Randy Petersen's Opening Remarks – July, 02 2007

Randy Petersen's Opening Remarks – July, 02 2007

Still wondering if there are no award seats to anywhere good? Well, this month we searched for one of the most popular awards to try and get: between New York and London … in season. Yes, we are foolish enough to try and get free seats to London right in the middle of prime vacation time. We started off assuming that there couldn’t possibly be a pair of seats available at this late hour. Well, the results speak for themselves. It’s Christmas in June/July. Granted, some programs give you absolutely no chance of satisfying your award wishes, but then again, there are those gems. Look at the report card for American AAdvantage. Can a single airline get a better rating than this? And we’re talking about two seats. Look over the results yourself and if you are among those who are frustrated with your “luck” when redeeming miles, maybe, just maybe, it’s time to cash out and start all over — with a program that seems to get it. Congrats to AAdvantage for this month’s success story.

Now I’m going to switch gears and focus on the hotel programs for just a second. While prepping for this issue, I thought for a second I was seeing double. And in fact, I almost am … and so are you. Take a look at the ad that InterContinental Hotel Group is running for their popular Priority Club on page three. Great ad. It does a few things. It entices me to imagine where my points might lead me and also reminds me that they have an award-winning program. And if that were not enough, it reminds me of a bonus that will surely help me get to the daybed-by-the-pool at the InterContinental Aphrodite Hills Resort Hotel, Cyprus. Works for me.

Now, I invite you to turn your attention to the back cover of this month’s issue and its typically wonderful ad from Starwood Preferred Guest. The ad trumps the program’s well deserved Freddie Award for Best Award Redemption. And to get me in the mood to consider this program, or to reinforce something I already know about it (I never hear the word “no” when I’m ready to redeem my points), it lets me know I can redeem my points for the W Retreat & Spa, Maldives.

Now, notice anything familiar? I certainly did. Both use a great shot of a pool and an enticing daybed. Twins? Well, not really. The Maldives are miles away from Cyprus, but both are luxury destinations that you and I can redeem our points to. I’ve spent some time examining both ads and have come to the conclusion that I can’t decide which daybed and pool I prefer. So, I’m going to continue earning points in both programs and hope to report back to you in a Trip Report on these two locations and their redemption properties. Stay tuned, you might be surprised by what I’ll have to say …

From daybeds and pools at hotels to credit cards that can earn me the miles I’ll need to get to both the Maldives and Cyprus, I recently noticed two credit card offers that on the surface might be something our readers should consider. Both the Marriott Rewards Premier Visa Signature Card and the British Airways Visa Signature Card have new benefits that when played right could be the most valuable thing you have ever used your plastic toward.

Both feature an “unlimited airline companion pass.” In the case of British Airways, each time you purchase a full-fare ticket in FIRST, Club World or World Traveller Plus, you are eligible for a companion ticket at no cost, so long as you use the BA Visa Card for the purchase. Now, my budget doesn’t allow for a full-fare ticket purchase all the time, but on those occasions, this benefit seems extremely valuable as it is unlimited. The only possibly stumbling fine print is that a Saturday night stay is required in your travels.

Now on to the Marriott Rewards program. Same thing, an unlimited airline companion pass which entitles you to one roundtrip coach companion ticket for every flight you take for one year. Caveats include 14 day advance booking, a Saturday night stayover and restricted cities and zones — which unfortunately are not shown to you in advance of considering this program. Both credit card offers are promising and both could be extremely valuable in the right set of circumstances.

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