This is a blog dedicated to the nuances of business travel.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Status or Points - The Mileage Run

Today's Secret Blog has a little to do with the secrets in airport routing and price of fares. All flights that have a source and destination get booked into fare classes, then those fare classes are given routings. What I mean by this is if you are going from Austin to Seattle, the common choice is to fly to direct. But for those who are looking for a higher level of status or want to increase their points, flying indirectly may not cost them any more, yet net them a ton more points for a little time investment. If I were short on Status points, I may choose to fly AUS-DFW-BOS-SEA, where I fly from Dallas to Boston to Seattle for the same price as flying directly to Seattle.

Why would anyone in their right mind do this? Well, as we remember, most EXP status members get to sit in first class on upgrades all year long, right? So if you were 3000 miles short of the 100,000 it took to qualify for EXP the following year, it may be worth investing a single day of travel (if already EXP and requalifying, this would be one day in First Class) to re-up to EXP for the following YEAR.

Now... I understand WHY I would book this way, but HOW do I book this way. The easiest method is to call a travel agent. He/She can find the correct fare codes to do this, although you may have to mail them this blog to show them why... The second is to use Orbitz Dream Maps. If you are a frequent traveler, you may also want to invest a little money in Expert Flyer's site, which is a for-pay site but has the info on how to get these done.

One of my regular readers, Erick, is currently sitting at 35,000 miles away from reaching EXP. He has to fly from Texas to Toronto for work. Conceivably, I could help him get there with a weekend of fun. He could fly AUS-DFW-LAX-HKG-BKK-LHR-YYZ-DFW-AUS for his round trip and garner over 20,000 BIS miles, putting him very close to the limit. But then he would have to have the proper visas to visit Hong Kong, Bangkok, London, and Toronto. To each his own!


Blogger Matt said...

Austin Hilton Convention Center- Fav Austin downtown Hotel
Rating (based on 10):
Bed: 9
Room: 9
Bathtub: 8
Bathroom: 9 (some toilets awkward, overall excellent bathrooms though)
TV Selection: 7 (std hotel package)
Location to Downtown: 10 (Best location downtown)
Overall: 52/60
Notes - this hotel is the reason I'm a Hilton Diamon member and considering abandoning my long-standing Marriott loyalty! Service downtown is only second to the Four Seasons but I prefer the Hilton's location and much larger rooms. Best weight room of any hotel I've ever stayed at plus a nice pool/hot-tub outside on a terrace that overlooks downtown.

On a recent family vacation I also discovered the newly remodeled Hampton Inns and Suites. Hilton is clearly going after Marriott's Courtyard franchise with these newly remodeled properties. All new properties have granite countertops, tiled bathrooms, extremely nice beds, exceptional attention to detail in the room cleaning and preparation plus free internet access and breakfast.

Have to plug Southwest Airlines for short trips and the all-important directs. Segments build quickly to 16 with business travel while SWA maintains some of the highest on-time ratings, newest equipment, and happiest employees. Sadly, there are few tricks to match what's available on other airlines and BIS miles mean nothing - it's all segments.

Also a plug for National car rental:
- Occasionally they have promotions where two rental days yield one free day.
- Status comes quick, with Executive Emerald you have your pick of *almost* anything on the lot
- Walk out, get in car, drive off - no counter (Emerald Aisle and above)
- Immediately upon returning car a PDF of your receipt is emailed to you (shows up within seconds of returning the car on my blackberry - VERY impressive) plus helpful for expense purposes or when you're in a hurry.

Last, a quick plug for anyone of a military backgroung (or military family). If you qualify, USAA has THE best programs and customer service in the financial services industry.

9:52 AM


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