Points Guy Pointers

5 Tips for Avoiding Hassle During the American Airlines System Failure Aftermath

April 16, 2013

Even though American has fixed their computer issues, thousands are still stranded or severely delayed. American’s head of communications just emailed me and stated that AA is offering the following options: 1) If customers must travel today and are already at the airport, they can rebook on another airline by visiting an American Airlines agent […]

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What Happens To Frequent Flyer Miles and Credit Card Points Upon Death?

March 27, 2013

Points are a form of currency, and as with any asset, when people build up a sizeable points portfolio, they need to think about what will happen to those points and miles after they die. I suspect a lot of people just let those points expire or never redeem them, but there’s no reason that […]

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The Best Travel Insurance Policy: Miles and Elite Status

February 13, 2013

As I alluded to on Thursday, as the potential snow-pocalypse was bearing down on the east coast, I realized that my plan to fly from New York JFK to Los Angeles on Saturday’s 1:45pm American Airlines flight would be in peril. Unfortunately I couldn’t really change my plans since I had an important meeting I […]

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Frequent Flyer Fraud – Are You A Victim?

January 31, 2013

Recently I read an interesting story about a Seattle-based travel agent who stole millions of frequent flyer miles from wealthy clients and used them to book over 100 award trips for herself and her family. Karen Yeakel, a travel agent in Bellevue, Washington, stole 3.7 million airline miles from clients whose travel she arranged to […]

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Sunday Reader Question: How to Handle Unacceptable Schedule Changes to Flight Reservations

January 27, 2013

TPG reader Faith has a sticky scheduling situation: “I booked an award travel on Air Berlin using American Airlines miles and they just changed my flights to new times that are terrible for me. Any suggestions on how to take care of that?” Schedule changes are common. Airlines constantly update their schedules to adjust to […]

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New York Times Travel Show Resource: Maximizing Credit Cards For Free Travel

January 20, 2013

Thanks to everyone who came out to the New York Times Travel Show yesterday for my first presentation: Beating the System: Travel Pointers for a First Class Lifestyle on a Budget. I hope to see many of you out there for my second talk today on Maximizing Credit Cards for Free Travel. I’m going to […]

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New York Times Travel Show Resource: Beating the System, Travel Pointers

January 19, 2013

This is the resource post for the folks that are attending my first New York Times Travel Show presentation today (Saturday, January 19, 2013) entitled, Beating the System: Travel Pointers for a First Class Lifestyle on a Budget. Readers who were not able to attend should find this to be a useful compendium of the […]

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My Street Signs Appearance on CNBC – How To Avoid the Elite Status Frequent Flyer Cliff

December 28, 2012

Just in time for a debate on whether the US economy would go off the fiscal cliff, I was invited to appear on CNBC’s “Street Signs” to discuss ways frequent flyers could avoid the elite status cliff with last-minute elite mileage tips, why top-tier elite status is so important, as well as credit card bonus […]

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End Of Year Airline Miles Account Audit – Claiming Miles That Are Rightfully Yours

December 26, 2012

As the year comes to an end, and everyone is concerned about maintaining elite status, I wrote earlier this week about End of Year Hotel Point Account Audits, so today I look at how to make sure you received all the airline miles that you are due this year. Similar to hotel programs, I almost always find discrepancies in my […]

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How to Save Money By Redeeming Miles for Last Minute Holiday Travel

November 20, 2012

While airlines generally increase the price of tickets drastically in the days leading up to departure, they often take the opposite approach with award seat inventory – releasing a lot of saver (lowest amount of miles needed) availability, making last minute redemptions very attractive. So if you need to get someone at the drop of […]

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Earning and Using Points For Hurricane Sandy Relief Donations

November 1, 2012

Not only did Hurricane Sandy throw everyone’s travel plans into chaos, but it also claimed dozens of lives, flooded cities and towns up and down the East Coast, left 8 million people without power and caused billions of dollars in damage. I know a lot of you are thinking of contributing to relief efforts, so […]

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Hurricane Sandy Update: Get Around Long Phone Hold Times To Change or Cancel Travel Plans

October 29, 2012

According to, more than 6,800 flights have been canceled so far, and rail traffic has also been impacted with Amtrak canceling all of its Northeast Corridor service in addition to some other lines it operates in the region where Hurricane Sandy has hit. With all the canceled flights and disrupted travel, I wanted to […]

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Absentee Voting For Travelers: Instructions and Deadlines

October 22, 2012

In the frenzy of award booking that led up to the launch of the new British Airways Avios program last November, I booked a Cathay Pacific first class award for early November of 2012. I had actually somewhat forgotten about the award up until a couple weeks ago and I’m at the point where I […]

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(Video) Sunday Reader Question: When To Book International Award Tickets

October 21, 2012

This Sunday I decided to answer a great question from TPG reader Ben who asks about booking international award tickets: “I am planning a trip overseas in 11 months. The ability to even search for reward tickets just opened up given how far away the trip is timewise, and I am finding there are not many great […]

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My Experience Getting Out of Delta Flight Change Fees

October 19, 2012

A couple weeks ago I booked a one-way domestic flight on for $152. A week later my plans changed and I had to go a day earlier. Unfortunately, that meant I would essentially lose out on all but $2 of my original ticket since Delta charges a $150 change fee plus fare difference on […]

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Why I Paid My Taxes With a Credit Card to Earn Points and Hotel Nights

September 25, 2012

I always get asked if paying taxes with a credit card is a good way to rack up points. My answer is always: it depends on your situation since there are fees involved using credit cards, so the value proposition decreases drastically. However, depending on the size of your bill, it is a quick and […]

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Tips for Searching Star Alliance Award Availability

September 17, 2012

With so many ways to earn and buy Star Alliance miles, like the current 100% US Airways buy miles bonus and the 40% United discount, I thought it would be helpful to summarize the best ways to search for Star Alliance award availability. I’ll be doing the same for Oneworld and SkyTeam in the near […]

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Frequent Flyer Mile Scams: Are Your Miles Secure?

August 25, 2012

Miles and points are a form of currency- these days they can be redeemed for a whole lot more than just travel. That flexibility is valuable, so it’s not surprising that there are scammers out there looking to gain access to your accounts to not only drain your miles, but also gain access to the […]

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Travel Tuesday Top 10: Ways To Get Through Airport Security Faster in the US

August 21, 2012

Getting through airport security can be one of the most frustrating aspects of the travel experience. Slow lines, grouchy TSA agents and borderline violations of privacy are just some of the joys you can hope to experience on your next trip to the airport. However, there are some ways to make this process less painful, […]

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Travel Science: Beating Altitude Sickness While Traveling

August 1, 2012

TPG contributor Katharine Gammon is a science writer for publications including WIRED, Popular Science and Los Angeles Magazine. When she’s not jetting to international conferences to interview some of the world’s leading scientific minds, she’s globetrotting herself, exploring unique destinations including recent trips to New Zealand and Southeast Asia. Today she writes about the science […]

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How To Get Compensation When Things Go Wrong On Flights

July 23, 2012

In general, I’m not a complainer. I know things go wrong on flights all the time and that there’s only so much an airline or crew can do to fix them. Beyond whether meal service sucks or an entertainment system is on the fritz, they’re there to keep us all safe and get us where […]

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Maximizing Points on Political Donations

July 4, 2012

Has July 4 got you feeling patriotic and ready to donate to your candidate of choice for the upcoming 2012 elections? Well, the election season is really starting to heat up along with the summer temperatures, and even Frank Bruni recently wrote an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times about the changing nature of […]

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My Points Procrastination/Last Minute Award Booking Outcome

June 28, 2012

Last week I wrote about my bad habit of waiting until the last minute to book award tickets. Things started to get down to the wire and my friends in Madrid were expecting me to be at a couple of events, so I really pounded the pavement to get something that worked – and was […]

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My Severe Case of Points Procrastination

June 21, 2012

I’ve recently been dealing with a rough bout of a condition I bet many of you are familiar with: points procrastination, the bad habit of putting off a booking until the last minute in the hopes of creating the perfect award itinerary with the least amount of miles possible. My Situation I am supposed to […]

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