Monthly Archives: August 2014

Bonus on Purchased Alaska Air Miles


Now through October 14th you can earn up to a 40% bonus on purchased Alaska Air miles. The bonuses are tiered:
Buy 5,000 – 19,000 miles, get a 20% Bonus (2.29 cents apiece)
Buy 20,000 – 34,000 miles, get a 30% Bonus (2.115 cents apiece)
Buy 35,000 – 40,000 miles, get a 40% Bonus (1.96 cents apiece)

Normally Alaska miles cost 2.75 cents apiece.

Is it worth it to buy them? Not speculatively. A couple of bloggers (One Mile At A Time, The Points Guy) who publish their point valuations rate these points at 1.8 to 2 cents apiece. So if you’re going to buy them without a current purpose, buy at least 35,000 miles. But if you only need a few miles to top off an award, it may very well be worth buying even a few thousand points.

Categories: Alaska Airlines, Purchased Miles | Leave a comment

10,000 Delta Miles with DirecTV

Now through October 1st you can get 10,000 Delta miles for subscribing to DirecTV. You must sign a 24-month service agreement but prices will be as low as $24.99 for the first 12 months.

2014-08-31 Delta DirecTV

Is this a great deal? No, but if you were planning to switch to DirecTV anyway it’s a nice bonus. Access this offer through the SkyMiles Shopping Mall.

Categories: Delta, Shopping | Leave a comment

Win a pair of Business Class tickets to Paris

2014-08-25 Air France Contest


Air France wants you to discover La Différence in their service by playing a Facebook game in which you could win a pair of business class tickets to Paris.

To enter, simply visit the Air France Facebook page and play the “spot the differences” game. Each level you complete will earn you another entry.

The grand prize is two round-trip tickets from any Air France US gateway and a 4-night stay at the Pullman Paris Montparnasse.

It’s free, so enter today!

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Fall into Hawaii

2014-08-22 HA Fall Sale

Who doesn’t love Hawaii, especially when it’s starting to get cold in your part of the world?  Now through September 4th you can save up to 50% when you book a Hawaii vacation (flight + hotel package) through the Hawaiian Airlines site.  Check out their deals HERE on the Hawaiian Airlines website.

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Miles for tickets….no, not those tickets

2014-08-21 UA MP Score Big


We often think about going through online malls to earn bonus points or miles when we buy things online. And while you may be able to earn cash back at Ticketmaster via a mall, you can’t earn points or miles. United’s hoping to change that via their relationship with Score Big. Now you can earn a minimum of 500 United miles for each pair of tickets you buy to ball games, concerts and other events and you’ll also get 1000 bonus miles on your first purchase. You may earn even more miles depending on the event ticket you select.

There are a lot of footnotes to this promotion so be sure to read them before forking over your hard-earned dollars! Go to to get started.

Categories: Shopping, United | Leave a comment

To Check or Not To Check?

I read lots of travel blogs and articles. It’s incredible how much I’ve learned from bloggers and columnists over the last few years. And while some, especially family travel blogs, don’t mention this, it’s something I see often in blogs/articles typically written by folks who travel solo or in pairs. It was almost a throwaway sentence but it was something to the effect of “of course, never check a bag”. And that’s just a statement I find so unrealistic.

I do occasionally go on weekend trips and it’s true that on those trips I can usually get away without checking a bag. But on my longer trips? You betcha I’m checking.

I love to ski. And no matter how economically I pack, there’s no way my skis are going to fit in the overhead bin. My ski trips are typically a week long, Saturday-Saturday. While sometimes we have washers & dryers in our condo, sometimes we don’t. And I don’t want to waste time & money washing clothes if it’s not free and in my condo. I’m typically on the slopes from 9 AM to 3 PM (sometimes later) each day, often followed by a hot tub session. Then it’s time to get ready for dinner and our entire group (sometimes more than 60 people) usually eats together. That means it’s often 8 PM or later before we get back to the condo and frankly, I have no interest in doing laundry then. By 10 PM I’m wiped out and ready for bed.

So if I don’t have laundry facilities in my condo, I’m just not going to be bothered with it. That means I need to bring at least six of all my skiing underlayers: turtlenecks, long johns (tops & bottoms), athletic bras and socks. Of course, more underwear than that as well as a couple of regular bras. (I don’t mind wearing those more than one day since I only wear them for a few hours at night.)

I bring two ski outfits, one for each bag, for two reasons:
1) I’ve been on trips where one of my bags was delayed overnight. This way I have something to ski in even if that happens. This is also how I learned the hard way to pack half the underwear in each bag so you’ll have some if one bag doesn’t make it on time!
2) I want to alternate the outfits I ski in. I’m not the most efficient skier on the planet and as a result sometimes I work hard out there and, as a result, I sweat. I don’t glisten or shine, I sweat. So I like to let each outfit air out for a day before I wear it again. Otherwise I don’t even want to be around me and I can’t imagine anyone else would either!

I’ve also read where people discuss only bringing the pair of shoes they wear on the plane. A nice idea but what if something happens to those shoes? What if you accidentally step on some ice and it breaks through to a puddle? Or a passing vehicle splashes filthy slush on your shoes? Any number of things could happen to make your shoes temporarily or even permanently unwearable and often at ski resorts the shops close around dinner time. What if it happens on the final night before returning home? Are you going to wear your slippers or ski boots on the plane? Even if you’re not on a trip somewhere that the stores close early, do you really want to have to buy another pair of (perhaps overpriced) shoes when you have a closet full of them at home? I find the whole notion silly.

But even on my non-skiing trips, I’m usually only somewhere for 7-10 days or so. I’m typically somewhere I haven’t been before so I want to get out and see everything, not spend time in the room or condo doing laundry. Yes, I’m one of those who typically needs a vacation when I get back just to recover from my vacation but I’d rather be very active while I’m traveling than sit around. I am able to go to the beach and relax for a few days but after one full day of that I can usually only stand it for a couple of hours on other days. If I want to just sit out in the sun, I’m sure I can find somewhere here in town to do that without having to travel halfway around the world!

What’s your stance on the whole “no checked luggage” traveling style? For me, it’s nice in theory but unrealistic. But it all depends on where you’re traveling, how long you’re gone and what you’ll be doing during your travels.

Photo attribution: By Duhhitsminerva (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Categories: Luggage | Leave a comment

Win points or miles

Loyalty programs often give away a few points or miles.  Usually it’s not enough to make a huge difference in your account but it could be enough to put your points balance over the top for that dream hotel room or flight.  Right now a couple of different programs have contests running.

United Mileage Plus

United is running a contest where the prize changes every day.  Today’s prize is a $300 gift card (for travel on United, I assume?).

Every day you play, you’ll be entered for a chance to win a daily prize. From hotel stays to theater tickets to electronics, we have something for everyone.

To enter the contest, click HERE and play the game.  You’re asked to “catch” the falling pieces and the number you catch determines your score.  I thought you had to click on the pieces to catch them but apparently you only need to mouse over them to consider the piece caught.

2014-08-14 Mileage Plus Contest



Club Carlson Gold Points

No free points here, but a chance at a free vacation.  Each week Club Carlson is presenting two choices.  Simply click on the one you like better and you’re entered to win.  One winner each week will win a trip to whichever destination receives the most votes.  The destinations change each week.  You can enter this contest by clicking HERE.

2014-08-14 Club Carlson Contest

Yes, the odds are slim, but it only takes a few minutes at most and who knows, you might come away with something great!

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Rhine Runaway – Munich to Charlotte to Memphis

This is the final post in this series.  Other posts include:

Rhine Runaway – Booking Process
Rhine Runaway – Houston to Amsterdam
Rhine Runaway – A Short Visit to Amsterdam
Rhine Runaway – River Cruise Part I
Rhine Runaway – River Cruise Part II
Rhine Runaway – Zurich Part I
Rhine Runaway – Zurich Part II
Rhine Runaway – Zurich to Munich
Rhine Runaway – Park Hyatt Zurich

Business Class on a Lufthansa A330 is laid out in a 2x2x2 configuration with recliner seats. If you’d asked me before the trip I could have sworn I’d selected one of the middle seats since, as a solo traveler it meant I wouldn’t have to climb over anyone – or be climbed over. But I was assigned an aisle seat on the left side of the plane, 3C. My seatmate was already in place and I gathered he was a regular on the route as the flight attendants seemed to know him.

Lufthansa Business Class Amenity Kit

Lufthansa Business Class Amenity Kit

On the seat were a pillow and blanket and the amenity kit. I loved the little draw-string bag as it reminded me of a mini-beach duffel. Inside were the usual suspects: lip balm, skin creme, toothbrush & toothpaste, earplugs, eye mask and compression socks. Since this was a daytime flight I didn’t really use any of these but it was nice to have them.

As I learn to be a better blogger, one of my next steps will be to remind myself what I had to eat! As I look over the menu now I truly can’t remember what I had to eat. That tells me that it was good enough, if not memorable.  The menu read as follows:

LH 428 Menu 1

LH 428 Menu 2

LH 428 Menu 3

LH 428 Menu 4

LH 428 Menu 5

LH 428 Menu 6

Service was attentive, but not annoying. I’m one who prefers to be left alone most of the time but I often found that whenever the FAs came by my seat I truly was ready for another round of water or I did want a snack. They were very pleasant and we had no language issues at all.

The IFE had quite a good selection. Only very rarely do I go to movies in the theater at home and I can’t even remember the last time I did. I was able to catch up on a couple of movies, Saving Mr. Banks and Frozen, that I had not seen before as well as a few episodes of The Big Bang Theory, a show I enjoy on occasion but don’t watch regularly.

Before too long we were touching down in Charlotte. It was my first time to use Global Entry and, wow, was that sweet! Gave the kiosk my fingerprints, it gave me a piece of paper and boom, I was through immigration! Fantabulous.

Then I had to go through security again for my connecting flight to Memphis. That’s when I noticed that I didn’t have the TSA Pre-Check logo on my ticket. (Not suprising as it was issued by Lufthansa.) I tried to talk my way into the line, stating I’d just been through Global Entry, but it was a no-go. Lesson learned – next time check in on the mobile app for the domestic portions of my flight! I’ll give that a try on my trip next month to see how it works.

Next stop was the US Airways Club. I found out, to my chagrin, that since Lufthansa and US Airways were no longer part of the same alliance, I was not allowed to use the club, even though I’d booked my tickets with US Airways miles. Once I got home I realized I could have shown my American Airlines Executive World Mastercard and gotten in, but I didn’t even think about it while I was there.

At this point I thought about trying to get on the earlier flight back to Memphis, though the agent in the club didn’t think I’d have much luck. But I hustled down to the gate only to be met with a crowd in the boarding area and a wait list. So I didn’t even approach the gate agents about trying to get on. Back to a restaurant where it was nice to see some of the hockey playoffs, even though my team (Go Predators!) wasn’t on the ice.

When it was finally time for my flight I headed to the gate and found I was in seat 1F. By this point I’d been awake about 20 hours, after a short night’s sleep, and I was grateful to have the window so I could doze off for the short flight.

But it was a fantastic trip all around and business class would not have been possible without the points. Can’t wait for my next big adventure in September!

Categories: Lufthansa, Star Alliance, US Airways | Leave a comment

First Friday Bonus Point on Dining with Chase Sapphire Preferred

I eat out a lot and that’s one of the reasons the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is so valuable to me.  It earns 2 Ultimate Reward points per dollar spent on dining.  But on the first Friday of each month it earns 3 points per dollar.  And guess what today is!


Ultimate Rewards have a variety of airline and hotel partners, making them one of the most valuable and versatile points currencies.  So volunteer to pick up the check at lunch today and have everyone else reimburse you!

Categories: Chase, Credit Cards, Sapphire Preferred | Leave a comment

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