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Tuesday 25 October 2016

IHG Point Breaks Are Out!

Posted yesterday on the IHG website (sorry, couldn't post them yesterday and now many of the hotel deals dried up and have been dropped from the list), you can take advantage of $35USD/night per room, for an unlimited number of days in any of the IHG properties on sale through THIS link.  There are only 200 reservations per hotel on sale for 5K IHG points per night.  You're in great shape if you have a Capital One Canada IHG card (no longer available to apply for as of September 2016 and discontinued as of Nov. 7, 2016) or a US version by Chase.  Through, as a Canadian, you have the option of converting points from, for example, Aeroplan--not at a very good rate, but with IHG you either get your points through a credit card, stays at IHG properties or by converting your points--but you need to have 5K points first to do a trick to get more.  You book a room using the option of "points and cash."  It’s non-refundable, BUT they’ll give you points in lieu of the cancelled room.  That way, a room will cost you, with Point Breaks, about $35USD a night! Here's how.
Every 3 months, the IHG hotel chain releases its hotels around the world that they are giving point breaks on–for only 5K IHG points (instead of 10K +, sometimes as high as 40K+), you can stay at any of the properties on this list up until October 31st for up to 2 reservations per hotel for unlimited periods of time as the list will dry up as each hotel reaches its 200 reservations point.

Saturday 22 October 2016

Free 1K Aeroplan Points AND The Truth About Aeroplan!

Aeroplan Logo
So Aeroplan is offering 1K Aeroplan points for taking this quiz though there is a stipulation that the points may only be awarded to those who received an invitation to the quiz so don't hold your breath, but it's a minute of your time for possibly 1K Aeroplan points, so might as well give it a shot.  BTW, all the answers are "Myth" but here comes the TRUTH about Aeroplan:

Fixed Mileage Flight Rewards are never available.

Aeroplan answer: myth.  REALITY: TRUTH in many cases--if you try to get tickets to fly somewhere during the "busy" season, whether it's flights to Puerto Rico in December Break, Paris or Rome in the summer, or Florida for March Break (for examples), Aeroplan will release perhaps TWO seats and NOT necessarily 356 days in advance.  They may not even release "Market Fare" seats 356 days in advance.  There is NO knowing when the seats will be released--you just have to keep trying and you MAY get the two seats they release for any specific flight.  Aeroplan's quiz claims that 70% of their reward flights booked are at fixed mileage levels, but that's VERY misleading, since that means that only 30% bother getting ripped off purchasing Market Fare flights to popular destinations.  If you buy Market Fare ticket WAAAY in advance, the advantage is that it will cost you the minimum number of points that they would ever charge for that route if you're the first one buying the tickets, and you can buy enough for a large family. But if you wait....for example, want to go to Fort Lauderdale for December break and your looking for tickets right now?  Have some status with Aeroplan, perhaps Black Distinction status?  It'll cost you "only" 90,100 (minimum) AP points per ticket instead of 110100AP, or 25K for a Fixed Mileage ticket--which you can't get of course.  Want a different flight time?  How about the 8:45am flight for 112600AP points per ticket? 
So, are they never available--"Never" is a tricky word-no--not NEVER, but for a family of 3+, yes, pretty much NEVER for a vacation destination during peak travel times. And with another airline like United, maybe only ONE flight per month available.  I've seen it MANY times.  Want to fly out of Buffalo with United to somewhere--but there is only one flight available in an ENTIRE month as Aeroplan likely doesn't want to give you that option as the taxes are less than $10 return ANYWHERE through United out of BUF.

Aeroplan has blackout dates.

Aeroplan answer: myth.  REALITY: MYTH BUT PRACTICALLY TRUTH--as per my comments above, if you can't get flights out during peak travel times with Fixed Mileage, are you really going to spend upwards of 100K+ points (in some cases less or much more) for EACH ticket to somewhere that should only cost you 25K (long haul flights within North America)?  So in practical terms, YES.  They do have blackout dates.

Contact Centre agents have access to more seats.

Aeroplan answer: myth.  REALITY: PRACTICALLY TRUTH in complex flights.
If you're trying to get somewhere that involves, or MAY involve stopovers, the Aeroplan website does a good job of making it exceeding difficult to find a flight to avoid fuel surcharges, as they will always prioritize AC flights, whether direct or indirect, on the departure or the return or BOTH.  Say you want to fly to Israel with Aeroplan and avoid the lie of fuel surcharges (jet fuel has gone done in price along with gas prices but they continue to charge the charge though United, South African, Turkish, Ethiopian, Egypt, and many other airlines NEVER charge fuel surcharges).  Let's make it even more complex.  Let's say you want to do a multi-city vacation to hit both Tel-Aviv and Capetown ("only" 100K AP points) as one of the two cities will be considered the "final" destination.  Okay, so you want to fly Toronto to Newark with AC or United, then United to Tel-Aviv via Newark, then Turkish to Capetown with a stopover in Istanbul and Joberg (you stay on the plane) (safe airline though Istanbul did have that bombing several months back), then back from Capetown to Addis Ababa, and then to Toronto.  No fuel surcharges--cannot fly through the same city twice with AP rules; hence, the complex route.  Try finding THAT through the Aeroplan website! ;)  You'll want to speak to an experienced Aeroplan agent after telling them you want to avoid all fuel surcharge airlines in the Star Alliance.  If you don't get a good feeling about the agent (they aren't being helpful or are just inexperienced), HUCA (hang up, call again).  Then, book it online if possible to avoid the extra Aeroplan fee for booking with an agent.

My TD® Aeroplan® Credit Card is my Aeroplan card.

Duh.  Myth.  One is a membership card, the other is a credit card that gives you Aeroplan points.   This one quiz question is the only straightforward REAL Myth answer.

There are no real perks to achieving status with Aeroplan.

MYTH--Really, in most cases, and with the new rules kicking in in December.  If you have Diamond Distinction status, by getting 100K Aeroplan points (NOT through welcome bonuses anymore--grrrr), but through flying AC or Star Alliance flights (and attributing the flights to AP), or by getting Aeroplan points through purchases at stores or Aeroplan credit cards from AMEX, CIBC or TD, you will save a lot on cancellation fees (if necessary) and Market Fare flights.  Sometimes, it doesn't matter what your status is--Market Fare will give you the same discount whether you're black, diamond, silver, or nothing--depends if it's ticket that AC is certain they won't be able to sell out (off peak).
Oh, and the higher your status, the less time you'll wait on hold to speak to an Aeroplan agent.
For some flights, you'll get the maximum discount of 35% off the number of points to fly, though as stated earlier, sometimes it's a MUCH bigger discount and irrelevant what your AP distinction status is.
So go take the quiz and know better now! :)

Saturday 15 October 2016

Good & BAD Changes Coming To Aeroplan

Aeroplan Logo--BOO!
Well, first came the offer of allowing one to pay the taxes for an Aeroplan reward ticket using your Aeroplan points (TOTAL RIPOFF), followed by this one:
It used to be (and I'm not sure when this changed exactly) that if you wished to change a ticket, you had to do so more than 33 days in advance.  You could not cancel a ticket within that window, so it you wanted to cancel a ticket within the 33 days, you first had to pay to change your ticket date OUTSIDE the 33 day window and then pay again to cancel it.  It used to be that this would put you back $90 per ticket for the change and then another $90 to cancel IF you were within the 33 day window.
At some point, they changed the rules to cancelling a ticket to TWENTY-TWO instead of 33 days, and they also allowed one to change a ticket more than 2 hours before the flight (or a same day change at the airport for $75, whether for an earlier or later flight on the same itinerary).
In some cases (short haul flights for example), not even worth changing the ticket.  Better to buy a new one.  If you cancel your ticket more than 2 hours in advance, there's no charge for the cancellation--your tickets will be in limbo for 1 year until you choose to use them, at which point, they'll nail you with the $100 change fee per direction.  This rule seems to be gone come December 6, 2016, but in reality, cancelling a ticket for "free" and holding it for a year in limbo was eventually going to cost you when you had to rebook it anyways.
The only good news is about the change that happened at some point that allowed you to make a change more than 2 hours before your flight.  I don't know when they changed THAT rule.
Here comes the NEWEST BAAAAD change:
Now, you can apply these "new" rules like before, but now you'll pay $100 PER DIRECTION, up to a maximum of $200 (in case you have a multi-city ticket--Toronto, Joberg, Tel Aviv, back to Toronto, you'll "only" pay $200, not more). Before, if you had to change a return trip ticket, and make changes on both your departure dates (leaving and coming back), you'd pay a flat fee of $90 total.  If you had a one-way ticket, you'd pay the same: $90.  Now, for changes on a return trip ticket that will effect both directions, you'll pay $200 (plus tax, of course).
The exception: if you have Diamond Distinction status with Aeroplan, which you attain if you accumulate 100K Aeroplan points in one year, through flights and Aeroplan credit card purchases (not even the CIBC Aeroplan card gives you Aeroplan Welcome Bonus points that count towards Distinction status--they were the last ones to do so--ended in March of 2016, unofficially).
With Diamond status, changes two hours prior to departure are still $75 (instead of $100) and refunds more than 22 days in advance are only $30 online, and $100 if you're crazy enough to do it with an Aeroplan agent over the phone.  So, if your flight is in 3 hours, and you wish to CANCEL, first you pay $75 PER DIRECTION to change it outside the twenty-two day window, then $30 to get a refund (step two).  For a non-diamond status member, it'll be $100 per direction per ticket (max $200), and then another $150 per ticket (regardless of whether it's one-way or return)--costing you on a return ticket $350 to get the points back in your account.  YIKES!!
Avios still will only charge you the taxes if you buy you need a refund or cancellation more than 24 hours in advance--and if they changed the time of your flight and you point out how inconvenient that time change is, they will give you a refund at no cost.  If they won't, HUCA (hang up and call again) and get a new agent who may be more susceptible to your charming way! ;)

Thursday 6 October 2016

Toronto to Cancun From $353+ Taxes In!

Westjet & AC have a sale on flights from Toronto to Cancun, but not for the December Break period (naturally).  It covers November to mid-December, and prices start at $353 return.  I found prices from $364 on Westjet for November 5-23.  Here are some dates where the prices are cheapest, according to  The number in brackets were the number of seats available if there's only a few, as of posting.  Try to get these prices.
Oct 31 - $231
Nov 5 - $221
Nov 7 - $231 (2)
Nov 11 - $231
Nov 12 - $221
Nov 16 - $232 (2)
Nov 18 - $231 (2)
Nov 23 - $211 (1)
Nov 26 - $221
Nov 30 - $211
RETURN dates
Nov 7 - $162
Nov 09 - $142
Nov 10 - $152
Nov 11 - $162
Nov 16 - $142 (2)
Nov 17 - $152 (2)
Nov 23 - $142 (1), $163
Nov 24 - $152
Nov 30 - $142
Dec 1 - $152 (4)
Dec 7 - $142 (1)
Dec 11 - $162 (6)
Dec 14 - $163
Dec 20 - $163
Dec 27 - $163
Dec 28 - $163

Sunday 2 October 2016

$85CDN Return From Niagara Falls Non-Stop To Orlando!

As posted last week here on SD, Spirit Airlines, a discount airline that has been flying out of Niagara Falls, NY Airport (not BUF) for years has started daily non-stop flights from Niagara Falls to Orlando, beginning November 17th.  They've just extended their calendar and ticket for flights in as late as February 8th, and returning as late as February 14th (through January and mid-February) are now available on their website from $63.70USD, return, taxes included--but as I wrote about here, be forewarned, they'll charge for everything.  You'll breathe a sigh of relief when you find out that the oxygen on the flight IS included though.

25 Free Hertz Points + Up To 550 Points More!

You can get 25 Hertz Points by entering this contest.  The 25 points will be deposited right away. It won't extend the life of your Hertz account (which expire after 24 months without activity) but it also qualifies you to get an additional 550 points for a Hertz rental costing at least $25USD.

A Way To Keep Your SPG Alive

With the SPG/Marriott merger, merging your two accounts (if you have both) will allow you to transfer points either way, whenever you wish at no fees to you, but not only that, it will extend the life of your SPG account by switching points over from Marriott.  The same is NOT true of switching from SPG to Marriott though.  If you have no activity on your SPG account for 12 months, your points should disappear, but apparently don't until 18 months from your last activity on the account.  If you call SPG and plead to get them back, you will likely be successful.  Marriott points expire 24 months from the last activity.  You CAN transfer points to anyone living at the same address as you and that will help you have enough for a stay if you're short some points in your account and need some from your spouse.  I don't believe this would extend the life of your Marriott account, but of course, using some points for a stay would, as would activity on a Chase Marriott Canada Visa (using or getting approved for one, then spending $1 to get your welcome bonus).