In today’s Frequent Miler week in review around the web, we have a post applying expected value to the debate about points versus miles, read about new routes and sweet spots between the US and Africa, how to get your grocery delivery order through, and more.
Living in a small town, I’ve only known of the troubles of getting pickup or delivery time slots through what I’ve seen on social media from friends in larger areas, but I gather it seems nearly impossible in many places. If you’re having trouble with it, this post from Miles to Memories has a key tip: try to figure out the time of day when those slots get released. With Walmart, they say it’s midnight local time — but surely other chains have their own quirks. Just like finding things in stock at Amazon, it often pays to be online when others are sleeping.
Placing Our Bet: Deciding Between Cash back or Transferable (But Cashable) Points in Today’s Uncertain Environment
As someone who played a lot of poker in a previous life, I both understand and appreciate the concept of expected value and I enjoyed this read from Cafes and Alleyways applying the concept to whether you should collect a transferable currency or cash back. The math looks sound, but where I take issue with the conclusion is that the purpose of expected value is to make decisions that will play out over the “long run”. If I’m four cards to a straight flush with just the river to go and I think my opponent is sitting on two pair, I want to figure out my bet based on how that hand will play out over the hundreds or thousands of times I’ll be in that same situation so that I can make a profitable play over a long period of time. Gamblers use the concept of expected value to do just that: remain profitable over the long run of many similar instances. I guess you can make the argument that since points or cash back don’t “expire” in some cases, you’re also playing this game for the “long run”, but I’m not totally convinced. Don’t get me wrong – I think I’d come to the same conclusion as to which card to use (between the two choices given, though I’d ultimately take the best of both words)….but I’m not ready to go all in on expected value calculations here.
Canadian blog Prince of Travel covers a couple of good sweet spots now that Royal Air Maroc has joined Oneworld. Given that Montreal falls into the same distance band as at New York, Boston, and Washington, DC, many of his observations hold true for those based in the US as well. While not as good of a sweet spot as it once was with Etihad, Royal Air Maroc will still provide some great options for getting to Africa and parts of Europe using Asia Miles.
Lucky at One Mile at a Time covers a big surprise to me: TAP Air Portugal has announced new routes that will presumably launch later this year — including between Lisbon and Cape Town and Toronto and the Azores. My first thought when I read the first paragraph of this post was, “Wow! I wonder what they charge for business class to the US from Africa….”. For those unaware, TAP Air Portugal is known for amazing business class fares from Scandinavia to the US (with a free stopover in Lisbon). I didn’t have to wonder for long as Lucky showed that TAP is charging about $1K one way. That could make for a great deal when redeeming Membership Rewards or Ultimate Rewards as the net cost could be under 70K points one way — and you could earn nearly enough for a domestic round trip ticket with Miles & Smiles or more than 17,000 miles with several other programs. I’ll definitely keep this one in mind.
I admittedly hadn’t followed much of the news on airline bailouts knowing that my opinion about them wouldn’t have much influence one way or another, but I had wondered about the frequency of flights out there given the incredibly low demand for flying right now (for good reason). This post from Cranky Flier points out that the key is the requirement for airlines to maintain service to the cities in their networks in order to get bailout money — and in this post, he shows some of the routings airlines are using to comply. I don’t know the best answer to make sure that we retain competition when live returns to normal, but some of these flights just seem downright silly.
That’s it for this week around the web. Check back soon for this week’s last chance deals.