Using your miles to book airline tickets seems like a straightforward process. You earn miles and then redeem miles, a process points and miles people call “earn and burn.” Hopefully you’ve learned that by taking advantage of airline alliances and partnerships, it’s possible to redeem miles for flights on airlines other than the one you earned them from. In other words, you can book flights on Lufthansa with United MileagePlus or you can fly on Cathay Pacific by redeeming American Advantage miles. This knowledge opens up an entire world of possibilities.
There’s one part of this process that confuses people new to miles and points the most. Which airline should be contacted for each step of the booking process, up to and including getting on the plane?
Here’s a simplified list of who to contact for each step of traveling on an award ticket booking for an airline partner (alliance or non-alliance):
The understanding what airline alliances are and which airlines are in each alliance is a key that unlocks the door to the next level of miles and points earning and usage. The basics of airline alliances isn’t all that difficult to understand and that knowledge will allow you to use your miles in ways you never thought were possible.
After my co-worker learned about my travel hobby/obsession/blog, he asked me where I’ve traveled. I rattled off a few places, such as Japan and Austria, and he replied that he’d always wanted to travel overseas but never did because he didn’t speak the language. He asked if it’s possible to visit these places if you are unilingual. I replied with a resounding, “Yes!”
Don’t let the fact that you don’t know the language keep you from visiting a country. Now, I’m not suggesting being a proud idiot and going in expecting everyone in a different nation to speak your language, either. Understand there will be difficulties in communication, which will become greater the farther you explore from the normal tourist areas. These are some of the quaint things you remember about traveling. It’s a good idea to try and learn a few phrases before you go. Things like good morning, good evening, excuse me, please, thank you and the ever important I’m sorry.
Here are a few examples of places we’ve traveled without knowing the language and the memories we have.
When applying for a credit card you’ll usually see a place to add authorized users. The banks will phrase it like “ADD UP TO FIVE PEOPLE TO YOUR ACCOUNT FOR NO EXTRA CHARGE!” If you do this, the bank will send credit cards to everyone. Great, right? Maybe, maybe not. Here’s a quick rundown of what an authorized user is and why it may be a good, or a bad, idea to add one to your account.
By now, I’m sure you have a credit card with a chip, or EMV chip to be specific, in your possession. It’s that thing on your card that makes the person at the checkout tell you, “You need to use your chip in the bottom thingie,” or makes them say when you try to insert your chip card, “We don’t use that chip thing yet, so you need to swipe your card.”
In the U.S.A., we like the think we lead the world in just about everything, but when it comes to credit card security we are decades behind the curve. EMV ( Europay, Mastercard and Visa) chip technology was introduced back in the 1990s and rolled out throughout Europe in the 2000s. The chip in the card is used to confirm the information instead of reading the information off the magnetic strip on the back. This technology is harder to counterfeit and, supposedly, cuts down on fraud. The banks in Europe rolled out this technology first because credit card fraud was, at the time, much more common there. When the chip cards were introduced and helped prevent fraud, the criminals went to the least protected market, the USA, so they could continue with the scamming. Lucky us.