My Q1 Wrap Up: Airlines, Hotels and Credit Cards

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I can’t believe it’s April already. 2012 has been going by in a blur, so I thought I’d do a little wrap-up on all my travel for the first quarter of 2012 and discuss my personal strategy for the rest of 2012.

Mileage: 75,034 actual miles flown. Destinations visited: Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, San Francisco, London, Dallas, Seattle, Los Angeles, Kauai, Dublin, Singapore, Bangkok, Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Hong Kong.

Airlines Elite Status
American: Executive Platinum due to a status challenge and currently sitting at 94,000 miles (15 segments) towards 2013 requalification, thanks mostly to the double EQM promotion in January.
Delta: Platinum. Currently at 43,000 MQMs (6 segments) towards 2013 qualification, mostly due to rollover from 2012 (34,000 MQMs).

My Strategy: My main concerns are AA’s bankruptcy, though I think in a worst case scenario they will merge with another airline like US Airways. I’m not too worried and I’m enjoying Executive Platinum, though I really do miss the near 100% in-flight WiFi access that I had on Delta and I don’t really like their international angled lie-flat business class product. Delta’s lie flats are miles ahead and I even find their 757 and 767 recliner style seats to be more comfortable than being curled up in an angled shell (with 3 seats across in the middle section so no seat is safe from people walking over you). #Businessclassproblems indeed, I know.

As for Delta, I dropped from Diamond to Platinum this year and rolled over a nice chunk of miles. I’m flying the airline between New York and Miami because they have the cheapest fares usually and I always have WiFi and upgrades (it’s harder on AA flying into Miami). I will definitely go back to Platinum and possibly even Diamond, though I’m nervous because if Delta devalues their program to a fixed-value program, I’ll most likely jump ship completely. Honestly, accruing and redeeming American miles has been so much better than Delta – I can actually use them for international first class on amazing carriers like Cathay Pacific (Delta blocks all first class international redemptions) and award availability for domestic tickets is good (barely existent at the low level with Delta). I need some more time to evaluate the direction Delta is headed before really making a sprint toward Platinum and Diamond.

Hotel Elite Status
Starwood: Platinum with 48 nights and 20 stays towards 2013 requalification. I’ve fallen in love with SPG again ever since they started counting award stays (including my favorite cash & point redemptions) toward elite status. Their new Platinum enhancements that kicked in on March 1, and the solid Q1 double/triple points promo solidified it even more and I’m steaming forward towards hitting 75 nights so I can get suite upgrades, 4 Starpoints base per dollar and Your 24 ability to check in 24 hours a day.

Hyatt: Diamond with 6 nights/ 3 stays towards Diamond requalification. Unfortunately they don’t count award stays toward elite status and they don’t have coverage in many of the places I’ve been. I like Diamond status, but think Hyatt needs to introduce cash & points and start counting award stays towards elite status before I really commit. I did just get the Hyatt Visa (which gives me two free nights in a suite since I was a Diamond when applying) so I look forward to using them and potentially transferring Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt for future award nights. A rockstar promo could get me paying for stays again, but it’s wait and see at this point.

Intercontinental: Platinum/ Royal Ambassador. 2 stays and 3 nights. It’s a fun program with the free minibar and nice suite upgrades, but since Royal Ambassador requalification requirements are secret, I don’t even bother. My biggest gripe is that Intercontinental makes you feel like a criminal when redeeming points and doesn’t offer the same Royal Ambassador benefits as if you paid, unlike Hyatt and Starwood.

Credit Cards
-Hyatt Visa: 2 free nights in a suite.
-Amex Business Gold: 75,000 pointsUpdate: 50,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $5,000 in the first three months of Card membership.

-Chase New Ink Bold: 60,000 points.(*just applied)
-Chase Freedom: 20,000 points and lots of bonus spend categories. (*just applied)
-Starwood Amex: If/when the 30,000 point or better offer comes back.
-Citi ThankYou Premier: If they bring back the 50,000-point sign-up bonus, and add transfer partners.

Current: I am working towards hitting the $30,000 spend to get my British Airways Visa companion ticket. All travel and dining on my Sapphire Preferred for the 2x points category bonus.

Has your loyalty shifted at all this year? I’m curious to hear how happy/unhappy United/Continental flyers are with the merger and if any other Delta flyers are concerned with potential changes to the program.

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