1. The Citi Shop Your Way Rewards Mastercard, an Unsung Hero, has sent out targeted mid-month offers via email for online spend through October 14, and these will stack with other offers too. We’ve seen:

    – $50 back on $750 or more
    – $30 back on $400 or more
    – 200,000 Shop Your Way Points on $600 or more
    – 7,000 ThankYou Points on $600 or more

    (Thanks to 5, David, JEB, and BB_Pcola)
  2. Capital One has a 15% mileage transfer bonus to Avianca LifeMiles through the end of September.

    – US to and from South America in business class for 50,000 points
    – East coast to Lisbon in business class for 35,000 miles
    – East cost to Zurich in economy for 16,500 miles
    – To and from Europe in business class while tacking a coach leg onto the end
    – Economy flights to or from the Caribbean for 12,500 miles each way
    – Short haul domestic US economy for 7,500 miles each way

    In related news, I haven’t been able to find one of the 37 blog posts in the last week about how Membership Rewards transfers to LifeMiles aren’t working. Has anyone else been able to find one of these?
  3. AirFrance/KLM’s FlyingBlue program has an unannounced promotional sale for business class flights to and from the New York area to Europe for 41,250 miles each way. (Thanks to FM)
  4. Do this now (if you hold a Citi Dividend card): Register for 5% back in Q4 at grocery stores. The spend window started on September 15 which is obviously not yet part of Q4 in the real world, but completely fits the calendar in the Citi magical fairy world.
  5. Meijer has 50,000 MPerks points with a $500 third party gift card purchase through September, limit one per MPerks account. Amazon cards are excluded, but other popular brands for resale like Apple and BestBuy are eligible for the promotion. (Thanks to GCG)

Where Citi creates its calendar rules.

Southwest announced that they’ll implement same day standby for all passengers by the end of the month, joining Delta, American, and United. [Insert rah-rah puff embellishments here about how shockingly great this for mothers, business owners, toddlers, dead presidents, African swallows, firefighters, and walruses here. Readers will eat that up, right?]

With that out of the way, let’s talk about how I use this flexibility more often than I care to admit.

The Problem

Sometimes I need to book a flight within the next day and prices for both award travel and paid fares are at a premium for desirable flight times.

The Solution

I book a cheaper flight that I’d take if I had to on the airline that has the desirable flight time, but then do a same day standby for the more expensive flight that I actually want.

Tips For Success

  • Some airlines let you see how many seats are available and the depth of the standby list on flights departing in the next day, which means you can make an educated guess about your chances of success both before and after you book. Using this technique I’ve got roughly a 90% success rate.
  • If you have elite status on a legacy airline or you bought a Wanna Get Away Plus fare on Southwest, you’ve also probably got the option to do a same-day confirmed change to the flight you want at no additional charge directly in app, no standby needed. This works better on United or Southwest than other airlines in general due to their more generous same day change policies, but there are hacks with Delta and American too.
  • If you’re departing from a major airport, you can double or triple your chances for success by booking refundable award fares and staggering your stand by flights across multiple carriers, canceling the rest after the earliest one works out.

Good luck!

Using same day standby, this walrus made it back to the Canadian tundra long before it melted while waiting for its original itinerary.

  1. Delta has a SkyMiles award sale for flights to and from the US booked by tomorrow night:

    – Mexico and the Caribbean: 11,000 miles round-trip
    – Asia and the Pacific: 70,000 miles round-trip

    Both of these are economy prices, and only the first is competitive relative to other programs. For Diamonds with global upgrade certificates, Premium Select fares are also pricing lower than typical, but still too high relative to other mileage programs.
  2. You can now book flights on Taipei based Starlux Airlines with Alaska MileagePlan miles. Flights are decently priced (or “collapsed economy cheap” compared to Delta, see above):

    – 20,000 miles each way to Asia in Coach
    – 40,000 miles each way to Asia in Premium Economy
    – 60,000 miles each way to Asia in Business

    (Thanks to DDG)
  3. Aeroplan now lets you change an itinerary online. I think you’re in exactly one of two-camps about this news:

    – Boring (If you’ve never called Aeroplan’s call center)
    – Fan-freaking-tastic (If you have called Aeroplan’s call center)

    Currently it only works with bookings that don’t involve vouchers or credits, but my assumption is that’s the majority of your Aeroplan bookings.

Delta’s inspiration for SkyMiles premium cabin bookings.

One of the tenets around here is that you should always keep your points in flexible currencies like Ultimate Rewards or ThankYou Points until you need to book something. Basic, I know.

In the current era of fee free cancellations for (non-basic economy) award tickets though, there’s a strategic reason to hold an airline’s miles directly: they make a great floating backup plan in case your original trip is delayed or cancelled because of massive wildfires, falling inflatable emergency exit slides, or a lost aircraft.

Whenever I have a trip booked, I also book a backup award ticket at a later time in case everything goes United 328. (I also set a reminder in my phone to cancel the backup at my original flight’s departure time.) That means I need to have enough miles in an airline’s program as necessary to support my existing bookings with backups, at least for the next month or two of flights.

Which miles and how many? The first depends on which airport is home and which airline gives you the most options, and the second depends on how many existing bookings you have and how far out your backup plans go. I guess we can borrow from some rando named Einstein, “as few as possible, but no fewer”.

Happy Tuesday!

“It’ll prolly buff out, no need for the backup booking here.”


When you book a British Airways award ticket on AA or Alaska metal, you may want to swap your frequent flyer number from the British Airways Avios version to an AA AAdvantage or Alaska MileagePlan account so you can use elite benefits or co-branded credit card benefits on your award tickets. Yes, you can call the airline to do this manually over the phone, but who wants to do that? (Answer: masochists, duh)

There were four ways to do this, but the only one I chose to write about in the past stopped working a few months ago because karma:

  • The FinnAir trick (no longer working as far as I can tell)
  • Call the airline and have them swap it
  • The Royal Jordanian trick
  • The British Airways “I swear I’m not me” trick

We’ll focus on the third one.

The Royal Jordanian Trick

Royal Jordanian is a oneWorld airline based in Aman with a serviceable but forgettable hard product. Their IT is above average for an airline though which is great for us. To swap your frequent flyer number:

  • Visit rj.com
  • Click “Manage Booking”
  • Enter your British Airways record locator and last name
  • Click “Update my Contact” and enter your new frequent flyer information

Note that sometimes the Royal Jordanian website will give an error when you save your updated information, but the number is saved anyway. It usually takes about five minutes for AA and Alaska’s systems to see the updated number and apply benefits accordingly.

Happy booking!

Using RJ.com to update a BA booking on AS metal with an AA frequent flyer number, but as a backpack.

Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport has been the unpredictable crazy uncle of airports since the middle of 2020. From a passenger’s perspective, the worst effect has been long security lines, as long has six hours last fall and often dabbling well into the one-two hour range. Currently security at Schiphol has regularized at 10-20 minutes on average most days, but at peak times you could still be waiting much longer than an hour.

Schiphol introduced a free virtual security queue program in April though, and so far it’s effectively a way to have no-line security experience. To use it:

  1. Three days before your flight, schedule a 15 minute arrival window at this site for your or for your group
  2. Save the QR code emailed to you
  3. Get your airline boarding pass
  4. Go straight to the “Time Slots” line at security during your time reservation ±15 minutes
  5. Show your QR code to the attendant

I used it twice in the last week, and both times the “Time Slots” security line was completely empty. There was also a separate baggage scanner and imaging device for people with reserved time slots, and there were no other passengers funneling into the separate scanner and imaging device.

A few caveats:

  • All slot times were open three days before my flight
  • No slot times were open the day of my flight
  • In theory you can change your time, but in practice it seems that you won’t be able to do it same day because the slots will be gone

Now instead of worrying about missing your flights in Europe, you can worry about US ATC shortages, severe weather cancellations, and ground holds due to smoke. Huzzah!

Your next battles: Southwest, LGA airport, and smoke from wildfires (in that order).

  1. Kroger has a 4x fuel points promotion on third party gift cards and fixed value Visa and Mastercards in-store running today through June 20, a full two weeks.

    While the fuel points and third party gift card resale markets have been hovering around a local maxima, I expect that by June 20th rates will have fallen. As usual if your fuel points broker isn’t assuming liability quickly after purchase then you should probably look for another broker.
  2. Southwest has a 20% off fare sale to and from DEN and COS for travel though November 1 (with a few date caveats) with promo code SCORE20.

    DEN is a Southwest hub, so you could also consider booking a connection through DEN on two separate tickets which might price out better with the promo code than a single booking without. Of course having two separate tickets could be its own set of headaches. (Thanks to Brian M)
  3. While it’s always possible to forcibly bypass an American Express pop-up with shady tactics, or almost always possible to bypass one with co-branded spend, sometimes it’s nice to play it straight. To that end, there are Hilton links that apparently bypass the pop-up for everyone who’s tried at hilton.com/SeekingSummer.

    Which is my favorite offer, asked no one? The business card for its gas station bonus category, low annual fee, ability to earn three free-night certificates in the first year, churnability, and 150,000 point sign-up bonus.
  4. AA has updated their upgrade policy: Starting June 9, all elites are eligible for upgrades on award tickets including a single companion. Priority is changing slightly too, with tier status first and rolling average of the last year’s earned Loyalty Points second as the main factors for upgrade order; this of course means that you can manufacture-spend your way to a higher position on the upgrade list.
  5. Smart and Final stores have $20 off of a grocery purchase when buying any third party gift card except Tracphone or NET10 cards, limit one per transaction. I’ve linked to their digital weekly ad, but even there the print is so small that I’ll be surprised if you can read it even with movie-grade CIA photo enhancement technology.

A preview of next week’s Smart and Final ad. They solved the small print problem, but, uh — keep working on it guys.

  1. Barclays has a few increased co-brand sign-up bonuses:

    – The Barclays AAdvantage Aviator card has a bonus of 70,000 AA miles after making a purchase and paying the $99 annual fee within 90 days of card opening. This card is doubly interesting because on day 366, you can convert it to a Barclays Aviator Silver card which is only available by product change and offers two companion tickets and $25 per day in AA inflight food and beverage credits.

    – The Barclays Hawaiian Airlines card has 70,000 Hawaiian miles after spending $2,000 in 90 days. You don’t get a backdoor conversion to a cooler card after a year though so close it on the anniversary.

    If you apply for both of these on the same calendar day Barclays will combine the credit pull, though both will eventually appear on your credit report and affect 5/24 individually. Aren’t sure if you’re eligible for a bonus? Barclays makes it easy – if you’re approved you’ll get the bonus after hitting the minimum spend regardless of the language in the application; I can only assume it’s this way because Barclays backend tech is still catching up to Web 1.0 and they’ve just migrated to NCSA Mosaic.
  2. There’s a 30% transfer bonus from ThankYou Points to Qatar Avios through June 30, which is actually a great option for several travel hacks:

    – AA or Iberia business class to and from Europe for 70,000 Avios
    – Qatar business class to and from Doha, Qatar for 70,000 Avois
    – Royal Air Maroc business class to and from Morocco for 70,000 Avios
    – Transferring your Qatar Avios to British Airways Avios and booking AA short-haul domestic for as little as 7,500 Avios

    I don’t like pooling points in a particular program and wouldn’t pool much at any airline, but it’s not hard to beat the alternative 1 cent per point ThankYou Point cash-out with Qatar Avios. (Thanks to TheSultan1)
  3. IHG Hotels now allow confirmed suite upgrades on award stays. These are available as elite choice benefits and availability opens at 14 days prior to the stay.

Have a nice weekend!

Bet you didn’t know you could use Avios to book travel on AA to Lubbock, TX to see Prairie Dog Town. Yes, this is real and it actually exists.