american airlines

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FoundersCard offering free AA Platinum Status Challenge for members

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New AA perk this quarter from FoundersCard

I’ve written about FoundersCard extensively in the past. They are one of my favorite auxiliary programs for travel, business, and lifestyle benefits.

Many of the travel benefits they offer are the same ones given as perks for holding co-branded premium credit cards (free TripIt Pro [Barclaycard Arrival], Hertz #1 Club Gold membership [American Express Platinum Card], Hilton HHonors Gold status [Hilton credit cards], 10% off British Airways fares [Chase British Airways Visa Signature], free Shoprunner membership [American Express cards] – just to name a few).

And, they’re always switching things up each quarter. The one I watch like a freaking hawk is the American Airlines perk. And this quarter, they’ve really stepped it up.

Free AA Platinum Status Challenge

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Points and miles as insurance – why it’s good to have a stash

Everyone knows I’m Mr. Earn and Burn: I typically like to keep my miles balances as close to zero as possible.

I don’t trust any mileage or point program, really. Not for a second. Every major airline has had a drastic, no-notice-given change to their mileage program this year.

That being said, I like to have a little stash.

Where to keep the stash and how many to tuck away

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American Airlines changed my flights without telling me :/

Had a bit of a scare yesterday. I went to check in for my Airberlin flight TXL-HEL (that was to connect to Finnair HEL-JFK) to end my Eurotrip 2014.

I booked the one way award flight on aa.com and up until I went to check in the day before the flights, it showed up in the “My Trips” section of aa.com.

Trouble in Euroland

When I logged in, it said “No upcoming trips” so I typed in the confirmation number and it found the reso after a few heart palpitations, thank gods. But the flights were wrong. Read More

Taking another look at Alaska Airline’s MileagePlan program

You're interesting

You’re interesting

I’ve been curious about Alaska’s MileagePlan program for a while. Between trying out Delta, then racing to qualify for status on American, Alaska has always been that airline that I’ve known about but never really explored. MileagePlan was discussed quite a bit at April’s FTU, and since then, I’ve been looking into the program more.

Pros and Cons

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FoundersCard offering free AA Gold Status Challenge until 5/31/14

I’ve written before about the benefits of FoundersCard.

Quick overview of current bennies

They partner with American Airlines to offer a unique benefit each quarter. In the past, they’ve had discounts of 5% or 10% off most fares on AA metal, which can be quite a nice break with you fly American a lot.

Here are the current airline benefits:

  • Virgin Atlantic: Complimentary Flying Club Silver Elite Status & Fast Track to Gold Elite Status
  • Virgin Atlantic: Up to 20% off US & Vancouver originating Flights to the UK
  • Cathay Pacific: Complimentary Marco Polo Club Silver Tier Status
  • Cathay Pacific: 5-25% off flights
  • JetBlue: FoundersCard Members save 5% on fares (excluding multi-city trips)
  • Qantas: FoundersCard Members receive up to 25% off travel between US, Australia, and New Zealand. Discounts are available on most classes of service
  • Emirates: 5-15% off fares for US originating flights
  • British Airways: 10% off most roundtrip US, UK & Canada originating airfares

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Review: US Airways Club @ CLT / Charlotte

I had the opportunity to go down to Charlotte, NC on US Airways earlier this week. Even though my Amex Platinum Card doesn’t get me into American’s Admirals Clubs or US Airways Clubs any more, I was still able to get in thanks to a recent award redemption with American’s Business Extra program.

I flew JFK-CLT and had high hopes for the US Airways Club at CLT since it is one of their hub airports. I was not disappointed.

I checked into the Club at around 8:20am. It was pretty empty. I really only had time to grab a to-go coffee and slap on a tie. But I returned at around 3pm and got to hang out for a couple of hours and snap some photos. Both times, check-in was a breeze and the agents couldn’t have been more friendly.

The lounge

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List of Changes to American in the AA/US Airways Merger

DisAAdvantage

This is mostly for my own benefit, just because I want to keep track of everything that is happening with American during their merger with US Airways.

I will continue to update this post (though hopefully not frequently…).

Note: I do not really care about the US Airways side of things, only how they affect American.

On April 8, 2014 (with no advance notice):

  • American has eliminated distance-based Oneworld Explorer awards
  • American has eliminated stopovers at the North American “gateway” city on AAdvantage awards
  • American has created multiple tiers of AAdvantage standard award levels
  • AAdvantage Gold members and Dividend Miles Platinum and Gold members will receive one fewer free checked bag. American Executive Platinums still get 3 free checked bags and Platinums get two. Golds now get only one
  • Flights to and from South America won’t have second bag charges
  • Full fare tickets and AAnytime awards do not get free checked bags
  • Phone ticketing fee increased to $35 from $25

(Hopefully not) To be continued…

Rolling with the punches (Or, Et tu, American?)

Update: American’s shitty response when I tweeted this post:

Did you feel it this morning? The quake that rippled through the blogs regarding American’s sudden overhaul of award redemptions? They also eliminated the beloved Oneworld Explorer Award AND stopovers at North American “gateway” cities – two features I really loved about the AAdvantage program. It’s a veritable mAAsacre.

I have to admit, I was really down about it. I don’t really care about the new five-tired award redemption system. I only ever booked SAAver awards anyway. The others are pure capacity controls, nothing more.

I was really looking forward to booking an Explorer Award in the near future. American recently introduced an unprecedented 100K bonus on the Executive AAdvantage card, which was enough, or nearly enough, to book a decent Explorer Award. I know a lot of people were looking into it and beginning to plan one of their own, including me.

And now, overnight, it’s gone. No advance notice. No, “hey you might want to book this soon”. Just a complete, unannounced overhaul.

The other thorn was the elimination of the free one-way that you could tack onto an award redemption. I was planning on doing that too, to get back from Oktoberfest, then onward to somewhere else. Now, the “somewhere else” prices as a completely separate award.

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Free Admirals Club Membership Through Business Extra? Yes, please!

Beginning March 22nd, 2014, the American Express Platinum Card will no longer permit entry to American Airlines Admirals Club lounges (only Delta SkyClubs, Priority Pass Select lounges, and Centurion lounges).

While looking through the Business Extra website, I noticed something mighty interesting: a  yearly Admirals Club membership can be had for 3,000 points!

business-extra-1

Click “Redeem Points”

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Trip Report: American Airlines Main Cabin Extra / Business Class LGA-ORD / ORD-MEX

Blue Jasmine
No
Now You See Me
Rear Window
(^^^ List of movies I watched on LAN) 
My trip reports lately have been less about tech specs and specific details and more about overall brand and culture, which is what I have been interested in lately. Especially with American, and especially with this merger a definite go.
I had a Saturday morning flight that took off at 6am. Whoops – I am so not a morning person.
I went out to an early dinner, had a pear-tini, and forced myself to pass out around 10pm (after slap dashing the packing). I woke up at 3:30am, fresh as a daisy, completely out of it. I was so tired I forgot to pack my hotel information. At another point, I wondered if I remembered to pack my toiletries in a little baggie (I did). There was no way I was going to brave the lovely bowels of the MTA to LGA at 4am, so I paid $50 for a car. It stung, but whatever.
The Pre-Check line at LGA was closed. “It doesn’t open until 5am,” the security guy told me. Which meant I was at LGA before 5am. I was just amazed I got it together enough to even anywhere before 5am.
The Admirals Club in Terminal D opened after I cleared security, and I downed a cup of coffee and a super sugary strudel. A few minutes later, it was boarding time. Read More

Ending the Year as a Plat on American

Welp, here we are in December. Happens like this every year, doesn’t it? I’m about 55K points/43K miles in on American this year after going into in hard into the airline only in June. If I wouldn’t have been so into Delta for the first half of the year, I’d be firmly Exec Plat on AA. But whatever, live and learn, right?
I definitely want to quality for Exec Plat in 2014. Not messing with Delta any more, not interested in United. Travel is Free pretty much outlined my reasons for wanting this, even though there’s been some flak recently about pursuing any type of status at all – on any airline.
On this day in mid-December, I am currently flying to San Diego from JFK, then fly back later this week. After that, I have two more flights this year: JFK-LAX and LAX-NAN. Cumulatively, this is about 12K miles and will net me, as a Plat, 25K redeemable miles.
I currently have 108K miles to redeem and really have my eye on that Zone 7 Explorer Award redemption in 2014 before the merger sets in. My mind is aflutter thinking of all the places I could go. Only regret is that I probably won’t get to South Africa on Oneworld, (not) thanks to BA’s stupid freaking fuel surcharges and the fact that I have no desire to connect in London anyhow.
It’s been a good six months on American. I’ve had numerous exhanges with the team on Twitter, a few upgrades even as a Plat, and much relaxation time in the Admirals Clubs. I do worry about the upcoming merger, the “New American,” and the general direction of the airline as a whole. But I do think they have the most honest loyalty program out there. United hugely disappointed me with their devaluation because of the bifurcation of partner airlines. They raised redemptions on their own metal pretty modestly, but took a page right out of Delta’s understanding of an “alliance” when they split the chart in two. Oneworld, the smallest alliance, also seems to be the most tightly knit. There’s no guesswork as to how partner flights with transfer back to American: it’s all 100%. Can’t get easier than that. (Poor Korean/Delta/Skyteam – what a shitty situation.)
My planned travels so far for 2014 include the gayest trip to Vegas EVAR in February, and Munich for Oktoberfest, in, well Oktober. Aside from that, I’d like to squeeze in the Explorer Award, a trip to Dublin (BOS-DUB) with Avios, a weekend in NOLA, and some Pacific NW exploration (I’m thinking VYR-SEA-PDX-maybe NorCal).
I have a rule about mileage running: it has to be to a place I genuinely want to go. In this regard, it’s not a true mileage run so much as a cheap ticket for a quick trip, but I like this rule. It’s enriching and expands my travel horizons (and earns me miles).
RTW-Trip-2013
Pretty soon, for Christmas and New Year’s, I’ll be flying my first RTW trip with a crazy JFK-LAX-NAN-AKL-SYD-MEL-AUH-CAI-IST-CDG-EWR itinerary, although I’m hoping to tighten up the segments after AUH back to NYC. Maybe AUH-FRA-JFK if Lufty releases the space? We’ll see. But I can’t wait to experience the different metals (Fiji Airways, AIr New Zealand, Qantas, Etihad, Egyptian, Turkish, United BusinessFirst), lounges, airports, and destinations. As always, will report back.
Wish I was already Exec Plat, but it’s been a pretty good year. Cheers to ending the year as a Plat, and happy and safe travels to all that will be out and about this holiday season.

Trip Report: AA First Class AUS-JFK

Near the end of the trip to Alaska, we drove down to Seward for the day after checking out of the Sheraton, then headed to ANC. The airport is super nice, on the small side, but surprisingly stylish. The first trip was from ANC-DFW, and the second was DFW-AUS, both in AA Main Cabin ExtrAA.

For the leg home, AUS-JFK, I used six 500-mile upgrades to get me and Jay into first class. The upgrade cleared while I was on the DFW-AUS segment, and I got my new seat assignment: 6F. Yay!

We went to Admirals Club across from the gate to wait for boarding.

 

Rum 'n' coke at the Admirals Club in AUS

Rum ‘n’ coke at the Admirals Club in AUS

 

After a huge rum ‘n’ coke, I boarded with quite a nice little buzz and found seat 6F. Jay was next to me 6E.

 

Thanks, American!

Thanks, American!

 

Nice amount of legroom

Nice amount of legroom

 

The picture doesn’t do it justice, but the seat was nice with wide seats and ample legroom. It was the older first class on the 737 – hardly any recline, but a very roomy seat. I was exhausted after three flights and still managed to sleep. The plane had the old paint job and old logos. It seemed worn, but looked 1000% better than the old coach behind me.

The flight to JFK was a touch over three hours, and soon after ascending, the flight attendants brought around their famous hot nuts. I had mine with a Heineken.

 

HOT NUTS!

HOT NUTS!

 

The flight attendants on this flight were amazing. Very professional and a perfect level of attentiveness. I was so struck, I tweeted @AmericanAir afterward to let them know.

 

Screen shot 2013-09-01 at 12.12.07 AM

 

I’m sort of in my honeymoon phase with American right now, so I think everything they do is just perfect. And, truly, the way they’ve chosen to restructure has been really wonderful. A part of me doesn’t want them to merge with US Airways. Banish the thought.

Shortly after the hot nuts, lunch was served. I had the option of BBQ chicken or beef salad. I chose the chicken. It was served with sides of broccoli and mac ‘n’ cheese, a cheese roll, small side salad, and a glass of white wine. It was actually pretty tasty, considering. I wouldn’t order it in a restaurant, but it got the job done.

 

2013-08-27 12.08.27

 

First Class cabin

First Class cabin

 

The first class cabin was full, and we sat in the last row. After lunch, I passed out until we landed at JFK. The flight landed on time, we taxied to the gate, then rushed home to pick up Fenwick. He was so happy to be with his pack again.

All-in-all, this was definitely worth using my “stickers” for. The reason I connected DFW-AUS was because I knew I’d have a better shot at an upgrade on the AUS-JFK route as opposed to the DFW-LGA route. That probably would’ve had a newer, better plane, but EXPs frequent that route and my chances to upgrade would’ve been pretty dismal. I’m happy I chose this routing. I got 1,000 miles for the 190-mile connecting flight (190 @ 500 min = 100% bonus) AND got upgraded on the flight home.

I love how on each flight I learn a little more about American’s company culture. And no, I really don’t miss the in-flight entertainment. I’d rather read and work on blog posts as I don’t have a TV at home anyway.

My next trip with American is in November to Santiago. It’s got a damn crazy itinerary of LGA-ORD-MEX-LIM-EZE-SCL-IPC-SCL-MEX-DFW-LGA – all in a week. But it’ll make me Platinum again next year, earn me around 40K RDMs, 30K EQPs, and it’s all in first/business. Goal for 2014: make EXP.