American Basic Economy Fares Are Coming In January 2017


Among US carriers, Delta was the first to introduce “basic economy” fares. This is an attempt to compete with ultra-low cost carriers like Spirit and Allegiant.

The intent is that the cheapest fares in some markets will come with even fewer benefits, like not being eligible for any sort of ticket changes (even for a fee), not allowing advance seat assignments, not allowing free upgrades, etc. The logic is that this will allow them to compete with low cost carriers on price, when they might not otherwise be able to.

While “basic economy” fares were initially rolled out in select markets where low cost carriers were dominant, they’ve since spread to many more routes.

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Star Alliance Abandons Siem Reap


Much of my time over the past few days has been spent fixing reservations to and from Siem Reap, Cambodia. If you have upcoming travel to Siem Reap on Asiana you’ll want to check yours as well.

Generally operational changes at a single airport wouldn’t cause such a stir, but Siem Reap is a popular destination.

Beyond that, due to this change by Asiana, Star Alliance no longer serves Siem Reap with full member airlines. There are an assortment of subsidiary carriers (like Singapore’s SilkAir and Thai’s ThaiSmile), but when it comes to earning and using miles, those aren’t helpful.

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American Offering Bonus Miles For Travel To Australia & New Zealand


Within the past year American has started service from Los Angeles to both Sydney and Auckland, as part of their joint venture with Qantas.

In case you’ve been eying one of these flights, American is offering bonus miles for travel to Australia and New Zealand early next year. The basic terms are as follows:

— You must register (using promotion code SPF16) and book between October 21 and December 31, 2016
— You must travel between February 1 and May 31, 2017

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First Look: Delta’s Gorgeous New SkyClub At SeaTac Airport

Delkta SkyClub Seattle

Delta’s $21 million new SkyClub at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport opens tothe public today between Concourses A & B, and at 21,000 square feet, not only is it enormous, but it’s a stunner.

This club supplements and largely supplements Delta’s existing SkyClub in the South Satellite gates at Sea-Tac.

I was invited to the opening preview yesterday, and it’s clear Delta is very proud of this particular SkyClub. And they have every right to be. The new-ish SkyClub at SFO is pretty roundly regarded as wonderful. The new Seattle SkyClub is another league above.

Words won’t do it justice, so I tried to include as many pictures as possible, though of course the uniquely Pacific Northwest mix of gloom with bursts of sunshine doesn’t quite let on just how airy the space is.

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Uh Oh: Turkish Airlines CEO Resigns… Good Luck To His Replacement!


Turkish Airlines has had a very rough year, largely through no fault of their own. In late June several explosions went off at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, and then a couple of weeks later there was an attempted military coup.

Tourism in Turkey was already way down due to general safety concerns before these two things happened, and the recent situation has only made things worse. Add in the fact that Turkey’s currency is quite weak, and I don’t envy the jobs of those in charge of the airline.

Turkish Airlines lost ~$617 million in the first half of 2016 year. The airlines’ value proposition is that they fly to more countries than any other airline in the world, so they do need an extensive route network. At the same time it seems like the only way they can control their losses is to reduce capacity. The airline has announced some mild capacity cuts, though they haven’t announced plans to reduce their growing fleet of ~300 planes.

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Does RwandAir Have Africa’s Best Business Class?


Over the past year I’ve been trying a lot of “random” airlines, and the more of these carriers I’ve tried, the more I’ve become obsessed with them. For example, up until a couple of months ago I didn’t know the first thing about Air Astana (other than the fact that they’re based in Kazakhstan), though after studying them further I was intrigued, to the point that I went out of my way to fly with them last month. I had awesome flights on them, and would fly them again in a heartbeat.

One of the websites I check every morning is, which has a listing of all the route changes that airlines have filed. This can include new routes, discontinued routes, aircraft changes, etc. This morning I saw a headline about Rwandair A330 aircraft changes.

Okay, so I figured it was safe to assume that RwandAir is the airline of Rwanda, though other than that I didn’t know anything about them. Given my interest in airline products, when I saw that I said to myself “hmmm, I didn’t realize they had A330s, and wonder what their business class is like.” Then I started doing some research, and stumbled upon a post by Young Travelers of Hong Kong.

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ANA 777 First Class In 10 Pictures


Shortly after midnight yesterday we departed Tokyo Haneda for Los Angeles in ANA’s 777-300ER first class. This was after our flight from Hanoi to Tokyo in ANA business class.

As usual I’ll have a much more detailed trip report shortly, but in the meantime I figured I’d share my initial impressions in another “10 pictures” installment. I’ve only flown ANA’s new first class product once before, so was curious to try them again, given that it has been a few years.

ANA’s first class cabin consists of a total of eight seats, spread across two rows in a 1-2-1 configuration.

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The Best Garuda Indonesia First Class Roundtrip Fare I’ve Ever Seen


Garuda Indonesia is known for having one of the world’s best first class products. For those of us who are miles & points junkies, unfortunately it’s also one of the more unattainable products on miles, given that the only way to redeem miles for their first class is directly through Garuda’s program, and it isn’t cheap.

So I’m always on the lookout for cheap Garuda first class fares, as I’d love to review their product (a while back Nick reviewed the product between Amsterdam and London, though that route has been discontinued).

The cheapest longhaul Garuda first class fare I’ve seen in the past six months has been between Sydney and London, which prices out at ~3,640USD one-way. That includes the connection from Sydney to Jakarta in business class, and then the first class flight from Jakarta to London via Singapore.

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1,000 Free Aeroplan Miles In Less Than A Minute

Air-Canada-777-Business-Class - 63

Aeroplan, the independent loyalty program of Air Canada, has published a quick quiz to test your knowledge of their program. You earn 1,000 Aeroplan miles for participating, and it takes no time to complete.

Fortunately, as Aeroplan and I apparently exist in different realities, it doesn’t seem to matter whether or not you get the answers “correct.”

Some are downright falsehoods:

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Review: The Club At SEA Seattle Airport


I got to Seattle Airport at around 9:45AM, plenty early for my 1:25PM flight to Shenzhen. Seattle Airport has seen so much international expansion lately, to the point that the check-in facility is way too small. I tried to find the Xiamen Air check-in desk, through didn’t see any signs.

I asked one of the employees standing near one of the lines where Xiamen Air’s check-in desk was located. She responded with “huh?” when I said the airline’s name. I figured perhaps the spelling and pronunciation threw her off, so I instead used the cringeworthy pronunciation of “Zhee-amen Air,” which she understood, and then she pointed me to their desk.

Xiamen Air’s check-in counter is located right across from the Air Canada and United counter, and it’s a fairly tight fit. While they had close to a dozen staff at the check-in counter, they informed me that check-in didn’t open until 10AM. So I walked around the terminal for a bit, and returned 10 minutes later to check-in.

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More Amex Platinum Card Changes Are Coming Over The Next Year


A couple of weeks ago American Express announced some very nice changes to the personal and business version of their Platinum Card.

I imagine these changes were largely made in response to Chase’s recent introduction of the Sapphire Reserve Card, which has gotten a lot of attention.

While I like the changes to the American Express Platinum Card, ultimately it’s not a full competitive response to what Chase has introduced, in my opinion. The way I see it, these were some immediate changes that American Express implemented to buy time, and we’ll see more changes at some point in the future.

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Review: Norwegian Premium Class 787-9 London To Fort Lauderdale

Norwegian Premium 1

I touched down in London at 9:30am for my five hour layover before continuing on to Florida. All Norwegian’s flights depart from the South terminal at Gatwick, which is decent (in the main departures hall at least). I was excited to fly Norwegian to Fort Lauderdale given that it’s a city that is generally not served by large international carriers. This flight is only once weekly right now, but will be increasing to 3x weekly next month thanks to Norwegian’s 90% average load factor on flights from Gatwick to the US. Norwegian also fly from Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Paris to Fort Lauderdale.

As a Premium passenger with Norwegian you get complimentary access to the No1 Lounge at Gatwick South, which would normally cost £28 per person. I’ll be posting a full review of the lounge next week, but in short, it was an extremely pleasant place to spend my layover and it made time fly.

At around 2:30pm I left the lounge, since boarding was scheduled for 2:50pm according to my boarding pass. A word of caution – Gatwick uses holding pens for passengers to optimize the boarding process. There are also no toilets or windows, so try to minimize your time in there – as I did not.

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Earn Up To 10% Cash Back At Amazon With New Amex Sign-Up Bonus


American Express has just announced increased sign-up bonuses on the Blue Cash Everyday and Blue Cash Preferred cards, which are some of their best cash back credit cards. These increased bonuses are valid through January 11, 2017, and the details are as follows:

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express — no annual fee

Earn $100 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card within the first three months
Earn 10% back on purchases at on the card within the first six months, up to $200

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Pick Up Two Free Fairmont Room Upgrade Vouchers


Late last year it was announced that Accor would be acquiring Fairmont, Raffles, And Swissôtel, representing the latest in a string of hotel mergers. This would allow Accor to improve their footprint of luxury properties, given that most of their brands are more budget-focused.

The deal has closed, though we haven’t seen much in the way of reciprocal loyalty benefits. So while Marriott and Starwood offered status matching and points transfers from day one, it hasn’t been quite as quick with Accor.

While not earth-shattering, Fairmont’s President’s Club is finally offering Accord elite members something. Fairmont’s President’s Club is offering Le Club Accor Gold and Platinum members who register for the program through this link two free room upgrade vouchers.

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