The Three Reasons I’m Relieved I Was Avoiding Flights On The 737 MAX

Ever since the 737 MAX started flying in the US on October 1, 2017, I’d never flown on one. I had plenty of chances to do so but when booking flights, I actively avoided flying on one if I could. This wasn’t some sort of innate sense of concern about the plane’s safety; instead, I didn’t fly on one because the in-flight experience was worse than what was available on other planes flying the same routes.

Looking to the immediate and long term future, there are other reasons I’m relieved I didn’t book our flights on the 737 MAX.

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Two Women With Down Syndrome Live Out Their Dreams Of Being Flight Attendants

I worked in health care for 23 years and have always had a special place in my heart for people who live with intellectual disabilities. So when I read about the hotel in Germany that’s run by people with learning and physical challenges, I was thrilled.

These two stories are just as good :-).

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When You Should(n’t) Use Airline Co-Brand Credit Cards To Pay For Airfare

All of the larger airlines in the U.S. offer co-brand credit cards. These cards, which provide extra benefits to cardholders, range from ones with no annual fee to premium cards costing up to $450 per year. While you’d think that using a co-branded card would be the best choice for earning points with your flight purchase, that’s usually not the case. For most airlines, you don’t earn any extra points for airfare purchases for having a more expensive card either.

In most cases, instead of using a co-brand card, it’s better to use a card that earns flexible points like Membership Rewards, Thank You Points or Ultimate Rewards. These cards provide the opportunity to earn more points as well as the flexibility to use points on multiple airlines. You’re able to transfer points from these programs into your airline mileage account when you need them.

Here are the earnings multiples on airfare for the main flexible points cards from each bank:

American Express (Membership Rewards)

  • Platinum card ($550 annual fee) – 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel
  • Gold card ($250 annual fee) – 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel

Chase (Ultimate Rewards)

  • Sapphire Reserve ($450 annual fee) – 3x points on travel worldwide (including airfares purchased from airlines or travel agencies/websites)
  • Sapphire Preferred ($95 annual fee) – 2x points on travel worldwide (including airfares purchased from airlines or travel agencies/websites)

Citi (Thank You Points)

  • Citi Prestige ($495 annual fee) – 5x points on purchases at airlines and travel agencies
  • Citi Premier ($95 annual fee) – 3x points on purchases at airlines and travel agencies

The AMEX Platinum and Citi Prestige both offer 5x on airfare but the AMEX card only counts purchases direct from the airline or their website. When I had both cards, I used the Citi Prestige because I valued the additional travel insurance coverage but I know people would rather earn Membership Rewards than Thank You points. Of the $95 cards, the Citi Premier earns the most points on airline purchases at 3x.

So how many miles will you earn by using an airline co-brand card to purchase airfare and when does it make sense to do so? I’ve indicated which airlines are partners of one (or all) of the flexible currency cards so you can compare earnings potential between cards.

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What Are Interline Baggage Agreements And Why Do They Matter?

Once you earn enough points and miles to book an award trip, you may quickly find out that booking a ticket from your home town to the decided destination on your preferred dates with the miles you have is near impossible. However, if you do find that trip, book it immediately and then run to the store to get a lottery ticket because it’s obviously a lucky day for you.

Rest assured, there’s going to be a time where you’ll need to fly from your home airport to the departure city for your award ticket. In award travel lingo, that’s called a positioning flight.

Choosing which airline to take for your positioning flight may make the difference between an almost seamless connection or a sense of déjà vu where you’ll need to do the entire airport check-in process all over again. That means you’d need to land, go to baggage claim to collect luggage, head back up to the departures lane, recheck your bags and go back through security. If your international flight is leaving from a large airport like JFK, LAX or O’Hare, you’ll also need to take a train between terminals with all of your luggage (except you can’t do that from O’Hare right now).

That is, unless the two airlines you’re flying have an interline baggage agreement. These agreements go into airlines’ booking tickets on the other airlines and accommodating delayed passengers as well, but what we’re interested in is the baggage rules.

Here’s a simplified list of the interline baggage rules for the major U.S. carriers:
NOTE: You’ll see the term PNR thrown around in these descriptions, which stands for Passenger Name Record. That’s the six character number assigned to your airline reservation. You can save several flights under the same PNR, even from different airlines. The issue we are discussing involves having two flights on different airlines with different PNR’s
Bold type is for emphasis on rules for two separate tickets.

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Why I Now Prefer The Planes I Used To Hate

After the merger of US Airways and American Airlines in 2013, the two airlines operated separately up until 2015. All of the US Airways planes were eventually repainted and the interiors were rebranded but the amenities didn’t change. This led American Airlines loyalists to try to avoid these planes because they didn’t have the same features as American’s planes, like seat-back entertainment or power outlets.

Flash forward to 2019 and most ex-US Airways planes still do not have seatback entertainment or power outlets but I’d rather fly on one of these planes instead of one with the new American Airlines interior.

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