Didn’t Re-qualify for American Airlines AAdvantage Gold or Platinum Status in 2011? Now You Can Buy It Back.

Last week, I wrote about how you can “buy” back your Silver, Gold, or Platinum status with Marriott Rewards. American Airlines is running a similar program for buying back the elite status, but unlike with Marriott, where you can use points to do it, with American you need to use cash.

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Platinum members that flew less than 40K miles or who had fewer than 48 segments need to pay $769, and those who flew more, but not enough for Platinum, need to fork out $619.

They have similar for Gold status members as well. If you flew less than 20K miles or 24 segments, need to pay $559 to extend the status for another year, and those who flew more, but not enough for Gold, need to pay $409.

Does it make sense to buy back the status?

It really depends how much you are planning on flying on American and their Oneworld partner airlines this year. The main benefit for a Platinum are 100% bonus on miles earned, business check in regardless of the class booked, business class lounge access on international itinerariers even when flying in on coach, waived award fees if ticketed within 21 days of departure, ability to earn and confirm domestic upgrades, waived checked in bag charge and extra allowance on international flights, priority when there are irregular operations etc.

There are really quite a few benefits of being a Platinum member. Some of these apply for Gold members as well.

Hilton HHonors Offering Additional 2500 Bonus Points for “Any Weekend Anywhere”-Bookings

Hilton has been very active in the past month when it comes to promotions. There are currently several overlapping promotions that you can combine with this one; Resort Escapes for free night certificatesMore Points for extra points promotion, Visa Infinite promotion for instant Gold status and 40K HH after four stays, 2012 Bonus Delta Miles for two night stay, or double Lufthansa Miles & More miles.

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Now Hilton is offering an additional 2500 bonus points for those who “register” on Hilton’s Facebook page and make the reservation through Hilton HHonors page on January 17th to 18th. Apparently, these points are addition to the regular “Any Weekend Anywhere” 1000 Hilton HHonors bonus points for a weekend stay of two nights or longer.

In order for you to take advantage of this offer:

Priority Club Tweaking Point Earnings at InterContinental Hotels Starting February 15th

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There has been a subtle change in Terms and conditions when it comes to earning points at InterContinental Hotels. Until February 15th you will continue to earn flat 2000 Priority Club base points at all InterContinental hotels regardless of the length of the stay or money spend.

Starting February 15th there will be a partial change.

Effective 2012 February 15, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Latin America, and the Caribbean plus all Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, and Holiday Inn Express hotel brands worldwide, you will receive ten (10) points for each USD dollar or local currency equivalent paid toward Eligible Charges on your individual hotel room bill, when you pay Qualifying Room Rates.

InterContinental Hotels & Resorts outside of the United States, Canada, Mexico, Latin America, and the Caribbean plus all InterContinental Alliance Resorts worldwide, you will receive 2,000 points per Qualifying Stay .

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I really thought that they couldn’t make this program any more confusing. They are already running two programs simultaneously that are partially overlapping; Ambassador/Royal Ambassador programs, which only apply to InterContinental Hotels, but earn you Priority Club points, and Priority Club that has Gold and Platinum levels which only apply to all other hotels of the InterContinentalHotel Group than InterContinentals themselves. What a mess, right?

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

It is always good time to burn when airlines temporarily lower the number of required miles. Air France and KLM’s Flying Blue program does this every couple of months. They just released the list for destination that they have at 50% discount for January and February 2012.

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

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American Airlines Buy AA Miles-Offer – Get Up To 15000 Bonus Miles

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Personally, I am not a huge fan of buying miles from the airlines. I don’t think that it makes sense most of the time. I have, however, bought US Airways Dividend miles when they have had a sale, and used miles + cash option when booking premium international awards using BMI miles that is essentially buying miles.

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American Airlines has recently been pushing miles sales more aggressively than in the past. It must be a good way to get cash in now in exchange for award travel on AA or partner metal some later date. Last December American run a similar miles sale. You can buy maximum 40000 AAdvantage miles per year per account. Bonus miles do not count toward this limit.

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Right now you can buy 55000 miles (40000 + 15000 bonus) for $1100 ($1212.50 after $30 transaction fee + taxes). This comes to 2.2 cents per mile.

When it makes sense to buy miles?

  1. Short on miles for premium international flight award on partner airlines
  2. Oneway travel in markets where OW fares are expensive
  3. Travel that requires flexibility as award tickets can be changed/canceled for a fee/without fee almost like flexible tickets

Complimentary Breakfast for SPG Platinum Members Coming to Starwood Properties March 1st?

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There has been some chatter lately that Starwood would introduce chain wide complimentary breakfast for Platinum members starting March 1st. Please note that this benefit is NOT yet confirmed by the Starwood. It wouldn’t be surprising, if this would in fact be true. It would bring the Platinum benefits breakfast wise more inline with their main competitors.

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Breakfast at St Regis Bali

Hilton HHonors members from Gold upwards have complimentary breakfast or some extra points. Only exclusion so far is the Conrad Maldives where breakfast is NOT complimentary even to Diamonds.

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Breakfast at Conrad Koh Samui

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

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Hilton HHonors severed the relationship they had had with the Southwest and discontinued the ability to earn Rapid Rewards points from Hilton stays at the end of last year. To counter this change Hilton is having several promotions going on for double or triple miles with five airline partners. I have already written about the promotion with Delta for 2012 bonus SkyMiles for stays or two days or longer. The beauty of this promotion with Delta is that all the Hilton family of hotels are participating.

There are three other ongoing promotions that you can combine with these. The other promotions are Resort Escapes for free night certificates, More Points for extra points, and Visa Infinite promotion for instant Gold status and 40K HH after four stays.

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You can earn triple miles with US Airways Dividend miles, and double miles with Air Canada’s Aeroplan and American’s AAdvantage.  You need to designate the airline as the double dip partner and choose the variable or fixed miles.  With these airlines you really need to check the participating properties. The list is rather short.

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

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Club Carlson has just launched a triple Gold Points promotion “Triple Points –Faster Nights”. The promotion is valid for stays from January 10th to March 16th, 2012. You need to register for this promotion before your stay and you can do it at Clubcarlson.com/triplepoints.

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Here’s the number of Gold Points a $200 night would earn for a Gold member of this program:

Room revenue $200 = 4000 points

Elite bonus of 50% = 2000 points

Online booking bonus = 2000 points

Triple points = 8000 points

The number of points earned at the Gold elite level would 16000 Gold Points.  The number of points required for redeeming a free night varies from 9000 to 50000 points. After three $200 stays, you could redeem a free night at top of the line Club Carlson property. Very good promotion.

Here are the Terms and conditions of this promotion:

Holiday Inn Express Dubai Internet City, Dubai, UAE – Review of Hotel & Room 112.

As I was flying to Dubai and my destination was actually Abu Dhabi, where I needed to be the following day, I decided to spend a one night at this Holiday Inn Express (HIX) hotel. I am quite familiar with the brand as I have stayed at few newly built HIX hotels in the United States over the years. Normally it is value for money and without the glamor.

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Also, I had to get my fourth different InterContinental Hotels Group brand stay to qualify for the brand multiplier promotion that they were running last year. I was thinking at one point whether I really should stay at this hotel or just leave. Of course you don’t need to STAY if you want the stay credit. Checking in is enough.

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Location

This hotel is located close to the Dubai Marina but there really isn’t anything in the immediate area for touristic purposes.  To be fair this hotel is not geared for tourists but for business travelers visiting the nearby companies/educational institutions.

InterContinental Hotel’s Group (IHG) Priority Club 1st Quarter 2012 Promotion Announced – Double Points or Miles – 2X More.

IHG Priority Club just announced their latest promo that is valid from January 23rd to April 30th, 2012. You can get double points or miles starting from your second stay. You can start earning from your first stay if you stay at Candlewood or Staybridge Suites.

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Please note that you can combine this with the promotion that I wrote about on December 16th for 5K/10K/15K Priority Club points for 3/7/15 nights.

This promotion doubles the number of base points/miles you can earn from your stay that is dependent of the brand.  During the promotion period you will earn 20 Priority Club points per USD at Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, and Hotel Indigo’s, and 10 points per USD at Candlewood and Staybridge Suites. For InterContinental hotels, it means another 2000 Priority Club points per stay regardless how many nights you stay or how much you spend is during the stay.

Please note that the number of base miles earned depends of the airline. You can check the various airlines and the number of miles earned per USD spend here: http://www.ichotelsgroup.com/h/d/pc/1/en/c/2/content/dec/pc/0/en/miles/us/airline.html.

You can register for this promotion at https://secure.priorityclub.com/hotels/us/en/global/offers/q112/pts_mls.

The participating airline partners for this promotion are:

Didn’t Qualify for the Same Marriott Rewards Status as Previous Year – Now What?

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It is the time of the year when loyalty programs are starting to demote their members based on the previous years activity. Some programs are offering soft landings when at some others you can just become a base member. In the next couple of weeks I am going to write about how different programs handle these situations.

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I have a confession to make.  For the past couple of years I have not even come close to qualifying for Marriott Platinum status, but Marriott has been extending it to me or offered me a challenge. Last year it was 18 night challenge during a 90 day period. It coincided with a Marriott/Delta promotion for extra 5000 Delta SkyMiles per stay so it was no brainer to move some of my stays to Marriott during that period.

This year, I am not so sure. Although Marriott is a huge chain and people tend to like the Marriott Rewards program, I personally prefer Hyatt, Starwood, and InterContinental programs over Marriott’s. I do like to have the top tier status with multiple chains because none of them have omnipresence everywhere I travel to. So in 2011, I ended up less than 40 nights credited to Marriott of which 15 were from the credit card.

Here’s what you can do if you are in the same situation as I:

1. Do nothing yet. Marriott might renew you at the Platinum level regardless, or they might downgrade you to Gold. Marriott is known not to look only at the most recent year. They (computer algorithm more likely) look at the past few years to see how many nights you have credited to the program.

2. You can take advantage of Elite Buy Back Promotion that should run from February 1st to March 4th this year. You can buy back the elite level that you had in 2011 using points regardless how many nights you credited to the program. The number of points required for Platinum is 40000, Gold 25000, and 7000 for Silver.

3. Spend most of the early 2012 in Marriott hotels. For Platinum you need 75 nights and 50 for Gold

4. You can call Marriott Rewards customer service to see if they can offer you a challenge. That would typically require 18 nights in any 90 day period for a Platinum status.

5. Just accept that maybe the Platinum or Gold status is not for you, and move on.

Decision time!

Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Resort & Towers, Dubai, UAE – Review of My Stays.

Stayed at this Sheraton resort twice; once in October and another time in December. Both times my stay was for several days using free resort nights awards from Starwood’s summer promotion. Sheraton was the only participating resort when it came to redeeming the free nights in Dubai.

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Overall this is a fine resort but doesn’t quite live up to the official five star rating. It is a solid four star hotel, however. Apparently, they do quite a bit of business through tour companies. There were lots of Russians and quite a few Swedes and Finns. At least TUI has this property sold through various “package” travel agencies in Europe.

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Location

The hotel is located on the far end of the Jumeirah Beach Walk. This rather long street is full of restaurants and has some shops as well. On the other side of the road from the Sheraton is a Starbucks, which doesn’t offer free wireless, and a Thai restaurant.  

Sign up for Landiversity.com Email Newsletter and Get $50 off Coupon for LAN flights.

Lan, airline based in Chile, has launched a dedicated www.landiversity.com website that is targeted to GLBT audience. You can get a $50 off discount coupon when you sign up for the Diversity email newsletter.

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LAN has grown significantly in the past decade and now has subsidiaries in Peru, Argentina, Colombia and Ecuador. The airline is currently merging with Tam, and the merger is expected to close sometime this year.

So, I decided to sign up for the newsletter. You only need to input your email address and the name. As a matter of fact, you can sign up as many times as you wish. Lan seems to be happy to send out these discount codes. I had been planning to have a greater tour of South America later this year and thought that these might come handy.

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United Airlines (and Continental too) Are Offering Up To 25% Discount on Economy Award to Europe and Africa – MPG012.

The time after New Year’s is typically slow time in transatlantic flying. The weather is cold in most parts of the Europe and tourists stay away. United just did an email blast offering 20% to 25% discount on return economy award trips to Africa and Europe that are entirely on United metal. This same offer MPG012 is valid on Continental as well.

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The ticketing deadline is January 16th for travel between January 27th, 2012 and March 22nd, 2012. There is 21 day advance ticketing requirement. The discount is 25% for off-peak days (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday) and 20% for peak days (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday).

Decided to do tests both on Continental.com and United.com to see how well these discounted awards show up.

Continental award search

The travel is valid from Anchorage originating as well. Decided to include an open jaw in Europe and search for Anchorage to Rome, and on return Barcelona to Anchorage.

The inventory was rather sparse in March but there was plenty of availability in February. I did the search logged in to my account and there are some segments that have availability only due to the status. These show as XN.

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This itinerary would require 45K miles and $43.10. The price of buying this outright is only $1003 that would earn close to 16K elite/redeemable miles.   

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