Getting nothing for something

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by MaryDarling, Jul 16, 2011.

  1. MaryDarling

    MaryDarling Silver Member

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    I told a friend I'd gotten sucked into the world of FF miles, elite status and points, and was busily trying to figure it all out. She, in turn, presented me with a case study in how otherwise smart people are missing out by not paying attention.

    My friend and her husband live on the East Coast, travel monthly to the West Coast, and for several months of the year travel back and forth to Europe setting up a major conference they run as part of their small business. Last year they both flew 150K miles, often on points but not always. They will be flying the same number of miles this year, mostly paying for them. And yet they do not have elite status on any airline or at any hotel, and usually get only half credit for their miles because the fares are discount economy.

    Her question is: what should they do to remedy the situation? The two airlines they take coast to coast are Delta and USAir, and they prefer USAir. Their preferred carrier to Europe is KLM. They have an Amex Platinum but it is not a premier rewards card.

    I'd love to hear what you all think they should/can do to make the most of their situation. My personal thought (as a newbie) would be:

    1) Sign up for SkyBonus as well as SkyMiles with Delta. Have everyone working on the conference fly Delta or Delta partners to rack up SkyBonus miles.
    2) Contact SkyMiles and request Elite status, based in previous miles flown (though many were award miles) and the future business they'll get. May not work, but can't hurt to try.
    3) Get a corporate AMEX card for all their employees to use for conference expenses and travel, create a large pool of Rewards points.
    4) Select a hotel chain -- probably SPG -- and get a branded credit card to use for their regular expenses. Use the hotel for their conference and work with SPG to gain points for using a Starwood hotel and request elite status immediately based on the business they will bring.
    5) Get a USAir branded credit card for their domestic travel expenses. If awarded elite status on Delta or KLM, request a match with USAir.

    SC Flier likes this.
  2. SC Flier
    Original Member

    SC Flier Gold Member

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    The USAirways Trial Preferred program could be well worth the cost. Time it right to get the most miles during the following 90 days.

    Which hotel chain is best for them depends on where exactly they are going. If they can promise enough nights, they could try for a corporate rate, but I doubt it's worth the work to set it up.

    SPG's status match program changed on 4/1/2011 to a challenge type of program. Would it be a helpful way for them to get Plat status? If they typically travel together, there might be some additional tricks to consider.
  3. MSPeconomist
    Original Member

    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    I would hope that they've been negotiating conference rates at the hotels they use. Sometimes hotels comp rooms for staff pre-planning conference trips.

    However, note that SPG does not give points or night/stay credits for certain types of conferences and groups, in particular for anyone on the master bill. This might be an argument for picking another hotel group. I think IC grants status to certain conference organizers, so that could be worth considering.

    Recently (within the last week, I think) I saw some complaints about the European version of SkyBonus being changed to be different from SkyBonus or something. IIRC SkyBonus currently covers DL, KL, AF, and AZ but it might only be for USA addresses. This should be checked before deciding about this program, in particular to verify that European flights will count. It might be a matter of needing to use DL codeshares on KL flights.

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