Ever Wonder If – Those “Buy Extra Miles” at airport check-in are a good deal.

Sure we’ve all been there. You are rushing around getting ready for your trip and you jump online to check in for your flight, “pick and pray” on the seat selector without the advantage of SeatGuru available. You worry about how to print the boarding pass in a hotel lobby with 5 printers that all lack ink and IT support.

Or Maybe you’re doing it on the fly at the airport Kiosk, worried about dropping your bags or passport while the amateur travelers all around you wonder at your kiosk skills and how cool a jet-setter like you looks.

Then BANG you get the “Mileage Multiplier” !!!

Wait!!! HOLD THE PLANE. YOU mean for just a bit more money I can get 5,000 extra miles to add to my Euro Trip Vacation stash.

Oh it must be a good deal because after all I’m flying already and only people checking in will be able to gain these extra miles at such a good value. I can see myself drinking champagne in crystal fluted glasses in first class. Or is that sparkling wine in plastic cups?

But wait is it a good deal? It must be but I can’t do the math in my head, too much going on. UGGGG. Not sure what to do! Pull the trigger or pass up the “deal of the century”. Oh the pressure.

OK let’s not do math, let’s just compare. If you don’t even have a reservation but log into AA.com (in this case). Go to the Buy, Gift and Transfer miles page and you’ll find this price:

That’s right my friends you would have just paid $12.03 too much for those miles at check-in. Feel special yet? Oh and there is more. That’s without taking advantage of the frequent or current mile buy deals for buying more miles.

Sure $461.99 is a lot to spend on miles but this is just a hint that those miles at check-in aren’t usually a good deal. As a rule of thumb if you aren’t seeing “buy miles” deals at less than 2 cents per mile it isn’t usually a great deal. In fact buying miles rarely is a good deal to buy on speculation. It can pay off to buy miles to put you over the top for a premium cabin redemption but I’ve never seen it be a good deal at check-in. I assume there are folks that can sneak this through on an expense account but most of us live in the real world and have morals.

Oh and those travel bloggers that help us all out by telling us about the latest mile buying promotions or top travel gadgets to buy from Amazon can be helpful if you have the need. Remember though that most are doing this as a way to may affiliate revenue. They get money when you click through many of the deals they post. Doesn’t make it wrong but just do it eyes-wide open. In fact when I do take advantage of things like this or credit card sign-ups I try to do it through blogs I like to support them. Some of them also lack morals so use caution.

Side Note: I pick on American Airlines here but most airline check-in deals aren’t worth it. Just remember if the price for those 5,000 miles is higher than $100 you are paying too much. Less than that could be a good deal and a unicorn. Maybe like a unicorn using a kiosk at the airport 🙂

Lounge Review – Priority Pass Terminal 1 Munich Airport –

We paid a short visit to the Airport Lounge Europe on our recent visit to Munich. Our MUC-AMS flight on KLM left out of Gate D15 in Terminal 1 which was very close to this lounge. It is located next to the KLM Air France Lounge above Gate D14. You should be able to get to this lounge from the C gates but it would be a long way from others. There is another Priority Pass Lounge in Terminal 2. They are inside security. Overall this is a nice little Priority Pass Lounge.

This was in the morning so basic breakfast was on offer. The lounge was also very slow as it was during a Sunday morning. Overall we enjoyed this lounge.

Seating was comfortable with tons of power outlets.

Hotel Review of Holiday Inn Express Phoenix Airport University Drive PHX

Quick photo review of the Holiday Inn Express Airport. This was a quick overnight before an early morning flight. Overall this is a very nice HIX a couple miles from PHX and they do have shuttle service and free parking for guests.

I was disappointed to find that breakfast isn’t served until 6am which normally would be OK but airport hotels should know better. Many people staying at airport hotels have early departures of course.

There is a waffle house in the parking lot but no other restaurants within walking distance except the Hilton Garden Inn nearby.

Because of my Spire status I was upgraded to a Junior Suite which was very nice and roomy. Overall I slept well with good AC on a day with 113 degree temps. I didn’t try the pool but i enjoyed the stay here.

Photo Review of the Avianca Lounge at Puerto Rico – SJU – Luis Muñoz MarĂ­n International Airport

Had a short layover at the San Juan airport. Now that American has closed their lounge (although their website still shows it open) there is not much choice. Using our Priority Pass membership we enjoyed this small lounge for a couple hours. It was very crowded but not terrible. It offers a nice self service bar and decent food. I was also happy that it had restrooms although most listings don’t show that feature.

I was disappointed with the cleanliness in general throughout the lounge. It wasn’t terrible but just below expectations. The wifi was good but no views of the airfield.

Review of Laredo International Airport LRD

Nice small airport with mostly regional service provided by American, United and Allegiant. Parking and rental car operations effortless. Security opens an hour before the flights as a group activity. Reminds me of Killeen Texas. Good waiting areas with power. No lounges but nice cafe.

LAX Admirals Club Gate 52 Review (Remote Terminal 5)

I’m traveling out of the remote 5 (gate 52) terminal at LAX today and had a chance to visit this Admirals Club. This is a HUGE benefit if you’re flying out of this remote bus terminal. There are not a lot of amenities for these Gate 52A-52Z or well what ever letter. I had low expectations for this lounge as I’m used to visiting the United Lounges at IAH that are tiny and have no toilets.  I’m not sure how crowded this lounge gets but it was very nice, not over crowded at 6am to 8am on a Thursday but maybe that was just luck.

They offer a full bar, typical food. Super nice staff and 4 toilets (2 Female and 2 Male). You could even use this as an arrivals lounge but no showers. The toilets are very large and would be easy to change clothes, etc.

Silly but AA is flying some 4 hour type routes on Regional RJ Jets into this terminal. I’m getting ready to board a non-stop to MCI that clocks in at about 3:40’ish. Thankfully my upgrade cleared at a lowly AA Gold. This route doesn’t seem to be elite heavy on the days I fly this route. This is a nice route for our small’ish Kansas City airport as it gives us a non-stop to a large HUB on the West Coast.

Summary: American doesn’t always get things right but this is one bright spot in a not so awesome terminal area. Thanks AA

AMA Rick Husband Amarillo Airport Review

Fox news on the TVs -Pro

Glass jetbridges -Pro

low volume peak times – Pro

Nice new terminal -Pro

I really couldn’t find any negatives about AMA. It is a nice modern airport. It’s well located, rental cars are just outside the door from baggage check. I’d say the only thing I would change is to add rental car bypass the desk features which this airport lacks. That is pretty minor in my book. 

How the TSA and Airports can reduce security lines.

So this blog post is about smoking. I know it can kill and it is a terrible addiction. I don’t smoke but did many years ago so I understand the addiction and how tough it is. Please save your comments about how bad it is as I understand that. Not the point of this post.

According to the CDC and other sources about 16% of the American public smokes.This is great since it continues to drop each year.  So out of 318 million documented citizens that is about 50 million smokers. According to the US Bureau of Statistics about 1.73 million passengers fly daily so about 16% of those are smokers or 276,800 roughly. Many smokers fly daily and these are rough averages but still should be fairly close. Now figure that most smokers can hold off and not smoke on short flights and don’t want to risk going through security to miss a flight etc. The problem is that many of these passengers do connect and are on longer flights.

Let’s look at a large hub as an example. Say Chicago (ORD). This airport averages about 213,000 passengers daily or over 77 million annually. So some days will be worse than others but lets just say it’s s slow day at ORD and only 150,000 passengers are going through that airport. Out of those 150,000 passengers about 24,000 are smokers. How many are going out through security just to smoke? This doesn’t even include employees. According to Airport Smokers  Chicago ORD is a non-smoking airport. So let’s just be really light with the numbers and say only 10% of those smokers exit security and then come back through the TSA lines to catch the next flight. That is 2,400 people per day that would not need to be in front of you at the TSA checkpoints just because the airport won’t allow and/or doesn’t provide a place to smoke airside past security. Many airports have outlawed smoking or are the victim of a city like the Peoples Republic of Chicago. It’s not the TSA’s fault but maybe they could help by either requiring the airport to provide a smoking area inside security. What if I’m wrong and it’s more like 50% of those 24,000 are going through the TSA lines for no reason?

As of October 2016 29 of the top 35 airports in the USA are non-smoking. Some got worse as airline lounges did away with smoking areas in the lounges as well. American Airlines took out all the remaining smoking lounge areas in early 2016 (Like DFW Terminal A Admirals Club). Again I’m against smoking but I’m also against long TSA lines.

In addition this isn’t a USA only problem. Many airports around the world are working to outlaw smoking inside security. It’s dumb I tell you. It would be like outlawing liquor inside security but having bars set up outside. Or maybe outlawing coffee inside security but then having a Starbucks outside each exit. In this case I think it’s worse as smoking is a more addictive issue for “most” smokers overall compared to other bad addictions.

Some other airport smoking related sources:

www.airportsmoking.net

 

 

Quick trip summary El Paso Texas ELP

I was in El Paso for business recently and thought I’d post a few photos. I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites West hotel in the Northwest suburbs of town. Good hotel with good staff. I would recommend it if in the area. It’s a little ways from the airport, like say 20 minutes but not bad.

The ELP airport wasn’t bad but I was a bit disappointed in the AA gate employee. Super laid back and in no big hurry to board passengers. Not good about communications, boarded late, etc. It really didn’t effect the flight as it was on time and a small plane but in an IROP situation I can see where things could get ugly here.