The Short Final

Dominic is a full-time consultant who aims to bring you news and inspiration about the best travel experiences, destinations, and industry insights without all the unnecessary fluff. Focus is on American AAdvantage and Starwood / Marriott loyalty programs.

St. Regis Hong Kong Opening January 2019

Starwood / Marriott previously announced that they would be building a St. Regis in the heart of Hong Kong. We finally have a set date for the property’s opening — January 1, 2019. This will be the first St. Regis property in the city and it looks unbelievable: Guests will enjoy the brand’s legendary St. Regis Butler Service, signature Chinese and French restaurants, a 320-seat banquet hall and a heated swimming pool, among other luxurious amenities. An open-air terrace next to a grand Lobby Lounge will provide the ideal venue for al fresco gatherings, and a St. Regis Bar...

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Targeted: Earn 3X AAdvantage Miles on Dining and Entertainment

Today I received an e-mail from Citi with a targeted offer for 3x American Airlines miles on restaurants and movie / theater tickets through 3/31/2018, up to a total of 2,500 miles. The offer states that qualified purchases are “restaurants, show theaters, and movie theaters”. I was pretty bummed to see the limit of 2,500, but this is a nice way to earn some extra AA miles.   A couple of key points and clarifications: Earnings associated with this program will equal 2 AAdvantage bonus mile(s) per $1 spent on eligible purchases and may overlap with other special offers in which...

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The Best Deals on Today’s SPG Hot Escapes

Today Starwood announced their newest SPG Hot Escapes promotion that can save you nearly 40% off nightly rates as long as you book by Saturday. To get the benefit, you’ll have to stay within the next six weeks so if you were already planning a trip, be sure to take a look to see if there are options at your destination. I should also mention that now is a good time to apply for the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest credit card, which will net you 25,000 Starpoints. With this card, you can earn 5X Starpoints when booking stays or when...

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Maximizing SPG Starpoints Redemptions in Venice

Venice is one of my favorite cities to visit and it’s draw is strengthened by the number of Starwood / Marriott properties available for redemption. In fact, there are five properties on the main island itself! I see a ton of questions about which property is the best use of Starpoints given the variety in costs and point rates. I decided to take a look… Starwood-to-Marriott Multiplier Don’t forget that since the merger of Starwood and Marriott, SPG members are able to transfer Starpoints to Marriott points at the rate of 1 to 3. This is especially advantageous when looking to redeem in Venice as there is a Marriott property on the main island. Redemption Options As you can see, there are five total properties on the island of Venice. When I say island, I mean the part that is impaled by the Grand Canal. I used an arbitrary date in March to get the price per night and then ran a calculation against the Starpoints value to get to a true value per point for each property. Obviously, nightly rates will vary so the formula for figuring out this calculation on your own is the price ($) / Starpoints.  As you can see, the Westin Europa & Regina, Gritti Palace, and Boscolo are neck and neck at around 17 cents-per-point of value. If you ask me, I’m going with the...

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United Now Offering a Second Checked Bag Free to China

You spoke, United listened. Today, United announced they would be allowing passengers flying from the United States to China and Hong Kong a free second checked bag. Customers flying to the U.S. from China and Hong Kong already receive this benefit. Prior to this rule change, the airline used to charge $100 for second checked bags to China and Hong Kong. United is the leading U.S. carrier serving China with nearly 90 flights per week from U.S. destinations like Chicago, San Francisco, Newark, and Los Angeles. However, the normal restrictions and charges for overweight and oversized bags will continue to be...

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How To Book Awards Using British Airways Avios

British Airways Avios is one of my favorite frequent flyer programs due to the distance-based award chart and ability to book short-haul award tickets on the cheap. British Airways is part of the oneWorld alliance meaning you can use Avios to fly on airlines like American Airlines, Iberia, and Qatar Airways. Here is how you can redeem your Avios for free flights. 1. Estimate cost British Airways separates award cost into nine different zones. For flights 1-650 miles in distance, the cost is only 4,500 Avios one-way everywhere except North America, which costs 7,500 Avios one-way. The best way...

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5 Places You Can Go With The AMEX Platinum Card

If you’re like me, you recently applied for the AMEX Platinum credit card with the 60,000 Membership Rewards sign-up bonus and you’re wondering what you can do with those points. I applied for this card for benefits like lounge access and airline credits rather than the points, but this got me wondering where I can go with that stash. I decided to take a look and put a short list together. Transfer Partners   1. One-way ticket to Paris in business class = For this redemption you’ll transfer 45,000 Membership Rewards to Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles 1:1 and book on one of Cathay Pacific’s partners. I’m a big fan of non-stop travel so for me, American Airlines is the best option, but this depends on where you’re traveling from and your tolerance with stops. It should be noted that Cathay’s Asia Miles is a distance-based award program which means award redemption rates are bucketed into zones determined by distance. Anything West of Dallas or Chicago is going to bucket you out of the 45,000 mile one-way zone and into the next tier which is 70,000. You’re able to redeem flights to London or Dublin for the same rate as well, but be wary of flying on British Airways planes as you’ll always be routed through London and incur enormous surcharges.   2. Round-trip ticket to Hawaii in business class Transferring...

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I Got The AMEX Platinum Card And I’m Scared

Yesterday I decided to make a New Year impulse decision and apply for the AMEX Platinum card. Yes, the one with the $550 annual fee. I was instantly approved. When I clicked the apply button you would’ve thought I just signed away my first born child. I was so nervous, and still am to a degree. Here’s why and also what I’m telling myself to make it better. 1. $5,000 minimum spend One of the requirements of the AMEX Platinum card to earn the 60,000 Membership Rewards sign-up offer is to spend $5,000 in the 3 months subsequent to...

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Disney To Require Staff To Enter Your Hotel Room

It’s being reported that Walt Disney World Orlando has begun replacing “Do Not Disturb” door hangtags with “Room Occupied” hangtags. Disney employees will have to enter a guest’s room at least once per day, regardless if housekeeping is elected or not: If you choose to forgo housekeeping on a given day, the Disney terms of service state that “the hotel and its staff reserve the right to enter your room for any purposes including, but not limited to, performing maintenance and repairs or checking on the safety and security of guests and property.” Disney states that cast members will give...

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How To Know If Your Flight Will Be Turbulent

If you’re like me, turbulence doesn’t do anything to make flying more fun or comfortable. In fact, I have a slight fear of flying and turbulence makes it worse. Turns out, there’s a way you can see the chances of your flight being turbulent before you even get to the airport. Turbulence Forecast Turbulence Forecast is a great website that shows you both domestic and international turbulence PIREPs (or Pilot Reports) and potential nuisance areas based on weather, etc. PIREPs are going to be the most accurate in my opinion as they are reported in real time by aircraft...

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