British Airways is selling $1300 roundtrip business class tickets between Europe and the US, Verizon is giving up to $100 each to customers…and now you can book Hilton free night certificates via chat. All that and more in this week’s Saturday Selection, our weekly round-up of interesting tidbits from around the interwebs (links to each article are embedded in the titles).
$1300 roundtrip European business class flights on British Airways
There’s more than one way to skin a business class flight, and this is one that I’ve been meaning to write about, as I booked it twice last month. British Airways can sometimes have great sales on business class cash fares from the US to Europe, but you can consistently find even better fares from Europe to the US. Usually the best fares are from Italy, Spain or a combination of the two…like the $1400-$1500 open jaw itineraries referred to in the linked Secret Flying post. These are widely available throughout much of next year and can be done from many different Spanish and Italian airports. By “nesting” the itinerary with a one-way award flight at each end, you can get some terrific value. My wife and I booked two of them: Milan – Seattle, Seattle – the Canary Islands and then Sicily – Seattle and Seattle back to Barcelona later in the year. By using the 35% premium class rebate on points redemptions from our Amex Business Platinum card, we were able to get eight one-way, transatlantic business class flights for ~42,000 Membership Rewards each. Even better, these are booked as cash fares, so by crediting them to Alaska Airlines we’ll earn ~35,000 elite-qualifying miles each and a total of ~100,000 redeemable miles. Wowza. If you can make use of at least two trips within a year to Europe, this can be a handy little tool to have in the toolbox.
Get up to $100 from Verizon class action settlement
There are many great mysteries in life, some which might even be unknowable. Where did we come from? What’s at the center of the universe? What should my cell phone bill be? Cell phone billing consistently competes with medical billing as the most obtuse, nonsensical, unpredictable set of numbers that we run our eyes across. My wife and I have had the same T-Mobile plan for years, but the combination of discounts, promos, surcharges, utility fees, administrative charges and taxes somehow never add up to the same amount from month to month. Turns out that, for Verizon anyway, some of that discrepancy was intentional. The company has just settled a class action lawsuit that claimed the ubiquitous cell service provider was adding additional fees to customer accounts that weren’t disclosed beforehand. Because of this consistently misleading tap dance, Verizon is endowing a fund with $100 million in order to pay affected customers up to $100 each (which probably covers about 2.2 months of misbilling). Many folks who were with Verizon between 2016 and the end of 2023 will be eligible. Danny the Deal Guru breaks down the application process in the post linked above.
Turkey drops e-visa requirements for the US and Canada
The FM Team has been spending more time in Turkey lately. Partially, that’s because of Turkish Airlines, which manages to combine good award availability, excellent pricing and a terrific business class product with the opportunity to stop over in the magical city of Istanbul for free. The one inconvenience with doing these short visits has been having to fork over $50 per person to the Turkish government for an eVisa before arriving. The process was easy and almost instantaneous, but the cost could add up quickly, as it did for Nick when he recently took his family of four on a whirlwind overnight tour of the city. Nick was unfortunately just a few days too soon as, at the end of 2023, the Turkish government announced that US and Canadian citizens would no longer be required to apply for an eVisa for stays of up to 90 days. Now there’s even less to stand between you, a marvelous city and some of the best food in the world.
PSA: You can book a Hilton Free Night Certificate via chat
On the one hand, Hilton free night certificates (that are part of the perks for the Amex Hilton Business, Aspire and Surpass cards) are some of the easiest to wrap your mind around. They can be used any day of the week at almost any Hilton property in the world, regardless of the points price of the hotel. The only requirement is that a standard room must be available. That said, the booking process has long been a pain-in-the-Conrad, since you had to call up and talk to a live agent, which almost always ended up being a painstaking 20-minute slog…and god help you if you had to book more than one property. At some point, Hilton made the process somewhat easier by adding the ability to book via chat. I discovered that accidentally last year and assumed that it had been that way for awhile. Turns out, if it was, nobody knew about it…Award Wallet posted last week and several folks on the FM team hadn’t realize it was possible. From my experience, booking via chat isn’t really much faster, but it certainly beats twiddling your thumbs while you wait on the phone.
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