Great news! JAL and ANA slashing fuel surcharges by 60%

Both Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airlines base their fuel surcharges on jet fuel price indices (as I pointed out last year). They've just announced that the surcharges are being slashed by 60% for tickets issued in April and May. According to NHK, they review the surcharge rates every two months. This should bring the copay on their super-affordable Economy reward tickets back down to the $100 range.

A promising new award seat searching tool

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.

AwardHacker is great for knowing all of the possible rewards and how many points they would cost, but the holy grail of doing a search for actual, available reward seats has remained elusive – in part because the airlines put up IT and legal roadblocks to 3rd party services to prevent their software from crawling through the airline websites and mining the resulting data. (based in the Baltics) tried this, but unfortunately their site has been completely hobbled recently and you're now greeted with a login message about "something new and exciting coming soon".

One of the other strategies for this problem is to let users download a software program to their …

JetBlue is bluffin' with their muffin about expanding to Europe

I've been hopeful yet extremely suspicious about JetBlue's long-rumored expansion to Europe, and it appears I'm not the only one. Lucky and the Wandering Aramean are both calling out JetBlue for their continuing indecision about converting their A321neo orders to the long-range LR version of the aircraft. JetBlue has been teasing this decision since mid-2016 and even if they decided tomorrow to go with the LRs, it still means that any potential European flights wouldn't happen until at least 2021 or later.

On a personal note, we'd been sorta stockpiling the JetBlue points hoping that there'd be some great introductory offers on transatlantic service, but we gave up on them early in 2018 and spent 100,000-ish of our TrueBlue family pool balance. JetBlue has been slowly, quietly devaluing their points and it doesn't make sense to hold them for something that might never come.

Instead of enabling transatlantic service, the LRs could also potentially end up on…

My settlement check (cheque?) from British Airways finally came!

I mentioned last June that I'd elected to get money instead of miles as part of the British Airways class action lawsuit. I'd gotten so nervous it wasn't going to come that I talked to Ben Schlappig of One Mile At A Time to see if he'd gotten his yet, and he hadn't.

I'm happy to report that we've both received our checks now. As I understand it, the suit hinged on the idea they called their surcharges "fuel surcharges", when in fact they had nothing to do with fuel prices. People who booked reward tickets during the time frame where they were using the misleading name were offered the choice between money and miles as compensation. In my case, $278 is worth a lot more to me than 12,500 BA points.

Sadly, BA still has their criminally-high surcharges, but since they have a less deceptive name now, they seem to think it's ok. I don't. I ditched my BA card years ago because of them. About the only time using their points is worth it is for …

the value of "turning left"

Considering how often domestic flights are on a single-aisle plane boarded from the forward door, you're usually "turning right" no matter which class you're in. Even on long haul international flights, First Class cabins are shrinking (or vanishing altogether), and a big chunk of the Business Class seats are often to the right of the boarding door.

Honestly, I've gotten so used to having 150+ people tromp/crop-dust their way through the plane that I thought nothing of it. Then, a few days ago, I boarded my overpriced flight home from Portland and was pleasantly surprised when I had to "turn left" on this 757 to get to my Delta One seat. A few minutes after sitting down it hit me – why was I so calm and peaced out? Why was I actually smiling despite this insanely stressful month? It's because we turned left.

We could take as long as we wanted to "get settled". We could get up whenever we wanted to get things out of the overhead bin. We c…

2018 points roundup

The chaotic holiday season is finally behind us, and I'm sitting here really enjoying this second cup of coffee and the very quiet house. Looking back on 2018 from a points perspective, I had another good year of earning – 493,000 points (I'm not including my husband's earning since his employer pays for a bunch of his travel).

Breaking that down a bit:
51,000 miles with 4 airlines from paid flights and airline shopping portals247,000 Amex points from spending and bonuses (of that: 30k from refer-a-friend, 60k from upgrading to the Platinum card, 42,000 from Amex Offers, the rest from spending) 95,000 Chase points from credit card spending (85k of those were in travel and dining)100,000 Chase points for doing an in-branch offer for a new Ink Business card Looking back on last year's roundup, it looks like I hit most of my predictions for 2018 – we're booked on an exciting Cathay Pacific A350 flight, I churned a couple of new cards, I'm still not chasing elite s…

Every once in a while I wish I had actual American Airlines points

Thus far, I've avoided ever having a single American Airlines mile. Despite what you might think, I don't have a strong desire to know the ins- and outs of every system out there. Plus, they're legendary for having terrible award availability. The trip itself, not the way I get there, is still where the bulk of my energy is spent. Thus far, Alaska and British Airways partner redemptions have been "good enough" for my OneWorld/American Airlines needs and I've been able to avoid dealing directly with them. Neither Chase UR nor Amex MR points can be transferred to them, so the only option is to start accruing them, or do a SPG/Marriott transfer which can take multiple days (or weeks if their newly-combined IT department is having another flareup of digital heartburn).

Yesterday in trying to help my husband find a flight home from a family emergency in Montana, my Alaska/British strategy finally hit a wall. I knew exactly which flight he wanted to be on, yet neit…