AA Gives Out Heart Attacks, New Potential Hyatt Option in Orlando, and More!

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American Airlines fuel surcharge-gate was an “oops”:

I didn’t even have enough time to write a post about the American Airlines award devaluation/fuel surcharge-gate this morning before it was reversed, and a statement was released that the fuel surcharges on some partner award tickets were “erroneously” added.  I did have some exchanges on Twitter with @AmericanAir and others about the event, and it was not just a rumor, it was actually happening.  However, it was an error…or so the story goes.  The fuel surcharges were just supposed to be added to revenue tickets (I thought they already were?).  From the perspective of an airline award junkie, that is better than having to pay hundreds of dollars in fuel surcharges for the right to redeem my miles (though AA does charge fuel surcharges on British Airways awards, and to a much lesser extent Iberia awards).

Other than giving some folks a mild heart attack, the event today should be used as reinforcement that you absolutely can wake up one morning and your miles are not worth what they were when you went to sleep the night before.  Most respectable programs tend to give some notice before implementing massive negative changes, but you never know when one won’t.  Saving up some miles for a big trip is one thing, but “hoarding” a large six or seven figure balance in a program is simply not wise.  Use them, share them, just don’t expect to sit on them for years and years and then redeem them one day at the same rates that are available today.

In most cases, your miles will only be worth less over time, so earn and burn.  Don’t worry about earning more than you need in the relatively near term, and don’t feel bad about burning what you have.  I personally don’t have any rewards accounts with seven figure balances, and the ones with six figure balances are in the low six figures.  It isn’t because I couldn’t earn more, it is because I don’t see the point of having huge balances that I don’t have a plan for in the next year or two.  I have all I need, and then some.  If a huge change happens overnight I won’t be happy, but I also won’t be impacted the way I would be if my focus was simply building balances as high as I can.

This event also reinforces that when a company does something you don’t like, speak up!  Whether it truly was an error or not, I think American got the message loud and clear via social media and blogs that we were not. happy. at. all.  If it was an error, I think the uproar helped rectify it sooner than it otherwise would have been.  I also think it clears up any doubt as to what the reaction would be if American ever really did make this move with award tickets.

Another Hyatt option in Orlando

Reports are that Hyatt is buying the very large Peabody Orlando Hotel that is attached to the Orange County Convention Center.  Orlando is a very popular destination for traveling families, so I am happy to see another option for earning and using Hyatt points.  This hotel has over 1600 rooms, including 193 suites.  Currently, it also partakes in the famous “Peabody Ducks” tradition, though it didn’t start at this hotel.  The hotel is located 5-10 minutes from Universal and SeaWorld, and about 15 minutes from Disney, so the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress is still a closer Hyatt option for the Disney parks.  The Peabody Orlando already has a club level and spa, a ton of meeting space, and is fresh off a large renovation.  The deal is reported to close in early October, so those attending conventions in Orlando, or those just looking for a different spot to earn/redeem points should have a fresh option in the near future.

Enter to win prizes via SPG “Take a Spin” Contest:

SPG has a new contest that you can enter daily through October 10th.  The daily prizes up for grabs are:

  • 1 prize of a Free Night Award each day
  • 5 prizes of 5,000 Starpoints each day
  • 10 prizes of 1,000 Starpoints each day
  • 25 priczs of 500 Starpoints each day
  • 2 prizes of Kate Spade SPG totes each day (SPG sent me one about a month ago that will be given away in the Spouses Session at the Chicago Seminars, so come get it!)

The promotion is valid for residents of the US only. The promotion runs from August 26, 2013 to October 10, 2013, and the grand prize winner of 250,000 SPG points will announced on or around October 25, 2013.  For tax purposes, the SPG values the points at 2.5 cents each – don’t be surprised if you have to complete a W-9 to get the grand prize!

I’d love to hear if some of you are lucky winners.  I didn’t win today, but will keep trying when I think about it!  Thanks to Live From a Lounge for sharing the news. 

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Comments

  1. No luck winning SPG points today.

    So you DO have accounts with 6 figure balances. I have one. Delta – of all airlines. I have a little over 300,000 miles with them. Impossible to use and I have been hoarding them for years. I was going to use them for business class to Thailand next year (3tickets), but UA had better routing for me. (but I will be in coach) so then I was thinking of saving them for business class to Australia…in 5 or 6 years. Probably not a good idea, right? I should probably just try to use them for 6 domestic trips. Or maybe a couple Caribbean or European trips. I can’t see the DL program getting any worse than it already is. But …. I am probably wrong.

  2. Concerning American, I kind of wonder if this is some sort of proposal at some stage of development that somebody went live with prematurely. I agree that American has been way too respectable in the past to expect this kind of thing from them without warning, and we should give them the benefit of the doubt up to a point. Maybe it’s sort of like those media outlets that keep obituaries on file for thousands of living people so they’ll be ready to go when needed, and occasionally one slips out that shouldn’t. I imagine the airlines are constantly weighing many options for changes, and maybe this is one of them that may or may not be a serious possibility. Your warning about not hoarding too much for too long is well worth noting.

  3. “In most cases, your miles will only be worth less over time, so earn and burn.”

    I’m reading this same sentiment on several travel blogs today after the AA scare. I’d like to offer a countering viewpoint. The U.S. dollar also devalues over time. In fact the U.S. dollar has lost 95% of its value since 1913. The dollar loses 75% of its value over a person’s lifetime. My bet is the U.S. dollar will lose a lot more value in the near future. So in my opinion, as long as my miles and points do not devalue as much as the U.S. dollar, I am still better off. I am by no means hoarding high six figures of seven figure point balances but I’m not going out of my way to burn these points without comparing the value of the points to the cash value of paying for a flight or hotel stay. Or burn the points if I’ve already taken a couple of vacations in a year – vacations can still be expensive even when using points for flights and hotels (i.e., meals and activities).

    • Mark, I think the biggest difference is how fast. Usually the dollar does not devalue in an overly dramatic way overnight. However, miles and points can and sometimes do. If you hold them long enough that may possibly happen to you.

  4. bloggers like you can play helpful role in fighting these injustices
    like devaluation, fuel surcharge and other unfair rip off change fees.
    what is so worst about fuel surcharge is that it makes your miles
    absolutely useless and worthless. why use 80 or 100k miles for coach
    round trip to india and than pay $500 or 800$ in fuel surcharge fee? Your are paying 80% of the full cash fare on top of the miles. if
    that happens, than only good thing about using miles will be booking
    hotels. fuel surcharge is a rip off & fraud. change fees and extreme
    devaluations are also rip offs. FIGHT BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! STAND FOR US PLEASEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

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