After having some time to digest the full details of the Marriott and MGM Collection with Marriott Bonvoy marriage, we discuss the headline benefits (and how we really feel about them) on this week’s Frequent Miler on the Air. Elsewhere on the blog this week, learn about Air France / KLM award stopover rules, a two-year Star Alliance Gold status match, Tim’s elite plans for 2024 and more.
Watch, listen, or read on below for more from this week at Frequent Miler.
Frequent Miler on the Air Podcast
01:38 Turkish Airlines status match is back! (Giant Mailbag)
04:36 Amex Platinum 150K offer is back! (Card Talk)
12:12 T-Mobile Home Internet Moneymaker (“Mattress running the numbers”)
17:54 JetBlue / Spirit Merger Blocked (Award Talk)
20:59 New Chase Sapphire Lounge at New York LGA (Award Talk)
22:41 Marriott’s marriage to MGM Resorts: A match made in Bonvoyland (Main Event)
22:51 Marriott / MGM partnership overview
24:19 Partnership benefits
25:15 Why aren’t we very excited about this partnership?
25:35 Points transfer at a poor ratio
26:33 Ambassador match is only available to those with invite-only MGM status
27:49 No good status match for anyone but MGM Noir
29:33 Benefits are only scheduled to last through 12/31/24
31:41 What benefits do Marriott Platinum and Titanium members get in Las Vegas?
39:21 Will you earn 3x on the Altitude Reserve when checking out on a website with Apple Pay or Google Pay? (Question of the Week)
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This week on the Frequent Miler blog…
The details of the Marriott partnership with MGM are out, and when it comes to staying at MGM properties, I’m out. After at least a decade of loyalty to MGM, I just can’t see staying at an MGM property in the future given the extremely limited benefits and the requirement to pay inflated rates by booking through Marriott to get them. And even if we forsake the benefits of booking through Marriott in order to get much cheaper rates by booking through MGM, we’d still have to pay resort fees and parking fees since there is no status match from the Marriott side. No thanks — the $95 Wyndham Earner Business card will get me Wyndham Diamond, which matches to Caesars Diamond, which means no resort fees and no parking fees in Las Vegas — the inability to get even those small benefits with 50 or 75 elite nights with Marriott demonstrates how weak this partnership really is.
I’ve been really curious about Flying Blue stopovers ever since they were announced well over a year ago. However, I have assumed that figuring them out would take hours of trial and error on the phone and without a specific trip on which to use a stopover, I haven’t dug into it (which becomes a loop: since I don’t know how they work, I haven’t considered using them). In this post, Greg lays out the official rules as written (which is incredibly helpful!) and then imagines some of the ways you could leverage stopovers to make some really cool itineraries for a reasonable cost. I very much look forward to reading about how this one shakes out in real life — and now that I have a better understanding of the rules, I just might go after one of these for a trip this year myself.
Greg went to South Africa last month and with this post, he shares the details about how he got there and back and how he booked his travels. Based on his glowing review of the Cellars-Hohenort Hotel, I’ve booked a few nights there myself this year. I also loved that Greg tried the Oryx Hotel at Doha airport as I’ve long been curious about it (I’ve previously slept in the family room in the business class lounge (unideal since although it has dividers it is one large open room) and in a private bedroom in the first class lounge, but I’ve wondered about the transit hotel. That Amex Travel business class deal he got on the way home is a good reminder that it’s always worth logging in to Amex Travel to see what you might find.
Turkish Airlines status match (get 1-2 years of Star Alliance Gold with very reasonable requirements)
Turkish Airlines is offering a great deal in the form of a status match. All you need is one international flight to extend status from the initial four months to a full year — and extending status for two years is also very reasonable, with one round trip business class ticket between the US and Europe probably earning enough miles for two years of status.
Non-Ritz cardholders often wonder what works for triggering the card’s airline fee credits. Long-time cardholders know that almost anything might work. Unlike many other premium cards with travel credits, the Ritz card’s incidental credits are not automatically triggered but rather manually credited by an agent when you call or secure message to request it. As a result of it being entirely up to human discretion, the data points here are more of a rough guide as to what could work rather than a guarantee since it all depends on the agent you get. Fortunately, that means it can often be worth taking a second or third swing if you’re initially turned down for a reimbursement.
Business credit cards should probably be part of your strategy. Many people don’t realize just how easy it is to qualify for business cards, but Greg made a video explaining how to apply for business credit cards and Carrie shares what she learned (or in some cases-relearned) while sharing some of her own experiences with very small businesses that qualified for business credit cards.
Greg flew Qsuites from New York to Doha and I can hardly contain my jealousy. My lone Qsuites experience thus far was on a flight between Doha and Dubai and all I could think of was how much I would love that experience on a long-haul flight. His one critique of the experience is a lack of ground game. That’s a fair critique in the sense that Qatar likes to compare Qsuites to first class, but where I think Greg is selling this short is in no mention of the incredible business class lounge in Doha. While it’s true that Qatar’s ground services offering at outstation airports isn’t anything notable, their business class lounge in Doha rivals many first class lounges in my opinion.
I’m glad to see that Tim will continue to pursue Alaska Mileage Plan elite status in 2024 because it’s a great program that is highly relevant for many west coast readers (yet it’s hard for the east coast contingent of the FM team to get too deeply invested because of the lack of routes available to us). I also found it interesting that Tim noted better elite status recognition abroad as a Diamond member. I of course find the Aspire card worthwhile for its benefits as compared to its annual fee, and I was long a but of a Hilton fanboy until Globalist status came within reach, but one area where I have always felt shortchanged (and indeed the main reason I don’t stay at Hiltons much now that I have a family) is with regard to upgrades. I’ve just rarely gotten a meaningful one, but Tim is probably right that the chances (especially abroad) are better with Diamond status. Side note: I’m cheering for Tim on to hop on board the cruise match bandwagon because I look forward to his take on cruises, which will almost surely offer a very different perspective from mine.
American Airlines has made some updates this year between small enhancements (yes, actual enhancements!) that improve the program a little bit and big changes to the AAdvantage Business program (which is easy to join and will get you an extra loyalty point per dollar spent on fares). As a result, we’ve updated and republished our complete guide.
Stephen writes about using Google Hotels to find hotels in places where you may not be finding options through other online travel agencies. This absolutely makes sense since Google has business data even for businesses that likely don’t submit their pricing (and submit to paying commissions) to online travel agencies. This is a great tip and the post is full of good info — if you’ll be traveling somewhere with limited chain options, this could be a huge help. In fact, I have an upcoming trip to Guadeloupe and I was having a hard time finding hotels. Thanks to Stephen’s post, I’ve found quite a few more suitable options to consider.
It’s not for everyone, but I love Resorts World Las Vegas. It isn’t in the middle of the action and the Hilton properties are less Hilton-y and more Vegas-y, but the place is clean and bright and I find it very comfortable. I recently used the Ocean Prime benefit for a complimentary 2-night stay at Resorts World and I think it cemented Resorts World as my preferred place to stay if rates are high enough to consider using points / Hilton free night certificates or low enough to get it on an FHR credit. On a paid weekday, I’ll probably lean towards Caesars properties for the waived resort fees, but the nice thing about the Ocean Prime benefit is that you don’t pay any taxes or fees (and you get both a dining credit and free play!), so this stay was an easy win.
I’ve been very curious about the 1-bedroom suites at the Thompson Gild Hall. Since my wife and I travel with two kids, a suite is almost a must in New York City and this hotel has relatively reasonably-priced awards (including for one-bedroom suites). I’d wondered a bit about the layout — sometimes what gets listed as a “suite” is more like a Hyatt Place room that simply has a couch next to a bed, but this is actually two separate rooms. The frosted glass door sounds a bit disappointing, but overall Stephen’s review convinced me that we should consider this for our next trip to NYC.
That’s it for this week at Frequent Miler. Don’t forget to mark your calendar for this week’s last chance deals so you don’t miss any ending soon.