Thursday, September 29, 2011

Starwood Award Stays to Count Towards Elite Status

Gary Leff from the View From The Wing blog broke this story a few days as a rumour and then confirmed that effective October 1st, 2011 all Starwood Award stays and nights will count towards your elite qualification in the SPG program. The only other hotel programs to offer this benefit are Choice Privileges and Hilton HHonors.

Diners Club transition update

This post is more for those of you who are already Diners Club cardholders here in Canada as the card is not available at this time to new customers. For those of you who are and have not received the new welcome package from BMO (who took over the Diners Club brand in North America from Citibank) here are some details that I can glean from the information sent although some information is still missing.
  • New cards will come in November that will include chip technology and the MasterCard PayPass feature
  • Travel Insurances all look to remain the same including the primary car rental coverage
  • Business Class lounge access looks to remain the same which is great as access has expanded to over 450 lounges worldwide
  • Fees and Interest Rates will change. The interest rate will increase slightly to 19.5% and fees now include your standard BMO suite of charges for going over your limit, dishonoured payment etc.
  • There is a new website which is already functional but I assume will contain a lot more information and booking features in the future:
  • Club Rewards will apparently have improved reward redemption options, the awesome tailored travel feature remains where you book your travel yourself and then redeem points against the charge. What the information packet does not state is if the rate of return will remain at 1.7%. You will still be able to transfer Club Rewards points to select frequent flyer and guest accounts. The new feature that is being added to Club Rewards is called a "Self Serve Travel Reward" which you will book via the Club Rewards website or by phone. Seeing as the card is now owned by BMO, I am assuming that this feature will be much like the BMO Elite Reward Centre for the BMO World Elite MasterCard. Again, what we don't know is what the redemption rate will be like for booking  travel via this option. It does state a booking fee is charged for the "Self Serve Travel Option", hopefully this is only the case for phone in bookings and not online bookings (the BMO Elite used to charge a fee on both but then removed the online booking fee)
  • There is no mention as to whether cardmembers will still receive an annual membership in the Priority Pass Airport Lounge program
Overall the changes don't look to be too drastic unless there is a change in the redemption rates and whether or not Priority Pass will still be included. I guess all of us Diners Club cardholders will have to wait until November to find out all the details.

Friday, September 23, 2011

United unveils 2012 Mileage Plus program changes

United has released the details of the 2012 Mileage Plus program which effectively also covers Continental's OnePass program as that is being integrated into Mileage Plus on December 31. The following updates to the program are taken straight from United's own post on and can also be view on

  1. New vocabulary. First, here’s some new nomenclature: The term Premier will live on but in a new context. It will replace the term “Elite”. With that will come some new three-letter acronyms:

    • PQM & PQS: Premier Qualifying Mile & Segment (formerly EQM/EQS)
    • CPU: Complimentary Premier Upgrade (formerly UDU and EUA)
    • RPU: Regional Premier Upgrade (formerly CR1 and RU)
    • GPU: Global Premier Upgrade (formerly SWU)
  2. New tiers and qualification requirements. Heard any good rumors lately? Here are our new Premier tiers – all of which will have a minimum requirement of 4 paid flights on United, Continental and/or Copa:

    • Premier Silver: 25K PQM or 30 PQS
    • Premier Gold: 50K PQM or 60 PQS
    • Premier Platinum: 75K PQM or 90 PQS
    • Premier 1K: 100K PQM or 120 PQS
    • Global Services: Invitation only
  3. Bonus Award mile changes. Here are the changes we’re making to premier and fare class bonuses:

    Premier bonuses:
    • Premier Silver: 25% bonus miles (no change)
    • Premier Gold: 50% bonus miles
    • Premier Platinum: 75% bonus miles
    • Premier 1K and Global Services: 100% bonus miles (no change)

    Fare Class bonuses for United/Continental:
    • Full-fare Economy Class (Y/B) fares: +25% bonus miles
    • Discounted Business Class (Z/P) fares: +50% bonus miles
    • Full-fare Business Class (J/C/D) fares: +75% bonus miles
    • 2-Cabin First Class (F/A) fares: +75% bonus miles
    • 3-Cabin First Class (F/A) fares: +150% bonus miles
  4. New CPU geography for United, Continental and Copa.Our rationale for offering CPUs will almost entirely be based on how the premium cabin of the flight is marketed. Simply put - markets where the premium product is predominantly our domestic standard will be eligible for CPUs, and all others will not. Based on our current network, this is how our CPU program shakes out geographically:
    • Mainland U.S. (except p.s. markets JFK-LAX/SFO), Alaska and Canada
    • Hawaii (California to/from Hawaii, plus any other market operating with a domestic premium product, such as Chicago-Honolulu)
    • Mexico/Caribbean/Central America
    • Northern South America (except New York-Lima)
    • Southern South America (Copa flights only)
    • Asia/Oceania (except transpacific, Honolulu-Guam, Tokyo-Singapore/Bangkok nonstops)
    RPUs will be eligible in these same markets plus our p.s. and all Mainland U.S.-Hawaii markets.
  5. Instant upgrades for full-fare Economy Class fares. Premier members traveling on certain full-fare Economy Class fares will be eligible for an instant upgrade as early as ticketing. Specifically, all premier members will be eligible for instant upgrades from Y and B fares, and Premier 1K members will additionally enjoy instant upgrades from M class fares. Y fares will instantly upgrade using last-seat availability. B and M fares will have expanded upgrade availability, but it won’t always be down to the last seat.
  6. New CPU clearance windows. CPUs will begin processing automatically starting at 120 hours for Global Services, 96 hours for Premier 1K, 72 hours for Premier Platinum, 48 hours for Premier Gold and on the day of departure for Premier Silver.
  7. New CPU hierarchy. Our CPU/airport standby upgrade hierarchy will be as follows:

    • Global Services
    • Y/B/M instant upgrades that weren’t confirmed in advance (sorted by fare class then premier tier)
    • Paid upgrades (i.e. GPUs, RPUs and mileage upgrades) sorted by status, fare class, and date of waitlist
    • All remaining premier customers by status, then fare class
  8. Companion CPUs for all Premiers. Premiers at all levels will be able to extend their CPUs to one travel companion in the same reservation, including in the advance clearance window and with Y/B/M instant upgrades. This will happen automatically when the Premier reservation includes a single companion. In cases where there are more than two people in the reservation, or where the companion is in a separate reservation, the companion upgrade may be designated at the airport.
  9. Economy Plus access at check-in for Premier Silver, improved access for all other levels. To ensure we have better seating options for our top premier levels, advance complimentary access to Economy Plus will be limited to Premier Gold members and higher plus one companion (Premier Platinums and above may have up to 8 companions). Premier Silvers and one companion will continue to enjoy complimentary space-available access to Economy Plus starting at 24 hours before departure.
  10. Baggage changes for Premier Silver. The complimentary baggage allowance for Premier Silver and Star Alliance Silver members will be reduced to 1 complimentary checked bag weighing up to 50 lbs.
  11. Aligned mileage expiration policy. Miles will expire if your account is left inactive for 18 months. Our definition of activity will be very easy to meet for earning or redemption in thousands of ways. This includes something as simple as a magazine subscription redemption – which can be had for as little as 400 miles.
  12. New lifetime benefits. Big changes here, and we think you’ll agree this is the most generous lifetime program in the world. The following will take effect next spring (so please hold tight until then):

    • Continental and United lifetime earnings will be combined. You all guessed that much, but the key will be how we do it. Continental’s lifetime earnings have been EQM-based, and United’s have been based on actual flight miles. Starting in 2012, the program will be based on actual flight miles, however, we will make a one-time adjustment on the United side to boost everyone’s lifetime earnings to EQMs dating back to the beginning of the program
    • Lifetime premier benefits for 1 million miles = Premier Gold, 2 million = Premier Platinum, 3 million = Premier 1K, 4 million = Global Services
    • Million milers will be able to designate a spouse or significant other to always have the same premier tier as them (this includes when the million miler member earns a higher tier). The spousal premier benefits will be identical as the member, except they will not include RPUs and GPUs. This spousal benefit will replace the one-time and annual upgrade gifts, and hopefully you’ll agree this is a better deal
    • Continental’s Infinite Elite members (the limited few of you that earned this back in the early 90’s) will be grandfathered in and given lifetime Premier 1K status, but without the GPUs. We hope you’ll agree this is a generous resolution

    I'm curious to hear what all of our Mileage Plus readers think of these changes. Do you think it is fair or have they taken too much away? Overall the buzz on the net does seem to think they are fair as there has been some give and take but one key thing that was rumoured that never came true was a revenue requirement for status. However, much like the Aeroplan changes earlier this year, there is a minimum flight requirement in the elite qualification process of 4 flights on United, Continental or Copa.

    Feel free to comment below with your thoughts on the 2012 Mileage Plus program

    Etihad Airways: Chance to win up to 100,000 Guest Miles

    Etihad Airways is running a contest where you have a chance to win up to 100,000 Guest Miles. You gain an entry every time you fly on Etihad Airways from October to December. There are three lucky winners each month and prizes are as follows:
    • 50,000 bonus Guest Miles
    • 75,000 bonus Guest Miles
    • 100,000 bonus Guest Miles
    Simply book a flight oat Etihad Airways then register online to be entered into the contest.

    Edelweiss Increasing Seasonal Service between Vancouver & Zurich

    Swiss charter carrier Edelweiss is increasing their summer seasonal service between Vancouver and Zurich to 3 times weekly. 2 of the weekly flights are direct and the third routes through Calgary. One of the good things about these flights is that Swiss Air codeshares on them so they can be booked through Swiss to earn Miles & More miles.

    Source: Airline Route Updates

    Thursday, September 22, 2011

    American and WestJet continue to expand codeshares

    From Airline Route Updates, American and WestJet have further expanded the routes they code share on:

    American Airlines operated by WestJet
    Calgary – Edmonton
    Calgary – Phoenix
    Calgary – San Diego
    Edmonton – Phoenix (eff 01OCT11)

    WestJet operated by American Airlines
    Los Angeles – Fresno
    Miami – Jacksonville FL
    Miami – Key West
    Miami – Nashville
    Miami – New Orleans
    Miami – Pensacola
    Toronto – Boston

    Air Canada adds mobile booking to iPhone app

    From the website:

    "Mobile booking has arrived! Now you can use the Air Canada iPhone App to search for flights, view flight details, select your seat and share your itinerary with family and friends.
    The app’s features allow you to:
    • Book a flight: Across Canada, across the border or across the world, for business or pleasure, alone or with your family, you can now book any flight to any Air Canada destination using your mobile device.
    • Store passenger information with Air Canada mobile+: In addition to being able to securely store your payment information, Air Canada mobile+ can now also store passenger information. Once set up, you’ll be able to complete a booking with no typing whatsoever!
    • Track your bookings: You can now fully track all your bookings on the go! The Air Canada iPhone App allows you to see all the changes made to your bookings, even flight changes!"

    While I have not tried out the mobile booking I did use the seat selection feature on my iPhone last night to change seats on a booking and must say it was really easy to do. This is nice new feature to AC's mobile app.

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011

    Earn up to 105,000+ Bonus BA Miles between Canada and LHR (or beyond)

    British Airways is running a new promo for their Executive Club members in North America which of course includes us here in Caanada. The offer although limited to Full Fare tickets is definitely worth taking advantage of you or your employer buys these type of fares. The offer is as follows

    British Airways Executive Club
    Earn up to 105,000 (and more) Bonus Avios Points/BA Miles when you fly on a full-fare, transatlantic round-trip ticket for travel beginning and ending in North America. Valid for flights that are operated and/or marketed by American Airlines, British Airways or Iberia Airlines in the following booking classes: First (booking classes F, A), Business Class (booking classes J, C, D, R, I) World Traveller Plus Premium Economy (booking classes W, E, T) and Economy (booking classes Y, B, H)
    - 25,000 bonus Avios points/BA Miles for first round-trip purchased and flown as an Executive Club member in a qualifying full-fare
    - 35,000 bonus Avios points/BA Miles for second round-trip purchased and flown as an Executive Club member in a qualifying full-fare
    - 45,000 bonus Avios points/BA Miles for third (and each additional) round-trip purchased and flown as an Executive Club member in a qualifying full-fare
    Full Details, Online Registration & Booking (Registration is required) Until Dec 31, 11
    Valid for residents of U.S. and Canada only

    Monday, September 19, 2011

    WestJet and El Al sign interline agreement

    On September 12th WestJet signed an interline agreement with Israel's El Al Airlines. The agreement will allow consumers to purchase one ticket for flights from Israel to Toronto on El Al and connect to WestJet flights within Canada and to Florida and the Caribbean.

    To celebrate El Al Matmid Club members can earn 20% bonus Matmid points on the WestJet portion of their flights during the month of December.

    Source: Shalom Life

    Thursday, September 15, 2011

    KLM starts codeshare service on select WestJet routes

    It didn't take KLM long to get their codeshares onto WestJet flights after receiving CTA approval a week or so ago. Starting on September 26, KLM will be placing their flight numbers on the following routes (you'll notice they all originate in cities that KLM serves to connect to/from their Amsterdam flights):
    Calgary – Abbotsford
    Calgary – Comox
    Calgary – Edmonton
    Calgary – Kelowna
    Calgary – Montreal
    Calgary – Ottawa
    Calgary – Regina
    Calgary – Saskatoon
    Calgary – Vancouver
    Calgary – Victoria
    Calgary – Winnipeg
    Montreal – Edmonton
    Montreal – Winnipeg
    Toronto – Calgary
    Toronto – Edmonton
    Toronto – Edmonton – Kelowna
    Toronto – Halifax
    Toronto – Kelowna
    Toronto – Montreal
    Toronto – Ottawa
    Toronto – Regina
    Toronto – Saskatoon
    Toronto – Thunder Bay – Winnipeg
    Toronto – Winnipeg
    Vancouver – Edmonton
    Vancouver – Kelowna
    Vancouver – Ottawa
    Vancouver – Prince George
    Vancouver – Regina
    Vancouver – Winnipeg

    Source: Airline Route Updates

    Wednesday, September 14, 2011

    LifeMiles: LH Business Class from N America to Europe for $1800+tax

    Here is another buy miles offer, not as good as the soon to end US Airways Dividend Miles offer (where you can get Business Class to Europe for around $1400-$1500) but still pretty decent nonetheless. We found the following buy miles offer during our update of FFB's LifeMiles page.

    LifeMiles is the FFP of Latin America's joint venture airline Avianca TACA and until the end of September they are offering double miles (ie 100% bonus) on miles purchased in the program. The program allows you to purchase up to 75,000 miles for a total of 150,000 miles if you include the bonus. Now, here is where we get to the business class for $1,800: LifeMiles is partnered with Lufthansa and to redeem for a business class from North America to Europe on LH you need 120,000 LifeMiles, which means you need to buy 60,000 (+60,000 bonus) at $30 per 1,000 plus tax or $1,800+tax for the total amount.

    The one major caveat is that you have to be a LifeMiles member as of September 5th, so those of you who are reading this and were members before then, this can be an advantageous offer to make use of, for the rest of us who are not or were not, we'll have to keep our eyes open for the next time this offer comes around (hopefully they can be like US Airways and offer it a few times per year)

    For complete details on this offer please visit LifeMiles

    Friday, September 9, 2011

    $350 Sign Up Bonus for the WestJet RBC World MasterCard extended

    You may recall our post from July 15th announcing the larger sign up bonuses for the WestJet MasterCards from RBC. At that time the offer was to run only until August 31 but the offers of $350 for the World MasterCard and $100 for the regular WestJet MasterCard have been extended to November 14.

    For more details please visit

    Delta to resume Toronto-Boston service

    Delta is bringing back their non-stop service between Toronto and Boston. The 2x daily flights will begin on November 6th and will be flown with a Pinnacle Airlines CRJ200

    Once again, thanks to Airline Route Updates for the info.

    Thursday, September 8, 2011

    Air Canada cuts Vancouver-Yellowknife seasonal service

    According to Airline Route Updates Air Canada will not operate its winter seasonal service between Vancouver and Whitehorse Yellowknife as it had for the previous two winters.

    * Corrected per comment below - must have been a crazy day to screw that on up!