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Helping ordinary frequent fliers achieve extraordinary travel goals through air miles and points.

Random Thoughts From Los Angeles International Airport

Yesterday, I flew from Redmond, OR to Los Angeles, CA (LAX).  I have a four day live review course in preparation for a November exam that I am attending.  I planned on spending my entire day within the friendly confines of LAX, but after about 2 hours I got cabin fever and bolted.

 Throughout the day I began to realize a number of things that were truly and eye opener.

Airport Lounges Are Overrated

Yes, you heard me say it.  I often hear about how great airport lounges are.  I'll admit that I have two credit cards that grant me access to certain airport lounges.  When I signed up for the credit cards I considered lounge access to be a big time perk.  I mean, most lounges cost over $400 annually or around $50 per visit!

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours in the Admiral's Club Remote Lounge at LAX followed by another hour in the main Admiral's Club Lounge in Terminal 4.  The snacks were marginal at best as the offerings included yogurt covered pretzels and crunchy snack mix.  These snacks were no better than what you would purchase at a crappy grocery store!  For alcohol they had their "house spirits" which included nothing I could pronounce.  Of course their finer offerings, like Smirnoff were available for purchase.

LAX Remote Terminal Admiral's Club

LAX Remote Terminal Admiral's Club

I would say the best part of my lounge experience included the cappuccino machine and the amazingly comfy lounge chairs in the deep dark corners of the Terminal 4 Admiral's Club!  These lounge chairs were so nice, I would replace my couch tomorrow in favor of them!

What I came to realize is that airline lounges are truly overrated.  Yes, they provide a nice space to work when on business.  But there are places to work on the outside.  For someone not trying to work, I enjoy the hustle and bustle involved in travel that you find at an airport.  As a result, airport lounges aren't worth more than a quick stop to grab a mocha or sink a couple of beers!

Main Admiral's Club Lounge at LAX Terminal 4

Main Admiral's Club Lounge at LAX Terminal 4

Business Travel Is Not For Me

It occurred to me yesterday that this is the first trip in my lifetime that I have been alone and/or not traveling for an event or meeting friends.  I am essentially traveling for business, an exam live review course, which will be nothing short of intense.  Unlike past trips, where I may have a day or two to myself, I actually feel as if I am on a business trip.

I arrived in Los Angeles way too early due to my American Airlines award flight, courtesy of British Airways' amazing distance based award chart.  As I mentioned above, I planned on spending the entire day in the airport, but I got incredibly bored, extremely fast.  Thankfully, my room at the Marriott hotel outside LAX was ready for my arrival quickly.  I took off to the hotel and as soon as I arrived I didn't know what to do with myself.

After a nice long workout, I decided to park a seat in my room and watch planes.  The view from the room was stellar!  And the plane spotting was even better.

Runways to the left and right of the buildings at the Marriott LAX

Runways to the left and right of the buildings at the Marriott LAX

About the same time I watched my 2nd Airbus A380 takeoff, I realized that this business travel thing is not for me.  I once envied the people who I refer to as road warriors.  That all changed yesterday....

Final Thoughts

Yesterday was a great day.  Albeit I got extremely bored at times, it was peaceful.  I had a major realization that I want no part of business travel (without my wife tagging along).  Additionally, sitting in my hotel room watching planes come and go from LAX was an unforgettable experience.  I had my flight trackers up and couldn't be more excited as I saw planes takeoff for Tahiti, Tokyo, Moscow, Paris, London, Berlin, etc.


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Complete 2 Club Carlson Stays - Earn 7,500 Aeorplan Miles

If you're a fan of Air Canada's Aeroplan frequent flyer program (Air Canada), perhaps now is time to cozy up in a Club Carlson property.  From now through December 15, 2014, if you complete two stays at a Club Carlson property, you'll get 7,500 Aeroplan bonus miles through Club Carlson's Takeoff with More Miles promotion.

To ensure you get your bonus miles, make sure you take the following steps:

  1. Sign up for a Club Carlson account here if you don't have one already
  2. Sign up for an Air Canada Aeroplan account here if you don't have one already
  3. Register for the promotion on this page.
  4. Complete two stays between now and December 15, 2014.
  5. Wait 4-6 weeks for your bonus points.

My Two Cents

I currently am not a member of Air Canada's Aeroplan frequent flyer program.  But if I was, I would be all over this promotion.  Hotel promotions can be a valuable way to earn free nights, extra hotel bonus points, or in this case, valuable air miles!  You can normally find Club Carlson properties for fairly cheap as well, making this a stellar deal!


To see many current hotel and airline promotions, make sure to check out the Bonus Promotion page.

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$20 Credit With $100 Purchase At Staples With American Express Sync

UPDATE: Based on tweets from American Express and confirmation from Giddy For Points, this deal is now dead...

If you don't regularly check your American Express "Amex Offers For You" tab, you should.  Right now a lot of cardholders are reporting an awesome Sync deal from American Express with Staples.

You get a $20 statement credit when purchasing $100 at Staples (not online).

To get the offer, log in to your American Express account.  Click on the Amex Offers For You tab (as pictured below) to discover all of the great Sync deals, including Staples.

Navigate down the list of offers to see if the Staples Sync offer is available for you.  It should look like this:

On the right, you'll want to click the Save Offer button.

****This is important if you have more than one American Express account****

For those of you with more than one American Express, it is possible to sync the same offer to all cards.  You must make sure that different tabs are open on your browser though.  For example, I have the SPG American Express and the Hilton HHonors American Express.  When I load offers to my cards, I ensure that I can see the SPG card offers on one browser tab, and the Hilton offers on another browser tab.  I then save the offer to each card.

Question: How do I spend $100 at Staples?

Answer: EASY

You could do any of the following:

  1. Buy $100 of goods you would normally have to buy (save $20).
  2. Purchase a $100 MasterCard or Visa gift card with $5.95 transaction fee (profit $14.05).
  3. From now through Saturday, October 25th, purchase three $100 Visa gift cards with three $5.95 transaction fees and you'll also get a $20 prepaid Visa card as a rebate (profit $22.15).
  4. From now through Sunday, October 25th, purchase two $200 Visa gift cards with two $6.95 transaction fees and you'll also get a $20 prepaid Visa card as a rebate (profit $26.10).

Those are just four options that I can think of, off of the top of my head.

My Two Cents

I'll definitely be taking advantage of this Staples American Express Sync promotion.  The deal expires on November 9, 2014, so there is plenty of time to take advantage of this promotion.

If you don't regularly check your Amex Offers page I highly recommend it.  There are constantly some amazing offers!


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Earn More Air Miles and Points (Beginner Series) - Earn Hotel Points

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Types of Miles/Points
Part 3: Determining Your Loyalty
Part 4: How to Earn Air Miles
Part 5: Earn More Air Miles - Elite Status
Part 6: How to Earn Hotel Points
Part 7: Earn More Hotel Points - Elite Status
Part 8: Applying for Credit Cards
Part 9: How to Earn Credit Card Points
Part 10: How to Earn Cash Back
Part 11: Using Shopping Portals
Part 12: Dining Programs
Part 13: Manufactured Spending
Part 14: Other Methods to Earn Miles
Part 15: Keeping Track of Your Miles/Points

Many beginners know the power of air miles!  What a lot of people don't understand is that you can get equal, if not more value out of hotel points.  There are some tips and tricks to ensure that you earn hotel points.

The Basics To Earning Hotel Points

The key to earning hotel points is a bit different than air miles.  When you book a flight through Priceline.com, Expedia.com or Orbitz.com, you have the option to enter your frequent flyer number and earn miles for those flights.  With hotels, you will not earn hotel points when booking reservations through third party websites.

To ensure you get your hotel points, you will want to book your reservations directly through the hotel website (i.e. IHG, Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, etc).  If you're concerned about getting better rates on third party sites, most hotel companies have a Best Rate Guarantee policy that ensures you'll get their lowest rate, and in turn, book your reservation through them.  For more on Best Rate Guarantees, see this post.

Earn points at the Andaz San Diego - A Hyatt property

Earn points at the Andaz San Diego - A Hyatt property

Sign Up For Hotel Member Accounts

Before you diving in head first, make sure you have accounts with the various hotel properties you will stay at.  Here are some of the more popular hotel chains:

Once you have signed up, you'll want to make sure you have all of your points earning options set up properly.

Hilton HHonors signup page

Hilton HHonors signup page

Not Worth Earning Air Miles for Hotel Stays

Most hotel loyalty programs allow you to earn air miles for your stays.  If you have the option to earn hotel points OR air miles, it's almost always worth earning the hotel points!

Make sure you go to your profile for each loyalty program.  For instance, Hilton HHonors allows you to earn points + air miles.  But you can also choose points + points!  I always go with points + points.

JW Marriott in Los Angeles, CA

JW Marriott in Los Angeles, CA

The BIG Differences in Hotel Points

Make sure you become familiar with the way to earn points with different hotel chains.  I say this because 100 Hilton points is worth significantly less than 100 SPG points.  At the same time, it's MUCH easier to earn 100 Hilton points than it is to earn 100 SPG points.

With hotel chains like Hilton, you may earn 15 points per dollar spent on reservations, whereas you may only get 2 points per dollar spent at SPG properties.

Knowing the ins and outs of each program is important prior to diving in.

Hilton Phuket, Thailand

Hilton Phuket, Thailand

Conclusion

If you are mainly concerned about earning air miles, and choose to sleep on friends couches or do VRBO or AirBNB, then hotel points may not be for you.  But if you like walking through the doors of a 5-Star Park Hyatt, then you definitely will want to start earning hotel points!


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