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The Amazing Etihad Residence, an Airport Customs Snafu & More

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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:

The Residence bed.
Enjoying the bed in the Etihad Residence.

5 Ways the Etihad A380 Residence Will Blow Your Mind

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.

Book these awards before the AAdvantage program changes kick in.

6 AAdvantage Awards to Book Before the Devaluation

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.


10 Essential Apps to Help You Survive Holiday Travel

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.

TIJ’s new Cross Border Xpress facility.
TIJ’s new Cross Border Xpress facility.

San Diego is Getting a Cross-Border Bridge to Tijuana Airport

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.

Air Canada will add a revenue requirement for 2017.
Air Canada will add a revenue requirement for 2017.

Air Canada Adds a Revenue Requirement for 2017 Elite Status

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…

You can now stay at Marriott properties across Africa.
You can now stay at Marriott properties across Africa.

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.

Spring Airlines will be the first budget carrier to fly to North Korea. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
Spring Airlines will be the first budget carrier to fly to North Korea. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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 bonus offer with the AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard.
Targeted bonus offer with the AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard.

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 has been very busy matching statuses!
Hyatt has been very busy matching statuses!

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 program details for the Amtrak Guest Reward members.
New program details for the Amtrak Guest Reward 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.

150 passengers coming from Mexico skipped customs due to error. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
150 passengers coming from Mexico skipped customs due to error. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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.

Citi Prestige® Card

Apply Now
  • $250 Air Travel Credit each year, and receive a statement credit, up to $100 every 5 years, as reimbursement for your application fee for Global Entry or TSA Pre √®
  • 4th night hotel benefit for any hotel stay at hotels booked through the Citi Prestige® Concierge.
  • Earn 40,000 bonus points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.
  • Points are redeemable for a $532 flight on any airline or $400 in gift cards.
  • Transfer points to a variety of travel loyalty programs from airlines to hotels.
  • Earn 3x points on Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 2x points on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment
  • 1 ThankYou® Point per $1 spent on other purchases
Intro APR Regular APR Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Rating
N/A 15.49%* (Variable) $450 0% Excellent Credit