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Each Saturday, we round up news stories that you may have missed from the week before, including several that already appeared on The Points Guy, and some more that we haven’t covered yet. If you’re an avid TPG reader, scroll down for the new stuff. Here’s the top miles, points and travel news you may have missed this week:
I just had the experience of a lifetime aboard The Residence on Etihad’s inaugural A380 flight from New York to Abu Dhabi. Highlights included the incredible service with my private butler Eren, an extremely comfortable bed, amazing food and a pretty awesome living room and shower. For more details on this fabulous experience, read the full post here.
Some major changes are coming to the AAdvantage program starting March 22, 2016. Fortunately, the current award charts remain in effect until then, so it’s best to take advantage of redemptions at the old rates if possible. For details on the best awards to book before the devaluation, click here.
Plenty of things can go wrong during busy holiday travel, but luckily there are useful apps to help you deal with crowded airports, heavy traffic, flight delays/cancellations and more. The The TPG To Go app can help with spending on the right cards, Lounge Buddy can assist you in trading airport crowds for peaceful lounges and AirHelp is useful when your flight is delayed or canceled. For more useful travel apps to get you through the holiday season, see the full post here.
The Cross Border Xpress, scheduled to open December 9, will streamline the border-crossing process for ticketed airline passengers from San Diego to Tijuana. There will still be a fee to pay by way of a toll, but if you buy the ticket online via the Cross Border Xpress site (available starting December 1), it’s $15. (At the border it’s $18.) For more details, read the full post here.
Following both Delta and United, Air Canada will begin using a revenue requirement starting next year called “Altitude Qualifying Dollars,” or AQDs. If you’re looking to qualify for status in 2017 (based on 2016 flying), be prepared to shell out some seriously big bucks, especially for top-tier Super Elite 100K status. This, combined with the Aeroplan devaluation scheduled for next month, is quite a bit of bad news for Air Canada frequent flyers. For more information on the 2017 revenue requirement, see the full post here.
In Other News…
Marriott to Offer Hotels Throughout Africa
Just days after Marriott announced its plan to acquire Starwood Hotels, Protea and African Pride Hotels have joined forces with the brand, meaning Marriott Rewards Members can now earn points at 100 new hotels across Sub-Saharan Africa. There will be 26 properties in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban, plus Protea and African Pride hotels in Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania, Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria and Malawi.
Low-Cost Carrier Spring Airlines to Fly to North Korea
Spring Airlines will soon be the first low-cost airline to fly to North Korea. The carrier has applied for a permit to fly between Pyongyang and Shanghai four times per week, hopefully starting in February 2016. If approved, the airline will be the third carrier and first budget carrier to offer service to North Korea.
Targeted 30,000 Bonus Miles for AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard
Currently, select holders of the AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard are receiving a targeted email inviting them to register to spend $2,500 or more each month from December 2015 through May 2016 and earn 30,000 bonus miles. If you successfully spend the required amount, your 30,000 miles will be awarded in July 2016. Make sure to register by December 31, 2015 if you’ve been targeted. H/T to TPG reader Hunter for sharing this with us.
Hyatt Diamond Status Match Receives More Than 10,000 Requests
Last week, Hyatt offered a very generous status-match offer, which allowed elite members of other loyalty programs to get comparable status with Hyatt. It seems this was a very popular offer — Hyatt revealed on Twitter that it had more than 10,000 status match requests! If you’ve managed to get your status successfully matched, especially to Diamond, take advantage by using this credit card perk: The 4th Night Free benefit you get with the Citi Prestige card, which you can use at pretty much any hotel. Plus, you can pair this 4th Night Free benefit and your Citi-booked stays with the confirmed suite upgrades Hyatt awards to Diamond members.
New Amtrak Guest Rewards Benefits
Starting in January 2016, every Acela trip will earn bonus points, regardless of seat section or travel dates. The current earning structure will be replaced with 25% and 50% point bonuses for business-class and first-class seating. The new bonuses will count as tier-qualifying points, helping you to qualify for status faster. For more details on these benefits and the program changes, click here.
13 Passengers Coming from Mexico Skip Customs
Last week, airline and security officials at JFK accidentally allowed 13 passengers on an American Airlines flight arriving from Cancun to simply walk out of the airport without having their passports or bags checked by customs. They were apparently directed toward the domestic terminal in error and just left. When this issue was discovered two days later, all passengers were contacted and then returned to JFK to go through customs. While Citi announced some negative changes to this card back in July — including a lower sign-up bonus, the elimination of Admirals Club access and the end of the free rounds of golf benefit — one of its most valuable perks still remains, which is the 4th Night Free perk. This benefit alone can save you thousands of dollars a year if you use it to its full advantage.
While Citi announced some negative changes to this card back in July — including a lower sign-up bonus, the elimination of Admirals Club access and the end of the free rounds of golf benefit — one of its most valuable perks still remains, which is the 4th Night Free perk. This benefit alone can save you thousands of dollars a year if you use it to its full advantage.