Rewards abuse in reverse, a $50 Southwest seat, CSR stats and more


Much has been written about the Rewards Abuse Team in the past year — in this Frequent Miler week in review around the web, we see a different kind of rewards abuse. We also have some interesting stats on the Sapphire Reserve, a fun read about travel “expert” advice, and more. Read on for this week’s recap.

The Opposite of Travel Hacking

Million Mile Guy has been on a roll lately, and had a number of posts this week that I really enjoyed. However, this piece seemed timely and relevant. “Travel hacking” or “manufactured spending” or whatever terminology you use to refer to the realm of collecting and enjoying rewards of outsized value certainly involves judgment calls along the way, and what things are considered OK and aren’t vary according to each person’s ethical barometer. Million Mile Matt shows us a good reminder of the fact that the pendulum swings both ways with a look at rewards abuse in reverse.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Statistics: 90% Retention Rate, $39,000 Annual Spend & More

A good companion piece to the post from Million Mile Guy, this one from Doctor of Credit is another good reminder that there are a lot of people who are not angling to maximize the system. Some people don’t understand how to do it, some people don’t have the time to figure it out, some just aren’t all that interested — whatever the reason, I found it as interesting as William Charles did to see the high rate of retention on this card given the vast number of people who signed up and likely don’t know how to eek out the best values from their Membership Rewards points (and the number of people who do and still might have opted to cancel).

Southwest Airlines: Is Any Seat Worth $100?

Mike at Frequent Flyer Miles 101 asks the title question in response to the recently-increased fees for A1-A15 boarding. My answer: Yes!Just this past weekend, I flew to Seattle for FTU. I didn’t pay for Early Bird Check-in and completely forgot to check in for my flight to Seattle. I ended up with a high C boarding position on both my flight to Chicago and on to Seattle. I had planned to sleep on the way to Chicago, but had a bunch of work I intended to get done on the way to Seattle. Having enough elbow room to type was important for me (though certainly not important enough to spring for the difference in price to fly in an upgraded seat with another carrier…which would have cost me a lot more than $40 or $50 more than my Southwest ticket). I was happy to pay for the upgrade to A3 for the flight to Seattle. I was able to grab a seat in the emergency exit row that only has two seats — leaving an empty seat to my right (and more importantly, an empty tray table I could put down and use for my mouse for the ~4.5hr flight!). I happily paid $40 and would have paid $50 (and charged it to my Amex Hilton Aspire card since Southwest is my chosen airline and I knew I’d get the fee credited back). So while I understand that this isn’t worth it for everyone, I’m glad to have this option for situations when I need it.

Where On Earth Is The Mainstream Media Finding These “Travel Experts?”

Have you ever watched the news and seen an expert in a field that you know something about and wondered where they found this person? Lucky at One Mile at a Time highlights one such recent “expert” report from mainstream media that might raise your eyebrow as to how someone could make this stuff up. If you’ve had some experience in redeeming points and miles for business class travel, I imagine you’ll get a chuckle out of this one.

How travellers in Australia can take advantage of Emirates’ new Auckland – Bali – Dubai service

This post on Australian blog Point Hacks is clearly geared towards people living in Australia/New Zealand, but I enjoy reading about uses of points outside of the usual transfer partners. As Qantas is a transfer partner of Citi ThankYou, these redemptions might be interesting for those with a large stash of Citi points. I’d probably rather be transferring to LifeMiles right now, but if you’re planning a round-the-world trip, you might be able to piece together something using Citi points for Emirates first or business class.

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

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