SFO bans the sale of plastic water bottles

Effective August 20th, San Francisco International Airport will become the first American airport to ban the sale of plastic water bottles. The decision to prohibit the sale of plastic water bottles is related to a San Francisco ordinance banning the sale of plastic water bottles on city-owner property and is part of a broader plan to eliminate carbon emissions, most landfill waste, and increase energy use efficiency.

As a frequent traveler who doesn’t always fly with a refillable water bottle (shame on me!), I’m slightly bummed by this but know it is the right move. I’m happy that it will push me and other travelers to bring our own water bottles.

I wouldn’t be surprised and hope to see other airports implement similar bans in the near future, with my guess that Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Denver and all Hawaii airports being the most likely to follow-through with a similar prohibition.

What do you think of the plastic water ban? Let me now in the comments!

Priority Pass eliminating non-lounge experiences for AmEx cardholders

Effective August 1, 2019, American Express cardholders who have Priority Pass memberships through their credit cards will no longer have access to non-lounge experiences, including discounts on dining at select airport restaurants.

This is a bit of a bummer, as I have Priority Pass memberships through both my AmEx Hilton Ascend and Hilton business cards. But good news if you have Priority Pass through your Chase Reserve — currently, there are no plans to cut back on non-lounge experiences for those members.

Have you used Priority Pass for a non-lounge experience? Let me know in the comments!

Hilton devalues points, moves to dynamic award pricing

Hilton is hopping on the “dynamic pricing” bandwagon, according to a recent release from a Hilton spokesperson.

The statement said (with emphasis added on the part referencing dynamic pricing):

Since the launch of Points & Money two years ago, our team regularly monitors the performance of the program and makes necessary tweaks along the way. Points & Money is performing very well and we’re thrilled so many members are taking advantage of it.

A few days ago we made a slight shift in the program and as we previously shared, while we won’t be sending updates for each and every shift, we are fully committed to delivering the best value to our members, and will carefully consider any adjustments for Hilton Honors properties.

As Points can flex depending on the hotel and date, visit https://pointsexplorer.hiltonhonors.com/ to search desired hotels, destinations and preferred dates to book your next stay at over 5,000 Hilton hotels.

Hilton Honors is the only program that allows members to make use of ANY combination of Points and money starting at just 5,000 points to redeem at one of our properties.

Recently, I was able to redeem 380,000 Hilton points for 5 nights in a Water Villa at the Conrad Maldives and was already trying to accumulate more points to stay at the Conrad Koh Samui. Right now, it does appear that prices are remaining the same for the upper-tier hotels, with One Mile at a Time reporting that prices are currently the same at the Conrad Bora Bora and the Waldorf Maldives (which was already clocking in at 120,000 points per night – their most expensive property).

I’m happy that other travel bloggers are calling this what it is – a devaluation – and it’s, unfortunately, part of an ongoing trend.

Is the switch to dynamic pricing changing your plans for spending points? Let me know in the comments!

American Airlines confirms imminent move to dynamic pricing

The senior vice president of revenue management for American Airlines confirmed today, while speaking at the Bernstein’s 35th Annual Strategic Decisions Conference, that American Airlines will soon be moving to a dynamic pricing model.

This is being heavily reported on a number of leading travel blogs, including The Points Guy. Importantly, the move to dynamic pricing may happen as soon as July 31, 2019, so if you are holding onto American Airlines miles, you may want to consider them using right away since dynamic pricing almost always leads to a drastic devaluation of miles/points held.

American Airlines is following in the shoes of Delta and United, the latter just announcing the switch to dynamic pricing in April.

I definitely expected American Airlines to make the switch, but wish they had given customers more time. I absolutely love their current business class redemption rates to Asia (I was recently able to score a 70,000 point business class ticket on Qatar Airways, in their QSuite), which I’ve found to be one of the best deals around.

For now, we’ll have to wait and see what these awards will look like after they make the move. But I’m not at all optimistic.

SFO moving all Uber, Lyft pickups to central parking lot for domestic flights

If you’ve been to SFO recently, you may have experienced chaos while waiting for your ride-share vehicle to pick you up. In recent months, SFO has taken some steps to ease this problem, having moved UberPools and Lyft Line pickups to a central parking lot, which has helped a bit.

But today, SFO announced that beginning June 3, 2019, it will relocate all domestic terminal pickups for Uber, Lyft, and other ride-share companies to the top level of the domestic hourly parking garage.

This will make taking a ride-share more difficult for travelers flying domestically, though the good new is that international travelers will still be able to have Uber or Lyft pick them up curbside.

Hilton offering double points for stays this summer

If you’re planning some summer travel, be sure to sign up for a new promotion Hilton Honors is offering where you will receive double points (starting with your 2nd stay) between May 6-September 8, 2019.

Hilton Double Point Promotion.png

For you business travelers, with the promotion you’ll also get a 10,000 bonus points (valued at roughly $60) on your 10th stay, 15,000 bonus points (valued at roughly $90) on your 15th stay, and 20,000 bonus points (valued at roughly $120) on your 20th stay.

To sign up for the promotion, use this link.

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 mileage program, 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.