Traveling this weekend? Change your Flight and Review your Credit Card Policies

In 2013, I drove from Miami to Chicago and encountered the polar in Illinois. It’s no secret that the east coast may get pummeled by a blizzard-like snowstorm this weekend.  The current forecast for DC is 12-20 inches of snow over a 36 hour period.  That’s a ton of snow.  In DC, folks follow the Capitol Weather Gang which provides up-to-date and detailed weather forecasts.  While we may hope for a work or school snow day, folks who are traveling this weekend may be far less excited for the snow.  The good news is that most major airlines will allow you to…


2015 recap: how I earned 84,000 American Airlines miles

I flew to London for the first time in 2015 and that sparked in interest in traveling.  Since July 2015, I have earned 84,000 frequent flier miles by strategically traveling and planning my purchases.  84,000 miles is enough for two off-season, round-trip tickets to either Hawaii or Europe on American Airlines or one of its partner airlines.  Thus, it was a good year for miles! Where did the miles come from? The miles came from several sources: 35,000 miles came from a Citi Advantage credit card sign up bonus.  The card now offers a limited time 50,000 mile signup bonus.  I had…


How should a TTM contributor use his $500 United Airlines certificate?

(Cancun, Mexico) A TTM contributor received a $500 United Airlines certificate when United overbooked his flight (over the holidays) and rebooked him at the gate on a significantly less convenient flight.  Instead of taking the initial offer of a $300 United Airlines certificate, this savvy traveler negotiated a $500 United Airline certificate, $30 worth of food on the flight, and an upgrade to first class on the return trip.  I flew an American flight that was trapped in ORD until 3a on Christmas but I only received 8,000 miles for this inconvenience.  While his airline was certainly in a different position than…


A Trick for Cheap Hotel Rooms – Best Price Guarantees

I discovered this trick over New Year’s Eve when I traveled to New York.  I ultimately stayed at a Hyatt property (it was amazing!) but I’ll review that later.  I first want to pass along useful information that I learned in the process…how to score an additional discount on your room rate. There are several major hotel chains–Starwood, Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, and IGH– and each has its own Best Price Guarantee.  On a basic level, the Best Price Guarantee encourages you to buy a hotel room directly through the hotel’s website so the hotel does not have to pay a commission to…


American Airlines 737-800 in First Class

This plane is new and awesome and is my new favorite domestic aircraft!  I had to use two 500-mile upgrade vouchers ($30 each) to score this upgrade, but my upgrade was confirmed 72 hours prior to check in.  I overheard people talking as they boarded the aircraft and they were also impressed with the interior.  The 737-800 was definitely more impressive than the American Airlines E-170 that I would fly next. Seat The seat was comfortable but it was hard to recline–you had to slide the bottom of the seat toward your feat as opposed to sliding the back of your seat backward….


Cheap round-trip fares from the east coast to Hawaii – $499 on AlaskaAir!

[Deals like this tend to expire quickly so this article may be out of date after January 5, 2016] Kudos to theflightdeal.com for finding this deal! Alaska Airlines is offering this deal so you can credit your miles to an excellent frequent flier program.  For those who are wondering, the average high temperature in Hawaii hovers around 80 degrees during this time of year. Fare: $499  (Google Flights says $500 but Alaska’s website reflects the $499 price) Dates: End of January.  Slightly higher fares are available through the beginning of March. Destination cities: Honolulu, Hawaii (HNL) Departure cities: New York, NY (JFK) and Newark, NJ…


Amtrak Northeast Regional (WAS-NYC) — on New Year’s Eve

Several folks have asked me how I like riding on trains compared to flying on airplanes.  I booked a round-trip ticket on Amtrak from DC to NY over New Year’s weekend so I could offer a comparison.  The train ticket was half the price of an airline ticket and the train station in New York is conveniently located near Madison Square Garden.  I’ll write a comparison later, but here’s my review of the Amtrak ride. Experience: train stations do not have the same lounge options as airports so I had less of an incentive to arrive early.  My Citi Prestige credit…


American Airlines E170 – First Class

I booked this flight about two months prior to flying and the first class cabin was completely empty when I booked, so the likelihood of receiving a complimentary upgrade was high as a result of my Platinum elite status.  The E170 has 12 first class seats.  Sure enough, my upgrade cleared 72 hours prior to departure.  If only I knew the fun was just beginning….I previously wrote how I was stuck in ORD until 3 am on Christmas waiting for this flight and that American compensated me with 8,000 redeemable miles as a result.  Needless to say, when it arrived, this was…


Cheap round-trip fares to Iceland – $397 on Icelandair!!!

[Deals like this tend to expire quickly so this article may be out of date after December 31, 2015] The nice part of this deal is that Icelandair, not WOW, is offering the discounted fare to Iceland.  I flew on WOW in September and was satisfied with my $450 round-trip ticket to Europe; however, given the chance to travel again, I would pay the extra money to fly on another airline.  Icelandair allows you to earn miles with Alaska Airlines (a great frequent flier program) and you get 2 free checked bags and a carry on (although I have no idea…


Stranded in ORD (Chicago) Until 3am on Christmas: Part 2

I previously wrote about the unfortunate start to my Christmas vacation when my flight from Chicago to Detroit was delayed until 3 a.m. on Christmas.  That was a bummer but I certainly did not have it as bad as the folks who wanted to fly to Little Rock-their flight was canceled around 1 a.m. ORD’s holiday decorations were pretty awesome. In the last post, I mentioned that the Exec. Plat. member who sat next to me at the gate received 4,000 redeemable miles from American Airlines as compensation for the delayed flight.  This morning I called American Airlines with the goal of also…