How To Use The Ritz-Carlton $100 Airfare Discount

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I’ve written extensively about The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card, which was recently relaunched with a very generous sign-up bonus:

— Three complimentary nights at any Tier 1-4 Ritz-Carlton hotel after spending $5,000 within three months
— 10,000 bonus points after adding an authorized user and having them make a purchase within the first three months

I’ve written about some of the benefits of the card, including the $300 annual airline credit, Ritz-Carlton Gold status (which is also valuable at Marriott properties), the $100 domestic companion airfare benefit, etc.

Well, Ford was recently approved for The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card, so I’ve been playing around with the benefits of the card a bit more. One of the benefits I wanted to look further into was the $100 domestic companion airfare benefit, so that’s what this post is about.

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Apply For The Starwood Card To Maximize Your Marriott Points

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Since last week, Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest are letting members link accounts, which includes the option of transferring Starpoints to Marriott Rewards at a 1:3 ratio, and vice versa. This can be a very useful transfer ratio in both directions, depending on what you’re trying to do.

When this functionality went live I wrote about seven new opportunities that now exist thanks to the ability to link accounts. One of those opportunities is the ability to maximize points earned through credit cards even further.

The Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card has a sign-up bonus of 80,000 Marriott Rewards points after spending $3,000 within three months, plus an additional 7,500 bonus points when you add the first authorized user and they make a purchase in the first three months. That’s a total of 87,500 Marriott Rewards points.

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Air Canada’s Big International Expansion: Mumbai, Nagoya, Taipei, And More!

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Air Canada has been growing nicely lately, especially in terms of longhaul destinations. This is thanks to a couple of factors:

— Air Canada has taken delivery of 21 Boeing 787-8 and 787-9 aircraft, which open up a lot of markets that weren’t previously practical
— Air Canada has expanded their low cost Rouge division, which has opened up a lot of new international leisure markets that weren’t previously practical

With that in mind, Air Canada has just announced some impressive international expansion.

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Lufthansa Buys Brussels Airlines… Could It Be The End Of The Brand?

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Despite their overall struggles, Lufthansa is looking at some significant acquisitions. I’ve written repeatedly about how Lufthansa is planning on taking over many of airberlin’s planes and routes. Airberlin is doing horribly financially, so on the surface it seems a bit odd that Lufthansa would want to take over their competitor’s money losing routes. However, Lufthansa realizes that the alternative is that EasyJet and Ryanair could expand to/within Germany, and that’s something they want to prevent.

Well, that’s not the only significant expansion goal that Lufthansa has at the moment. Just this morning it was announced that Lufthansa will be buying the rest of Brussels Airlines, a deal that’s expected to close in 2017. Lufthansa already owns a 45% stake in Brussels Airlines, so through this deal they’re buying the other 55% as well.

Austrian and Swiss are already part of the Lufthansa group, so on the surface this might seem like a pretty innocent takeover, as those airlines continue to operate independently, simply sharing a frequent flyer program with Lufthansa, and operating as part of a joint venture in many markets.

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T-Mobile Offering Free 4G LTE In Europe & South America For The Rest Of 2016!

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I made the switch from AT&T to T-Mobile back in June, and couldn’t be happier about it. I pay less than half as much as I did before, and I get unlimited international data, can finally tether my phone (I had one of those grandfathered unlimited plans with AT&T that didn’t allow it), and get an hour of free Gogo wifi on every eligible flight.

On top of these published perks, T-Mobile often has limited time promotions to delight customers. In the decade I was with AT&T, I don’t remember them ever doing a single thing to go above and beyond. For example, over the summer T-Mobile offered unlimited high speed 4G LTE data in Europe for their Simple Choice plan customers, rather than the standard 2G speeds.

Well, T-Mobile has just announced an “Endless Summer” promotion, as T-Mobile Simple Choice plan customers will get free 4G LTE speeds in Europe and South America for the rest of 2016. T-Mobile customers will automatically receive 4G LTE speeds in the following countries:

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Air France Will Continue To Fly The Most Outdated A380s

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Air France is in the process of refreshing their longhaul fleet, including introducing some great new first & business class seats.

Air France’s new first class seat must be one of the coolest new products out there. The product looks so clean and stylish. Rather than going for some fully enclosed suite, Air France instead has curtains around the seats, which is pretty awesome.

They also have some great new reverse herringbone seats in business class, which is a hard product that’s tough to beat.

The airline has been making good progress upgrading their 777s, which are the backbone of their longhaul fleet. Earlier this year Air France also announced that their A330s should get the new business class product starting late next year, and the project should be completed in 2018.

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British Airways & Qatar Airways Announce A Joint Business Venture

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Last January it was first announced that Qatar Airways would be buying a 9.99% stake in IAG, the parent company of British Airways and Iberia. Qatar Airways is government owned, so basically the country was buying the stake. Then a few months ago Qatar Airways raised their stake in IAG to 15%.

There were probably two primary motivations for this $2+ billion investment:

— The Gulf countries are looking for ways to diversify their assets and develop economies that are sustainable long term, long after oil runs out (decreased oil revenue is already impacting Gulf countries)
— The Gulf carriers are constantly fighting political battles when expanding, given how many foreign airlines selectively don’t want to compete with government owned/subsidized airlines in the Gulf; by buying stakes in other carriers, the Gulf carriers are increasing their soft political power

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Is This The Best Option For International Data?

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There’s no doubt that staying connected while traveling abroad has gotten exponentially easier in the last few years. While options for local SIM cards and rentable My-Fi devices have expanded, U.S.-based cellular carriers have started offering competitive packages that allow you to use your phone as you would in the States, affordably.

Ben’s a fan of T-Mobile. Tiffany prefers her Google-Fi.

As for me, I’m a Sprint customer, and have been pretty delighted with Sprint’s international travel packages this past year. With Sprint’s Open World plan (which is free), voice and texting in the entirety of the Americas – North and South – is free, and 1GB of high-speed data is included (with overages charged at $30 per GB, billed in KB increments). In most of Europe, Australia, and parts of Africa and Asia, calls are just $0.20 per minute, texts are free, and high-speed data is billed at $30 per gig, in KB increments.

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Review: Hotel Romazzino Porto Cervo

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For our last night in Porto Cervo we decided to change hotels. Starwood has four properties in the Porto Cervo area, and while Cala Di Volpe is generally regarded as the best, I was curious to try another one. Hotel Romazzino looked like the next best property based on the pictures and reviews, so we decided to stay there.

While we booked a half board rate at Cala Di Volpe, we decided to book a Luxury Privileges rate for our one night stay at Hotel Romazzino. The rate for the one night stay was ~350EUR, which came with the following published Starwood Luxury Privileges benefits:

— Complimentary standard in-room internet access
— One 200 USD food and beverage credit per room, per stay
— Daily buffet breakfast for two guests
— VIP Treatment
— Upgrade on arrival, early check-in and late check-out which are all subject to availability

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Hello, Live From United International First Class!

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Well, my crazy quick round the world trip is coming to an end shortly. I flew Korean Air first class from Vancouver to Seoul, then Air Astana business class from Seoul to Almaty to Astana to London, and now finally am flying United first class from London to Los Angeles.

I’ve flown both American first class and British Airways first class on this route before, so I was curious to see how this flight would compare.

Well, I’m happy to say that I’m very pleasantly surprised by the experience. Very pleasantly surprised! I’ll keep this post brief, since I’ll have a full trip report soon, but I did want to share my initial impressions.

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How Long Are Marriott & Starwood Status Matches Valid For?

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Since last week, Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest are letting members link accounts, which includes the option to status match and transfer points between programs.

On paper Starwood Preferred Guest members are doing quite well in this regard, since SPG Gold matches to Marriott Gold, and SPG Platinum matches to Marriott Platinum. Marriott has higher qualification requirements for both of those tiers than Starwood, so I’d say it’s a very fair match. For example, those with The Platinum Card® from American Express receive free SPG Gold status, and now in turn also receive Marriott Gold status, which is great.

While the status match as such is generous, it doesn’t change the fact that the only reason I’d want to stay at most Marriott properties is if there weren’t a Hyatt or Starwood property where I needed to be (in theory Ritz-Carltons are appealing, but full elite benefits don’t apply at those properties).

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Limited Time: Buy American Miles For ~2 Cents Each

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Through October 31, 2016, American is offering up to 42,500 bonus miles when you purchase AAdvantage miles. On top of that, you can save 10% if you buy miles by October 3, 2016.

The bonus miles are tiered, and based on how many you purchase, as follows (again, the 10% discount is only available through October 3, though):

— Buy 20,000-39,000 miles, get 7,000 bonus miles plus 10% off
— Buy 40,000-59,000 miles, get 15,000 bonus miles plus 10% off
— Buy 60,000-74,000 miles, get 22,500 bonus miles plus 10% off
— Buy 75,000-99,000 miles, get 30,000 bonus miles plus 10% off
— Buy 100,000-150,000 miles, get 42,500 bonus miles plus 10% off

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Save $50 On Your Next Hyatt Regency Stay With Hyatt’s Co-Branded Card

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I’m a big fan of the Hyatt Credit Card, given that it offers an annual complimentary night certificate valid at any Category 1-4 Hyatt property. That more than justifies the $75 annual fee on the card, in my opinion.

However, even beyond that, there are some great promotions offered for having the card. For example, through October 31, 2016, you can save 10% on Gold Passport points redemptions if you have the Hyatt Credit Card, which is a great way to get even more value out of your points.

Well, Hyatt has just announced their latest promotion for those with their co-branded credit card. From September 27, 2016 to December 31, 2016, those with Hyatt’s co-branded credit card can register to receive a $50 statement credit if they spend $500 or more at U.S. Hyatt Regency hotels and resorts. Registration is required by October 31, 2016, and the stay has to be completed by December 31, 2016.

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Blacklane: An Alternative To Uber & Pricey Hotel Cars

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We’re on record here at OMAAT as preferring to avoid taxis, as our rides nearly always end up being highly entertaining, and not particularly efficient. When public transportation isn’t reasonably available, our defaults are Uber, Lyft, and even hotel cars — probably like many of you.

Hotel cars can be expensive, and of course Uber and Lyft have their problems as well. There are some alternative companies, however, including Blacklane, which specializes in airport transfers (though they provide other car services as well). Blacklane promotes itself as a “global professional driver service,” not a ridesharing provider or transportation app. They utilize licensed and regulated drivers throughout their network of 200+ cities.

I used Blacklane for the first time this week, and I think it’s a service that will be useful to many of you, so figured I’d share my experience and the details.

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