June 26, 2016

Red-eye vs. Daytime Flight?

We are just a couple of months away from our latest adventure.  I'm working on finalizing details and will post an overview as soon as it comes together.  For now, we're headed back to the Maldives for four nights and have a couple of other cool stops as we circumnavigate the globe for the second time.

Going going back to back to...
 As of now, we're leaving Male for Tokyo with an overnight in Singapore.  This means a daytime flight from Male departing around 1PM and getting into Singapore around 8:40PM.  Followed by an early morning departure to Tokyo landing in the early afternoon.  The good news is that we'll be flying to Tokyo's Haneda airport which is far closer to the city.  But essentially we'll be spending two back to back days flying with a total of 12 hours in the air.

Current itinerary
Another option would be to take Singapore Airline's red-eye flight from Male to Singapore.  We took this flight last year and while it was fun, it wasn't that fun.  It's a late departure and an early arrival without proper time (<5 hour flight) to get a full night's sleep.  You have to balance that with an extra half day in the Maldives...which doesn't suck.  We could step right off that flight and onto our planned daytime flight to Haneda.  Or we could spend the day in Singapore and take another red-eye that evening to Narita.  But back to back red-eye's seems crazy.

So as of now, I'm leaning to keeping our itinerary as planned.  We will have a bit less time in the Maldives on our final day but we'll have a daytime seaplane ride to Male to look forward to.  We'll land in Singapore early enough that we can go into the city if we're feeling up to it.  Then we'll wake up rested the next morning for an 8AM flight to Haneda.

In certain cases, red-eye's are great.  They can save you the cost of a hotel room and enable you to enjoy a full day at your destination.  While I'd love more time in either the Maldives or Tokyo, I also want to feel relaxed and rested in both places.  Plus, I'm excited for back-to-back flights on one of my favorite airlines.

Would you choose a red-eye or a daytime flight?

Why I'm Going Big With Delta

I've stayed loyal to United for the past 16 years given that I've lived in United hubs (Boulder then DC and now Denver) and they can generally get me to where I need to be nonstop.  But without higher elite status (currently a lowly United Silver) it just doesn't matter all that much.  I can essentially replicate Silver benefits with the United Explorer Visa card.  So I have begun diversifying my paid travel based on schedule and price vs. solely based on carrier.

As it relates to award travel, I've been playing the field for awhile.  Since I'm generally flying in a premium cabin, elite status within a given alliance doesn't impact the experience.  Despite that, I have yet to fly within the Skyteam (led by Delta) alliance during the last four years of heavy international travel.  As of a month ago, I had less than 1,000 Delta SkyMiles in my account.

One of the challenging things about applying for loads of credit cards is that eventually you start to run out of options.  Amex has a "once in a lifetime" signup bonus restriction and Chase/Citi let you receive signup bonuses every 24 months.  So when there is a compelling offer that I can take advantage of, I usually do.  And that is why I am going big with Delta.

Houston Centurion Lounge Now Open

American Express has opened their newest Centurion lounge in Houston.  Mommy Points and View from the Wing both visited the lounge and have reviews and pictures.  The Houston location compliments existing lounges in Seattle, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Dallas, Miami, and New York.  It sounds like an LAX outpost is planned but nothing finalized yet.

As a reminder, Centurion club lounge access is complimentary for Centurion and Platinum (business and personal) cardmembers.  Other Amex cardmembers may access the lounge for $50 a day.

DFW Centurion Lounge
The lounges are fantastic - among some of the best in the US.  The Dallas location offers complimentary spa treatments, San Francisco has a wine tasting setup and the Vegas location is well...in Vegas.  Sunday morning flights out of Vegas require lots of water and coffee and the Centurion is a great place to get both as well as relax before a flight.

The Houston lounge is located in the D terminal (international) and sounds like it will be open from 5AM to 9PM.  The lounge is just under 9,000 square feet which puts it about on part with the Dallas lounge.  Both food and drink look fantastic.

I have two planned Houston layovers later this summer so hope to have my own thoughts to share with you soon.  While American Express isn't expanding their footprint of these lounges as quickly as they once were, any expansion is good given the high quality of the lounges.  Especially when compared to their domestic airline (United/Delta/American) counterparts.

June 19, 2016

1,000 Bonus Miles with United MileagePlus Shopping

United's MileagePlus shopping mall is out with another bonus.  This time, they are offering 1,000 bonus miles for spending $250 between now and 6/30/16.

 They ran a similar promotion in May but there was only a week or so to complete the $250 in spend.  If you're new to earning miles and points by shopping online, you can read the getting started post here.
I'm going to be taking advantage of this promotion as I have a few extra Sephora gift cards to burn.  Sephora is currently paying out at 6x United's portal so for those purchases, I'll be earning 10x points for the purchases leveraging the already discounted gift cards.

Earn 500 Free Marriott Rewards Points

It is a free miles and points bonanza this morning here at ATRP.

And third, earn free Marriott Rewards points for following Marriott on Instagram and submitting your email address at the bottom of this page.  Bonus points should post within 4 weeks.  I'm not entirely sure how they are matching up your Instagram account with your Marriott Rewards account. I would assume based on email address.  Just to be safe, you'll want to ensure your Insta and Marriott Rewards accounts have the same email address.

Once your email is submitted, you'll receive a green check mark

You can also follow All the Right Points on Instagram and you'll get free pictures of our past/current travels.  While 500 points isn't earth shattering, this one will literally take you <30 seconds.  You have until 6/21 (Tuesday) to follow and submit your email address.

Earn 5x at Restaurants with Chase Freedom

I've written about the Chase Freedom card a number of times but you can read the most recent posts here and here.  Freedom is one of the best "fee free" cards on the market.  While the card is marketed as a cash back card, if you have another Ultimate Rewards earning card (such as an Ink business card or a Chase Sapphire Preferred card) you can transfer the cash back points earned to your Ultimate Rewards earning card.  You can then use those points to transfer to a variety of travel partners (British Airways, United Airlines, Hyatt, etc..) which provide far more value then simply redeeming for cash back.

Chase Freedom provides a quarterly bonus where you can earn 5x cash back (and ultimately 5x Ultimate Rewards) on up to $1,500 in spend per quarter.  During Q2, the bonus categories were warehouse clubs (i.e. Costco) and grocery stores.  While the quarter isn't over, it's looking like we'll max at least one of our Freedom cards to earn the full 7,500 Ultimate Rewards points.

Registration/activation is open for Q3 which offers 5x at restaurants.  We had the same category in Q2 of 2015 and had no trouble maxing one of our cards during the quarter.  Chase has also kept warehouse clubs on for Q3 likely due to the Costco migration away from American Express.

Chase has announced that the Q4 category will be "holiday shopping" which likely means Amazon.  Last year, Chase offered 10x at Amazon instead of the normal 5x throughout the holidays.  I'm hoping they do the same this year as that is a phenomenal opportunity to earn 10x while shopping for holiday gifts!

Earn 500 United Miles for Using Visa Checkout

You can earn 500 free United miles in about 3 minutes by adding your United MileagePlus credit card to your Visa Checkout account and making a $5+ purchase by 9/30/16.  Note that you have to make the purchase within 15 days of enrolling.  Apparently this is a targeted promotion (Emily had the promo but I did not) and only valid for new Visa checkout accounts.  I have a feeling it will work regardless.

To claim the bonus, click here to go to the landing page and enter your United MileagePlus number.  You'll be asked to login to Visa Checkout to add your United MileagePlus credit card to your account.

You'll be taken the confirmation page showing that you've been enrolled.  The page has prompts to make a purchase at about a dozen Visa Checkout merchants but you can find the full (and much larger) list of merchants here.

I enrolled both of our accounts and made a $10 Starbucks reload purchase with each Visa Checkout account.  The points haven't posted, but I imagine they will in the next few days.

This (in theory) is a quick and easy 500 United miles which I value around $10.  So in the Starbucks reload scenario, you're basically getting the reload for free.