Greetings from a new member and a question about European travel

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by Nethermind, May 30, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. Nethermind

    Nethermind Member

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    Hello!

    I really had no idea that there was an online community of travel veterans and points enthusiasts who shared experiences and tips with one another. I mean, as a veteran of the web and one who just found a whole YouTube channel devoted to insect wars, I should have figured, but I'm delighted to have found you guys.

    I'm a relatively recent convert to loyalty programs, specifically frequent flyer programs. Since last year, my job has involved a fair amount of travel, approximately one trip a month last year and as many as two to three per month this year. Because my job takes me to Chicago and Toronto quite a bit, I chose United/Star Alliance as my primary airline. That's been a really good experience, and I do enjoy the extra service that my loyalty status gets, even if it's just Premier Silver so far.

    I don't usually think about hotel rewards programs, because I'm more of an AirBnB person. It's the easiest way I know to dive into local culture, and it just feels more personal. I have considered hotels that offer MileagePlus points from time to time, and I just recently got the Explorer card for all business purchases (including flights). Now I'm starting to think about other purchases that earn miles/status, so I think it's time to admit that I've got the itch. Hence, my joining a forum full of other loyalty rewards program enthusiasts!

    I do have a question that I'm hoping to get feedback on, too. This summer, I will be traveling to London (SDF-LHR) for a conference, and then my husband and I are taking a few days afterwards to spend a bit of time in Rome and Brussels. Does anyone have advice on any of the following?
    • Are there smart or easy ways to upgrade the international leg of our flights?
    • Are there any great deals with either earning or spending MileagePlus points to enhance our trip?
    • Should I be looking at European hotels that offer rewards incentives, or is that generally not a huge lift in what you get?
    Thanks very much, all, and happy to be here!

    Cheers,
    E.
     
  2. TravelBear

    TravelBear Gold Member

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    Hey E.

    Welcome to MP! I am just now looking into Mileage Plus stuff myself so really can't offer up any advice. I tend to keep things pretty simple and am sure I leave points on the table all the time but I do what's comfortable for me. I do know that the more information you put in your posts the more helpful people can be. If people know what kind of points and in what programs you have they can provide a little more insight. As far as hotels go if you are not aware of Pointshound and Rocketmiles you should check them out as a possibility for boosting ff miles with hotel stays. Rocketmiles tends to list higher end places. If you are just looking for reasonable priced hotels in Europe I like Accor Hotels, specifically their lower end Ibis properties. Not fancy but they get the job done. You can earn points with their program and transfer them to airlines though you would need to check which ones. Not sure UA is on the list.

    Hope this helps some.

    Bill
     
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  3. gconnery

    gconnery Silver Member

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    Generally using miles to upgrade your flights from economy isn't a good deal. Gary wrote about it recently here:

    http://viewfromthewing.boardingarea...s-miles-arent-good-deal-theyre-getting-worse/

    Of course if you have enough United Miles you might be able to buy the tickets with those miles yourself and perhaps your employer would be willing to refund you the cost of the economy class tickets you would have had to purchase otherwise? You'd have to ask them.

    As TravelBear says, more information is always helpful. What airline? What airlines or hotels do you have status with, etc?
     
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  4. Nethermind

    Nethermind Member

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    Thanks for the quick replies and helpful information, guys! As far as what airline, it's almost always United these days. Since 2012, I've flown with United and Star Alliance carriers for the most part.. I do have a short history with Southwest Rapid Rewards from years ago, but I think United's probably my best bet for increasing status. I just got a MileagePlus Explorer card with that in mind.

    I am a member of many hotel loyalty programs, but I don't believe I have any real status with them except perhaps Kimpton Hotels, which I doubt counts for this discussion. They don't have traditional points-based kinds of rewards (it's a boutique hotel chain). They just do amazing things for their guests and work really hard to impress. As an example, on a recent trip to Chicago with the family, they upgraded our regular room to a giant corner suite. Nothing I earned, just what they do.

    I'll check out Pointshound and Rocketmiles, thanks, TravelBear! And I appreciate the link and recommendations, gconnery - will read and learn more about it.

    Cheers, all!
    ~E.
     
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  5. eponymous_coward
    Original Member

    eponymous_coward Gold Member

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    I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that an airline or hotel chain is more than happy for you to make decisions that are not really in your best interests, just because you perceive a benefit for "loyalty", or an ego boost from keeping that shiny card. "Loyalty" is part of what makes them money.

    So if you like AirBnB, I don't see a reason to change out of it, unless there's a practical purpose that makes sense in terms of cash return for you. IME, American chains outside the USA are often (but not always) poor values compared to local options, because you essentially you pay a premium for the familiar brand name. And you're quite right that you've secluded yourself from the local culture when you pick the familiar American chain with the typical American breakfast spread in the executive lounge.
     

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