Last weekend was one of the worst times to be away from home. Sure, I enjoyed visiting Branson and Table Rock Lake (despite what my tweets may have suggested 😉 ), but there were several excellent yet also very transient travel opportunities taking place during my absence.
Singapore Airlines Caught with Its Pants Down
While I was meeting Megan’s family, Singapore Airlines updated its computer systems and opened nearly all its flights to partner award bookings. Singapore is normally very stingy and blocks its space from other carriers. After debating for a day or so, I booked a trip for us to Singapore and Hong Kong in first class (business class return). I don’t know that we’ll be able to use it, but as a 1K I can cancel at any time with no penalty. This deal has now been “fixed” so it was good I pulled the trigger anyway.
I didn’t actually have enough miles in my MileagePlus account to buy the tickets at first, but fortunately I’ve been making an effort to pool everything in my Ultimate Rewards account with Chase. Points transferred to miles instantly, yet another reason I love my Chase Sapphire and Ink Bold cards. We even passed Chase’s infamous Springfield, MO, customer service center on our drive to Branson!
Edit: In the comments, David says that SQ availability is back. Maybe it never left? But it could also be phantom availability, which is becoming common with UA (e.g., LH first class).
American Airlines Gift Cards Bite the Dust
I also noticed while reading MilePoint (but reported first on FlyerTalk) that American Airlines gift cards will no longer be sold at Costco. I wrote about these a couple weeks ago as an easy 10% discount on all AA-operated flights. Plus, there are ways to get extra discounts like a 2% rebate if you’re an Executive member or a 9% rebate in the form of Ultimate Rewards points if you buy them with a pre-paid American Express card.
Losing a single 10% discount when several others remain isn’t the end of the world. I’m not sure it’s worth stocking up unless you have definite travel plans. My usual SODO location in Seattle is now out of stock, so the only one left is a good 30-45 minute drive away. Is that worth it to save $100-200? I’ve heard reports that some stores are consolidating them as inventory thins, so availability may fluctuate.
Korean Air Invents Plane that Flies without Fuel
Mistake fares are much less common than they used to be, as Gary reported last week. However, one of the few opportunities remaining even in an era when fat fingered fares are prevented is the miscalculation of fuel surcharges on international routes. I was able to take advantage of one last summer to visit Spain with my sister, and I remember rumors that too many mistakes on US Airways-operated flights may have hastened Spanair’s demise shortly after.
This morning it was reported in several places that Korean Air flights to Tokyo from Los Angeles were dropping their fuel surcharge if you started out with a nonstop flight on Alaska Airlines from various West Coast cities. Something like SEA-LAX on AS followed by LAX-NRT-LAX on KE. Who wants to go to Tokyo for $400? 😀
Not surprisingly, the deal was dead almost as soon as it hit the blogs. (Just to emphasize Spanair’s incompetence, their last mistake was live for almost three days.) I haven’t examined it very closely, but this reminds me of a 1X variation of a fuel dump since simply forgetting to include the fuel surcharge wouldn’t seem to require the initial Alaska segment.
When I discussed fuel dumps several months ago, I talked about how the original form was a 3X or “third strike” because you could just skip that last segment. But you have to fly a 1X because it comes first. They are easier to find, but also more difficult to carry out. They rarely have an airport, or even a continent, in common so consider this deal a lucky break. It just goes to show how important it is to always be paying attention to your inbox or RSS feeds for the latest deals.
Star Alliance MegaDO Full in under 10 Minutes
Or something like that. Really, I was amazed it took so little time. I was fortunate to get booked on the international portion, which guaranteed me a spot on the domestic charter, too. But my flights home were delayed significantly on Sunday, meaning I didn’t get to bed until 3 AM, about 23 hours after waking up. The general booking window opened four hours later. Yeah right…
I’m glad I’m on it, and I look forward to seeing many of you for the first time this November if you’re able to go, too. Be sure to check out this thread on MilePoint if you are looking for a roommate to help split the hotel costs during the trip.