The winner of our $100 Travel Gift Card for the month of June is Charles Clarke. (Charles: Email Rick your address so he can send you your gift card.)
Congrats! Keep submitting your travel tips for a chance to win!
This week’s winning tip comes from Learpax, who shares his alliance/airport links that I will feature later this month.
July is Alliance Month!
Over the last five years, we have all witnessed an array of company mergers/alliances and restructuring in order to better fit and ultimately survive in the global economy that we face today. The airlines are a prime example of this, with the major mergers of today being Delta-Northwest and United-Continental. The creation of airline alliances such as Oneworld, Star Alliance and Skyteam, is evidence of companies coming together to strengthen their market share in an uncertain economy. The end is nowhere in sight, change is inevitable, frequent flier miles will be combined, points programs joined, and we, the consumers, will learn and relearn how to get the most out of these mergers. Mergers and alliances between companies offer an array of benefits. We just have to know how to finagle our way through the fine details and make every program work for us.
An airline alliance happens when a group of airlines come together globally to offer services to the consumer that they would not otherwise be able to offer alone. Combined, they offer the traveler an opportunity to credit airline miles into one account, to fly to multiple destinations under one ticket, and to use the perks of the status programs among all of the alliance members. First, the basics…..
Airline Alliances for Rookies: The Who, What, Where, When and Why
Member Airlines: American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN, Malév Hungarian Airlines, Mexicana, Qantas, Royal Jordanian and S7 Airlines. Kingfisher Airlines (India), and soon to join will be Germany’s airberlin.
Countries Served: 150
Lounges Available: 550
Destination access: 750+
Member Airlines: Delta, Air Europa, Air France, Aeromexico, KLM, Aeroflot, Alitalia, China Southern, Czech Airlines, Korean Air, Kenya Airways, Tarom, and Vietnam Airlines.
Countries Served: 169
Lounges Available: 420
Destination Access: 900+
Member Airlines: United, U.S. Airways, Continental Airlines, TAM, Turkish Airlines,THAI, Tap Portugal, Swiss, Spanair, South African Airways, Singapore Airlines, Scandanavian Airlines, Lufthansa, Lot Polish Airlines, Egypt Air, Croatia Airlines, Brussels Airlines, BMI, Blue 1, Austrian, Asiana Airlines, ANA, Air New Zealand, Air China, Air Canada, Aegean, and Adria.
Countries Served: 181
Lounges Available: over 971
Airport Access: 1160
(1) You do not have to join these alliance programs. If you belong to one of the alliance member’s frequent flier program, your rewards and privileges are continued across the alliance. You cannot transfer miles from one frequent flier program to another as of yet, so the way to benefit/use this aspect of the alliance is to choose one major frequent flier program within each alliance and bank all of your alliance earned points into that account. For example, I use American Airline with Oneworld, Delta with Skyteam, and United with Staralliance. Let’s say I’m flying with U.S. Airways. At check in, I give them my United Airlines number and the points are deposited into my United Airlines account. This works across the board within the alliance.
(2) Alliances make multiple destination travel easier and cheaper
for the frugal traveler. You can book travel to multiple destinations using one award ticket while traveling among the alliance airlines. The best way to book travel like this is to call the airlines and speak with a representative to get exactly what you need. A recent example: Rick and my mom, “the bug,” just got home from a Europe trip. They used 50,000 points per ticket each way to fly completely Business Class. The tickets worked out like this: United from Savannah to Washington Dulles, Lufthansa from Washington Dulles to Frankfurt to Athens-Aegean, from Athens to Kos. They did it all on one award ticket each, business class – and all for free
! On the way back from Europe, they flew United from Amsterdam to Newark and Continental from Newark to Savannah — again, all on one award ticket each, business class, for free!
(3) Status applies across the alliance airlines
(in most cases) and your points from flying on any alliance airline can be applied toward status qualification on one particular airline. Already having status among one of the major players within an alliance allows you to take advantage of the status perks across the alliance airlines — perks such as lounge access, upgrades, extra baggage, priority boarding, priority wait listing, priority standby, priority check in, and preferential seating, just to name a few.Each Alliance is large and complex in its program details. Over the next month I will be highlighting each alliance in depth to explain their strengths and weaknesses in a way that allows us, the travelers, to benefit most based on our specific needs. Join me for “July is Alliance Month!”- Shannon, The Rookie
China Day Two: Beijing
by Stefan of the Rapidtravelchai.com blog
Day 2: With your son arrived and you all positioned in the north of town, this is the time to strike for the Great Wall. With your car and guide, put your luggage in the trunk and roll out early. Head first to the Spirit Way, part of the Ming Tombs. Give the rest of the tombs a pass.
Continue to Huanghuacheng Great Wall, my favorite stretch of it. This is little known, which makes it a delight, but it’s critical to arrange in advance and make sure the guide/driver understands and knows this place. When there, you cross a small reservoir by bridge, buy tickets from an old lady with a huge dog, walk about 10-15 minutes on a hilly path, and then up a short ladder up to the wall.
Lots of B&Bs are in the area and good for lunch. No English spoken, but you will have a guide that day.
If you can’t get enough Great Wall, then Mutianyu is about a half an hour away (Badaling is the hyper-touristy part, Mutianyu is second on that scale). Doing both Huanghuacheng and Mutianyu would chew up an entire day.
This is getting really punishing, but if you only do Huanghuacheng, when heading back south you can swing by the Olympic Stadiums if you like, or try to squeeze in the Summer Palace (Yiheyuan — if not by car, it is near line 4, Xiyuan), which often is the favorite part of Beijing. Like most of what you will see, it is gigantic, but focus on the main parts listed in your guidebook: the Long Corridor and the main palaces. Keep Day 4 open for the Summer Palace if you do not make it today.
Nearby is Old Summer Palace (Yuanmingyuan — line 4, Yuanmingyuan Park). Even larger, but mostly empty park. The ruins of Western-style palaces are a big draw for Chinese but of less interest to non-Chinese. If you are going to go, combine it with the nearby Summer Palace. But it is not a must-see.
If you still have any energy in the evening, you could stop at The Place shopping mall (line 1. Yong’anli is closest, but a short taxi north from there is best as the walk is quite long), which has some dining choices, the Golden Jaguar Buffet (sumptuous) and others. The draw is a huge roof screen, high overhead the open square, with varying projections. Sounds corny, but it is a delight.
http://www.blogger.com/%20%20%20http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/beijing/listings/dining/global-cuisine/has/golden-jaguar/ (also with locations in Shanghai: http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/shanghai/listings/dining/global-cuisine/has/golden-jaguar-yanan-baihui/)
Citi Thank You Premier Card, Limited Time Offer, 50,000 Points.