Bad news on fuel surcharges, a new safari to add to the list, questioning Southwest’s family-friendliness and more

Name countries where you can go on safari. Go ahead, I’ll wait. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that your list probably included South Africa, Kenya…maybe Botswana….did you say Sri Lanka? If not, you’ll want to check out the post below about Wilpattu National Park. In this Frequent Miler week in review, you’ll also find why you should really be considering the Avios transfer bonus, bad news on fuel surcharges, and more. Read on for the weekly recap from around the ‘net.

Hong Kong Ending Ban On Fuel Surcharges

In my opinion, “carrier imposed surcharges” on award tickets are ridiculous. I can understand the airline passing on taxes, but surcharges annoy me as the airline really ought to just include their operating costs in their fares the same way that any other business includes its costs in the price of a product you buy. Don’t get me wrong — I don’t go out of my way to avoid them — but I like to avoid them when I can. One way to do so has been to originate in Hong Kong as the government there has had a ban on these surcharges for several years. Unfortunately, that’s coming to an end. Lucky at One Mile at a Time has the scoop on when it’s changing and why. If you’re looking to book Emirates first class with JAL miles and skip the surcharges, your time is limited.

EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT WILPATTU NATIONAL PARK

I took this pic at Kruger National Park in South Africa, but I’d happily travel to this park for the chance to see leopards again.

I’ve written before about my experiences on safari in Kruger National park, which I loved so much the first time that I had to go back and do it again within a couple of years of the first trip. Kruger has certainly made me interested in other safari locations, and in a recent week in review, I highlighted a map made by Travel Is Free showing the world’s national parks. One such national park, Wipattu National Park, looks like an awesome safari locale…though if not for this post from Becky at SightDOING, I wouldn’t have known that Sri Lanka was home to something like this. I’ve now added this to my ever-expanding list of places to see. For the record, I’ll totally concur that a decent set of binoculars are a must. On my first safari, I didn’t even think about it and ended up buying a set in the park figuring that I’d resell them afterwards and get most of my money back. I ended up keeping them and bringing them on my next safari. You’ll be glad you have them.

How Family Friendly Is Southwest, Really?

Southwest certainly has a reputation for being more family-friendly than competitors, but I had a recent experience with Southwest that left me feeling like they aren’t so family-friendly after all. Our son had a ….diaper emergency mid-flight. The short version of the story is that this was going to be a two-person job for sure, but only the front lavatory had a changing table. We were not allowed to change him together because it would have been a “security issue” for both of us to be at the front. I couldn’t help but feel that an airline with the family-friendly reputation of Southwest could have conjured up a scenario where it would make sense to have a changing table in the rear lav. See this post from As the Joe Flies for his take on Southwest’s relative family-friendliness in a number of other regards.

American Express 40% Transfer Bonus: Fly to Europe in Coach for 10,000 and in Business for 23,000 Points

We have the current 40% bonus from Amex to Avios listed on our Current point transfer bonuses and I was aware of Aer Lingus’s excellent pricing from some cities considering the bonus. I however hadn’t looked at the peak and off-peak calendar for the coming year. Andy at Lazy Traveler’s Handbook lays out why you might want to consider transferring to Avios with this bonus, and I just may be convinced. In my post about the Strengths Membership Rewards has over Ultimate Rewards, I noted transfer bonuses – and this is a great example of why those bonuses are so valuable.

CURVE CARD CUTS FOREIGN EXCHANGE FEES – NOW ESSENTIAL FOR TRAVELERS…

If there are any venture capitalists reading, can you please throw some money at these guys to expand into the US? If you have family in the UK, maybe you can make use of this somehow — otherwise, you’ll just have to oogle this post from God Save the Points from afar.


That’s it for this week around the web. Check back soon for this week’s last chance deals.

About Nick Reyes

Nick Reyes is a (fairly) regular guy with an animalistic passion for maximizing the value of miles and money to travel the world in comfort and style. There is little in life that he loves more than finding a fantastic deal and helping you shop smarter & harder to achieve your travel dreams.

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John
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John

I’ve always found Southwest to be very family unfriendly. They thought our lap child was over 2 and they accused us that the birth certificate was fake. Alaska has always been amazing to us

Joe
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Joe

Thanks for the link, Nick, and I’m 50/50 on whether I want to hear this diaper story! 🙂

Belinda
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Belinda

Well Nick, thank you for changing your kids diaper actually in the lav. I’ve seen many “in seat diaper changes” over the years on Southwest! And then the dirty one is rolled up and stuffed in the seatback pocket! Not even put into the barf bag or anything. So maybe you have now solved the mystery for me…a particularly dirty diaper requiring two parents…disallowed from using the diaper deck in front…screw you Southwest we’ll just change our kid in the seat then! Could be what was happening.

So…it is “unsafe” for bags not to be under the seats during takeoff and landing…but exposing seats to diaper changes is ok? They clean the seats in between flights? No! The flight attendants walk through and toss the garbage and cross the seatbelts only. There is no cleaning crew.

And I’ve noticed the fasten seatbelt sign is on a disproportionately loooooong time on Southwest as compared to my United flights. They got the gen pop on lockdown it seems. I used to find the Southwest culture quirky but now I just bring my own drink with a screw top lid and a bag of cashews, listen to the safety announcements so I can verbally agree to participate in exit row seating, and force myself to go to sleep to avoid all the weird drama that occurs during the rest of the flight….mostly due to the crew! “Did you take this flight today just to get a bag of peanuts?”

Oh yea and I think the free empty seat for lap children is very unfair. If there’s only two empties on a whole flight, nonpaying lap children are guaranteed to get them vs southwests best customers who pay thousands of dollars a year to take business select flights and earn companion passes and a list preferred. If I fly on United I can sit in economy plus for free with status…those seats fill up last because there is a fee involved. So if there is going to be an empty, it will be in the section where customers have paid more either for their seat upgrade or through status. I like that. And the flight attendants patrol the area to discourage free self upgrades from nonpaying passengers.

askmrlee
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askmrlee

Having an extra person in the front lav near the cockpit bumps up against security concerns, it’s not Southwest making rules up. It sounds like you took their 737-700 which only has 2 lavs and the rear lav is smaller than the front. I you have the option, take their 737-800 or 737 MAX 8 which have 3 lavs. When I flew with an infant and I went to the lav, the FA proactively gave me a trash bag for the diaper. Southwest still rules as far as being the most family friendly US carrier.