Showing posts from July, 2017

A fun tool for visualizing your trips

I just gave a try yesterday and it's a fun little tool for visualizing your travel. It connected directly to my TripIt account (after I granted permission) and imported and analyzed 8 years of my travel. (TIP: you can email old airline confirmations to TripIt and it should be able to import them even though they're several years old)

They support several other types itinerary management software too.

First off – who doesn't love a map! From there it shows a bunch of stats about my travel: the types of aircraft I flew, which airports I used, international/domestic breakdown, and maybe most importantly: Economy vs. Business vs. First 😂

On the disturbing news front: I've spent 58 days and 7 hours in the air! There's heaps more info to look at, so if you browse a snapshot of my data, go here.

When you're logged in there's are several other views beyond what you see in the snapshot. I really enjoyed seeing the breakdown of all the different plane …

Amex Offers bonanza!

UPDATE (8/26/2017): I've made 19,000 points from these Amex Offers and I'll get 3000 more from these promos next month!

The Chase Sapphire Reserve's overwhelming popularity has got Amex shaking in their boots. From the looks of things, they're spending a bunch of marketing money by coming up with Amex Offers to bribe people into using their Amex cards for purchases that are likely not in the Sapphire's bonus categories (dining and travel).

The big wildcard with Amex Offers is that they're somewhat random – there are different offers for different customers, and they're different on every card if you have more than one type of Amex. After looking over my offers, here's how I'm getting in on the action:

5000 bonus miles for spending $5000 I have lots of spending that doesn't neatly fall into any card's bonus category, so I'm stuck earning one lowly point per dollar on it. With this offer, I can essentially double it, provided I hit the sp…

What category will my transaction be?

Another useful tool that I've recently come across is a Visa search that helps you figure out what official category the charges from a specific merchant will code to on your Visa statement.

Since many cards have category bonuses (e.g., groceries, gas, dining), this can be helpful to figure out which card to use at various merchants. It's especially helpful if it's a merchant you've never been to and you don't have any historical data in your own account to look back on.

Check it out!

Cool tool to search for award seats across all airlines

One of the toughest parts of the points game is actually finding the flights you want once you've gathered enough points. Most people end up with a mix of points across several carriers and maybe a pile or two of transferable points like American Express Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards.

A great tool for visualizing all of the direct routes from a single airport is (The Airlines and Destinations section of Wikipedia is another great resource for this type of thing).

If you're just perusing possibilities, is great for showing you all of your potential options. You can filter the list so it doesn't show flights with programs you don't have points for. While this is great for brainstorming (and for choosing which new points programs to join), it doesn't show the availability of those rewards, so you'll need to use something different once you're ready to book.

There are several options to look for reward sea…

More competition coming for the Big 3 US carriers

Despite the PR nightmare of United's recent dragging and beating episode, United is on track to have a great quarter, and they'll likely have their highest number of boardings ever. Despite all of those Facebook comment threats about "never flying them again", it's amazing how many people still do when it's the cheapest, most-convenient, or only option. People might still hate United, but not enough to pay $50 more or take a 2-stop itinerary instead of a direct one...

This is why competition is so important. I still don't understand why the Obama administration approved the three mergers that eliminated Continental, US Air, and Virgin America. The airlines have now fully recovered from their post-9/11 financial crises, are making record profits, and yet they're raising prices, introducing "Basic Economy" fares with even fewer amenities, and treating customers worse than ever. As we drift toward monopoly, this is exactly what we'd predict…

JetBlue will status match to Mosaic

Over the weekend I got an email from JetBlue that they're bringing back status matches and status challenges. The former allows people with status on another airline to try out JetBlue's Mosaic elite status, and the latter allows non-elites to earn status through the end of next year by flying $1250 worth of JetBlue flights in 90 days.

My husband ended up earning Mosaic status largely by accident,  and we've scrutinized the benefits we've gotten from it and found that we got around $1200 of value out of it. Since people use some benefits more than others, you might want to look carefully at what it's worth before you make any decisions.

In our case, it's looking like my husband might miss making Mosaic status for next year due to fewer work trips this year, so he's planning on signing up for the challenge to still requalify for 2018. The one downer here is if you qualify via the challenge, you don't get the 15,000 bonus points (worth about $200) for ma…

Big changes to Aeromexico's Upgrade plan

We started planning the annual pilgrimage to Mexico a bit early this year. We loved Oaxaca so much last year that we basically want to repeat the schedule from last year:
NYC > Oaxca > Puerto Vallarta > NYC.
We booked last year in September and many of the food and mezcal tours we wanted to take were already sold out for our late January dates, so we wanted to book a bit earlier this year.

There are several challenges in that itinerary, but probably the biggest one is that final direct flight back to New York. United (and Delta back when they used to compete on this route) will charge you USD$1000 per person for that trip whether it's a one-way or a round-trip. I got lucky last year and found a Mexican travel agent who could book the one way for $600-ish. Sadly they couldn't make that happen again this year, so I had try several different tricks but managed to eventually land the one-way for $550 in Business (happy to share how privately).

As I discussed in previous

LOT Polish Airlines starting direct New York to Budapest service

Hungary hasn't had direct service to the US since American Airlines cut their flight and Malév went bankrupt in 2012, but it looks likestarting next May, they're going to sponsor a new fifth freedom flight between NYC/Chicago and Budapest operated by LOT Polish Airlines.  Having a direct flight will help tourism and commerce so it makes sense the Hungarian government would want to sponsor this service. Apparently they originally planning to have Emirates operate the flight, but that fell through.

My first-ever 787 flight was on LOT Polish (their entire long-haul fleet is 787), and we had a great trip. I wrote a trip report for it over on I've always wanted to go to Budapest and I might actually take this flight when I finally get around to going. They're part of Star Alliance, and you can search/book award flights through Also, I don't know if this is typical, but I actually called their call center (push the buttons to get to the First Cla…