Etihad Offering Targeted Double & Triple Miles for Business and First Class

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Last year, I credited bunch of business class flights that I took on Sri Lankan to Etihad. There weren’t any better choice for them. I didn’t want to credit them to Sri Lankan’s own frequent flyer program due to lack of partners. I also applied to the recent Etihad Guest Gold status match offer, but I haven’t heard back from that program yet.

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Earlier today April 21st, I received a targeted email offer to try Etihad’s Coral Business class or Diamond First class product, and to receive double miles for business or triple miles for first class.

I just couldn’t get my head around this offer because of the dates. This offer is valid for bookings made and flights flown between April 19th and May 3rd, 2012. Of course two days had already passed from the promotional period by the time they managed to send out the emails leaving less than two weeks’ time to take advantage of said offer.

Emirates has run quite a few similar offers in the past, but normally they require ticketing let’s say in March and for travel in April or May. I could take advantage of such offers. I cannot, however, take advantage of some offer from Etihad that is valid for the next 12 days.

Singapore Airlines Offering 50% Discount on Required Miles Between Selected Destinations

Singapore Airlines must be hurting because they just started to give out Kris Flyer miles for even the most discounted fares on both their own metal and on Silk Air. Now, they have an award sale between selected city pairs for 50% fewer miles. The discount in reality is only 35% as you would get 15% discount booking an award online in the first place. You can redeem for these discounted award tickets from April 19th to May 2nd for travel between April 19 and June 16th.

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Singapore Airlines listed the destinations where these discounted awards are valid. They didn’t, however, list the number of required miles or taxes/fees/fuel surcharges. I just went through all the destinations to find out the usual number of miles, the discounted miles amount, and the approximate fees associated with the award.

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I apologize for my terrible handwriting. The first number is the usual saver mileage requirement, the next one is the number of miles required during this sale, and the third one the taxes/fees.

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What mainly caught my eye, was the Barcelona to Sao Paulo in economy for 10250 SQ miles OW and about $194.68 in taxes/fees. Trips to Brazil tend to be relatively expensive, but this is a great deal. Even better if you but the return portion of the award separately as there are no fuel surcharges on tickets issued/originating from Brazil.

Here are the full terms and conditions of this offer:

Star Alliance Announcement about BMI’s Exit from the Alliance

Star Alliance has now also released an announcement about the BMI’s exit from the alliance. The BMI is no longer an alliance member, but the Star Alliance benefits will continue until the end of May for both BMI and other carrier fliers on each other’s metal.

Here’s the announcement that you probably should print out and carry with you just in case.

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BMI Diamond Club Update – British Airways Executive Club Status Match

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The deal between the Lufthansa and IAG, the parent of British Airways and Iberia, closed yesterday. Today is the first day that the British Airways is in control of the BMI and the following announcement about the future of the BMI’s Diamond was just emailed:

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Based on the previous announcements made by Lufthansa, BMI, and Asiana, I already predicted earlier that the Star Alliance status & ability to earn and burn on Star Alliance carriers (excluding Lufthansa group of airlines) would stay in place until the end of May. This was the case.

The new twist was the instant equivalent status in BA’s Executive Club for BMI Diamond Club members, and the ability to transfer Diamond Club miles and Avios points between accounts starting from July.

Also, the partnership with other airlines including Virgin Atlactic, BA’s bitter rival, will stay in place for now.

I would encourage everybody to take advantage of status match opportunity from SAS.

BMI has a very useful timeline on their website:

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Overall, I think that this is an amicable solutions for winding BMI Diamond Club down. BA matches status and you can freely transfer your Diamond Club miles to Avios. Eventually BMI Diamond Club will cease to exists and merges to Executive Club.

Here are Frequenty asked questions:

American Airlines Offering Bonus Miles for Flights to Australia on Qantas QF20K

American has currently so many different bonus offers going on that it is difficult to keep track all of them. Their latest offer is for bonus miles on round-trip travel on non-stop Qantas flights between United States and Australia from April 19th to June 30th, 2012. The promo code for this offer is QF20K.

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The bonus is dependent of the class of service purchased. The only excluded fare classes are N and Q on both American and Qantas marketed flight numbers. This offer is also valid on Qantas flights ticketed under American Airlines codeshare numbers.

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Remember. You need to register for this offer.

Terms and Conditions:

AAdvantage bonus mileage offer is valid for round-trip travel on nonstop Qantas Airways operated flights between the U.S. and Australia from April 19, 2012 – June 30, 2012. Includes travel on codeshare flights marketed by American Airlines. This promotion is only valid for AAdvantage members who purchase and fly on published fare tickets that are eligible to earn AAdvantage miles. Excludes fares beginning with N or Q on American Airlines marketed, and Qantas Airways marketed and operated flights

SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) Offering Half Priced Awards – Points Bargains

I was just doing the EuroBonus Hong Kong/China status match that I wrote about earlier, and saw that SAS is offering discounts for award tickets originating from Nordic Countries to Europe. These are valid for bookings made between April 10 to April 29 and for travel between October 1 to December 17.

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These are fairly good deals, if you have points on SAS’s program.  SAS just recently positively enhanced their program by eliminating fuel surcharges on awards that are on their metal. You only pay real taxes. How novel is that nowadays?

If you have points on US airlines’ programs these intra-Europe tickets typically go for 20K to 25K RT in economy and around 40K RT in business class. Some programs i.e. Delta consider some North African countries as Europe.

Here is the small print regarding this offer:

  • Transfer flights on domestic are included if nothing else is mentioned.
  • Point bargains is always roundtrips.
  • You can book this offers online within minutes.
  • Point bargains is not available when you mix points and cash.
  • Travel must be completed during the period to obtain the discount.
  • Children receive a 50% discount on the offer, if nothing else is mentioned.
  • Infants travel for free, if you book a seat for your baby – 50% discount.
  • Start time for the offers are always UTC time, if nothing else is mentioned.
  • Number of award seats available is limited – try to avoid Sunday’s.
  • Reservations cannot be changed after booking period is over, then normal award price applies.
  • In some cases, there are no direct flights within a zone or between two zones, so you must transit in another zone – which could make the award more expensive.
  • You are not allowed to mix classes on these offers, you need to make the reservation in the same class to obtain the discount.
  • Business & Economy Extra class seats is available within Scandinavia (no Business class or Economy Extra service on domestic flights onboard).
  • The traveler must pay any applicable charges, such as airport taxes.
  • Can not be combined with other award discounts/offers.
  • EuroBonus general membership conditions apply.

British Airways Offering 25% Conversion Bonus for Transfers from Hotel Programs

British Airways is offering a 25% conversion bonus for transfers from hotel programs to BA’s Avios. This offer is valid from transfer made from 20th of April to June 20th, 2012. You can stack this offer with possible transfer bonuses from hotel programs i.e. 20K SPG transferred to BA would become 25K BA + additional 25% conversion bonus from BA.

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Please note that you need to be logged in to your Executive Club account in order to see the offer details.

This transfer bonus applies for conversions from Hilton, Marriott, InterContinental Hotels Group, Carlson, Starwood, Shangri-La, Hyatt, and Accor programs.

British Airways revamped their program last year. Long haul redemptions became rather expensive using Avios, and you have to bear in mind that BA collects “fake” fuel surcharges on most of its awards. Expect to pay in excess of $1K in YQ’s for C/F redemptions between Europe and the United States or vice versa. B

A’s program does have some bright spots as well. Short haul redemptions in economy are quite good value especially between expensive markets.

Here’s how transferring Starpoints from SPG’s program would work:

My Award Booking Problems Today with United and American Airlines to the Rescue

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I am currently here in Kuala Lumpur, but will make my way to Europe next week after few days in Shanghai. I will land in Rome where I will spend few days, and then need to make my way to Stockholm from where I have unused business class return to Dubai via Addis Ababa on Ethiopian. To make things more complicated, I need to briefly visit Finland for few hours somewhere between.

For the past couple of months I have been reading customer service and other service failure horror stories about United on FlyerTalk. It is understandable that some things can and probably will go wrong when you are merging two large airlines like United and Continental. I have been mostly shielded of this wreckage as I have been traveling mainly in Europe, Asia, and Australia for the past six months, and haven’t set my foot on any of the US carriers for a while.

My status will most likely drop from Premier 1K to Platinum or Gold with United next year. It cannot go below Gold due to me having more than a million flight miles on the United’s program. I have the same situation with American where I have a lifetime Platinum status due to 2.7 million miles that I have collected.

So my goal today was to book FCO-XXX-HEL-ARN on Star Alliance using United Mileage Plus miles from my account. This award should cost 12.5K miles in economy. American also offers similar awards for intra-Europe travel, and the cost for oneway is 10K AA miles.

So, using KVS Tool I identified the flights on Lufthansa FCO-MUC-HEL and on Blue1 HEL-ARN that had award availability in economy.

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For some reason Continental.com DBA United.com was not able to price it correctly. It was able to price the transfers correctly tax wise, but was requiring double the number of miles than it should have.

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I dialed the ATT USA Direct access number here in Malaysia (free) and inputted the number for the 1K desk. This way I don’t have to pay for the call at all. The call was promptly answered, but for some reason I was immediately transferred to some award rewards phone tree. Second time the same thing. This time, however, I waited for few minutes and listened to the music before hanging up. Apparently some agents are not keen working on award reservations. But, I have zero patience working with United’s outsourced call center workers in Manila or India. It is like banging your head against the wall.

Third time I got an agent that was willing to do an award reservation, but appeared to be challenged when it came to Star Alliance member airlines and transfers vs stopovers.

1. According to the agent Blue1 is not affiliated with United or Star Alliance and they cannot book them. I pointed out the that airline is listed as a Star Alliance carrier on United.com and maybe she should check her info.

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2. Agent was referring a transfer of less than 24 hours as a stopover, which is incorrect. She was probably confused with domestic US transfer/stopover rules versus international ones.

3. Supervisor refused to ticket it because of the “stopover” and not a valid route. There is a valid MPM based YY fare that has an MPM of 1477. FCO-MUC-HEL-ARN is 1681. This is within MPM + 15. On paid itineraries you can exceed the MPM up to 25% by paying extra.

Overall, it was just a miserable experience with United’s supposedly 1K desk. Was transferred twice and the third agent was obviously very confused. I still have few tricks on my sleeves to get this itinerary ticketed.

Now that I had already wasted about an hour of my time and made three fruitless phone calls, I Decided to have a look at Finnair options using my American Airlines AAdvantage miles. Although I am a Finn, I really prefer flying on Lufthansa, especially if I end up in economy. Last time I flew on Finnair, maybe five years ago, was from Berlin to Helsinki in business class.

As is the case with United, I always want to know the award availability and my preferred routing before I call AA, although I have find it far more pleasant to deal with award reservations with AA than United.

Tried to use my British Airways Executive Club account first to identify Finnair award availability on the route.

The BA’s engine wouldn’t show Finnair availability on the Rome to Helsinki route as they fly it on themselves as well, although it would be quite a detour. Also the number of required miles would be 30K BA & 100+ euros in fuel surcharges etc.

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But because British doesn’t fly Helsinki to Stockholm, you can pull up both the economy and business class availability on that route using BA.com.

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ExpertFlyer does show Finnair’s award availability for economy, but won’t for business. It was easy to identify that I would get from Rome to Stockholm in Economy via Helsinki. Couple of hours would be enough, but I would prefer an overnight transfer.

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Unfortunately at the moment Finnair doesn’t have any economy award availability on Friday 27th from Helsinki to Stockholm. They do have business availability on quite a few flights, however. I made an ExpertFlyer alert for all the Friday flights that I could take, to alert me when there is availability on the X-class (the fare class that economy awards book into).

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I haven’t received my new Platinum AAdvantage card so decided to call the Executive Platinum number for free using the ATT USA Direct Service, the same service that United also uses. Lady who picked up my call transferred it to the “Platinum” desk. The gentleman was able to book the Finnair flights that I had identified to have economy availability and put in on hold for me. The call to AA took 337 seconds. I got the record locator and was able to easily pull up the itinerary on AA.com. The taxes were $57.90 and the number of miles required 10000.

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Conclusion

It makes sense to participate to number of programs. Although I far prefer Star Alliance over Oneworld, sometimes the Oneworld carrier is a better option. Also, dealing with United can be very problematic and time consuming as I again found out today. Not sure where they find all these surly people to man their 1K desk?

I am almost certain that I will get my preferred itinerary booked using Lufthansa and SAS, but it will take few phone calls.

Current United Airlines 1K Voice Response Time – About a Month

Last December, I took some flights in Ethiopian business class. They were part of the Star Alliance already at that time, but I wasn’t quite sure to which Star Alliance program I would credit the miles. I decided eventually to credit the flights to United’s Mileage Plus. I have lifetime Star Alliance Gold with United and still holding 1K status as well.

Email to Mileage Plus on March 12th, 2012.

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Included copies of BP’s and the eticket receipt. United instructs to send copies of the boarding passes and the etickte receipt to the email address above.

Email to 1K Voice on March 24th, 2012

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Forwarded the email that I had sent to Mileage Plus with all the attachments

Reply from the 1K Voice on April 18th, 2012

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Received a reply from the 1K Voice.

Because I hadn’t heard from United regarding this request, I placed a call to the 1K desk that transferred my call to the Mileage Plus about two weeks ago. I had these flights post to my account couple of days ago. The only info United needed over the phone were the flights numbers, booking class, and the eticket number.

It is understandable that they have some problems while integrating United and Continental systems, but replying about a month later to an email is not acceptable. Like on my case, I had already contacted United because I hadn’t heard back and the person replying to my email was doing the job again.

When I needed to contact Continental last year regarding crediting miles back to my account for a canceled award, the response time through email was similar, and I had Platinum status with the Continental at the time. United has been very good at getting back though email when I have needed to fix something that is not urgent. The reply time used to be a day or two. I truly hope that they get back to the usual response time soon.

Virgin Atlantic Offering Bonuses for Flights in Economy, Premium Economy & Business

Just flew Virgin Atlantic for the first in in February from London to Tokyo in Upperclass (VS’s business class). The Clubhouse in London was fantastic. One of the best airline lounges that I have been to and most definitely the best business class one.

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Virgin Atlantic is now offering bonuses for flights in economy, premium economy, and business class. Registration is by May 13th (probably a good idea to register before traveling). The Bonuses are valid until June 15th, 2012.

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Just be careful that the fare class that you book is a qualifying one – especially if you are flying in economy (Y,B,R,L,U,M,V,E,Q,X,N or O booking classes). All premium economy (W, S, K or H booking classes) and business fare classes  (J, C, D, I or Z booking classes) should be eligible.

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There are many ways to use Flying Club miles. One of the newest options is to burn them on Virgin America. There are no fuel surcharges on Virgin America redemptions that make them reasonable.

Marriott Rewards Gold & Platinum Status Match – Taste of Platinum & Gold Challenge

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Please note that this night based challenge has now expired. I have a new post about the latest requirement of getting fast track to Silver/Gold/Platinum status with Marriott. You can access it here

You can get a temporarily match to Gold or Platinum status with Marriott rewards, and then you have at minimum three months to complete 12 nights for Gold or 18 nights for Platinum status depending which challenge you requested/were targeted for. The normal Gold status requirement is 50 nights and Platinum status 75 nights within a calendar year. Both Starwood and Hyatt have similar programs available. You can read about Starwood options here and Hyatt’s procedures here.

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Marriott uses somewhat interchangeably words Taste of 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 May 1st, you have only May, June, and July time to complete it. By starting May 5th you would have not only May, June, and July, but also August to complete it.

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

It is somewhat ambiguous whether you can do challenges year after year, but I would definitely not count on it.

The best time to apply for a challenge would be right after beginning of next month. Then you would have the Gold or Platinum status until the end of August, 2012 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 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.

To request the taste of Gold/Platinum just send an email to rewards.procedures@marriott.com, marriott.concierge@marriott.com, or elite.member@Marriott.com. Alternatively you can send them a message through Marriott.com, or give them a call. If you get shot down by email, it doesn’t hurt to give them a call or vice versa.

Here’s a typical reply that you can expect:

The Platinum challenge requires that a member must stay 18 paid nights beginning with the date the upgrade is processed till the end of the promotional three month period and is a one-time offer.

Once the member has stayed 18 paid nights, the Platinum Elite status will be extended until February 2014.  To retain this status for all of 2014, the member would need to stay the qualifying number of nights during 2013.  The Silver Elite level requires 10 personal paid nights, the Gold Elite level requires 50 personal paid nights, and the Platinum Elite level requires 75 personal paid nights.

Should the member be unable to stay the 18 paid nights during this trial period, the member’s account would be returned to the member’s original status, and the member would need to stay the normal night requirements to regain this Platinum Elite level.

Elite nights earned through promotions that appear as non-stay nights in the member’s account do not qualify for this offer.

Have you experiences the Taste of Gold/Platinum program, status challenge, or status march with Marriott Rewards? When did you apply and how long were your status valid? Please leave a comment below.

Qatar Airways Offering 25% Discount on Most Routes When Booked 17th to 19th April

Last year when Qatar had one of these sales, I was able to buy a business class return at an excellent price, and when Emirates had a similar sale at the turn of the year, bought couple of first class tickets. Now, Qatar is having a three day sale again that is valid for purchases made 17th to 19th of April. These are valid for flights taken from 20th of April to 6th of June, 2012.

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I have flown six segments with Qatar last year and overall quite liked the airline. The transfer in Doha is not always very nice, however. All the passengers are bussed to/from the terminal, and sometimes the ride feels to take forever. This situation should get better later in the year when the new airport has been opened. The premium terminal is extremely busy around the midnight flight bank. I was once not able to find a place to sit down. Had to go to the business center where I was able to find a quiet place to work.

Here are the Terms and conditions of this offer:

  • Valid on Qatar Airways operated flights, with the exceptions of all itineraries originating from Benghazi, Geneva, Mashad, Shiraz, Tripoli, Zurich, as well as flights to and from Houston, Montreal, Manila, Shanghai, Washington D.C.; and flights between Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires.
  • Sales valid from 17th to 19th April 2012.
  • Travel valid between 20th April and 6th June 2012; return travel must commence no later than 6th June 2012.
  • 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 fees, taxes and airport charges. Service fees may apply for tickets purchased at Qatar Airways Sales offices or through travel agents.
  • All fares being displayed on qatarairways.com already include the discount, if applicable.
  • Tickets are non-refundable, non-transferable and non-changeable. Cancellations are not permitted (except for itineraries originating from Brazil).
  • For itineraries originating from Brazil, tickets are non-refundable, non-transferable and non-changeable. Cancellations before departures are allowed against a penalty of USD 300. 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.
  • Minimum stay is 3 days. Maximum stay is 1 month.
  • Stopover is not permitted.
  • Standard child/infant discount apply.
  • Other terms & conditions apply. Please review at the time of booking.

Last Call for Awards on Lufthansa Group of Airlines (Lufthansa, Swiss, Brussels Airlines & Austrian) Using BMI Diamond Club Miles

Tomorrow April 18th is the last day to use BMI Diamond Club miles on awards that include Lufthansa, Swiss, Brussels Airlines & Austrian. You cannot change existing awards that include any of these four airlines after 18th of April either.

At this point, it is still unclear what the situation with other Star Alliance carriers is. I posted couple of days ago that it might be likely that redeeming miles on other Star partners would continue until May 31st, 2012. To be on the safe side, however, I will call in three/four redemptions later today.

The following information was distributed to BMI employees according to a post on FT:

bmi will leave star alliance in two stages.

First stage (legal exit) effective from 17th April 2012.

Second stage (customer benefit end date) effective 31st May 2012. This will include, but will not be limited to, the following changes:

– End of Star Alliance mileage accrual on bmi operated flights.

– bmi DC members will no longer accrue mileage on Star Alliance operated flights.

– Priority reservation, waitlist and standby will cease for Star Alliance customers on bmi and vice versa.

– Priority Check-in, boarding, baggage delivery will cease for Star Alliance customers on bmi and vice versa.

– Additional baggage allowance will cease for Star Alliance customers on bmi and vice versa.

– Lounge access will cease for qualifying Star Alliance customers on bmi and vice versa.

The marketing and product development teams are currently outlining the new customer offering and will let you know the new bmi (non-aligned) product discription in the forthcomining weeks. Please note that bmi will be a non-aligned carrier as it will not join One World.

Double American Airlines AAdvantage Miles on Select Alaska Airlines Non-stop Routes ASD12

American Airlines just dropped an email about their latest double miles offer; you can earn double redeemable miles on select non-stop Alaska Airlines routes.

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You can earn elite qualifying miles on Alaska and qualify for number of status related perks when flying on Alaska like priority checking, expedited security lines, preferred seating, and free first two bags. Delta SkyMiles Medallion members receive these perks as well as space available upgrades on Alaska that AA elites are not eligible for.

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You need to register for this promotion to be eligible for the double miles, and travel between April 16th and June 30th, 2012.

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