SPG Bonus Beginnings: 3K Bonus Starpoints or Free Night Award


Overall, Starwood’s promotions so far this year have been lackluster compared to 2011 and the upcoming promotion is hardly any better.

Starwood has been, however, sending very good offers for new members that have not been staying at Starwood properties at all or have only had a stay or two last year. This promotion “Bonus Beginnings” is targeted and won’t work for you unless you have received the email invitation.


There are two options to choose from:

1. 3000 Bonus Starpoints

2. Free night award for category 1 to 5

The free night at category 5 SPG property would cost you 12K to 15K points depending of the season and is better option that the 3K bonus Starpoints. The free night award is valid until Ocotber 31st, 2013 so you have plenty of time to use it.


Now that you’ve joined SPG®, you know that every stay gets you closer to Free Night Awards and other amazing benefits.

We’d like to see you again soon. Here’s a great offer to keep things going: Register by October 31, 2012, then complete a stay between September 1, 2012, and October 31, 2012, and you’ll receive your choice of 3,000 bonus Starpoints or a Free Night Award at a Category 1–5 hotel or resort.

Check out, and then check in to, any of our more than 1,100 hotels and resorts across nine brands — including W®, Le Méridien®, Westin® and Sheraton®. Clear your calendar and start packing. We can’t wait to have you back.

Is it time to sign up family members for SPG?

SPG has now sent similar offers couple of times in the past year for members that have not been active in the program. I think that it is probably worthwhile to sign up family members to SPG membership to take advantage of these “Bonus Beginnings” offers in the future.


It is interesting that the best SPG offers this year are going to members that haven’t stays at Starwood properties at all. It is good way, however, to get people (and family members) activated in the program.

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 SPG promotion or bonus point opportunity around.

Here are the terms and conditions of this promotion:

3,000 bonus Starpoints: Registered member can choose to earn 3,000 bonus Starpoints after one (1) eligible stay. Stay must be at an SPG participating property from September 1, 2012, through October 31, 2012. Nonparticipating properties can be found at spg.com under program terms and conditions. Bonus Starpoints will be credited to the member’s account within 2–3 weeks of the stay posting to the member’s Starwood Preferred Guest® account.

Free Night Award: Registered member can choose to earn one (1) Free Night Award in a standard room at any Category 1–5 hotel after one (1) eligible stay. Eligible stay must be at an SPG participating property anytime from September 1, 2012, through October 31, 2012. Non-participating properties can be found at spg.com under program terms and conditions. Free Night Award(s) must be used by October 31, 2013, and can be redeemed by calling your local SPG Customer Contact Center and mentioning Award ID D1NFN. Free Night Award is not transferable and cannot be redeemed for cash. Unused Awards are forfeited. See “All Offers” below for additional terms and conditions.

All Offers: All above-listed offers are nontransferable and void for Starwood employees. Register online at spg.com/bonusbeginnings by October 31, 2012. Once a member chooses his or her offer, it cannot be changed at any time. An eligible stay is defined as one or more consecutive nights paying a qualifying rate in the same hotel regardless of the number of check-ins or checkouts that occur and posts to the member’s Starwood Preferred Guest account. Eligible stays/nights will be tracked by the date the member checks in and not the date the member checks out. A qualifying rate is any rate that is eligible to earn Starpoints in the Starwood Preferred Guest program. A description of a non-qualifying rate can be found at spg.com/t&c. Multiple rooms charged to the same member during the same stay will only count as one stay. 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 single 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. All rights reserved.

Qantas Involuntarily Downgrade Compensation F to C Johannesburg to Sydney


Yesterday, I got a call from Qantas UK to my phone number in the United States. It is actually a Google Voice one so I get a transcript of the message (not understandable) and also the actual voice mail as an email attachment. It was only a message to call back the Qantas in the UK.


I checked the ExpertFlyer and realized that he Qantas has downgraded the flight. Instead of sending three class equipment that has economy, business, and first class, they sent a two class plane that doesn’t have first class at all. I called Qantas back and enquired about switching to Emirates via Dubai to preserve a first class, but was told to contact the issuing airline that in this instance was American Airlines. Made a quick call to AA that told me that it is Qantas’ responsibility to rebook me due to an equipment change.

Made a second call to Qantas here in South Africa and it got transferred to Qantas’ call center in the Melbourne. I got a cockiest lady answering the call who was pretending that it wasn’t their problem at all that they had switched the aircraft and that I would need get back to the issuing airline, this case AA, and just request a fare difference back.

Qantas Fare Refund Table Invol Downgrade
Qantas Fare Refund Table Invol Downgrade

Had the ticket been issued in Australia, Qantas actually has a compensation table on their website for various kinds of downgrades. This downgrade from paid first class to business would yield a refund of 1200 AUD. It is not a lot, but the fare difference between a full F and J is only $643.


It is inevitable that there are equipment changes at time, but it is how the airline deals with the issue that matters. I was downgraded couple of times this year with Emirates, but they have procedures in place to correctly address the issue. You will get an options voucher that allows you to travel a return trip in the originally booked class in a case of a downgrade. Also, they throw some miles at you for the inconvenience.

It is understandable that in a case of equipment substitution they send these two class planes to a market that doesn’t have strong consumer protection. Had they tried to downgrade passengers that are originating from the European Union, Qantas would have been required to refund 75% of the entire ticket cost per the EU regulations.

I was really surprised about the cockiness of the Qantas in this instance. If you downgrade the flight due to equipment substitution and just brush off the passengers that are inconvenienced, it is a very short sighted way of doing business. It might work if you run a business in a monopolistic market but not in a competitive environment.

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.

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