Friday, August 26, 2011

Tip for Earning the Most Frequent Flier Miles

At times, it is possible to earn more frequent flier miles, while keeping the same point of origin and destination.  You may be wondering how this is the case.  When doing an online search for flights with a travel website like Expedia, Hotwire, etc., or a specific airline's website, numerous flights will generally pop up. 

What I tend to do if I don't have a tight schedule is look at the price of each flight, then the time, then the specific itinerary.  It is often possible to go a bit out of the way to earn more miles.  For example, I generally fly out of Grand Forks, ND.  I will always fly on Delta, because Delta is the only major airline that offers connecting flights out of Grand Forks.  Cleveland and Pittsburgh are nearly equidistant from my in-laws, so either place will work if I am flying to the in-laws.

These two destinations often have a similar price from Grand Forks.  However, flying to/from Pittsburgh earns me 200 more miles with one stop than a flight to/from Cleveland will.  The itineraries are not much different because I have to fly through Minneapolis, but one gets more frequent flier miles.  On my last flight, I actually did even better.  For about $2 more than having one stop, I was able to go from Pittsburgh-Memphis-Minneapolis-Grand Forks.  Since I wasn't in a big hurry, the three extra hours wasn't a huge deal, and I banked about 1,800 miles on this flight, as opposed to the 1,100 I would have earned if I had taken the standard Cleveland-Minneapolis-Grand Forks route. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Double Points and Double Miles

The Hilton Honors loyalty program is currently running a promotion that allows patrons to double their earnings through September 30, 2011.  Registration for the promotion is required, and can be completed on at the promotion web page.  The promotion page also includes the fine print restrictions for this earnings opportunity, such as the inability for guests to change their preference.  Therefore, those who choose to earn double miles will earn double miles for all stays during the promotion period.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Points vs. Miles--Marriott Rewards Comparison

The Marriott Rewards loyalty program offers members the option to earn points or miles for their stays.  For those who want to earn airline miles, the question can be raised of which option is best.

For those choosing to earn points, they will earn 10 points for each dollar spent at Marriott properties that do not include Residence Inn or TownePlace Suites.  Stays at Residence Inn or TownePlace Suites earn 5 points per dollar.  For those who earn Silver Elite status, a 20% bonus is added onto these point totals. 

Those choosing to earn miles earn 2 miles per dollar spent at the full service hotels like J. W. Marriott and Marriott.  For the lower level hotels, patrons earn a single airline mile per dollar.  These mileage earnings are not uniform by airline, but are a general rule.  Points can also be used to buy miles, but the cost is between 2.5 and 5 points per mile--less than would be earned if choosing the mileage option.

For those who want to earn miles at Marriott properties, the best option would be to use a credit card that earns miles on purchases while using the points option with Marriott.  The Delta Skymiles card, for instance, earns users 1 mile per dollar for non-Delta purchases.  In this way, guests can earn the same (or at least close to the same) level of frequent flier miles that they would have earned by choosing the mileage option, while still earning points for future stays. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hotel in Gillette, Wyoming

Recently, while returning from Colorado with the family, I had the opportunity to spend a night in Gillette, Wyoming.  Gillette is a town that seems to be growing as a result of the boom in mining and energy production in Wyoming.  It's also close to I-90, which is a plus because of the long distances between stops through much of Wyoming.

We did not take I-90 to get to this destination, however.  Our route took us over Wyoming 59, AKA the South Douglas Highway.  This is one of the more remote roads that I have ever traveled, with only a couple of "towns" in a drive that exceeded an hour.  Gillette breaks the remoteness for the northbound traveler. 

The hotel that we chose for the night was the Fairfield Inn and Suites.  I chose this hotel because I could get Marriott Rewards points at a price that was comparable to other hotels in the area.  There are several hotels in the area, but most came in with a price around $100.  After staying at the hotel, I can recommend it, especially for those with children.  Included in the price for lodging for Marriott Rewards members is a fairly nice indoor water park.  There were a couple of water slides, a lazy river, and an area for smaller children (which was perfect for my family). 

In addition to a clean room and the water park, there was also a standard Fairfield Inn breakfast that did a good job of starting off the next morning.  The weather was quite cool and drizzly (as it seemed to be throughout our time in Wyoming), but it was nonetheless a good stay that pleased my children immensely.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Prague Pics--Jan Hus Monument

Yesterday, I posted on my other blog some pics and commentary regarding the Bethlehem Chapel in Prague, Czech Republic.  The Bethlehem Chapel is famous as the home base of the religious reformer Jan Hus, who was sentenced to death as a heretic by the Council of Constance in 1415.  Today, Hus is widely considered a national hero in the Czech Republic, and there are monuments erected to his memory.  The Bethlehem Chapel itself is a monument to Hus, and is open to the public for a cost of 50 Czech Crowns (about $3 US).

Another major monument to Hus is located in the Prague town square.  Each town that I visited in the Czech Republic had a town square that included a town hall (some pics of these will be forthcoming) and various shops, churches, and restaurants. Here are a couple of pics of the Jan Hus memorial in the Prague town square:

 The monument was officially unveiled on the 500th anniversary of Hus's execution in 1415.  As a nation that has often been under foreign domination, the Czech Republic views Hus as a national hero for standing up to one source of foreign domination. Here is a link with information regarding the monument itself.  One of the coolest things about the sites in the square is the cost.  They are generally free to observe for anyone who happens to be within viewing distance.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Choice Rewards and Air Miles

The Choice Hotels chain of hotels gives members the option of earning points toward hotel stays or frequent flier miles with several airlines of choice.  For most of the upper-level hotels in the chain, guests can earn either 10 points per dollar spent on the room or 250 airline miles per stay for most airlines (although this can vary by airline).  The question can arise on which choice to make.

Frequent visitors may find the opportunity to earn free nights appealing.  However, some guests may prefer to rack up some miles.  Members of the Choice Privilege program can choose to spend their points on options other than free hotel stays.  1,000 frequent flier miles can be had for 5,000 points.  However, this is not the most cost-effective use of points.  When using the points to buy miles, the member must cash in 4 nights @ $125/night.  The chain has many hotels that cost quite a bit less than $125/night.  Some rooms can be had for about 1/2 that cost.  If a member can book a single night stay at four hotels for $65/night, he or she can get the same 1,000 miles for about 1/2 the cost.

To recap:
Scenario 1--Cashing in 5,000 Choice Rewards points (costing $500) for 1,000 miles = $.50 per mile cost
Scenario 2--Spending $260 for 4 nights to earn 1,000 miles (250 per night) = $.26 per mile cost

Please keep in mind that multi-night stays at a single property earn only 250 miles.  The 250 miles are per stay.  If you are going to stay more than one night, it would probably be better to choose the points for that stay.  You can change your preference for each stay to maximize your earning potential.