Author Archive

IHG Introduces The Big Nguyen

Hot on the heels of its wildly successful The Big Win promotion, IHG recently announced a new promotion for its Southeast Asia properties titled “The Big Nguyen.” The idea is that, in a global hotel chain with a more or less universally sterile approach to booking and customer service, local flavor can be added in more ways than just outfitting rooms with mass-manufactured Asian-themed decor and hiring all-Asian staff.

The terms of the promotion are intentionally vague, but the gist is that customers can book rooms by negotiating a price (in points, of course) with IHG properties in the region. Anyone who has purchased anything in Saigon, Bangkok, Phnom Penh or any other major city in Southeast Asia is already surely familiar with this process. In further keeping with local traditions, many hotels, like the InterContinental Hanoi Westlake, will employ pushy taxi drivers and various touts to greet travelers at airports and train stations.

big_nguyen_web

IHG’s new and potentially lucrative promotion kicks off this Friday, coinciding with the Lunar New Year celebrated throughout Asia. This is great timing, as we’ve always felt those red envelopes are the perfect size for room keys.

We at Points Envy have been looking forward to The Big Nguyen for some time, though we were frankly very concerned about the prospect of economy-class travelers haggling their way from their Holiday Inn Expresses into our luxury hotels. Our fears were somewhat allayed, however, after we managed to deftly negotiate a three-week stay at the InterContinental: Samui Baan Taling Ngam Resort for only 888 points per night, a pretty decent redemption value.

We look forward to seeing if any of our dear readers can beat that, though we of course know they will not.

Chúc mừng năm mới!


Tokyo Trip Report Part Two: V Gates?

Part One: The Initial Introduction
Part Two: V Gates?
Part Three: The Hajj on Lufthansa First
Part Four: There’s No Place Like Home (When Home is the First Class Terminal)
Part Five: Axis to Axis, Busts to Busts
Part Six: The Rising Sun, The Setting Fun
Part Seven: Turning Japanese in JAL First
Part Eight: Mormon-ey, More Party (at the SkyClub)
Part Nine: What’s Next?


Our first memory of this trip, as with most trips, is arriving at the First Class counter right around the time when we arrived at sobriety. After checking us in, the gate purser, sensing our urgent need for refreshment, escorted us to an “Expedited” security lane that took an unacceptable two minutes to clear. Once through, we quickly made our way to the Lufthansa Senator lounge.

A pathetic attempt at red carpet.

Upon arrival, the lounge purser informed us that the First Class restaurant upstairs would not open until 2 pm, a huge blow not at all softened by the Business Class “champagne” on offer. Rather than resort to eating the fresh fruit, sandwiches, and salads set out for Business Class passengers, we staved off our hunger by downing six or seven glasses of the poor man’s sparkling wine. We also took the opportunity to check out some of the business cubicles, just to see what it feels like to look like you’re working. Frankly, we don’t see what these “businessmen” are on about, but at least it gave us the opportunity to leave numerous brilliant comments on our rivals’ blogs.

Borderline insulting.

We were also able to check our points balances, but just as we started verifying them to everyone within earshot a lounge employee informed us that the First Class restaurant had finally opened. Once upstairs, alone but for an ethnic server and peering down on the Business Class prison we had escaped, we felt in our element once again.

More like “it.”

Our meal began with a bit of salad, a couple smallish prawns and several glasses of champagne, enough to ready us for the entree. Since we were in Maryland, we figured the crab cake would be excellent. Unfortunately for us and for the unimportant person on whom our partially-eaten crab cake landed, we were terribly wrong. Shortly thereafter, we remembered that we were in New York.

More like drab cake.

During the remainder of our brief stay we sampled each of the digestifs and dessert wines available, finding them universally awful. Fortunately we had time for a couple more glasses of champagne before our waiter led us to the gate, though we had to insist at least three times that he do so. After enduring the nausea and depression that always comes with walking through an American airport, we were ready for a nap.

Stay tuned for the next installment, detailing our in-flight experience in Lufthansa First Class from New York to Frankfurt!


Tokyo Trip Report Part One: The Initial Introduction

Part One: The Initial Introduction
Part Two: V Gates?
Part Three: The Hajj on Lufthansa First
Part Four: There’s No Place Like Home (When Home is the First Class Terminal)
Part Five: Axis to Axis, Busts to Busts
Part Six: The Rising Sun, The Setting Fun
Part Seven: Turning Japanese in JAL First
Part Eight: Mormon-ey, More Party (at the SkyClub)
Part Nine: What’s Next?



Despite having travelled around the world for more than twenty years, we don’t generally like to leave the comfort of our first class cabin, lounge or hotel suite. Having lost our parents to the dangers of the “outside world” at a very young age, we remain wary of taking too many risks with foreign cultures, particularly those that various IFE programs have shown to be threatening, namely Russians, Sicilians, Chinese, Iranians, Arabians, most types of Africans, Asians, the Welsh, Hindoos, North Vietnamese, Kali-worshippers, Colombians, Ukrainians, Mongols, Jews, Cubans, Eastern Germans, Mexicans/Aztecs, the French, Moslems, the Gypsies, Hispanics, Nazis, Palestinians, Catholics, the Romans, Egyptians, the Visigoths, people from certain parts of New Jersey, Vikings, the Polish, Algerian youths, 16th-century Dutchmen, most Christians, Persians, Martians, Apaches, Spaniards, (British) Columbians, the British, Israelis, Somalians, those assholes who killed Gandhi, and the North Irishmen. Also Greeks and Turks; almost forgot about them.

Our well-warranted fears notwithstanding, we decided after a recent incident that it was time to see more of the world. Not quite sure where to start, we settled on Japan, as in the past we have enjoyed said country’s delicious noodles, sushi, and pornographic movies with the nasty parts blurred out (as G-d intended). Like the Chinese of Old, we hoped the Land of the Rising Sun would serve as a stepping stone to further worldly conquests.

In terms of trip planning, we decided to do a classic “Axis of Greatness” tour, booking Lufthansa First Class from New York to Osaka (via Frankfurt), with a return flight from Tokyo to Chicago on Japan Airlines. We still aren’t quite sure how we got from Osaka to Tokyo; we initially thought they were the same place. Perhaps we will figure that out as we dive back into our pictures for this report.

TurkishPlane

Planes at JFK. Some people swear by DO&CO, but we’ve never tried that Business Class garbage.

Needless to say, we were a bit under the influence when we booked our trip and throughout its entirety, so we can’t remember much about the booking process, other than the surliness of several phone agents. In any case, we’ll assume we used 70,000 United miles for the outbound and 62,500 American miles for the return. So, a mere drop in the metaphorical champagne bucket that is our actual swimming pool full of miles, points and champagne.

Stay tuned for Part Two, in which we will detail the trials and tribulations faced and overcome while visiting Lufthansa’s “First Class” lounge at JFK. Auf Wiedersehen!


Reader Question: Advanced Champagne Techniques?

Yesterday was apparently Sunday, which means nothing to us, but some bloggers tend to field reader questions on said day of the week. One of our confused followers, who for some reason thought we cared about our dear readers, posed to us this important query:

Sometimes I get so drunk and/or lazy, that I don’t even feel like lifting and tilting back my champagne glass, even though I want to keep drinking. Do you have any suggestions?

Anonymous Points Envy fan, you came to the right place. This question comes up constantly, and it breaks our heart to hear that people aren’t better informed in this area. Thankfully, we have a tried-and-true solution to your woes, the key to which is literally right at your fingertips.

In our experience, all airlines outside of North America have modern, motorized seats in their first class cabins. For our method, simply bring the champagne to your lips and use the seat controls to lean back and cause the champagne to pour into your mouth. Unfortunately, this only eliminates the tilting portion of drinking champagne, but we are currently at work on a method that will also allow you to avoid having to lift the glass to your lips.

One of our longtime readers, DeShawndre Chen, submitted this video to us a few weeks ago to see if he was doing it correctly. Have a look:

While he is doing fairly well, he clearly should have consumed more champagne in a single sip. We therefore rate his performance 4/10, as he seems to be missing much of the point.

So there you have it! With a little practice you can perfect this method as we have; all you need is a first class seat. If you find that you do not have a motorized seat, make sure there has not been a terrible mistake (as has happened to us) or immediately switch to hard liquor in the hope that you will not have to remember the sad excuse for a flight you are on.

We hope all of our readers will make good use of this technique, as it makes us feel better about ourselves to know that we are improving others’ lives. Please send more reader questions our way at info@pointsenvy.com or hit us up on Twitter.


BREAKING NEWS: Points Envy Fails Suicide Attempt

As it turns out, crafting a proper noose is rather difficult. The parents we never had never taught us things like how to tie knots or even shoelaces, though the latter skill is of course useless when all you ever wear are airline slippers. Really, the only knots we’re familiar with are those in the pretzels in Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal. And so with suicide, as with all things in life, we simply gave up after our first couple attempts failed.


The only knots we know

Since the “incident,” we’ve had a lot of time to reflect. Last night, as we gazed at the sky through what is now a giant hole where we tried to hang ourselves from our trailer’s roof vent, we realized that this was G-d’s way of telling us that we should choose life. So what if we aren’t the only game in town when it comes to blogging about points and miles? We are clearly the best. And maybe it’s not so bad to spend our days flying around the world in first class and writing a trip report every year or so.

We’ve made mistakes along the way, perhaps a billion of them. But there is still some good in this world, like the new quarter of Chase Freedom bonuses that will net us at least 150,000 Ultimate Rewards points. We also recently realized that the oft-shat-upon United devaluation was really a blessing in disguise, as it will mean less riff-raff crowding our Star Alliance first class cabins, unsure of when exactly to change into their pajamas or whether it is appropriate to hit the call button before you even finish your current glass of champagne.

With eyes reopened and liver miraculously intact, our intention is to move forward with the vigor of a GE90. We may not always have fodder for posts or be sober enough to write, but our work here is patently bigger than us; it just might save the world.

After all, this is Points Envy, motherfuckers. Time to get some new assistants.

P.S. We are currently accepting applications for new assistants. Anyone ready to apply should be aware that virtually all qualified current Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Korean Air, Emirates, Etihad, British Airways, Turkish Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Malaysian Airlines, Asiana, and ANA stewardesses have already submitted applications.


Goodbye Cruel World

Dear Dear Readers,

When we previously wrote that we were back, we truly believed it. But we now have a confession to make: for once, we were wrong. We have been out of the blogosphere for months, and this time it’s not because we were in prison or too busy flying first class (although there was a lot of that). Instead, we simply ran out of stuff to write about. It surprises us and crushes the soul a little to admit this, but writing about drinking champagne in first class and drinking champagne in lounges and fancy suites eventually gets old. Of course, not having anything original to contribute doesn’t stop some people, or others, or others, but we have always held ourselves to a higher standard.

So, entirely lacking in productivity, our lives became worthless. What would you have us do – get a job? That sounds dreadful and is simply not feasible for classics majors at any rate. As any reasonable person can see, our only remaining option is to leave this world. We still have a few hundred Home Improvement Gift Cards, which we believe should be enough to buy sufficient rope for a noose. We also believe that getting stuck with these gift cards was not a coincidence but a sign from G-d that it is time to go, particularly when seen in combination with the United devaluation.

And so dear friends, after all the ups and downs we have faced together, we bid you farewell. We tried to bequeath our points to our friend Ronnie, but it turns out we don’t technically own them. When we’re gone, those billions will vanish into thin air, like so many legacy carriers. Yet we prefer to just look at it like we are redeeming these final points for a one-way award ticket to heaven. Hopefully the first class arrival lounge up there meets our standards.

Yours truly,

Points Envy


Points Envy Returns (Again)

Well dear readers, it has been an interesting few months here at Points Envy. The harsh reality is that we have spent most of the last hundred days or so in a not-quite-first class prison camp somewhere outside of Pyongyang, Korea. Thankfully, it seems we have not missed anything exciting in the points world, with the exception of another unexciting cash back card from Barclays that has the usual suspects in the blogosphere all hot between the loins.

By way of background, we point you to a revolutionary points-earning strategy we pioneered in December of last year. Given how well this method was working in “the States,” we decided to expand our operation overseas, confident that human physiology and DNA everywhere dictate that drugs are awesome. Coincidentally, we had been eager to try Asiana’s new first class suites, so we decided on Korea as our first stop and booked a ticket from ORD to ICN in late December.

Asiana’s new suite, with some gibberish.

Given that it was our inaugural trip, we kept things simple and only took along five pounds of “points.” The flight was predictably luxurious and boring, aside from a few nice views of Siberia. Maybe it’s just us, but we find few things in life more comforting than sipping a nice Scotch in a cozy suite while peering down on an icy wasteland.

Siberia

The only Scotch on the rocks we tolerate.

Upon arrival in Seoul we grabbed our bags and headed towards the Priority Lane at customs. On the way, we stopped by the Priority Information Desk and asked the agent where we might find the Koreans most in need of medicine. She mentioned a place in northern Korea called Pyongyang, so we began to look into flights while still at Incheon. We quickly found space in Air Koryo’s premium cabin direct to Pyongyang, and we were even able to redeem some old Cubana miles we had lying around from our “Hemingway years.”

Our flight was strange in that it lacked champagne and had only a single channel of IFE starring a pudgy but likeable Chinese man, but ultimately it was rather uneventful. Upon arrival in Pyongyang we searched for the Priority Lane for roughly an hour before finally relegating ourselves to waiting behind a couple people in the normal customs line. Although the customs official did address us as “sir,” he did not seem to otherwise recognize that we were first class passengers and people. More importantly, it seems they have never heard of The Constitution in Korea, as these corrupt officials felt free to invade our G-d-given privacy rights by searching through our designer luggage.

Unlike in most other world countries, Korean officials apparently cannot be bribed with points, and we were summarily sentenced to thirty years in prison because of our desire to help the sick and needy. With our one phone call we naturally dialed the American Express Platinum Card Concierge line. Apparently Platinum Card benefits are not limited to just getting reimbursed for airline gift certificates and replacing “broken” electronics, because within a few months our new best friend Jennifer had secured our release and also booked us a return flight in Cathay first class via Hong Kong. We would have been home sooner, but there was no first class award space available, and while we have yet to experience economy class, we imagine it to be a far worse place than prison.


The Korean prison’s kimchi was surprisingly delicate and fragrant.

The flight home was slightly less pleasant than the flight to Seoul, but we were overjoyed to be back in our natural element, and particularly pleased to see our favorite Cathay purser onboard (shout out to Grace!). After our awful experience, we realized we should focus our efforts in areas where people better understand service, so our next expansion will be to Singapore. In the meantime, we hope to be more productive here on the site, though that is probably too much to ask.


Points Envy Sells Out

Points Envy is proud to announce today that Points Envy has officially sold out! We’ve been waiting for this day for years, specifically since sometime in 1996, and now we’ve finally made it!

Allow us to explain. Not too long ago we got drunk and ended up on an Air Tahiti Nui flight. We woke up on a sublime beach, pleased to see that our superb decisionmaking skills had come through yet again. As we scanned the beach for a bar, specifically one selling those coconut cocktails with cute umbrellas in them, we noticed a gentleman wearing nothing but a swimsuit, glasses, and a bowtie. We quickly realized it was Daraius from Million Mile Secrets, and we knew what we had to do.

We followed Daraius back to his overwater villa and ran surveillance on him and Emily for several hours. Eventually they left for dinner, and we seized the opportunity to take a saw to the posts supporting their villa. Unfortunately, Tahitian saws are not the sharpest and we also have no idea how to properly wield tools, so we only got about halfway through one of the posts before the Dubash Duo returned.

We tried.

Daraius immediately recognized us from the most recent Frequent Traveler University and calmly asked us inside. After hearing a long, convincing speech that started with the threat of having us arrested, continued with a proposal that we write for Million Mile Secrets, and ended with the phrase “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” we laughed. Clearly we could beat ‘em. But we were also in a tight spot.

Then we got to thinking that joining forces might not be such a terrible idea after all. If this pattern held, there would soon be only one points and miles blog remaining, presumably named something like “Frequent Million Mile at a Time Envy View from the Frugal Mommy Points Guy.” If we got in now, we could ensure that Points Envy would play a huge role in that domination. After several bottles of champagne, Billion Mile Secrets was conceived.

bms logo

To celebrate, we’re holding a contest in which our cleverest readers can win a United Club pass or a $50 American Express gift card! All you have to do is let us know what you love most about Points Envy by commenting on the inaugural Billion Mile Secrets post, tweeting at us with the hashtag #BillionMileSecrets, and/or sleeping with us.

We’re very excited about this joint, and even more excited about the party we’re throwing in Air France first class tomorrow to celebrate it. Vive la Points Envy! And vive les Billion Mile Secrets!


Breaking News: US Airways Not Offering 100% Bonus

We never thought we’d see the day, but it looks like US Airways Dividend Miles that are bought or shared will not earn a 100% miles bonus for the time being. The most recent promotion, a 100% bonus on purchased miles, which had followed a promotion offering a 100% bonus on shared miles, which had followed earlier, similar promotions, ended last Friday after being extended by a week. The points world of course expected an announcement from the airline regarding another extension of that offer or a new 100% bonus offer, but no such announcement came.

We wouldn’t get too concerned over this “loss,” however, as there are rumors that US Airways plans to celebrate the arrival of this Thursday with a brand new 100% bonus miles promotion. Also, these promotions never have been and never will be a good deal. To summarize our feelings, we wrote a haiku:

us airways haiku


The New One Card To Rule Them All

For those of you who live in a state with medical marijuana, which should be all of you, Points Envy has uncovered a new method for manufacturing points that, to state it bluntly, puts everything Frequent Miler has ever written to shame. 2013 ICECDIAC’s here we come!

The plan is almost too easy:
1) Obtain a prescription for medical marijuana*
2) Find a dispensary that accepts credit cards
3) Purchase large quantities of medical marijuana using any credit card, gift card, or prepaid card
4) Sell the medical marijuana for cash
20) Use the cash to pay off your credit card bill

For those of you who need a little hand-holding, we explain each of the steps in further detail below.

Step 1: Obtain a Medical Marijuana Prescription

Finding a marijuana-prescribing doctor is almost as easy as finding a credit card affiliate link on a points blog. Simply pick up any free local paper and look through the ads near the back to find a doctor near you. Schedule an appointment, show up, and explain to the doctor that you have anxiety due to your low points balances and inability to find Vanilla Reload cards. Or you can mention back pain, nausea, idiocy, or just about any other ailment. Remember, if it’s an ailment, marijuana can cure it. Your cost for this prescription will likely be around $40, provided that you shop around and look for subtle keywords like, “GET YOUR CARD NOW – WE’LL BEAT ANY PRICE!”

Typical marijuana doctor advertisement

(more…)


Winners of the First Annual “If Christopher Elliott Can Do It Anyone Can” Travel Blog Contest!

We would like to thank all of our readers who submitted votes for our first annual travel blog contest, particularly those of you who voted for Points Envy. Many of this year’s categories were incredibly close, but, as in life, we were forced to separate the winners from the losers. Without further ado, here are your 2012 “If Christopher Elliott Can Do It Anyone Can” contest winners.

The Winners

Best Points Blog of 2012: Points Envy

With their fantastic wit, unparalleled insight into the points game, and impeccable grammar, Points Envy were the clear favorite to win this category for 2012, and likely every year to come. We congratulate Points Envy and will celebrate their victory by drinking heavily.

Best New Blog: Points Envy

Given their expertise and many lifetimes’ worth of wisdom, it’s easy to forget that Points Envy has only been around since March of this year. And they didn’t even post any content between the months of May and September, as they were in the bowels of humanity on a heroin binge. Yet natural-born talent combined with a minimal amount of effort always triumphs in the end, and the site took the prize for Best New Blog this year. We congratulate Points Envy and will celebrate their victory by drinking heavily.

Best Deals: The Frequent Miler

We were astonished that Points Envy didn’t take this one too, but, however unwisely, the readers have spoken. We were somewhat consoled in our loss by the quality of the competition, as The Frequent Miler does have a tendency to revolutionize the points game from time to time. For the time being, we too are thankful for our failure to assassinate him, though we do still plan to kill the travel blogging elite before too long (excluding ourselves, ideally).

(more…)


Breaking News: Points Envy Ejected from FTU

As we mentioned in our most recent Week in Review, we were really excited to attend this weekend’s Frequent Traveler University in Los Angeles. We’ve been tweeting enthusiastically about the event and looking forward to meeting our fans and fellow travel bloggers (a subset of the aforementioned fans).

Today, after waking up from an epic night of partying with the Japanese crew from our flight to L.A., we decided to head over to the Sheraton Gateway Hotel LAX. Of course, we stopped first for a quick breakfast of six (or maybe more?) bloody marys. Eventually we found our way to FTU, but we were stopped by someone sitting behind a table as we tried to enter. This “person” told us that we were not on the list for the event, to which we responded with the usual, “Do you know who we are?!”

Of course they knew who we were, but apparently there is a $99 registration fee for the event, a fee that clearly should have been waived in our case. This was heartbreaking: $99 just to hear some alleged “experts” teach us about things we already know? Still, we wanted to meet some people while we sobered up, and we have some credit card spending requirements to meet, so we agreed to pay. We were then informed (for the fifth time, supposedly) that the event was sold out. We again yelled, “Do you know who we are?!” While this has always worked for us in the past, especially at higher volumes, in this case we were simply asked to leave.

Before departing, however, we made a quick trip down to the basement, where we were able to put into action our latest attempt to take over the travel blogging industry. All we needed was a few minutes of access to the hotel’s plumbing and things were set. Unfortunately, judging from #FTULAX tweets, it’s clear that someone noticed our tampering and shut off the entire water supply before we could take care of the competition.

Needless to say, for many reasons, we will not be showing our face at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel LAX for a while. We will, however, be chillin’ on the Frequent Traveler University frat row later tonight if anyone wants to play some beer pong and help us hold auditions for our new assistants.


The (Last Two) Week(s) in Review

We are excited for Frequent Traveler University this weekend, mostly for the free coffee at Starbucks courtesy of Million Mile Secrets. Look out for our review next week.

Speaking of Million Mile Secrets, this week they taught us how to use elite traveler security lines by fooling the TSA with a flashy frequent flyer card. The comments section of the post heated up quickly, with people throwing around fighting words as they tend to only do anonymously on the internet. Our favorite comment was by E, and we quote: “OK Seems some incentive is needed for the loser line cutters. When i’m in the line (Either one) and I see Darious and or Emily i will call them out in Pubic.” That’s taking it a bit far, don’t you think?

Everybody is talking about getting rid of virgins by way of a Hilton, or something like that. Kinda reminds us of high school.

In a feat we didn’t think possible, The Points Guy runs through some ways in which Delta’s Skymiles program could get even worse.

In case you somehow hadn’t heard, THE CHASE FREEDOM CATEGORIES FOR 2013 ARE NOW AVAILABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thankfully, our dealer was recently reclassified as a “drugstore,” so the first quarter is already looking good for our Ultimate Rewards balance.

The Mr. Pickles is back to blogging. As practitioners of the occasional blogging hiatus ourselves, we understand the need for a break, but it is very good to have him back. Here he reminds us of an oldy but goody (and unfortunately deady). We used the diamond ring thing to prank propose to numerous girlfriends. They didn’t think it was funny, but we earned a lot of points.

The Points Guy outlines a fairly surefire way to get your PayPal account shut down, in case anyone was looking to do that without actually having to contact PayPal.

Frequent Miler issues a rare review of card benefits specifically for domestic travel, and an even rarer trip report. We find the comparison of Delta and Cathay Pacific downright offensive, but then again, we haven’t flown Delta since they updated their award booking procedures.

Last, but by no means least, the Points Envy travel blog contest will close at 5pm PST today. Winners will probably be announced sometime in the next week, or at some point after that.


Pointless Points: Brownie Points

The other day our girlfriend gave us a ride to the airport to begin one of the many first class journeys to India that we booked during the latest Avios award sale. The entire drive, she kept casually mentioning how much she loves saffron, repeatedly interrupting our attempts to estimate how many bottles of champagne we could consume between LAX and BOM (including both in lounges and inflight).

After the fourth interruption, we asked her why she kept bringing up saffron, and she told us that it would be nice if we brought some back from India. Despite our noting that saffron is widely available in the United States, even pointing out an Indian market clearly visible from the road, she insisted and told us that if we complied we would “score some points.” This, of course, got our attention.

We inquired as to what kind of points she meant, to which she offered a quizzical glance before referring to some mystical program called “Brownie Points.” Intrigued, we asked her if that was a new loyalty program. She again shot us an uninterpretable look and simply said, “It’d better be!” Still confused, we asked how many points we would earn, but she just raised her eyebrows and replied, “Bring me back some saffron and find out.”

She’ll never know the difference.

We are always hesitant to engage in this sort of murky points-earning, but we also have an inexplicable tendency to convince ourselves to do unwise things by repeating the phrase “Go big or go home.” More importantly, we arrived at the airport before we could ask any further questions. She kissed us goodbye, and we were off to our first first class lounge of the journey.

(more…)


Worst Flight Ever: Korean Air Prestige Class SFO-ICN

The Points Guy isn’t the only one who’s been to Korea recently. A lot of Koreans have also been there. Last week, we too got hungry for some authentic bulgogi and plastic surgery, so we had our assistants book an award flight from San Francisco to Seoul on Korean Air.

At SFO, Korean Air shares a lounge with SkyTeam partner Air France, a particularly perplexing mashup of cultures. It was no surprise, then, when this turned out to be possibly the worst “international” lounge we have ever visited. Service was nonexistent, there were no saunas, and the alcohol selection literally made us vomit. Still, we were more focused on the in-flight experience to come, and we kept our spirits up by continuously guzzling mediocre champagne.

When it came time to board, we made our way to the gate and stumbled down the jetway onto a noticeably-not-brand-new 777-200ER. A friendly flight attendant greeted us and directed us to our seat, which was oddly not at the very front of the plane. It was strange turning right upon boarding an international flight, but we glanced at our ticket and felt reassured by the clear “Prestige Class” designation.

We remember noting the hospital-during-Easter-esque atmosphere, with plasticky pastel-blue seats and matching flight attendant uniforms. And like our last hospital visit, there was a lot of champagne being imbibed. After a completely unoriginal taxi and takeoff, we were in the air and meal service began. We opted for the Korean-style bibimbap, which was tolerable, at least for airline bibimbap. However, something still seemed off in the cabin. Before we could figure it out, the cheese cart came around, and we indulged in some of Korea’s finest, accompanied by a red wine whose name slips our mind. Afterward, we quickly drifted off to sleep in the sterile lie-flat seat.

We were forcibly awakened shortly before landing in Seoul, and once the door opened we got up to deplane. But the flight attendant held us back, asking us to please wait while the first class passengers exited. Feelings of absolute terror and shame immediately set in as we looked past her to see what we now know to be Korean Air’s Kosmo Suites. It was like the end of The Sixth Sense, but worse: we had been flying business class the entire time!

Needless to say, we fired our assistants and are in the process of interviewing their replacements. We booked our return flight on Asiana, in a proper first class suite, and will never fly Korean again.


The First Annual “If Christopher Elliott Can Do It, Anyone Can” Travel Blog Contest

Please cast your vote in Points Envy’s first annual “If Christopher Elliott Can Do It, Anyone Can” travel blog contest! In this contest, we will honor the best and the brightest of the points blogging world, letting our intelligent and attractive readers decide on the winners! The nominees for 2012 are:
(more…)


Breaking News: 90% Discount on Award Flights to Israel Starting This Monday

Just in time for Hanukkah, word has it that there will soon be a way to save some serious gelt when traveling to Israel. According to an industry insider, El Al and other major airlines with service to Tel Aviv are planning to reduce the points required for award flights to Israel by as much as 90%! Oddly, only flights bound for Israel will be eligible for the discount, as flights leaving the country will still be full-price. We have no idea why, but these inbound redemption costs are dropping like Arab armies during the Six-Day War. If you like aggressive taxi drivers and hummus, this one is a no-brainer.

Given these circumstances, we plan on using 2970 Matmid points (a Membership Rewards transfer partner) for a roundtrip LAX-TLV first class ticket. All told, this is a great opportunity to visit what some religious fanatics refer to as “the Holy Land.” We, of course, have always reserved that term for the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt, but to each her own.

Act now, because there’s no telling how long this deal will last. See you all in the King David lounge!

Don’t miss out!


The Week in Review

Points Envy had a blast at the StarMegaDo4 this week. It was a wonderful chance to see how the sausage is made at United and to finally meet some of the most infamous points bloggers around. Most importantly, it was nice to have easy access to the buffet line from which said bloggers were all eating. Our last experiment failed, but we will rule this world yet!

The miles blogs have been filled with talk of an upcoming 30% Membership Rewards transfer bonus to British Airways, but the bonus does not begin until December 3. This reminds us of the way our dead parents used to start mentioning Christmas in November. This type of teasing did not end well for them.

Points Envy brought you an exclusive look, via Lucky (via Gary), at a 25% award redemption sale in the Avios program.

Dan’s Deals provided an excellent guide to maximizing this week’s Staples promotion whereby you receive a $15 Staples Gift card for every $100 Visa or Mastercard gift card purchased. So far, we have bought $30,000 worth of gift cards at our local Staples stores, and this afternoon we are flying to Nebraska to visit a few more Staples. Nobody in Nebraska is in the game yet, right? We assume it is like living in the 1990s there.

As predicted, Lucky has given us the beginnings of a stellar review of Lufthansa first class. Not to be outdone, MommyPoints also flew the most German of all airlines this week, and the full review of her A380 trip is forthcoming.

Million Mile Secrets provided a nice rundown of some ways in which to maximize the fourth quarter Chase Freeom bonus on hotels and airlines by purchasing gift cards. We plan on using this method to max out the $1500 bonus on all sixteen of our Freedom cards.

Last, but not least, our friend George was mentioned in a critical post by The Frugal Travel Guy, and has responded with a couple posts of his own. Rick then engaged George and his readers in a vicious catfight in the alley (aka comments section) of George’s most recent post. As a wise man once said: hate hate hate hate.


Flash Sale: 25% Off Longhaul BA and Iberia Awards

Normally we don’t bother to wake up on Wednesdays, but today we were thrilled we did. The Avios program is running a six-day sale starting today, whereby you can save 25% off longhaul portions of award tickets on British Airways and Iberia. Lucky, a significantly more knowledgable and less lazy travel blogger, runs through more of the particulars here.

Iberia has a BusinessPlus product that we have not had the “pleasure” of trying out. Assuming they serve jamón ibérico and premium cava, it is probably tolerable. We have, on the other hand, had the pleasure of experiencing both the new and old British Airways first class products, and we consider them to be two of the best in the world. This sale therefore presents a fantastic opportunity for those of you with a hefty stash of Avios lying around, especially considering you would likely otherwise use those points for short domestic flights in American Airlines economy. Please, dear readers, step your redemption games up.

British Airways does, of course, impose hefty “fuel” surcharges, which, if what we overheard in the Heathrow Concorde Room is true, directly fund MI6. Having just seen the new Bond movie, Points Envy has nothing against supporting this high class lifestyle of international intrigue, but our wallets do not generally allow for it. We therefore tend to pay for these 007 surcharges with our Sapphire Preferred cards and then redeem Ultimate Rewards points for a one cent apiece statement credit. Some bloggers may tell you this is not the best redemption value, but they are not taking into account that earning points is much easier than earning money. And now, off to book eight of these first class awards to India next month. Bloody brilliant!

Which Bond are you? Craig or Connery?


The Week in Preview

Editor’s note: We wrote this post several days ago but, due to our recent bender, were physically unable to post it until now.

First off, we would like to welcome George, aka @FlyerTalkerinA2, to the blogging game. We predict that he will provide excellent summaries of all the important points and miles blogging activity, including our summaries, which will inevitably refer to his summaries, which will hopefully refer back to our summaries, and so on and so forth; like two brilliant mirrors reflecting each another ad infinitum.

Frequent Miler will write some revelatory post that changes everything we thought we knew about the game. It may or may not involve gift cards.

Lucky will either post a mouthwatering review of a new first class product or more fascinating notes about his recent move to Seattle.

The Points Guy will once again throw it in your faces how Chase is paying him to travel around the world and live the life that Points Envy also lives.

Points Envy will make a game-changing confession.

@TheMrPickles will earn at least 12,902.4 miles.

Everyone else will either complain about Vanilla Reloads no longer being sold at Office Depot or brag about attending the StarMegaDo4.


Points Envy Confessions: Part One

As you are all no doubt aware, it has been a turbulent few days in the points and miles community. First we were hit with the exciting news that the Ink Bold and Ink Plus spending requirements had dropped from $10,000 to $5,000. Shortly thereafter the community suffered a devastating blow, as it became apparent that Office Depots around the country had received a memo directing store managers to pull all Vanilla Reloads from the shelves. As we always say: the points lords giveth and the points lords taketh away.

Throughout these tough times, we at Points Envy have been sitting on the sidelines, mulling the happenings and drinking champagne in observance of the traditional week-long holiday leading up to the Veterans Day holiday. While we were busy playing Veterans Day-themed drinking games, others were playing the blame game, pointing fingers at those supposedly responsible for killing the Office Depot Vanilla deal.

After switching from champagne to scotch and doing some further soul-searching, we came to realize there is something we must get off our chests: we are alcoholics. But, more importantly, we must also publicly confess to everyone in the points world that we are responsible for Office Depot pulling the Vanilla Reloads.

Our assistants, on their last successful Ink Bold Vanilla run.

We feel terrible, and will continue to feel terrible until we restock our liquor cabinet, but we’d like to explain what happened. When we woke from our bender this morning, we found a document open on our computer titled “OfficeDepot_LOL.docx.” It was a beautifully-worded memo to all Office Depot store managers, directing them to immediately pull all Vanilla Reload cards due to rampant cases of fraud. It seems that this document, minus the numerous profanity-laced paragraphs about “preserving first class availability,” became the now-notorious Vanilla Reloads memo sent to Office Depot store managers last week.

Apparently, we just thought it would be funny to ruin the game for everyone and indulge in what the Chinese refer to as “Schadenfreude.” Judging by the tumultuous response in the points world over the past few days, we were absolutely right. So, to all the pros out there swimming in points who have one less reason to worry about finding first class award space, you are welcome. And to the amateurs, you are also welcome for the valuable lesson we have taught you.


The Week in Review

United is offering discounted award tickets to Europe for travel between January 15 and March 13, the precise timeframe in which nobody wants to go to Europe. But if braving cold weather and flying a U.S. carrier transatlantically are worth saving 12,000 miles to you, then by all means, have at it!

Via Million Mile Secrets, a new Ink Bold/Plus deal is on the way from Chase, requiring only $5,000 in spending within three months to receive the 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points bonus. This surely means that soon nobody will be able to find Vanilla Reloads at Office Depots, except of course those of us who are already bribing our local store managers.

Small Business Saturday is back on November 24 this year, and registration begins November 18. Last year we convinced our local wine dealer to let us split purchases on multiple cards and managed to get several bottles of fine champagne gratis. Between this and Bluebird, we are having trouble figuring out how American Express stays in business. Is the entire bank just some elaborate money laundering front?

The Mr Pickles has developed an intriguing new way of ranking your miles earning: miles earned per minute. We propose a new method: miles burned per minute. Our number has got to be in the thousands.

Lucky is back in the sky, and we are looking forward to yet another mouth-watering review of Lufthansa first class. We particularly love reading his reviews of Lufthansa first class while flying Lufthansa first class. We are meta like that.

The Points Envy assistants sent in another photographic update from their latest vacation, this time from Moscow:


Pointless Points: Weight Watchers PointsPlus

We at Points Envy care deeply about our readers; not enough to hold a points giveaway or do anything that requires us to spend money, but enough that we want to ensure you don’t make the same mistakes in the points game that others have. In this spirit, we have started a series of columns entitled “Pointless Points,” the first of which appears below. You are welcome.

Not so long ago, while researching seven-star hotels in the Maldives, we noticed a banner ad with the word “Points” in big, bold letters next to a picture of a moderately attractive woman. As it would be foolish not to click such a link, we ended up at the website for Weight Watchers’ new PointsPlus program.

For the uninitiated, which we hope is all of you, we’ll describe how the program works. In our experience, to be eligible, you must be overweight and lacking in self-control. Once you join the program and set weight loss goals, you are allotted a number of daily and weekly Weight Watchers points that you “spend” as you consume meals and snacks, each of which is assigned a point value based on its portion size and nutritional content. For example, you may be assigned 47 points a day, and a meal of chicken and rice would count for ten of those points, leaving you 37 points for other foods and drinks, or to save for later.

Who wouldn’t click on this image?

Given the amount of first class food and champagne we’ve consumed over the past decade, we could stand to lose a few pounds. So we signed up and, within one month, we had accumulated over 4,000 points by eating next to nothing (champagne costs zero points). Not soon after, we inquired at our local branch as to how many points it takes to attain elite status in the program, but they didn’t seem to know what we were referring to. After some more confused conversation, including lengthy tangents ranking vegetables and diet sodas, the branch manager revealed the horrifying truth: there is no elite status in the Weight Watchers points program.

The combination of this shocking news and our rapidly failing health caused us to collapse. Upon awakening a few hours later things got even worse, as we were informed that not only is there no elite status, but the Weight Watchers points cannot be redeemed for anything: no flights or hotels, no upgrades, not even a magazine subscription!

Are we asleep in economy class or something? Because this nightmare is the worst ever. Thanks for nothing, PointsPlus. Time to start eating again.


The Week in Review

Once again, U.S. Airways Dividend Miles are on “sale” with a 100% bonus on purchased miles. As usual, there are posts from a few blogs that conclude it is a good deal if it “fits your travel needs.” We take this to mean that you only want to book roundtrip, you do not want to fly Lufthansa first class, and you are not savvy enough to figure out any of the much better ways to get miles.

An anonymous Points Envy fan and part-time Denny’s manager spotted blogger Mommy Points eating at Denny’s for the eighth time in a week. Family and friends are growing increasingly concerned about an apparent Grand Slam addiction.

The other Grand Slam

American Airlines has publicly apologized for its loose seats and general existence by offering double miles or something. Our status is good for life, so we didn’t bother reading the details, but see here and here for more information.

A Los Angeles resident was officially excommunicated by the FlyerTalk gods for admitting on the popular miles discussion forum that he redeemed 50,000 MileagePlus miles for a roundtrip LAX-SFO flight in economy class. Points Envy agrees with this decision.

We gave our assistants a week off and 70,000 Ultimate Rewards points each to take a vacation. Below is a picture of them on a beach in Cancun sporting the sexiest swimwear we’ve ever seen.

Even on vacation, they’re workin’ it for us

Last but not least, Points Envy was interviewed on Million Mile Secrets this week. MMS readers agreed it was Daraius’ best post yet.

First class cabin, first class shirts

Have a great weekend and, as always, enjoy a glass of champagne on us!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 171 other followers