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Ben Schlappig
One Mile at a Time
One Mile at a Time

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A Look At American's New Flagship Dining Facility At JFK

American has just opened their new Flagship First Dining facility at JFK, and I had the chance to check it out earlier in the week.
Last February American announced some major changes that they’re making to their lounges, which impact those traveling in international first and business class. These changes primarily come in two forms.
First of all, American is opening Flagship First Dining facilities, which will be available exclusively to passengers traveling in American’s three cabin first class. The first such facility is now open in New York, and the concept will soon be expanded to other American hubs. With this new offering, eligible international first class customers can have a full a la carte meal with table service in the lounge prior to their flight. This really is going after a very small subset of passengers, given that long term only American’s 777-300ER and A321T aircraft will feature three cabin first class; American is in the process of removing first class from their 777-200s.

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Qatar Airways' New QSuites Will Be Flying Soon

In March Qatar Airways revealed their new business class product, which they’re calling Qsuites. The product looks stunning, as each seat will be a fully enclosed suite with direct aisle access. The way I see it, Qatar Airways already has the world’s best business class product, and that will only be improved further with this new seat.
When the product was first announced, it was said that the first plane with Qatar Airways’ new business class product will be flying in June, likely between Doha and London. However, Qatar Airways is also notorious for not doing anything on time, so at the time I didn’t put too much weight into that.
In late April I wrote about how Qatar Airways was at least off to a good start when it comes to the cabin reconfigurations, as they had already flown the first 777-300ER to Zurich to have the new seats installed. There’s always a bit of a learning curve when it comes to installing new seats, so often it takes months for the first plane to get new seats, the product to be certified, etc.

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Delta Has Made It Easier To Give Them Money After You Buy Your Ticket

Nowadays airlines generate a lot of their revenue from ancillary fees, including fees for things like baggage, premium seats, priority boarding, etc. Many airlines generate billions of dollars in ancillary fees alone, and the global airline industry generates over $40 billion per year in ancillary fees, and that number is only growing.
Nonetheless there have been some significant technology challenges for many airlines when it comes to generating revenue after the initial booking, especially for those booking through third parties.
Well, Delta has announced that they’ve expanded the options for purchasing premium products, like Comfort+, First Class, etc., in particular for those who booked through third parties. Furthermore, you can use a different payment method for your purchase, and now have more flexibility to upgrade just parts of your journey. For example, previously you could only upgrade an entire one-way journey, while now you have the option of upgrading just one segment.

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SAS Will Soon Charge For Empty Middle Seats In European Business Class

SAS discontinued their intra-European business class product a few years ago. They replaced it with a “light” business class called SAS Plus (not to be confused with their long-haul premium economy). It includes everything that airlines usually offer in intra-European business class expect one thing: an empty middle seat. You get fast track security, lounge access, a meal onboard, extra miles, etc.
This brings me to my recent interview with the airline’s CCO, Eivind Roald. I was excited to finally have the chance to ask him why they’ve set up the product this way. What was his reply? Blocking the middle seat is an IT issue for SAS. Apparently, they don’t think it’s worthwhile to invest time into getting their systems on the same level of every other legacy carrier in Europe.
However, he did tell me that SAS Plus customers should be able to reserve an empty middle seat for a fee by the end of the year.

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Here Are The 17 Credit Cards I Have Right Now

It has been over a year since I shared a full list of all the credit cards I have, so I figured it’s time for an update of that. I’m proud of the fact that I’ve closed quite a few cards in the past year, so my credit card portfolio is leaner than it was in the past. In the past I typically had over two dozen cards at a time, while right now I’m down to “just” 17 credit cards.
With that out of the way, first I’ll share a brief intro regarding how applying for credit cards impacts your credit score, then I’ll talk a bit about why I get certain cards, then I’ll share the cards I have open, and lastly I’ll recap which cards I’ve recently closed.
There are a lot of misconceptions about how credit scores work, in particular people thinking that having a lot of credit cards will ruin your credit score. That’s not true… at all.

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The TSA Is Expected To Introduce New Screening Policies Later This Year

Over the past couple of months we’ve seen an electronics ban implemented for flights from select Middle Eastern airports to the US, and it’s possible that this may eventually be expanded to flights from Europe (though it has been postponed for the time being).
It looks like we may also soon see some changes to security screening procedures in the US as well. Scott McCartney at The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the TSA plans on introducing new security screening guidelines at checkpoints later this year, as they’ll be asking passengers to remove more items from their bags. As it stands, with the exception of those using TSA Pre-Check lanes, passengers are asked to remove laptops and liquids from their bags.
Technically this isn’t compulsory, in the sense that you can leave those items in your bag, though your bag is likely to be pulled aside and manually searched if you do.

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How Would You Have Handled This United Flight Delay?

I like to think that having flown over a million miles, I’m at least decent at figuring out what to do when things go pear-shaped. I’m reasonably savvy at using the available tools to find my own alternatives, and have enough experience to anticipate how things are likely to turn out.
But sometimes it’s still hard to decide what to do.
Now this story isn’t anywhere near as entertaining — or extreme — as when Tiffany routed through Europe to get from Los Angeles to New York during a snowstorm, though I imagine more than a few of you have faced something similar.

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Star Alliance Is Working On A Shared Award Flight System

The Star Alliance was founded the day after I was born (which can’t be a coincidence). 😉 Last weekend they celebrated their 20th anniversary in Frankfurt with 27 member airlines in attendance. However, a lot has changed since the alliance was formed, especially technology.
Up until now, Star Alliance award programs have varied widely in online award availability and booking options. While United MileagePlus shows almost all Star Alliance members, SAS Eurobonus displays only flights on SAS, for example.
Well, in my recent interview with Eivind Roald, CCO at Scandinavian Airlines, I learned about plans to develop a shared award booking system across the Star Alliance before the end of 2017. The IT is allegedly being developed by Star Alliance, as opposed to individual airlines, and will make award booking and search much easier. As he said, we should soon be able to book award seats on any airline without picking up the phone.

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Confession: I Just Checked My 2017 American Elite Mileage Total For The First Time

For years I’ve been obsessed with airline loyalty programs, and have been a proud American AAdvantage Executive Platinum member. I’d dread January 1, since it meant my elite qualifying miles for the year would be reset, and I’d have to start all over again. At the beginning of the year I’d plot out my travel for the year meticulously, to make sure I passed 100,000 elite qualifying miles.
Unfortunately AAdvantage has made a lot of changes over the past couple of years, from awarding redeemable miles based on distance flown, to adding a revenue requirement for status, to cutting the number of systemwide upgrades that Executive Platinum members get in half, to hugely devaluing their award chart. The program is now merely a shell of what it used to be.
The end effect is that I don’t think it’s worth going out of your way to earn airline status anymore. Premium cabins are priced more reasonably than ever before, which has made upgrades tougher. Nowadays if I really value first class and the premium isn’t crazy, I just pay for it, because the gamble isn’t worth it to me.

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10 Best Credit Card Offers For May

Every month I make a post with what I consider to be the best credit card sign-up bonuses of the month.
While there are several excellent long standing credit card offers, the specifics of the best offers are constantly changing (be it the annual fee, minimum spend requirement, or even amount of the sign-up bonus).
If you read my blog on a daily basis then by all means skip this post, but for me it’s a useful, “current” place to refer people who ask about which cards they should sign-up for, a question I get on a daily basis.
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