Your Status-offer from Marriott or to do another challenge

Make sure that you have signed up for our blog email updates and follow us on Twitter and like on Facebook. We will always make a post when there is an exciting Marriott promotion or bonus point opportunity around.

Priority Club “Roles To Rooms” Promotion Update: 15K for 4 Stays


On August 30th, I wrote about a new Priority Club promotion for 15K points for 4 stays. You can access the post here.


The promotion is available to those that have their Priority Club account address in the Asia Pacific region. All others will receive a message about invalid promotion code. Also, the promotion doesn’t show up on “My Promotions” even when you have successfully registered.


I can now confirm that if you successfully signed for the promotion and even if it doesn’t show up in your “My Promotions”, you will receive the bonus points. I just had couple of stays and the first set of bonus points (2500) posted after the second stay.


This is an excellent Priority Club promotion that you should sign up for. If your account address is not in the Asia pacific region, it would be worthwhile to change it there temporarily. I am sure that we all have someone in out extended circle of friends that is living in the region. Just ask if you can use their address temporarily.

Make sure that you have signed up for our blog email updates and follow us on Twitter and like on Facebook. We will always make a post when there is an exciting Priority Club promotion or bonus point opportunity around.

Yellow Fever, Influenza & Hepatitis A Vaccinations in Bangkok


The other week, I got denied boarding when I was trying to enter flight to South Africa from Brazil due to not having my Yellow fever vaccination proof with me. When I was in Bangkok earlier this week, I decided to have this fixed and get my second Hepatitis A shot at the same time.


The Thai Red Cross building, where you can get all these done, is as also known as snake farm. I guess that they must have some sort of snake farm/exhibition in there as well. It is centrally located close to the Silom area.


So, here’s the deal. It is very inexpensive to have these vaccinations done in Bangkok. The fee is only 20 THB that covers the prescription. The Yellow Fever vaccination was 900 THB, the Hepatitis A 1400 THB, and the influence one 400 THB.


You first need to sign up.


Then nurse will measure your blood pressure.


Then you go to another room to wait for a doctor.


After getting the prescription there is a pharmacy where you pick up the meds.


Then back to the same room and a nurse will administer the injections.


All this took about an hour from arriving to leaving.


[nggallery id=56]

Bangkok is an excellent place to get visas or even some vaccinations as I just did. I had the yellow fever vaccination done previously, but the documentation was lost at some point. Just an hour of my time and less than 2800 THB ($90), I had not only the yellow fever but also influenza and hepatitis A taken care as well.

Qantas New Partnership with Emirates and Dropping JVA with BA, CX & AF Codeshares


During the past few years Emirates has grown significant on the Australian market by connecting number of cities to their global network. Emirates also operates several of so called trans-Tasman routes between Australia and New Zealand.


Qantas will drop its Singapore to Franfurt route and will start connecting its entire European network via Dubai. Qantas will continue to operate two flights per day to London Heathrow via Dubai from Sydney and Melbourne, but all the other destinations will be served using Qantas codeshares on Emirates metal.


Emirates will get access to Qantas’ domestic network for feeder flights to supports its Australian network.

Qantas will end its joint venture agreement with British Airways and codeshare agreements with both Cathay Pacific and Air France.

Both airlines will acknowledge the frequent flyer statuses of each others frequent fliers.

You can read more about this announcement on dedicated website at www.qantasandemirates.com.


This is really interesting development. Emirates is an alliance independent airline and Qantas is a member of Oneworld alliance. It doesn’t bode well for the alliance if Qantas is dropping its codeshare agreements with Cathay Pacific and ending the JVA (join venture agreement) with British Airways.

It has also been speculated that Qatar is likely to join an alliance and might be leaning towards Oneworld .

Delta Changes Award Travel Mileage Requirements Unannounced

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This past spring, I wrote about the coming changes to the SkyMiles program called Evolution of SkyMiles. The project has been delayed but will eventually be implemented. In the meantime, Delta has changed some award travel mileage requirements unannounced in September 1st.

FlyerTalk member GYEWorldTraveler noticed that some of the mileage requirements had changed. Then another member LedgeT posted the following list of the changes that had been made:

Between US & Europe, Y
Mid (Prev) = 45,000
Mid (New) = 47,500
Peak (Prev) = 62,500
Peak (New) = 65,000

Between US & Caribbean, Y
Mid (Prev) = 25,000
Mid (New) = 27,500
Peak (Prev) = 35,000
Peak (New) = 37,500

Between US & Mexico, Y
Mid (Prev) = 25,000
Mid (New) = 27,500
Peak (Prev) = 35,000
Peak (New) = 37,500

Between US & Southern S. America, Y
Mid (Prev) = 45,000
Mid (New) = 47,500
Peak (Prev) = 62,500
Peak (New) = 65,000

Between US & SE Asia, J
Peak (Prev) = 185,000
Peak (New) = 175,000

Delta hadn’t changed the LOW requirements but all these changes were done to either MID or Peak level awards.


Delta should be absolutely ashamed of devaluing the program and not giving any kind of heads up for their SkyMiles members about the coming changes. Airlines typically inform about the changes to their award redemption tables couple of months before so that people are able to use their miles at the old levels if they so wish.

Complimentary Intercontinental Ambassador Status After Three InterContinental Nights


InterContinental has had this same promo for the past few years. You will get an Ambassador status after three paid nights at InterContinental hotels (stays at any other InterContinental Hotels Group brand do not count). You need to register for this offer prior to your stay.


You can register here by inputting an offer code 6487 along with your Priority Club number and/or email address. You need to have the three InterContinental nights by the end of November, 2012. You can read more about the InterContinental Ambassador status here and about the Royal Ambassador status here.

Please note that it appears that this offer doesn’t work for all Priority Club accounts. It might be geographically targeted or doesn’t work if you have taken advantage of similar offer previously and/or has been an Ambassador member.


This is a very good offer if you have three InterContinental nights coming up before the end of November and are not ready to pay $200 for Ambassador status.

Make sure that you have signed up for our blog email updates and follow us on Twitter and like on Facebook. We will always make a post when there is an exciting Priority Club promotion or bonus point opportunity around.

Double Elite Qualifying Miles on US Airways Shuttle Flights

You can earn double elite qualifying miles or preferred miles, as US Airways prefer to call them, on US Airways shuttle flights between New York, Washington DC and Boston between September 3 and October 31, 2012.


The double preferred miles only apply to shuttle flights if you have some other US Airways flights in your itinerary. You must be a US Airways Dividend Miles member and credit the flights to US. You need to register for this promotion.


If you have some shuttle flights coming in the next 60 days and you have been crediting them to US Airways Dividend Miles, it makes to sign up for the promo and get the “free” elite qualifying miles. These shuttle flights are short and thus you won’t make a bang on this promo unless you take shuttle flights daily/weekly.

Here are the terms and conditions of this promotion:

Registration is required. Book and travel on any US Airways Shuttle flight September 3 – October 31, 2012 and earn double Preferred-qualifying miles on the US Airways Shuttle segments flown. A US Airways Shuttle segment is any nonstop flight operated between Washington DC (DCA), New York City (LGA) and Boston. Customers with itineraries that do not contain a US Airways Shuttle flight are not eligible for bonus miles. Customers with itineraries that contain a US Airways Shuttle segment will only receive the bonus for that segment. For example, if you fly from New York (LGA) to Washington DC (DCA) to Phoenix, you’ll earn the promotional bonus only on the New York (LGA) to Washington, DC (DCA) US Airways Shuttle segment. Bonus is earned on base flight miles only on flights operated by US Airways Shuttle. Miles bonus will count toward Preferred status. US Airways will award bonus miles one to two weeks after travel has been completed. All Dividend Miles terms and conditions apply. US Airways reserves the right to interpret and apply all promotion rules.

Triple Priority Club Points in Spain & Portugal – Need to Book IKTB2 Rate


Priority Club is offering triple points at number of their properties in Spain and Portugal. You need to book a triple points rate code IKTB2 to be eligible for the bonus. This offer is valid from September 4 to December 31, 2012 but you need to make the booking by November 10. You can access this offer here.

Priority Club Triple Points Iberia
Priority Club Triple Points Iberia

Here are three rate examples:

Holiday Inn Madrid



Triple points rate is 165 euros per night when the hotel also has an advance purchase rate of 139.50 euros per night

Holiday Inn Express Alicante



The triple points rate is the same as best flexible rate 45 euros. There are advance purchase rate for 40.50 euros available as well.

Holiday Inn Lisbon



The Advance purchase rate is 120 euros and the triple points rate is 133.33 euros.


If the lowest rate that you are eligible for is very close to the triple points rate, then it makes sense to book the triple points one. Also, if you are very close to requalifying or making a Platinum status, all the points that you earn counts towards the 60K requirement.

Personally, I am not a huge fan of promotions that require you to book an inflated rate. These are normally targeted towards business travelers that can get their hotel bills reimbursed by clients/employer.

Here are the terms and conditions of this promotion in French:

Les points ou les miles supplémentaires seront attribués à chaque séjour admissible dans un hôtel Crowne Plaza®, Holiday Inn® ou Holiday Inn Express® en Espagne ou au Portugal du 4 septembre au 31 décembre 2012 (« période de la promotion »). Pour obtenir le triple de points ou de miles, la réservation devra être effectuée avant le 10 novembre 2012. Les points supplémentaires seront octroyés et crédités sur les comptes de membres Priority Club Rewards dans les six semaines suivant la date de départ. Priority Club se réserve le droit de restreindre, suspendre, modifier ou substituer le programme Points ou miles supplémentaires à tout moment et sans préavis. Des hôtels de toute catégorie d’enseigne ou de destination peuvent être ajoutés ou supprimés pendant toute la période de la promotion. Un séjour correspond à une ou plusieurs nuits consécutives dans un même hôtel, quelle que soit la fréquence d’arrivée/de départ. Un séjour est admissible lorsqu’il est réglé à l’un des tarifs acceptés, ce qui inclut la plupart des tarifs affaires et loisirs.

Une seule chambre par membre et par nuit dans les hôtels participants sera prise en compte pour le cumul. Aucun point ou mile ne sera attribué de manière rétroactive pour les nuits précédant la période de la promotion. Offre soumise aux conditions générales et aux conditions générales d’adhésion au programme Priority Club Rewards.

Update on My InterContinental Royal Ambassador Renewal

Last week, I saw my InterContinental Royal Ambassador status renewed at much less nights than what is the “official” line from the Ambassador service center. I wrote a piece about it and thought that it might be a glitch. Coupel of years back there was huge number of Ambassador members elevated to Royal Ambassador status over the weekend only to find out that they had withdrawn it couple of days later.


So, I sent an email to Ambassador service center at ambassador@igh.com asking for clarification on the issues on hand:

1. Line on my Priority Club account states Royal Ambassador renewal

2. Status had been downgraded to Platinum Ambassador on the same site

3. Royal Ambassador should have been valid until the end of September

4. InterContinental.com shows the status as Platinum Ambassador

I sent this email over the weekend and received the following reply back within 48 hours:

Thank you for taking the time to contact the InterContinental Ambassador Service Center.

Foremost, our apologies for the inconvenience this matter has caused.

We would like to take this opportunity to clarify that accounts of Royal Ambassador members are monitored at least two (2) months prior to its expiry date. In your case, your IC stay activity was monitored between the months of July-August 2012.

Please note however that consideration will be given for your stays in particular for the months of August towards September.

In this regard, we would like to confirm that due to your impressive InterContinental stay activity your Royal Ambassador status was reinstated and is now valid through 01 October 2013. Additionally, please allow for your membership portfolio to arrive within seven weeks.

We hope to have provided the necessary information. Should you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at +44 (0) 870 400 9099/ 1-888-211-7996

Of course the email that I sent achieved the result that I had been seeking for. My Royal Ambassador status was extended until the end of September 2013. Obviously the original Royal Ambassador line on my Priority Club account history had been fluke. It is actually funny that they had now changed it to Ambassador Renewal and then another line for Royal Ambassador upgrade.


InterContinental Hotels Group/Priority Club is not known for their IT. It does work, however, for our advantage for most of the time as you can sign up for numerous concurrent promotions that are “officially” targeted.

Priority Club Last Minute Reward Nights Out For September

Priority Club just released a list of last minute rewards nights for this coming weekend. You need to book them on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday for Friday, Saturday, or Sunday nights this coming weekend. You can access the full list of hotels by following this link.


These last minute rewards nights are offered at 50% discount of the usual number of points needed. This time they have 66 hotels on the list of which only one is InterContinental hotel. Most of the hotels on the lost this time are in the United States.


Sometimes there are good values on the Last Minute Rewards list, but nothing really caught my eye this time around.


It is always good time to use points when a hotel is on the Last Minute Awards or Point Breaks list. This time the Last Minute Reward list is rather limited and only has one InterContinental hotel.

Make sure that you have signed up for our blog email updates and follow us on Twitter and like on Facebook. We will always make a post when there is an exciting Priority Club promotion or bonus point opportunity around.

InterContinental Hotels Group Friends & Family Program


InterContinental Hotels Group (InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Indigo, Candlewood Suites & Staybridge Suites) has their own rather public Friends Family program. I would only use this rate if I know someone working for the company, although there is public referral link available here.


Here are few reasons why you shouldn’t be using this rate:

1. Doesn’t qualify for stay credit

2. The stay won’t earn points

3. Doesn’t qualify for other promotions i.e. prepaid gift cards

4. Shouldn’t earn cashback

5. Depending of the hotel is non-cancellable, non-changeable, and non-refundable

6. Priority or Ambassador benefits do not apply

7. The rate is not always very good

Due to the issues above, I would ONLY use this rate if the saving is really significant.

Now, we can have a look if there are savings to be had at number of properties using this offer:

Crowne Plaza Santiago de Chile



You could save $23.10 by using the Friends & Family rate compared to lowest available public rate.

InterContinental Dubai Festival City



The Friends & Family rate was not available for the lowest priced room but starts at the Club level rooms and then discounts suites as well. You could save 217 AED by using the F&F over the Advance Saver Rate.

InterContinental Singapore



You could save 45 SGD by taking advantage of the F&F offer.


In all these instances the Friends & Family discount yielded savings over publicly available rates, but the discounts weren’t big enough FOR me that I would forego all the benefits. I am sure that there are instances where the savings are more significant than on my three examples.

Make sure that you have signed up for our blog email updates and follow us on Twitter and like on Facebook. We will always make a post when there is an exciting Priority Club promotion or bonus point opportunity around.

Qatar Airways Global Sale September 4 to 6

Qatar just announced their latest global sale for economy and business class. The offers are valid for purchase from September 4 to September 6 and for travel until 31st of May 2013. Previously these sales have had more narrow travel period.


  • Sales period: 4th – 6th September 2012
  • Outbound travel period: 10th September 2012 – 13th March 2013
  • Return travel period: 13th September 2012 – 13th March 2013 and 15th April 2013 – 31st May 2013
  • Blackout dates (travel not allowed):
    • 14th – 23rd December 2012 and 2nd – 20th January 2013
    • Additional blackout dates for itineraries originating from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen: Outbound travel from 17th – 29th October 2012 and return travel from 27th October to 5th November 2012
  • Valid on Qatar Airways operated flights, with the following exceptions
    • All itineraries originating from Brussels
    • Flights to and from Amritsar, Houston, Kozhikode, Manila, Montreal, Yangon
    • Flights between Denpasar/Bali and Singapore, Hanoi and Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires
    • All itineraries to Doha as a final destination (excluding transit in Doha), except itineraries originating from Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Itineraries requiring a transit in Doha are allowed.
  • Minimum stay: 3 days
  • Maximum stay: 1 month, except for itineraries originating from Australia where maximum stay is 3 months
  • Discount applies to instant purchases only
  • Discount applies to Economy and Business Class return tickets. For flights where Business Class is not operated, First Class is applicable
  • Seats are limited and are subject to availability of the relevant booking class
  • Fares include all applicable discounts, fees, taxes and airport charges. Service fees may apply for tickets purchased at Qatar Airways sales offices or through travel agents
  • Tickets are non-refundable, non-transferable and non-changeable. Cancellations are not permitted (except for itineraries originating from Brazil or Korea)
  • For itineraries originating from Brazil or Korea, tickets are non-refundable, non-transferable and non-changeable. Cancellations before departures are permitted for a fee of USD 300 (Brazil) or KRW 200,000 (Korea). Cancellations after departure are non-refundable
  • In case of no-show, ticket has no value for use on any other service, and it is non-refundable, non-changeable and non-bookable
  • Stopover is not permitted
  • Standard child/infant discount apply
  • Please note that on selected dates and destinations, lower market–specific promotion fares may be available. All available options, together with the applicable terms & conditions for each fare will be displayed at time of booking for you to make your selection.
  • Other terms & conditions apply. Please review at the time of booking


Some of the sales fares are really good. I have normally bought couple of tickets during Qatar’s sales and may do it again this time around.

AviancaTaca LifeMiles 100% Purchase Bonus Offer


LifeMiles has been offering 100% bonus for purchased miles couple of times a year. What makes this offer exciting is the fact that the airline is now a full member of Star Alliance and you can use the purchased miles for awards on all Star Alliance carriers. LifeMiles just sent an email regarding their latest offer.


You can buy up to 75000 miles for $2250 that is doubled to total of 150K miles. The price of a purchased mile is reasonable 1.5 cents. This offer is valid from September 3 to September 28, 2012. You can access this offer here.


You can use the purchased miles to do cash + miles awards even further extending the number of miles purchased.



AviancaTaca has very good frequent flier program for Star Alliance awards. Even if you are not planning to fly the airline in question it can make sense to buy the miles if you use them for international business and first class awards.

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