Heads-up: report of SPG program changes coming April 16th

(Last update 9 April 2018)

According to a couple of sources, the coming details of the merged Starwood + Marriot points plan are being announced on April 16th. Lucky is reporting that some phone reps are saying the current Starwood-to-airline mile transfers will end that day.

most of my Starwood points came from Amex signup bonuses

In recent years, airlines and credit cards have been providing ever less notice for big changes like this, so it wouldn't surprise me if this were true. One way or the other I'm going to make a plan for where to transfer my Starwood points and move 'em quick if I get word that the changes are negative (and I'd guess there's a 99% chance that they will be). I'm not much of a hotel person, so I wouldn't consider keeping the points to use for hotel rooms.

They have a long list of transfer partners, but it's a tough call… Here's my current thinking (I'll update this page as I learn more):

Yes

  • Initially, Alaska was my top pick. They've got some great, unique partnerships and lots of opportunities for high value redemptions. I've also got 50,000 of their points sitting around in my account so I could top that off with a Starwood transfer. After a little poking at Alaska's website, though, it's quite difficult to find Business Class seats on JAL. But on the other hand their Korean Business rewards are actually 10k cheaper per leg than when you redeem directly from Korean Air, so that's a plus.
    No JAL Business Class (click to enlarge)
  • Virgin Atlantic has that magical sweet spot for ANA rewards. If I had another trip to Japan with firm dates planned in the near future I might think about it, but it's tough with the long point transfer times and fleeting availability that could vanish and maroon my points over there (Virgin also has sky-high fees for rewards to the UK). Lucky has his list of Virgin sweet spots over here.
  • Singapore is bringing back the world's longest flight in 2019: Newark to Singapore. I absolutely want to take that flight, so this might be a good way to do that.
  • I'm quite familiar with Korean Air's website and flights, but I've heard there's been diminished availability in recent months. To do a real-world spot check, I logged in to see availability for NYC to Tokyo via Seoul in late autumn (after my husband's product ships and his vacation days free up) and there was still plenty of availability.
    Yellow dates have no availability (click to enlarge)

 

Maybe

  • Delta would be OK, since they're my second-choice domestic carrier after JetBlue, but I think it'd be tough to get above 2¢ each for them given how often they devalue their points. I'm also interested in Flying Blue, but I'd like to keep all my SkyTeam eggs in one basket.
  • British would also be OK, but mostly just for Oneworld partner redemptions like JAL. BA flights to the UK have hatefully high surcharges on them, so using their points to get to Europe is almost always a complete waste.
  • Amtrak would actually be OK, considering their points are consistently worth more than 2¢ each, even after their recent conversion to a fixed-value points system. We often ride the Acela to DC and the Vermonter to Brattleboro.
  • ANA would be great except their website is quite difficult to use and they don't support one-way award trips. Plus their fuel surcharges have shot up recently.
  • Aeromexico recently added Peak dates and they have poor availability in peak season, but if I book our annual Mexico trip pretty far out I should be able to get above 3¢ per point.
  • Hainan deserves some research. We've been talking about going to Chengdu, and they offer direct service on a 787 with a similar interior to LOT's. (But I could also just do a partner reward with Alaska to fly them). 

 

NO

  • United would be a decent choice (even though I almost never fly them) due to their website being relatively easy to search and book Star Alliance rewards, except with Starwood it's a 2:1 transfer rate and that's an absolute deal breaker. Likewise, I'd really prefer to not split miles between two different Star Alliance carriers so that's kind of a dealbreaker for Lufthansa's Miles and More.
  • American. You know, I've had to learn all the quirks of United and Delta's websites, and I just don't have the stomach to learn another. They have terrible award availability so there's no prize at the end of my hero's journey so I'll stick to the demon that I know (i.e., British Airways) for Oneworld rewards.
  • LifeMiles. This is another house of pain for me. Lots of people find great deals with LifeMiles but the customer service horror stories have scared me off from ever using them.
  • I have very little interest in flying on any of the gulf carriers. Their routes are always so circuitous for most of the trips I make and I'd rather have an extra 24 hours on my trip than a bunch of gold trim and an onboard shower.
  • I'm not planning a trip to the homelands of Thai, Hawaiian, China Eastern, Air China, Air New Zealand, Iberia, Jet, Velocity or Gol anytime soon, nor are any of them renowned for having great sweet spots on their partner rewards.
  • Aeroplan is about to go away so I'm not storing anything there, ditto Alitalia.








Comments

  1. Interesting. I've got about 90k points between SPG and Marriott now and debating what to do with them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah we need to figure out where we're going in October and I think that'll end up guiding the decision for us...

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