Japan Airlines Crushes Emirates Awards With Crazy Surcharges (Plus A Fun Solution to Fly First Class for $81)

Well, rather than devaluing their award chart by increasing the number of miles required for award tickets, Japan Airlines has taken a different approach. Japan Airlines will now pass on crazy carrier-imposed surcharges to booking on their partner Emirates from the U.S.

How much could Japan Airlines possibly raise the maximum surcharges on Emirates awards though?! Well, the maximum used to be $78.20. The maximum on a round-trip award from New York City (JFK) to Dubai (DXB) is now $1,716.09.

A one-way first class ticket on Emirates will incur over $800 in surcharges (YQ).

Obviously, with an increase of ONLY 2000+%,  those 9 cents were really freaking important. You can still use a reasonable 135,000 Japan Airlines miles to book a first class award, but you're going to have to take the big hit on the taxes and fees.

If you were hoping, JFK to Milan (MXP) or Newark (EWR) to Athens (ATH) would be better, think again! These routes still only cost 105,000 Japan Airlines miles for a round-trip first class award ticket, but you'll get hit with over $1,000 in taxes and fees.

This is a really sad development and it comes about 19 months after Alaska Airlines gutted their award chart for Emirates. After increasing award prices between 67% and 100%, Japan Airlines really became the go-to program for award bookings on Emirates.

Sure, you could have use Emirates' own Skywards program but they have uncompetitive rates and massive surcharges. Well, now we're stuck with horrible mileage rates with Alaska Airlines, horrible surcharges with Japan Airlines, and horrible mileages rates plus nasty surcharges with Emirates Skywards.

Of course, you could also use Korean Air SkyPass miles to book Emirates award tickets, but they also hit you with massive surcharges.

While people have long raved about Emirates first class for the bling, the massive shower, the Dom Perignon—I mean, who doesn't enjoy a glass (bottle?) of champagne when flying and the in-flight bar, it is getting harder and harder to book award tickets at reasonable rates.

It's really disappointing to see this change just as Emirates is starting to roll out its new first class product on the Boeing 777. I was very much hoping to try it as soon as possible, but that idea might be delayed for a bit while I consider whether its worth it over other options.

I'm actually very fortunate though in that I booked a crazy Emirates first class adventures with Japan Airlines miles earlier this year. I'll be flying from New York City (JFK) to Dubai (DXB) to Bangkok (BKK) to Dubai to Milan (MXP) to New York City for 155,000 miles and $120.76. Can you imagine the surcharges if I booked this now?!

What Are Our Award Options For Emirates First Class Now?

Will the new Emirates first class suite still be worth it to you even with the surcharges? - Image courtesy of Emirates

So, where do we go from here? Well, it's not pretty, but here are your options.

If you utilize the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) program and have a ton of Starpoints, you will still get your best value out of the Japan Airlines award chart when it comes to the mileage required. You just have to be okay with the massive surcharges. If it's a once in a lifetime kind of thing for you, it might be.

Thanks to the 5,000-mile bonus you receive when you transfer a block of 20,000 Starpoints, you can reach the required Japan Airlines miles a bit quicker. If you wanted to book the same crazy route that I did, you would need to transfer 125,000 SPG Starpoints. However, you can only transfer 60,000 SPG points per 24 hours if you want to receive the transfer bonus on each block of 20,000 points. This means you'll need to do the transfer in 2 parts over a couple days.

If you want to avoid the cash cost of the surcharges, you could choose to use a ton more miles with the Alaska Airlines program which is also a transfer partner of SPG. Additionally, the Bank of American Alaska Airlines card (personal and business versions) can boost your Alaska miles balance with their 30,000-mile sign-up bonuses. You're going to need all the help you can get if you want to fly first class as it will cost 150,000 miles for one-way award.

Not an option I'd go for, but you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards to Emirates Skywards to book award flights. The mileage cost and the cash cost is going to be rough though, so I'd only consider this one if you don't mind the cash cost for a special trip and have TONS of Membership Rewards.

Finally, perhaps the least talked about way to book Emirates awards is the Korean Air SkyPass program. A round-trip first class booking between the U.S. and Dubai will cost you 210,000 Korean Air miles plus all the lovely surcharges that come with flying Emirates.

Fly Emirates First Class To The U.S. For $81

Wasn't all that super uplifting?! Don't worry, I have a solution for those of you who want to fly Emirates first class and enjoy some crazy luxury in the sky (that shower, though) without using all of your miles and points or paying stupid high taxes and fees.

You'll notice there aren't any surcharges (YQ) listed, unlike the the JFK to DXB route.

The solution: Fly Emirates first class from Hong Kong. It's that simple. It's a bit of a long way home at a minimum travel time of 28 hours, but you'll only pay about $81 in taxes/fees because Hong Kong doesn't allow carrier-imposed surcharges—I love them for this! 

To do this, you will want to book Emirates first Class from Hong Kong (HKG) connecting in Bangkok (BKK) and Dubai (DXB) to New York City (JFK) or Washington, DC (IAD). You could also skip the BKK segment and the booking would cost about $90 in taxes/fees.

You will need 115,000 Japan Airlines miles to book this. Look at that, we can still use the best redemption rate out there and NOT pay crazy surcharges! Thanks to the SPG transfer bonus, you can transfer 95,000 SPG Starpoints to get the required 115,000 Japan Airlines miles.

If you want to fly all the way to Los Angeles (LAX), you will need to transfer 115,000 SPG Starpoints to your Japan Airlines account to get the required 135,000 miles.

Sure, this isn't the quickest way to get back to the states, but it's a fun way to do it. You can even book a stopover in Bangkok and Dubai on your way back to the states at no extra cost (miles or cash)!

Bottom Line

Let's be clear, this massive increase in the surcharges required by Japan Airlines when booking Emirates awards is very disappointing. You'll also notice I call them "carrier-imposed surcharges" rather than "fuel surcharges" since fuel prices have dropped and the rationale for these surcharges disappeared. Now, it's just a choice of these airlines.

However, things aren't all doom and gloom. There is still a great opportunity to book award tickets on Emirates out of Hong Kong thanks to their law preventing surcharges. This is yet another example of why I try to drive home the point that learning how to redeem miles and points is just as, if not more, important as learning how to earn them.

For those of you who wanted to book Emirates awards, what approach are you going to take (no) thanks to this change?

PS. You can also book Emirates awards from Tokyo, Colombo, or Sydney without surcharges. Sao Paolo (GRU) and Rio de Janeiro (GIG) to Dubai round-trip can be booked with moderate surcharges—$465 is a lot better than $1,700.

Featured image courtesy of Emirates

H/T: One Mile At A Time

Singapore Airlines Devalues Star Alliance Award Chart, Adds Online Booking Capability

Singapore Airlines' KrisFlyer program has long been a favorite of many as it's the only way to book long-haul business and first class awards on their own flights. However, Singapore KrisFlyer has also had some great redemption rates on Star Alliance partners.

Well, things are about to change on December 7 when their Star Alliance award chart will be pretty thoroughly roughed up. This follows a March 2017 devaluation of their award chart for itineraries with flights only on Singapore Airlines - they softened the blow by getting ride of carrier-imposed surcharges on these awards.

The old Star Alliance award chart provided some creative ways to book Singapore Airlines flights (see the new chart below).

I think we should have expected this devaluation as the Star Alliance award chart actually allowed us to book Singapore Airlines award flights for fewer miles on some routes if we just included a connection on a Star Alliance partner. For example, you could fly first class (or Suites class) between the United States (east coast) and Australia for 127,500 KrisFlyer miles with a Star Alliance connection rather than 152,000 KrisFlyer miles when only flying Singapore Airlines.

Well, that fun trick is about to die, so book while you can. A one-way first class Star Alliance award will now cost 152,500 miles for that journey when the change hits in three weeks.

This announcement comes on the heels of the much-anticipated release of Singapore Airlines new Suites class that they're rolling out on their Airbus A380 aircraft. It's safe to say the new Suites class is a game-changer. This is just another reason I'm not surprised they changed their Star Alliance award chart, as I'm sure they want to ensure that booking an award ticket to experience this new product cost a premium regardless of how it is booked.

Star Alliance Award Chart Changes

Let's take a look at the changes to the one-way redemption rates you'll see on flights to and from the United States.

Southeast Asia 1
Economy Class: No change
Business Class: No change
First Class: 112,500 to 135,000 (increase - 22,500 miles)

Southeast Asia 2
Economy Class: No change
Business Class: No change
First Class: 112,500 to 135,000 (increase - 22,500 miles)

North Asia 1
Economy Class: 45,000 to 48,000 (increase - 3,000 miles) 
Business Class: 87,500 to 105,000 (increase - 17,500 miles)
First Class: 100,000 to 125,000 (increase - 25,000 miles)

North Asia 2
Economy Class: 45,000 to 54,000 (increase - 9,000 miles) 
Business Class: 87,500 to 105,000 (increase - 17,500 miles)
First Class: 100,000 to 125,000 (increase - 25,000 miles)

Southwest Pacific
Economy Class: 55,000 to 60,000 (increase - 5,000 miles)
Business Class: 97,500 to 117,000 (increase - 19,500 miles)
First Class: 127,500 to 152,500 (increase - 25,000 miles)

Economy Class: no change
Business Class: no change
First Class: 80,000 to 95,000 (increase - 15,000 miles)

Middle East/North Africa
Economy Class: 37,500 to 45,000 (increase - 7,500 miles)
Business Class: 57,500 to 69,000 (increase - 11,500 miles)
First Class: 75,000 to 90,000 (increase - 15,000 miles)

Central/South Africa
Economy Class: 45,000 to 52,000 (increase - 7,000 miles)
Business Class: 72,500 to 87,000 (incrase - 14,500 miles)
First Class: 110,000 to 132,000 (increase - 22,000 miles)

Central/South Asia
Economy Class: 52,500 to 55,000 (increase - 2,500 miles)
Business Class: 97,500 to 110,000 (increase - 12,500 miles)
First Class: 132,500 to 145,000 (increase - 12,500 miles)

The Star Alliance chart did not change for redemptions within North America or to Hawaii, Central America, or South America.

All in all, these are some big increases in mileage costs. Flying between the US and Australia in first class on a Star Alliance award will now require 25% more miles. Many other awards will see a 20% bump as well.

Book Star Alliance Awards Online

I'm sure Singapore Airlines would like to focus on the fact that you can now book Star Alliance awards online rather than over the phone and, while this is nice, announcing it with a devaluation is a sad attempt to make it seem like they're doing us a favor.

Rather than calling Singapore KrisFlyer, you can now book award tickets, changes award tickets, and redeem upgrades online. If you choose to do so over the phone, you will be charged a $25 (or 2,500 KrisFlyer miles) fee unless you are unable to complete the booking online. These changes will also take effect on December 7.

Bottom Line

Award chart devaluations are inevitable, but that doesn't make them sting any less. This one was entirely predictable given then changes to their award chart for Singapore Air flights earlier this year and the release of their new Suites class product.

The new online capability is a very small silver lining in all this. Fortunately, Singapore Airlines is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, and SPG Starpoints so they are still some of the easier points to earn in the states... you'll just have to use more of them.

*Featured image courtesy of Singapore Airlines

Airline Makes It Easier to Earn Elite Status: Cathay Pacific Takes A Positive Step

In the last few years, we've grown accustomed to what seems like constant devaluation in both award charts and elite status. Elite status benefits have been stripped while the requirements to reach said elite status have become painfully more difficult.

Well, Cathay Pacific is breaking the mold. As of December 8, 2017, it will become easier to earn elite status with their Marco Polo Club loyalty program. Wait, what?! Did they miss a memo? Airlines are supposed to gut their loyalty programs not improve them.

Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club Earn Chart.png

Cathay Pacific is increasing the rate at which passengers will earn Club Points (similar in structure to British Airways Executive Club Tier Points) for many fare classes and flight distances. Short-haul and ultra-short flights in all fare classes will get a boost to their earn rate while long-haul and ultra-long flights in economy class and premium economy get a bump as well.

Medium and medium-long flights will not see a chance except for the cheapest economy fare classes (S, N, Q) and long-haul flights in business class and first class will not get a bump either.

The requirements for elite status (Silver, Gold, Diamond) won't be changing other than Green level members requiring 20 Club Points rather than 100 Club Points to maintain their status. However, these new earn rates will make it easier to earn and maintain status.

The Club Points you earn are not redeemable miles. Cathay Pacific has a separate program for earning redeemable miles called Asia Miles. The number of Asia Miles you earn is determined by your flight distance and the fare class of your ticket.

The points you earn can be used to book award travel on Cathay Pacific and anyone of their oneworld partners such as Japan Airlines and American Airlines. They're also transfer partners of both American Express Membership Rewards and SPG Starpoints which makes them relatively easy to earn.

We'll save a discussion about the many fascinating ways to utilize the Asia Miles program for later, but give it a look if you're bored. You might be surprised by some of the fun award bookings you can create.

Now, thee earn rates for Club Points are only changing for flights operated by Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon. The earn rates for flights operated by Cathay's partners will remain the same. All in all, this won't have a big impact on those who don't fly Cathay Pacific regularly, but I think the move is interesting nonetheless.

I can't remember a positive move like this by an airline. While I imagine the motivation stems from a number of factors including Chinese carriers going after Cathay Pacific's pilots and carriers into Cathay's market share with cheaper flights, Hong Kong Airlines even announced plans to fly to the United States which will only cause further issues for Cathay Pacific.

It's pretty clear Cathay Pacific has recognized the landscape has changed and is trying to incentivize travelers to stick with them. I just can't get over the fact that they did more than creating a marketing campaign to say how great they are. Rather, they actually made a positive change to their program.

I'd love to say that maybe other airlines will take a lesson from this and realize that it's okay to actually improve loyalty programs instead of gutting them and calling them "enhancements" as if we're all clueless children. Hopefully, it doesn't take terrible business conditions for airlines to recognize that.

Until then, it's just fun to see a positive change within an airline program even if it won't impact me or the vast majority of people in the states.

*Featured image courtesy of Cathay Pacific

Etihad Partner Award Issue Resolved? American Airlines Can See Space Again

American Airlines and Etihad Airways have a tense partnership, to say the least. About a month ago, American Airlines stopped being able to see award space on Etihad if the departure date was further out than 30 days and the flight was to or from the United States.

Just this week, Etihad announced that they were cutting its route from Dallas Fort-Worth (DFW). American had already announced they were ending their codeshare agreement with Etihad so this seemed to be just another chapter in this rough partnership.

Well, it looks like we might actually have a little good news on the award booking front. After speaking with MilesTalk and seeing a few data points on FlyerTalk, it looks like American phone agents can once again see award space on Etihad beyond 30 days on flights that touch the U.S.

MilesTalk was able to book a flight for early 2018 from Abu Dhabi (AUH) while others have reported being able to book even further out. Hopefully, this reversion to the norm sticks!

Was this an intentional move by Etihad to restrict award space to American Airlines? No idea, but with the way things have continued to devolve between the two this week, I'd guess it wasn't intentional.

For those new to booking Etihad flights with American AAdvantage miles, here's what you need to do to book:

  1. Find Guest First availability on Etihad
  2. Note the flight number and date
  3. Call AA’s Australian call center (+61 291011948 - Skype is a cheap way to do this)
  4. Ask the customer service rep to check for award space on the specified flight then ask them to place a hold on the award - they'll hold it for 5 days
  5. Note the reservation number they give you
  6. Call AA’s U.S. call center (800-433-7300) and provide the reservation number and tell them you'd like to confirm the booking
  7. Pay the taxes over the phone (they will waive the phone booking fee since this award is not bookable online)
  8. You will receive an American Airlines booking number and ticket number
  9. To select your seat, call Etihad or send them a direct message on Twitter and provide the ticket number

If you are planning to book the Etihad's famous first class product, The Apartments, on their Airbus A380, these are the redemption rates when booking with American AAdvantage miles:

  • New York City (JFK) to Abu Dhabi (AUH) - 115,000 miles
  • London (LHR) to Abu Dhabi (AUH) - 62,500 miles
  • Sydney (SYD) to Abu Dhabi (AUH) - 100,000 miles
  • Mumbai (BOM) to Abu Dhabi (AUH) - 40,000 miles

You can earn the necessary American miles with their co-branded credit cards provided by Citi and Barclaycard. You can also use the Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards to earn SPG Starpoints that can be transferred to your American AAdvantage account.

If you are going to transfer SPG Starpoints, make sure you put the award ticket on hold with American Airlines first to ensure you have the space locked up. SPG Starpoints generally take a couple days to transfer to American Airlines so the five-day hold gives you plenty of time. Just make sure you transfer as soon as you have the ticket on hold!

If you've been waiting to book an Etihad award with your American miles, what are you waiting for?! Get to it!

Garuda Indonesia Is Back With Another Promo Award - Up To 50% Off

Last December, Garuda Indonesia launched a 90% award promotion. With Garuda Miles being a transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points, I jumped at the chance to try their first class product. As I quickly learned, booking award flights with Garuda Miles can take quite a few phone calls.

Well, Garuda Indonesia is back with another promotion opportunity (thanks to @KartuPos for the tip!). This time you can earn bonus miles for cash tickets OR redeem Garuda Miles for an award ticket at a reduced rate if you book a flight between London (LHR) and Jakarta (CGK).

Garuda Indonesia Promo Terms

Garuda Indonesia has launched promotion that allows you to book award flights at up to 50% off.

For paid tickets, you can earn 50% more Garuda Miles in first class (F, A, and P fare classes) and in business class (J, C, and D fare classes). Economy class tickets (Y, M, M, K, and N fare classes) will earn a 25% bonus. You must travel between October 31 and November 30, 2017 to be eligible.

For award tickets, you can receive a 50% discount on first class bookings and a 30% discount on business class or economy class bookings. You must book your award flight by November 30, 2017 and travel between October 31, 2017 and January 31, 2018.

How To Book With Garuda Miles

First class awards on Garuda Indonesia usually cost 180,000 Garuda Miles (or Citi ThankYou Points) for a flight between London (LHR) and Jakarta (CGK), but the promo rate is 95,000 miles.

First class awards on Garuda Indonesia usually cost 180,000 Garuda Miles (or Citi ThankYou Points) for a flight between London (LHR) and Jakarta (CGK), but the promo rate is 95,000 miles.

Unlike the previous promotion, you can book this promotional award online. That means you don't have to call Garuda Indonesia or visit a sales office. However, since Citi ThankYou Points can take a few days to transfer to your Garuda Miles account, you might want to consider calling to put an award ticket on hold.

When I booked my first class ticket last December, I was able to put a ticket on hold for 7 days when I called to book. Fortunately, you can use Garuda Indonesia's site to search for award space so you'll be able to specify the date you want to fly with a bit more confidence.

If you choose to book over the phone, call the Amsterdam call center at 31 (0)20-5502600 as they are much easier to work with than the Jakarta office. Additionally, the Jakarta office cannot process American credit cards (as of last December - please let me know if that has changed) while Garuda's office in Amsterdam can. 

To book online but, you must have the required number of Garuda Miles in your account. The miles required for each class of service are as follows:

  • First Class: 95,000 Garuda Miles + about $190 in taxes/fees
  • Business Class: 63,000 Garuda Miles + about $190 in taxes/fees
  • Economy Class: 35,000 Garuda Miles + about $190 in taxes/fees

If you are deciding which class of service to book, I strongly suggest considering first class. I had a great experience last year. If you want the details of my entire trip last year, check out my review of Garuda Indonesia first class.

What To Expect From Garuda Indonesia First Class

On a long flight, you'll love the comfort of your first class bed on Garuda Indonesia.

To give you a quick idea of what to expect from Garuda Indonesia's first class product, here are a few things you can expect.

Your first class seat is better classified as a suite, not unlike Singapore Suites, with doors that close so you can have complete privacy. There are only eight suites in the first class cabin so it's very quiet throughout the flight.

Garuda Indonesia's crew members have a great reputation for being responsive and happy to help at all times. When my seat broke last year, the crew manager spent 10 minutes trying to fix it and, when unable to do so, re-accommodated me in the only empty seat in the cabin (whew!).

Is shoe service over the top? Absolutely. Is it fun? Definitely.

Oh, and do NOT forget the shoe service. It's totally over the top, but it is amazing. White glove service in which they give you slippers and put your shoes in shoe bags - you never know what might happen on a long flight!

The meals are very nice on these long-haul flights and there's plenty of great champagne for you to enjoy. Nothing like champagne and caviar to make you feel fancy!

If you are departing from Jakarta (CGK), you will have the opportunity to enjoy the new first class lounge - it was not complete when I visited earlier this year. What really impressed me about the first class lounge experience was that you are assigned two first class attendants. They escort you through security and are there for anything you might need during your stay.

Final Thoughts

To try Garuda Indonesia first class, I booked a trip around it. I flew to Europe just to try it on the Amsterdam (AMS) to Jakarta (CGK) route. Now, you might not be that crazy, but if you have a trip to Europe or Asia coming up, this would be a great opportunity to include a flight on Garuda Indonesia.

Let me know if you decide to book this amazing experience!

New Uber Credit Card To Have Airline Transfer Partners in 2018

The New York Times is reporting that Barclaycard and Uber have indicated that their new co-branded credit card will have airline transfer partners at some points in 2018. This is huge news!

With the uncertainty around the Starwood Preferred Guest program - one of four transferable points programs - this would be a great addition to the market. If this comes to fruition, here's what the Uber credit card can offer:

Uber Card Bonus Categories

The Uber card has some intriguing bonus category options for a card with no annual fee. The ability to transfer points to airlines, though, is what could make this really useful. Here are the bonus categories and their earn rates:

  • Restaurants, takeout, bars (includes UberEATS) - 4% cash back
  • Hotels, airfare, vacation home rentals - 3% cash back
  • Online purchases including Uber, online shopping, and more - 2% cash back
  • All other purchases - 1% cash back

Is the Uber Card Competitive?

These are competitive bonus categories, especially for a card with no annual fee. Consider that the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card earns 3X points per dollar on dining and travel. While the Uber card doesn't come with the same perks such as Priority Pass lounge access or a $300 travel credit, the everyday earn rate with the card does compete with the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.

Now, for those of us who love utilizing credit cards to earn miles and points for award travel, the value of this card really rests in the potential of airline transfer partners. One of the reasons the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is so valuable is that it has the ability to earn Ultimate Rewards points which can be transferred to multiple airline and hotel partners.

Final Thoughts

If the Uber card does indeed partner with airlines in 2018, this could be an intriguing option and one I would definitely consider. This, of course, depends on what airlines Barclaycard could negotiate for the Uber card but I'm excited to see what comes of this.

Until 2018, we'll just have to wait and see.

What airlines do you think might partner with the new Uber card?

Featured image courtesy of Uber

Redeem Singapore KrisFlyer Miles on Alaska Airlines, Get Cheap Awards to Hawaii

Singapore Airlines just sent out an email announcing that you can now redeem KrisFlyer miles on their new partner Alaska Airlines. Many are waiting to see if Alaska miles will be able to book business class and first class awards on Singapore Airlines, but today's announcement does bring some good news for those who want to visit Hawaii - unless you live in the eastern part of the U.S.

The new award chart is broken into five geographic zones. The rates for first class on Alaska Airlines aren't competitive, but it does provide an interesting option for some to visit Hawaii.

If you live in Zones 1, 2, 3, or 5, you can book a one-way flight on Alaska Airlines in economy class to Hawaii for less than 13,000 miles:

  • Zone 1: 12,000 KrisFlyer miles
  • Zone 2: 11,500 KrisFlyer miles
  • Zone 3: 12,500 KrisFlyer miles
  • Zone 4: 12,500 KrisFlyer miles

Currently, you can book economy class flights from the west coast to Hawaii for 25,000 Korean Air SkyPass miles (on Delta) or 25,000 British Airways Avios (on Alaska Airlines or American Airlines). Korean Air miles can even get you to Hawaii for the same rate from across the U.S.

However, using Singapore KrisFlyer requires 35,000 miles to book a round-trip on United. With this new development, you can now use between 23,000 and 25,000 KrisFlyer miles to fly to Hawaii on Alaska Airlines.

It's not a huge reduction in the miles required, but it gives us a new mileage currency to use at the lowest award rate on the market. Additionally, it's insanely easy to earn KrisFlyer miles as Singapore Airlines is a transfer partner of all four transferable points programs:

  • American Express Membership Rewards
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Citi ThankYou Points
  • Starwood Preferred Guest

With so many transfer options, you won't have any trouble earning the points necessary to book your next flight to Hawaii.

Now, for those of us who love to book award flights with Alaska miles, we would love to see Singapore Airlines allow business class and first class awards on their own flight to be booked with Alaska miles (unlikely). For now, we'll have to be happy that this new partnership is providing a new way for people to get to Hawaii at a better redemption rate.

Photo by Farid Askerov on Unsplash

Rumor: Southwest Airlines Coming to Hawaii? Get Your Companion Pass Ready!

UPDATE: Richard Kerr from Award Travel 101 has received word from a Southwest Airlines employee that the first routes to Hawaii will launch in early 2018. The first routes will include Oakland (OAK), San Diego (SAN), and Los Angeles (LAX) to Honolulu (HNL). San Jose (SJC) is also a possibility.

Hopefully, we'll get the official word Wednesday!

For years, rumors have circulated about Southwest Airlines finally starting flights to Hawaii. Those rumors just got a jolt of life today when Beat of Hawaii reported that Southwest would be participating in the Hawaii Global Tourism Summit.

The expectation is that Southwest will make an announcement on Wednesday of this week that they will begin flights between California and Hawaii in 2018. This would be HUGE news for Hawaii, anyone who visits Hawaii regularly, or those who have always dreamed of an island vacation.

I can only imagine that this is Southwest's move to compete with Alaska Airlines which has acquired Virgin America and already flies to Hawaii but is now stepping up the competition in California.

This exciting news could make the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass even more valuable. If you use the Companion Pass for 2-for-1 flights - either award tickets or cash tickets - this news is HUGE.

For those new to the Southwest Companion Pass... once you earn 110,000 Rapid Rewards points, you automatically receive the Companion Pass. There are some restrictions as to which points count toward it but the easiest way to earn qualifying Rapid Rewards is paid flights and, even better, using one of the three co-branded Southwest cards provided by Chase:

  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card

Thanks to the sign-up bonuses provided by these cards, you can easily reach the required 110,000 points with little more than getting 2 of these cards and hitting the minimum spend required for the bonus.

Once you have earned the required points, you can designate a companion who can then fly with you for only the cost of the taxes and fees of their ticket. That's right, you book your flight with points or cash, they get to tag along with you for next to nothing!

Now, you can see why Southwest starting flights to Hawaii is such a big deal!

What do potential Southwest flights to Hawaii mean for you?

Check out 10xTravel's guide to the Companion Pass if you'd like more info.

Photo by louis magnotti on Unsplash

$200 All-Inclusive Trip To Italy For 50 Lucky People with the Pasta Passport

Perhaps the most amusing promotion I've seen in awhile, Olive Garden is upping the stakes to their Pasta Pass promo.

On September 14 (TODAY!) at 2pm ET, they are offering 22,000 Pasta Passes which provides eight weeks of unlimited pasta, sauces, and toppings and all the soup, salad, and breadsticks you can eat. Total cost is $100 + tax.

Honestly, this doesn't do much for me. But, here's the fun part...

A $200 all-inclusive trip to Italy with the Olive Garden Pasta Passport could be fun.

They are offering 50 Pasta Passports to Italy for $200 + tax. This pass gets you an eight day and seven night trip to Italy from April 7 to 14, 2018 and it includes:

  • Airfare
  • Hotel
  • Meals
  • Ground Transportation
  • Daily Activities

Even better, you can bring a guest! That's 2 all-inclusive spots on a trip to Italy.

At 2pm ET sharp, the buy buttons will go live. If you can somehow be one of the fastest 50 people to click, you will have 8 minutes to complete the purchase. If you don't complete the purchase in time, someone from the "virtual waiting room" will get your spot.

Expect this to sell out in a matter of... let's say 0.6 seconds. So, get your clicking finger warmed up and ready to go! Best of luck to all who give this a try.

Oh, the Pasta Passport also includes the Pasta Pass, but meh. Go eat real Italian food in Italy!

Photo by Mark Tegethoff on Unsplash

BREAKING: Huge Equifax Data Breach

This is a developing story that CNN reported less than an hour ago, but here's what you need to know right now.

Equifax is one of the three credit bureaus that provide credit reports and credit scores. For those who utilize credit cards, this is of particular concern since Equifax has a lot of our personal information.

This massive hack has exposed the personal info of over 140 million people in the United States. Equifax says that roughly 209,000 credit card numbers were exposed in addition to 182,000 customers dealing with credit report disputes.

This personal information includes names, social security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, and even driver's license numbers.

Equifax has said that there is "no evidence of unauthorized access to core consumer or commercial reporting databases."

To see if you have been impacted by the breach you can sign-up for complimentary credit monitoring and identity theft protection called TrustedID Premier which is provided by Equifax. With this, you'll receive free access to your Equifax credit report, credit file monitoring for all 3 credit bureaus - Experian and TransUnion are the other two, Equifax credit report lock if you choose, social security number monitoring, and identity theft insurance.

Check out Equifax for the latest updates and to sign up for TrustedID Premier.

If your credit card number or credit report disputes were impacted by the breach, Equifax will be sending you a notice in the mail.

For now, keep an eye on your credit report. You might be impacted by this breach and not even realize that you are in Equifax's system.

Photo by Ilya Pavlov on Unsplash