Updates From the World of Miles and Points – 3/12

For weeks now, I have been telling you that I try to do these updates every Sunday. This week is an example of why I use the word TRY. This weekend was a little bit busy and a whole lot exhausting. We started out on Friday night with an awards dinner for my wife. She was recognized by our local YWCA for the amazing job she does educating her students and the incredible amount of time and effort she puts in volunteering with various groups in our community. If you are reading this and happen to know Chrissy, make sure to take a moment and send her a quick congratulations. She works incredibly hard in both her personal and professional life and it was nice to see her honored for all that she does. Seven other women in different professional fields were also recognized and it was a very impressive event. We had family come in from New York and Virginia for the event and my parents stayed at our house for the weekend.

On Saturday night, our group of friends went out to celebrate our friend Danielle’s birthday.  For most people that may mean a simple dinner, but not for us. You see, a few years back, one of our friends bought a bus at an auction. He had some work done on it and it evolved into what became known as The Party Bus. Once every month or two, we all get together, get babysitters for our kids, hire a driver, and head out to someplace fun for dinner, drinks, and dancing late into the night.

That bus served us well for many trips, but late last year, the owners decided they wanted to upgrade. The original party bus was sold, a new (used) bus was purchased and picked up in Florida, and work to customize was begun. What used to be a parks and recreation bus now has a hardwood floor, custom leather couch seating, and LED lighting. I spent a few hours on Saturday installing a subwoofer and putting the finishing touches on the sound system so that we would have tunes for the new Party Bus’s inaugural ride later that night. Little did we know what an unexpected night that would be.

To sum up the evening, I would say it was a success. We did have a great dinner, a few drinks, and the restaurant we ended up at even had a bar and dance floor. It was not, however, our intended destination. We planned to go about an hour and a half to have dinner at The Melting Pot. The new bus had other ideas. About 45 minutes into our trip, we heard a loud bang and our chances of making it to The Melting Pot melted away. Luckily, we were able to get to a Japanese restaurant about 5 miles down the road that turned out to be great. As an added bonus, the bus owners now know how much it costs and how long it takes to have a commercial tire changed on a Saturday night.

By the time we had dinner, got the tire changed, danced for a few hours, and then drove home, it was 2 AM. Not exactly the best night for the time change. So couple that late night with visiting family and a lot of running around all week, and you get me taking a nap on Sunday afternoon instead of writing a blog post. The good news is that now you get a whole extra day of updates in this post. The bad news is that if I manage to write next week’s Updates post on Sunday, you will have one day less. Hey, it can’t all be good news. So without further stories or distractions, here are this week’s Updates From the World of Miles and Points, which themselves could be considered to be just a group of stories and distractions.

View From the Wing brings us a story about how nude-o-scopes (TSA Scanners) can be foiled by basically just sewing a pocket on the side of your clothes. If this is true, it seems like the machines that have caused so much controversy are pretty much useless. Later in the week, in another post, we got to see the response from the TSA. Details HERE and response details HERE.

Gary also provides some information on the Saturday Schedule for the Frequent Traveler University happening in April in New Jersey. If you haven’t registered yet, you can read my previous post about the event HERE. The schedule has actually been available for a few days on the MilePoint thread mentioned in his post, but Gary also adds a little bit about who you can expect to see at the event. Details HERE.

Over at Hack My Trip, take a few minutes to read and learn about the United.com Club. If you book more than 5 flights a year on United (Continental), it would make sense for you to join and get $5 back per flight, to be used on future travel. This rebate is good for any travel you book, even if it is for someone else. Details HERE.

The Frequent Miler tells us about a way to earn lots of free Ultimate Rewards points by going through the UR Mall and buying Staples Free After Rebate products. He has done a few posts about this over the past couple of weeks, but this is the one that I took advantage of. It will be nice to get some free UR points, but the main reason I did this was to get $450 closer to the $5000 minimum spend on my Amex Business Gold card. Take a look and see if this is something that could help you out too. Details HERE.

The Loyalty Traveler gives us some details and price comparisons for Starwood’s Beat the Timer deals. The site gives you 72 hours to book deals at hotels in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Locations and dates of stay are limited, as well as the number of rooms available for each property, but if you can find a room that fits with your plans, there are some potentially good deals. As always, make sure to check publicly available rates before booking to make sure you are getting as good of a deal as you think. Details HERE.

Ric also gives us his summary of all the Q1/Q2 hotel promos that he compiled for the major hotel brands. His information is usually pretty comprehensive and I always check his posts before booking a room. Although he left out the Accor 3 nights for the price of 2 promo that I previously wrote about, he did do a post later in the week providing the details for that as well. Details HERE.

There have been several posts on multiple blogs about the US Airways promo that is offering a 50% bonus on miles from Hotel points transfers. I think the best analysis comes in today’s post from the Loyalty Traveler. No only does he summarize and quote many of the other bloggers, but he then goes on to explain why they may or may not be entirely correct. Details HERE.

Capital One’s 100,000 point Venture Card bonus is back again this year. Unfortunately, it is significantly different than last year’s offer and will not be nearly as lucrative for most people. In fact, anyone who participated last year is not eligible for this year’s promotion. For all the details of the new offer, head over to see what Brian has to say. Details HERE.

If you are US-based and fed up with long hold times when calling airlines, The Points Guy thinks you might be better off calling international customer service lines instead. This technique could be especially useful right now with the ridiculous hold times some people are experiencing when trying to call United to address merger issues. Details HERE.

Online Travel Review brings us a reminder about proper etiquette when flying. Apparently it is a surprise to at least one woman that painting your nails mid-flight is not acceptable behavior. I actually commented on a thread about this story over on MilePoint and can’t imagine what I would do if the person next to me tried that and refused to stop when I asked nicely. Details HERE.

One Mile at a Time gives us some tips for award booking with Thai Airways. Just because there are only two award seats showing as available doesn’t mean there aren’t more ready to be booked. Details HERE.

Ben also reminds us today that there is only one week left to have Priority Club award stays booked at pre-adjusted award levels. Even though new award charts were announced in January, you can still call for the next week and have your booking adjusted to the previous rates if they were lower. Details HERE.

If you travel with kids, some airlines will give you a discount on your award flights. Mommy Points summed up the information she could find from airlines that do this and a few more have been added in the comments of her post. If you know of any others, let her know so she can add them too. Details HERE.

Mommy Points also posted today about her excitement for the return of the Discover America promotion. This is not something that I participated in last year, but from what I am hearing, it looks like I missed out on some great opportunities. Mommy Points is also a big fan of the US Airways Grand Slam, which I love, so I am looking forward to learning more about Discover America. Details HERE.

Daraius over at Million Mile Secrets has been doing a series of posts on booking American Airlines award flights like a pro. This week he spent some time explaining the different possibilities for booking international award routes. There is some great information in this post if you book your own award travel. If you prefer to have someone else book your awards for you, feel free to ignore all of this information and check out my Award Flight Booking Service. For those who are interested, Million Mile Secrets details HERE.

For our fun post of the week, Gary over at View From the Wing posted a link to an interesting infographic about the TSA. His post doesn’t say much other than go look at the infographic, so I won’t bother linking to it. Instead, check out the TSA Infographic HERE.

Sorry this ended up being so long this week, but there was a lot going on that you might be interested in. I am going to go ahead and blame the extra day of updates for that. Hopefully I will get you your next set of updates on Sunday and maybe that will end up being a little short. In the meantime, keep earning and spending those miles and points and get out there and Indulge the Wanderlust in you.

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