Europe Invades the West Coast: Low-cost on money or miles

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Photo by Marc Majcher from Austin, TX, USA (IMG_4837) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by Marc Majcher from Austin, TX, USA (IMG_4837) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Welcome to the Frequent Miler Week in Review Around the Web, where we recap some of the top stores from around the Internet.

Getting to know the award charts and sweet spots of the many foreign airline programs to which we have access through transferable currencies can be time consuming. However, the resulting benefit can be less competition for valuable award opportunities. Through 7pm Eastern time this Sunday, March 19th, SPG transfer partner Air Berlin has a sale on award flights from just 1,500 TopBonus miles. The West Coast is an excellent value: flights between San Francisco and Berlin or Dusseldorf start at just 15,000 miles. Flights to other US cities can be found from 20,000 miles. Will Run for Miles has the scoop.

As someone who lives on the East Coast, I often have trouble justifying the use of miles for flights to Europe. With the competition created by discount carriers up and down the coast, flights are regularly available at prices that are the same or less than taxes and surcharges on award tickets. Over the past year, the European low-cost-carrier invasion has commenced on the left coast with WOW and Norwegian getting the party started. Now there is a new kid on the block — Travel Skills shows us that they just might have the right stuff to woo discount travelers.

While award ticket fuel surcharges can approach the cost of a revenue ticket on some flights, there is one country of origin where this has never been the case: Brazil. Having long outlawed fuel surcharges, Brazil heated up controversy this week in a game of did they  / didn’t they with initial news of a lifting of the ban and subsequent word that it had not actually been lifted. Mile Value has both the original story and links to an update from a Brazilian lawyer and travel blogger who put our fears to rest by explaining that the law had not actually changed. I have never understood how airlines get away with adding “fees” like fuel surcharges — can you imagine if a restaurant added a fuel surcharge for the gas used to run the grill for your steak? I am a firm believer that businesses should include the cost of doing business in their prices.

Speaking of the cost of doing business, One Mile at a Time this week asks us How Many Devices Should Be Included with “Free” Hotel Wi-Fi? I feel the same about this as I do about airline surcharges: Wi-Fi ought to be baked into the cost of your room. I have been frustrated on more than one occasion when a hotel limits access to three devices. Between my wife and I, we almost always travel with four devices — I can imagine that a family of four sharing a room with two double beds might have a couple more. At the very least, I would love to see a standardization across brands so that travelers can know what to expect. After all, knowing that Hotel X will meet Standard Y is one of the drivers of loyalty. Wi-Fi policy ought to be one of those standards.

In credit card news, Doctor of Credit reminds us that the City National Bank offers on both business and personal visas will be ending later this month. The offer on the personal card is outstanding and this card qualifies for the unlimited repeatable $100 Visa Infinite airfare discount in addition to a $250 travel credit for the primary account holder and up to three authorized users (4 credits total!). The card is neither easy to get nor available to everyone, but for those who can get this card, it is worth a look before the offer expires.

That’s it for this week around the web. Check back for a list of last chance deals that includes several great deals that will be ending this week.

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