United Airlines devalues miles, eliminates award charts

United has announced that beginning November 15, 2019, they are eliminating award charts and instead using dynamic pricing, similar to Delta’s, where the price to book an award ticket changes based on availability, demand, and pricing.

As an example, currently if you wanted to travel one-way in economy from the U.S. to Europe using United MileagePlus points, you know that it would cost you 30,000 miles. However, with the new dynamic system, you have no way of knowing in advance how much it will cost (a Delta award ticket using dynamic pricing for a similar flight can be between 25,000 and 130,000 miles, with most tickets coming in closer to the latter).

This move devalues miles for MileagePlus members and also hurts the value of Chase points, if used to transfer points into this program.

The good news is that you have until November 15th to burn miles currently in your account, which is what I’m hoping to do.

Earn double miles on cross-country Alaska Airlines flights through the end of 2019

Alaska Airlines has a new promotion where, if you register, you can earn double miles on all Alaska Airlines transcontinental flights for the remainder of 2019. You can register here for the promotion.

The promotion is eligible on West Coast departures between:

  • Los Angeles (LAX) and Baltimore (BWI), Boston (BOS), Fort Lauderdale (FLL), New York (JFK), Newark (EWR), Philadelphia (PHL), Washington-Dulles (IAD), or Washington-Reagan (DCA)
  • San Diego (SAN) and Baltimore (BWI), Boston (BOS), Newark (EWR), or Orlando (MCO)
  • San Francisco (SFO) and Baltimore (BWI), Boston (BOS), Fort Lauderdale (FLL), New York (JFK), Newark (EWR), Orlando (MCO), Philadelphia (PHL), Raleigh (RDU), Washington-Dulles (IAD), or Washington-Reagan (DCA)
  • San Jose (SJC) and New York (JFK) or Newark (EWR)

Eligible on East Coast departures between:

  • New York (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), or San Jose (SJC)
    Newark (EWR) and Los Angeles (LAX), San Diego (SAN), San Francisco (SFO), or San Jose (SJC)
  • Baltimore (BWI) and Los Angeles (LAX), San Diego (SAN), or San Francisco (SFO)
  • Boston (BOS) and Los Angeles (LAX), San Diego (SAN), or San Francisco (SFO)
  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL) and Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO)
  • Orlando (MCO) and San Diego (SAN) or San Francisco (SFO)
  • Philadelphia (PHL) and Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO)
  • Raleigh (RDU) and San Francisco (SFO)
  • Washington-Dulles (IAD) and Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO)
  • Washington-Reagan (DCA) and Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO)

This is a great deal. The Points Guy currently values Alaska Airlines miles at 1.8 cents per mile and since Alaska awards miles for distance flown, for a round-trip flight from SFO to JFK, you would typically earn 5,160 Mileage Plan miles. However, with this promotion, you would earn 10,320 Mileage Plan miles, valued at $185.76.

Is it worth upgrading to business class on United’s direct flight between San Francisco and Tahiti?


As a member, you now get better savings when you book direct.

United recently started direct service between San Francisco, California and Tahiti, French Polynesia (airport code: PPT).

Earlier this month, I took advantage of the flight, and was able to snag an incredible deal for both flight and 4 nights in an over-water bungalow.

I was able to fly economy over and business back, so wanted to share my experiences in case you’re considering taking the same flight, and don’t know whether the upgrade to business class is worth it. (Unfortunately, I lost some of the pictures I took, so you’ll have to rely on my account below!).

The verdict: It depends.

As a lawyer, “it depends” or “maybe” is perhaps my favorite response to any question. But it’s especially true here.

Economy service, particularly is you are in Economy Plus, is decent. The flight is roughly 8 hours each way, which can be difficult for a business class flight — practically speaking, it meant that after dinner service, there was about 3.5 hours to sleep before breakfast service started. While United offers you the opportunity to skip breakfast (you can tell them before you fall asleep), I’ve found that even with an eye mask and ear plus, I can’t sleep through the smell of cooked food.

On the flight over, you’ll leave SFO in the early afternoon and arrive in PPT at around 8pm, which means that you’ll be sleeping soon after you land, anyway. I did this leg in economy, and am glad I did.

On the way back, you’ll leave at night and land in SFO early in the morning, which means you may benefit more from a bed (particularly if you want to go into work the next morning).

I was a little nervous about the 2-2-2 business setup on the business flight, but the new Polaris seats were really comfortable, and I love the Saks Fifth Avenue products. While I haven’t confirmed this, I think the new SFO to PPT route is pretty coveted and that the flight attendants working it were assigned to the routes based on seniority, so you can expect some pretty great service on the flight.

If your only (reasonable) option for flying to Tahiti is on economy, don’t let that deter you. But if you have the means or found a great deal in business, it’s definitely a nice way to treat yo’ self.

Drug-sniffing dog overdoses on ecstasy while screening passengers boarding EDM party cruise ship

A drug-sniffing K-9 working for the Brevard County Sherrif’s Office in Florida was given an anti-overdose medication after falling ill while screening passengers boarding Holy Ship! — an electronic dance music (EDM) party taking place on the Nowegian Epic.

According to a report by Newsweek, the dog (Jake), “started having some problems with balance and had some type of seizure incident of some sort, was showing effects of having inhaled some substance. They administered the Narcan and got [him] to the vet.”

Jake is expected to make a full recovery and one man was arrested related to the incident.

Frontier Airlines now asking passengers to tip flight attendants

Low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines has just taken a bold step: asking passengers to tip their flight attendants when purchasing food or drinks.

This story was initially picked up by famous travel blogger JT Genter, who noticed the option to tip either 15%, 20%, or 25% when he was given a tablet to pay for his in-flight purchase.

The story has now become national news, with the LA Times reporting that the union representing the flight attendants opposes this practice, saying that, “Frontier Airlines needs to step up and pay aviation’s first responders a wage that recognizes their critical safety role onboard.”

With basic economy, segmented premium cabins, and a race towards reducing costs and increasing profits at the expense of the customer, I’m not surprised at all by this development. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if other airlines follow suit, especially American.

As an employment attorney/travel blogger who loves the intersection of law and travel (how many other people can say that?!), I think America’s tipping laws are antiquated, have a very racist history, and that servers, flight attendants, and all workers deserve a decent and living wage before tips are even factored in. This is a step in the wrong direction, and I really hope this experiment ends with Frontier.

Would you tip your flight attendant? Comment below!

New York Trip Deal (Business Class): $1,400 direct, round-trip from New York to Paris, France on La Compagnie

La Compagnie is a French, all-business class airline that offers direct flights between Newark Liberty (EWR) and Paris (ORY). The airline flights a  Boeing 757 aircraft that are equipped with with 74 business class seats that convert to angled flat beds.

La Compagnie is offering an amazing deal — $1,400 round-trip between EWR to Paris with open availability between January and April.

Sample travel dates include:

  • January 14-23
  • February 12-22
  • March 21-30
  • April 4-12
  • And many more

To support Josh Trips, search for travel on Google Flights and book using this link:

BOOK THIS FLIGHT

Air Canada flight turns back halfway to Hawaii, compensates passengers with $10 food vouchers

I get it, airplanes sometimes have issues mid-air (which is nothing any traveler really wants to hear).

That said, some Air Canada passengers had a pretty rough experience on Christmas Eve this year when a flight headed from Vancouver to Hawaii was turned around halfway to Hawaii due to a mechanical issue that was “not an emergency.”

The passengers eventually ended up in Hawaii 15 hours after originally scheduled and, in an attempt to make up for it, Air Canada offered these passengers $10 in food vouchers.

However, according to Dr. Gabor Lukacs, the founder and coordinator of Air Passenger Rights,  passengers on the flight could be eligible for damages worth thousands of dollars, in accordance with Canada’s Carriage By Air Act.

“Passengers still have to prove they’ve suffered losses, but they are liable for up to $8,700,” he said.

Since the plane was halfway to Hawaii, I’m wondering why they couldn’t fix the mechanical issues there.

Definitely not a pleasant way to fly, but hopefully these individuals enjoyed an amazing Christmas on Maui (particularly since it’s whale season!).