Accor A Club Rate Promotion “3 Nights For The Price Of 2”

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Accor is having a sale for stays between March 9 and April 15, 2012. You can get 3 nights for the price of 2. There are quite a few hotels participating to this promotion, but obviously not all. They just sent an email notification for their A Club members before making the offer more widely available.

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I was just looking for options in Kuala Lumpur, where I will be this weekend, and Novotel had quite decent rates. If you are looking for some stays that are 3 days or longer, it might make some sense to check out the Accor’s prices.

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There is still the promotion going to get instant Platinum status as well with the Accor’s A Club. You can access this sale using the link here.

Fairmont Presidents Club Extends Certificate Expiry Date By Month

It was a very nice move from Fairmont to extend the validity of February 29, 2012 expiring certificates by a month until the end of March. I had few certificates going to expire, but now have another four weeks to use them. I was just surprised to find this out when I checked the new certs that were issued for the 2012 Platinum year. No communication from Fairmont though.

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Hilton HHonors Premium Room Reward & Why I Used It At Hilton Shanghai

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Hilton launched their Premium Room and Points And Money rewards last year. The other week, I wrote about my Points And Money reward at Hilton Fiji. I have also written about the Premium Room Rewards at Hilton Abu Dhabi where I was thinking of staying at late last year.

When I have looked at these Premium Room Rewards, the Hilton has always valued the Hilton HHonors point from anywhere between $0.003 and $0.007. The price using points is directly linked to the price of the room/suite. It sometimes creates a situation where this Premium Room Reward actually costs less than the basic level room reward for the hotel in question. Also, there is/was a Get Points Back Promotion where Hilton would credit back 30% of the points used back for Points And Money & Premium Room Rewards.

After having had a great stay at the Hilton’s Waldorf-Astoria in Shanghai, I wanted to stay at the Hilton Shanghai as well. The rates there were rather high and couldn’t get the price to come down using any of the discount codes that I am eligible for.

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The regular redemption rates at this hotel are 35000 Hilton HHonors points per night, but there was also Premium Room Rewards available starting at less than 31000 points per night. I decided to book the Premium Room Reward because I had a hunch that I might get the 30% of the used points back, although the reservation was done after the official cut off time.

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Lo and behold. The stay posted to my account and there was again the line for Get Points Back Promo essentially making this award cost 21647 Hilton HHonors points. The “value” of a Hilton HHonors point, considering the paid rates and after getting 30% of the points back, was around $0.01/Hilton HHonors point.

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This Get Points Back-promotion proves why it always makes sense to sign up for the promotions even if you are not initially planning to use them. I had absolutely no plans to use these new awards, but I have already done it twice and saved nice number of Hilton HHonors points in the process.

Transit Visa For Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka started to require an Electronic Travel Authorization for quite a few countries that previously were exempt of visa to enter Sri Lanka. I belong to this group. Personally, I don’t think that this “Electronic Travel Authorization” is nothing else than a sort of tourism tax that the government now wants to collect.

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Yesterday, I arrived for the very first time since this new system took place. I was flying in on Thai Airway and was going to fly out on Emirates about 36 hours later on a separate ticket. I just proceeded to the regular immigration counter that first tried to suggest that I would need a visa and would have to pay for that. After I explained that I was flying out the following day on Emirates and showed my itinerary from my cell phone, she just stamped the passport with a two day transit visa.

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On my previous transit the transit visa was for three days when my transfer was only 12 hours.

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I normally rely on Timatic for all kind of visa and transit issues. This time, however, the information on Timatic is somewhat vague. The information on the Sri Lankan Electronic Travel Authorization website is correct.

Accor A Club And Getting Stays Credited Properly

As Accor has been running quite a few promotions lately to get folks to sign up for their frequent stay program and give them the Platinum status right away, I finally decided to check out couple of their properties when I was in Fiji.

I have already written about my disastrous stay at the Mercure hotel in Nadi and will do the write up about my Novotel experience tomorrow that was acceptable. The stay at the Novotel posted without problems to my A Club account, but the stay at the Mercure is apparently MIA.

Both of these reservations was done one Accor’s website while logged in to the A Club account. I can also see post of the stays on my reservation history. So, these are both linked to my account and my account number MUST have been on file.

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Decided to check out how the system of requesting a stay credit for a past stay that hasn’t posted to your account is working. Apparently they want you to scan a copy of your folio and attach it to the request. I didn’t have it on hand so attached a picture of the cockroach that I had in my room there.

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Just got the following reply back that this is a no go.

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Is this scanning of receipts and sending them to A Club worth of my or anybody’s time? Of course it is not and they very well know that. Hotels are paying for the A Club points awarded for A Club members, and they can simply remove your account number from the reservation so that they don’t have this extra expense. It would be the right thing to A Club to contact the properties and request copies of the past stays that have been reported through their website, and then post the missing points.

Flying On Paid First Class On Emirates? Check If You Have Been Downgrade To Business.

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Not sure what is going on with the Emirates at the moment. I have two tickets bought from them during the January fare sale for first class travel in the next 30 days. The last time I checked the reservations, about two weeks ago, everything seemed normal. Yesterday I decided to check the flights using Expertflyer and was rather surprised to see that the flight I am taking tomorrow didn’t have first class at all.

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Apparently Emirates has been doing quite a bit of plane juggling lately. When I then checked the second ticket, two of my four segments have also been downgraded from first to business.

Emirates has also changed the eticket receipts to reflect the downgrade for business class. Luckily I have the original eticket receipt saved as well as the mileage accelerators offered for these flights.

Not sure why Emirates doesn’t have better procedures in place for aircraft swaps. I don’t think that it would be too much asked for them to contact the passengers that they are being downgraded, and at the same time offer alternate solutions i.e. rerouting on other carriers (EY/QR/SQ) and/or compensation.

Taxi Scams Around The World

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The other Friday the taxi driver that took me from the Maglev station here in Shanghai to the Park Hyatt hotel, tried to “take me to a ride”. I have used taxis high hundreds if not thousands of times, but can recall being trying to be ripped off only handful of times.

Here are examples from Lima, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Mexico City & Shanghai.

Lima (Peru) – Completely Wrong Foreign Exchange Rates

On my Lan Peru flight from Los Angeles to Lima I had asked one of the flight attendants what is the typical taxi fare from the airport to the JW Hotel in Miraflores. Cannot remember the exact figure anymore but it was something that sounded reasonable.

In Lima the taxis don’t have meters so you always need to negotiate the fare beforehand. If you are foreigner, your fare is typically higher than if you are local. Try always getting a local to negotiate the fare in your behalf.

I and the taxi driver agreed about the fare to the JW hotel in pesos. Some guy hopped to the taxi on our way to the hotel, and requested that I pay in USD’s using the (completely) wrong exchange rate sheet that he was showing to me. I declined several times and told that I will pay the agreed amount in the currency we (driver & me) had agreed. BTW the exchange rate was off 10 to 15 times. It would have been VERY expensive ride to the hotel. Finally they must have come to a conclusion that I wouldn’t fall on their tricks and we continued the ride to the hotel. The taxi driver told me that the guy was his “boss”.

Buenos Aires (Argentina) – Exchange Given In Self Printed Money

OK. This one I didn’t catch. I had a waiter running after me from a restaurant where I had paid using pesos. Some of the notes that I had left were fake. Basically a taxi driver had given me some fake notes as a change. Late at night when it was dark and this is probably quite easy to execute.

Sao Paulo (Brazil) – Taxi Using a Fake Meter

In this case I had to get the airport police to intervene on the fake meter issue. All the normal taxis in Brazil have the same meter. The fare by distance/time is exactly the same regardless what taxi company you are using.

The taxi fare from the Renaissance hotel to the airport was about twice what it should have been. I called the taxi driver about the issue but he was not giving up. I had to get the airport police to intervene on this issue because I flatly refused to pay the inflated rate. Probably most of the people taking the taxi to the airport are in a hurry, and I am most of the time too, but this time I had time to play this game.

With the help of the police we were able to come up with the figure that was agreeable.

Mexico City (Mexico) – Claimed That I Gave Smaller Notes

Getting a cab in Mexico City can be sometimes bit difficult if you happen to stay in Polanco. There are plenty of more expensive taxis, but not that many of the cheaper ones.

I was taking a taxi from the W to the Zona Rosa. I had just withdrawn money from the ATM and all of the notes were in the same denomination. After paying for the cab and waiting for the change the driver insisted that I had given him a small note. His English was actually quite good and he eventually gave me back the correct change.

Shanghai (China) – Another Fake Meter

Apparently the Maglev station has become a new place for all the “creative” taxi drivers in Shanghai. I was suspecting something when the first taxi didn’t want to take the Chinese group, but would rather help me when I was second in the line.

The driver managed to miss the Park Hyatt entrance and was leaving me close to the entrance but on the sidewalk. The fare on the meter was 201 RMB. This was somewhere between 6 to 8 times more than it should have been. Two weeks prior the fare from the Fairmont Peace hotel to the airport was less than 200 RMB, and from the Maglev station to the hotel about 40.

The taxi driver tried to insist that I pay the 201 RMB, but I wasn’t taking any of it. Gave him the 40 RMB and told him to get lost.

Conclusion

It is always good to have an idea how much the taxi fare should be. Ask the hotel, flight attendant, airport information center etc. if you are in a country where you haven’t been before.

1. Avoid everybody that offers you a taxi in a general arrivals hall. Use the normal taxi stand.

2. In some countries taxis that linger around the hotels/places of interest used by westerners try to rip you off.

3. Try to catch a cab on the street

4. Ask them to use the meter – and make sure that they use a correct rate. In some countries they have different rates for day/night.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask the taxi to stop and get out if meter is not used or you feel uncomfortable with the driver. I have had drivers turning on meters only after I have asked them to stop for me to get our

6. Local currency in small notes and try to give as close to the amount as possible.

Most of the taxi drivers are honest and hardworking. There are always few that try to take advantage of tourists and non-locals. Using common sense when taking a cab is always a good idea.

Lifetime Starwood Preferred Guest SPG Platinum & Gold Status

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Last month Starwood announced enhancements to the SPG program. Additional benefits were added to Platinum members starting with 50+ nights, and new program features for Gold members as well. Starwood also launched a way to earn both lifetime Gold and Platinum status. Both Hyatt and Marriott programs had had the lifetime option already for a while.

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Starwood just rolled out a new website function that not only shows the number of nights you have had since joining the program, but also the number of years you have had  an elite status with them. It does not, however, show the number of years you have had a Platinum status with Starwood.

Requirements for lifetime SPG Gold status

– 250 qualifying nights

– 5 years of elite status (Gold or Platinum)

Requirements for lifetime SPG Platinum status

– 500 qualifying nights

– 10 years of Platinum status

During my four years as a SPG member, I have earned close to 400 nights. I should be lifetime Gold sometime next year. I will probably have the required 500 nights before the end of this year, but need another 5 years of Platinum status to meet the number of years as a Platinum member requirement.

The number of nights required is on the low side, but the requirement of having had the actual Platinum status for 10 years makes it more difficult. Last year Starwood started to count award nights as qualifying too, so basically all the nights count.

US Airways Dividend Miles Share Miles Offer – Get 50% Bonus

There is yet another offer from US Airways for essentially buying US Dividend Miles. US Airways had an offer for their credit card holders for buying & gifting miles that just expired on 29th.

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This time you can transfer up to 50000 Dividend Miles and get a 25000 mile bonus. You would need to pay $567.50 (2.27 cents per mile gained) for this privilege. I can see this being a good way to consolidate accounts, and paying 2.27 cents per mile is not horrible if they are used for international business and first class tickets.

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This offer is valid for transfers/purchases made from March 1st to March 14th. You need to the this link to access this offer.

March Hotel Promotions Update: Choise, Carlson, Hyatt, Hilton, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott/Ritz-Carlton & Starwood

It is time for a March hotel promotions update. This is the first time I will include the Choice Privileges in this update as well. In the future you will most likely see Accor and Best Western promotions as well. There are so many different promotions going on that there is, for sure, something for everyone.

I am working on the Two Days of Happy Starwood promotion that is about to end. Will probably have quite a few InterContinental Hotels Group and Hilton stays next. Both have very good promotions going on.

Carlson Hotels – Club Carlson

Club Carlson is offering triple points for all stays. This promotion is valid until March 16th, 2012. Note that you will receive 2000 bonus points for online bookings.

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Club Carlson “Triple Points – Faster Nights” Promotion – Triple Gold Points Worldwide

Choice Hotels – Choice Privileges

Choice has a promotion starting on March 8th for 8000 points for every two stays. On some brands you need two nights for a stay.

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

Hilton HHonors

Hilton has the most promotions running that you can combine together. You should sign up for the two promos below. Even if you are Diamond with Hilton, you can still get 40K HH for four Hilton stays.

Register Your Visa and Get 1000 Hilton HHonors Points + 4000 Bonus for Spending $100

Instant Hilton HHonors Gold Status for Visa Infinite Card Holders + 40K HHonors Points After Four Stays (For All?

You can choose one of these airline promotions as your double dip earnings partner. My personal favorite still is BMI that would earn 1k per night and up to three nights regardless of the Hilton brand. Please note that all these airline related bonuses are scheduled to end on March 31st.

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Triple ANA and Double Emirates Miles for Hilton Stays Until March 31st

Airline Promotions for Air Canada Aeroplan, US Airways Dividend Miles, Lufthansa Miles & More and American Airlines AAdvantage

Earn 2012 Bonus Delta SkyMiles per Two Night Hilton Stay

The British Airways promotion shows 1500 bonus Avios, but what has been posting to members is 1000. If you don’t get the correct amount,  I would suggest that you write to Hilton and reference their own promotional page for this offer.

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Hilton HHonors With British Airways Offering 1500 Bonus Avios Per Stay Until March 31st, 2012

These are the two main promotions for the time. More Points promotion for extra points for each nights and more for weekend stays, and free night certificates for longer resort stays.

Hilton HHonors 1st Quarter 2012 “More Points” Promotion

‘Resort Escapes’ Promotion – Free Night Certificate After Five Nights and Two After Ten Nights

Hyatt Gold Passport

You can earn up to 44K extra points for 16 stays during the promotional period. That is extra 2750 Hyatt Gold Passport points per night.

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Hyatt Announced Spring 2012 Promo – Earn up to 44000 Bonus Points

InterContinental Hotels Group – Priority Club

The first promotion for double points starting from your second stay and the 5/7/15 stays for 5K/10K/15K bonus points are combinable. The first one runs until the end of April and the second until the end of March. Note that you need to choose the bonus after 5, 7, or 15 stays. If you don’t meet the threshold, you won’t get the associate bonus.

Priority Club 1st Quarter 2012 Promotion Announced – Double Points or Miles – 2X More

Priority Club Bonus Points Promo for 1st Quarter 2012

Marriott Rewards / Ritz-Carton Rewards

Remember that you can have only Marriott or Ritz-Carlton Rewards account. You cannot have both. You can, however, switch between accounts as often as you wish just by calling the rewards customer service.

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Ritz-Carlton Rewards – Earn Free Night Certificate After Two Stays Promotion

Note that you can only register for the MegaBonus or MegaMiles promotion. There are number of different MegaBonus thresholds. Pick up the ones that fits you best, and call the Marriott Rewards customer service if you need to switch your targeted promotion to something else.

Marriott Rewards Spring 2012 MegaBonus Announced – Few Variations of the Offer

Earn Up To 50000 Virgin America Elevate Bonus Points During Marriott’s MegaMiles Promotion

Marriott Rewards MegaMiles Promotion – Earn Up to 50K Bonus Miles

Starwood Preferred Guest

Starwood has two different promotions that are both exclusive. The Better By the Night is valid in the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Africa. The list of non-participating properties is rather long. Note that this is NOT valid in the Asia-Pacific region that has their own promotion. The Two Days of Happy end of March 15th.

Starwood Preferred Guest 1st Quarter 2012 “Better by the Night”–promotion

‘Two Days of Happy’ – Stay 5 Nights Get One Free Night Certificate – Stay 9 Nights Get Two Free Night Certificates – 4MCFN

There is a promotion of 1000 extra Starpoints for booking a Club accommodation at Sheraton hotels and paying using an American Express card.

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Starwood Offering 1000 Bonus Starpoints for Sheraton Club Floor Bookings

American Airlines to Launch Main Cabin Extra – Roomier Economy Product

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American Airlines announced that they will start rolling Main Cabin Extra to all of their aircrafts starting this spring. American used to feature a product called “More Room Throughout The Coach” but dismissed this as it wasn’t bringing in enough revenue to offset the lower number of seats available for sale. This time this product is only available in part of the aircraft.

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You will get 4 to 6 inches more legroom compared to regular coach. This doesn’t sound a lot, but it does make a noticeable difference, however. I don’t have a problem sitting in United’s Economy Plus and even open a laptop, but trying to do that comfortably in AA’s coach is very difficult.

United has had their Economy Plus service for years. Delta started their Economy Comfort product in the summer of 2011 and is rolling it in all of their domestic fleet including two class regional jets. Virgin America has had their Main Cabin Select that sounds a lot like AA’s Main Cabin Extra. Jet Blue has more room in all of their aircrafts, and even more in back of the plane.

Initially this Main Cabin Extra product is available free of charge for all American Airlines elite members. Gold members will lose complimentary access on December 31st, 2013. Platinum and Executive Platinum members will continue having free access past that date.

AA will up sell this product to those that are not eligible for the complimentary access. United and Delta are also doing this. Also, it wouldn’t surprise me that if they would start marketing a Main Cabin Extra annual pass once they have got all of their aircraft fitted with this roomier configuration.

It is interesting to see how long it takes AA to roll it fleet wide. American was really fast adding additional seats when they decided to ditch the More Room Throughout the Coach-product. Making this Main Cabin Extra should take even less time because they are essentially just removing couple of rows and redistributing the rest.

You can read more about this product at AA’s website AA.com/MainCabinExtra.

My First Day as Delta SkyMiles Silver (from Diamond) and American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum (from Executive Platinum)

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This is the first day for many of us that didn’t hit the requalification requirements last year, and thus were dropped a notch or two (or three on my Delta case) in frequent flyer programs. Last year and 2010 were quite exceptional for me flying wise. I was at some point United 1K, Continental Platinum, BMI Gold, American Airlines Executive Platinum, Delta Diamond, and Emirates Gold. All these were earned in actual flying and none of them were comped.

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In 2011, I moved out from the United States, and as a result my flying on US carriers was down dramatically. I was very close requalifying to 1K and decided to make my way to Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo from Asia the long way and earn the EQM’s needed. I am not planning to requalify for the United top tier status this year.

I am in a somewhat lucky situation. I am a 2.6 million miler (not a coiner) with American Airlines, and thus have a lifetime Platinum status with American that translates to Oneworld Sapphire status. That guarantees a business class check in and lounge access if I find myself in economy.

With Star Alliance I am covered through United. After United and Continental merge their frequent flyer accounts, I am somewhere around 1.5 million lifetime flown miles. This will guarantee me lifetime Gold level status in United’s program, and more importantly with Star Alliance. Like with Oneworld this will give me a business class check in and lounge access if ticketed in economy.

SkyTeam? Forget about it. I think that Delta is a fine domestic US airline and I did enjoy flying within the United States, but the alliance is second/third rate. It is way behind both Star Alliance and Oneworld when it comes to quality of the airlines and implementation of the alliance wide benefits. To be frank, it would be nice to have some sort of status with SkyTeam as well, but I think that I have to learn to live without it.

Overall, I think that I will survive.

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.

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