Saturday, November 21, 2009

News of the Weird

OK, we know it isn’t exactly about travel, but it did at least take place in Paris.... The third annual National Stiletto Championship awarded 3,000 euros worth of shoes to the winning team. If we're in Paris in November, we want to see this.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Changing Your Name on Frequent Flyer Accounts

There’s been more than a few gallons of ink spilled lately about the TSA’s new requirement that your name on your ticket must exactly match the name on your identification. Many airline websites now allow you to book with a full middle name (rather than just a middle initial, for example). But very few that we’ve found allow you to change your name in your frequent flyer account profile.

Of the U.S. airlines we’ve attempted name changes with, only Alaska and American allowed us to change from a middle initial to a full middle name online. United has an FAQ stating that you can email them to make “minor” name changes or corrections. All the other U.S. airline sites we have accounts with do not seem to offer any sort of online name-change option – this includes Delta, US Air, Frontier, JetBlue, Virgin America, and Continental.

We tried to change names on two of our international-carrier frequent flyer accounts – bmi and IcelandAir – and then simply gave up. With both airlines, we couldn’t even change our email address. We’ll deal with those airlines – and other international airlines we have accounts with – when or if it becomes really necessary.

As long as the name on your ticket matches your identification (make sure you double check that when booking/purchasing), things will probably be fine. Changing the name on your frequent flyer account really shouldn’t be too big of a deal – but still, the airlines have known about this upcoming change for many months now.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Warning: Pay Your Rewards Cards or Lose Points/Miles

This one is worth coming out of our slumber for. According to Yahoo Travel News/Associated Press, American Express will begin withholding rewards points/miles earned by customers who are late paying.

We’ve stressed that reward credit cards only make sense if you pay your bill in full each month, but this is onerous. According to the article, while Chase and Citi also withhold rewards on some cards for late payers, only Amex is charging a “reinstatement” fee for lost points/miles. (This fee is in addition to late-payment penalty fees and much higher interest rates on late-payment balances.)

If we didn’t enjoy the benefits of our Delta and Hilton Amex cards, we’d ditch them because of this (even though we’re never late), just on principle. (The article notes that the other two big-name Amex cards that will be affected will be the Starwood and JetBlue cards.)

So again, beware. The credit card companies do NOT have your best interests at heart.