Stranded with an illegal ticket, the European hopper, Walmart bans and more


In this week’s Frequent Miler week in review around the web, we have a surprising story about buying an invalid ticket from a major airline, a method for maximizing your MPMs on an Aeroplan ticket to build your own regional hopper, caution lights on Walmart, and more. Read on for the weekend recap.

Fifth Freedom Flights: The Day United Left Me Stranded With An Illegal Ticket

Technology is awesome. Just the other day, my wife and I were talking about how her grandfather used to travel across the US doing trail rides on a horse — no GPS to re-calculate on a wrong turn, no plane tickets for five bucks and some miles, no hotel booking engines, etc — and how comparatively easy it is today for us to buy a ticket to anywhere in the world and go on a moment’s notice. At least, it’s usually pretty easy. Unless the airline sells you an illegal ticket and strands you on a remote island in the Indian Ocean saying, “Sorry ’bout that. We’ll just give you your miles and money back. Have a nice day!”. See this post from Ryan at Miles to Memories (and especially his link within to a list of valid fifth freedom flights) so you don’t end up in the same boat. And check that list of valid flights: there are some incredibly cheap fifth freedom flights out there just waiting to help you connect the dots on your next trip.

Google Fi’s new “unlimited” plan is an admission of defeat for the upstart

We’ve written quite a bit about Google Fi, and it’s an awesome tool for international travel. Indeed, when Greg, Stephen, and I go our separate ways to hop around the globe on our #40KFaraway challenge in a little over a week, Google Fi will probably be the main means of staying in touch and live Tweeting / Instagramming / Facebooking our adventures. However, as a domestic cell phone carrier, I know I can at least speak for Greg and I in saying that we are underwhelmed. I think it’s safe to say that Greg misses the expanded coverage of AT&T and I’ve been frustrated when standing outside a shopping mall where my T-Mobile phone has a full signal and yet my Google Fi phone (the Pixel 3 XL) has nothing (despite using T-Mobile as one of its networks). This post from Android Police explains why we’ll probably never be satisfied with Fi: at the end of the day, it’s just another MVNO (mobile virtual network operator).

Planning a Balkan Hopper Trip with Aeroplan

club carlson credit card

This post from Prince of Travel is a fantastic example of thinking outside the box and maximizing your mileage. In fact, I spent half of this post kicking myself for not thinking of this trick to stretch out MPM when a trip I needed wouldn’t price this summer (I ended up paying for Ryanair when the itinerary I wanted priced out at less than a hundred miles over the MPM. Doh!). Read this post and file it away for a rainy day. Then make it rain connections.

My Airline Elite Status Conundrum

American Airlines Planes

Welcome to the ranks of airline free agents to Ben at One Mile at a Time. I have to admit that I have enjoyed airline elite status during the brief periods when I’ve had it (always because of some sort of match), but I think it is telling that even the most prolific fliers among us (e.g. people like Ben) are questioning the value of airline loyalty. If you’re flying on someone else’s dime and they allow you the freedom to choose an airline based on loyalty, have at it and enjoy a perk that I imagine is a form of compensation for the time spent away from home. I like things like flying up front and lounge access (which I often enjoy when using my miles and points), but when I’m choosing with my dollar and cents, airline loyalty just doesn’t make sense. I’ll take the best option that meets my needs in terms of price / schedule / comfort (usually in that order).

Walmart Moneygram shuts me down for buying money orders

This post from Vinh at Miles per Day echoes reports that have been trickling in over the past week or two: Walmart / Moneygram is shutting down those who are doing heavy volume in money orders. Back when Walmart instituted its speed limit of $4K per day and began requiring a driver’s license for transactions over $1K and a social security number for those over $3K, I said that I was wary of buying anything that required ID. That wasn’t because we’re doing anything wrong but rather because I figured that was a way to track and ban. It took a while before the reports began coming in more steadily, but it seems that’s just what is happening. Moral of the story: stay under a grand at a time at Walmart and look for other places to liquidate or recruit help.

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

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