One key skill for travel-hacking, churning, and manufactured spend is to understand the nuance of terms and conditions to find an opening that you can plow right through. For airline travel hacking in particular, when you’re maximizing things like: mileage earning, elite qualification, same day changes, checked bags, upgrade certificates, and fuel dumps, you need to understand the three types of carrier associated with your ticket because they all play into the maximization game in a different way.

Carrier Types

The three types:

  • Marketing carrier: The airline marketed as flying the route (the carrier named on your boarding pass)
  • Operating carrier: The airline actually flying the route (the name of the carrier on the airframe registration and safety cards)
  • Ticketing carrier: The airline issuing a ticket (the carrier that issued the ticket, determined by the first three numbers of your ticket)


It’s possible to have a ticket where all three of these are the same, and it’s possible to have a ticket where all three are different. A few examples:

Making it Real

A few hints about how this can be useful:

  • Travel banks might only work on one or two carriers, but flight credits work on others
  • You may earn many more miles or status dollars by booking the a flight with a different marketing or ticketing carrier than operating carrier
  • Lounge access can be tied to ticketing carrier or marketing carrier
  • Airfare surcharge rules can be tied to the country in which a ticketing carrier or operating carrier is based

Happy hacking!

Pictured: The three types of taco in a proper hard-shell taco meal.

  1. Somehow I missed posting the giant Public brokerage sign-up bonus that works even for existing account holders and runs through December 31. You have to transfer non-retirement account equities, and a cash deposit won’t work. The bonus tiers:

    – $150 bonus for $5,000 transferred
    – $500 bonus for $25,000 transferred
    – $2,000 bonus for $100,000 transferred
    – $5,000 bonus for $500,000 transferred
    – $10,000 bonus for $1,000,000 transferred

    You have to keep the equities or the proceeds from their sale at Public for six months or you risk a bonus clawback. I’m conflicted about what to do with this one because public doesn’t support options, margins, forex, mutual funds, or bonds. (Thanks to Mark S for noting the lack of a post)
  2. Redditor professor_doom shares a great tip for making the airbnb booking process sane: Do all of your searches from to see a total booking price including cleaning fees, service fees, and resort fees from the main page.
  3. There’s a Chase Offers and BankAmeriDeals offer for 10% back up to $47.50, or 15% back up to $67.50 back with Alaska Airlines. You can game these without even playing the break the correlation to game or being a Jedi. (Thanks to DoC)
  4. A few updates on the yesterday’s Chase Sapphire Reserve 80,000 Ultimate Rewards vs Ink Preferred 100,000 Ultimate Rewards hot-take based on your feedback:

    – If you have access to a targeted 80,000 Chase Sapphire Preferred bonus and are below 5/24, the heightened Reserve bonus is probably above the line for a Modified Double Dip

    – If you’re 3/24 or below and haven’t had a Sapphire bonus in the last 48 months, yes, it could make sense to get both this card and an Ink Preferred. Follow-up question though: Are you missing out on other bonuses by being that low, could you be doing more?

    – The Reserve has a $4,000 spend requirement, while the Ink Preferred has a $15,000 spend requirement. If you don’t have easy access to $15,000 in spend, the Reserve is an easier win. Follow-up question: Can you get access to more spend?

Forget “Three For Thursday”, bring on “Quadsday”. Actually never mind, I didn’t think that one through.

The Hyatt late checkout benefit is a favorite, but often problematic benefit for exactly one reason: According to my, erm, “completely scientific” measurements, housekeeping will knock on the door and sometimes even enter your room way before your late-checkout time 147.1% of the time. The Flyertalk threads about late checkout confirm this measurement, making it even more, erm, “completely scientific”.

Recently I found a nice solution to knock that percentage way down, possibly to zero:

Put a sticky note over the keycard reader that says “4:00 PM Checkout” (“16.00 Checkout” if you’re outside the US and therefore don’t operate on freedom time).

I’ve never been to a hotel front desk that didn’t have a stack of sticky notes at every station at the front desk, so you probably don’t even need to pack your own set.

Happy Tuesday!

Now you can make sure the housekeeping staff has had plenty of time to caffeinate before they discover this nonsense.

  1. In case you missed the Royal Air Maroc deal, Gary points out a new way to get AA lounge access for a big discount: You can buy Qantas Club membership for about $250 USD this week only, and that also gets you and a guest access to AA lounges when flying AA.
  2. Capital One Shopping‘s mobile app started offering 8% cash back at on Saturday, and it’s still alive. Last month there were no effective limits with cash-back paid out on that portal, and presumably this month will be the same.

    You don’t need to be a Capital One account holder for Capital One shopping, it’s available to anyone.
  3. Check to see if any upcoming IHG paid bookings could be converted to award nights at less than 0.5 cents per point. If so, consider taking advantage of the IHG points sale here for 0.5 cents per point and then rebook your stays as awards. (This is where I’d normally say something about a budget IHG hotel in Lubbock, Texas, but I’m trying to grow.)

The secret note passing device between guests and housekeeping at the Staybridge Suites, Lubbock, TX. I guess old habits die hard.

  1. Morgan Stanley has announced that they’ll no longer accept applications for new Access Investing accounts starting on December 1. We care because the Access Investing account is a cheap, backdoor way to get access to the American Express Morgan Stanley Platinum card. That particular variant is interesting because:

    – It gives a free Platinum authorized user card, which also gives that authorized user access to Delta SkyClubs and a Priority Pass membership
    – It usually has retention offers
    – It’s mostly churnable

    In other sort-of-related news, Credit Suisse account holders with the co-branded Credit Suisse American Express Platinum may lose everything at around the same time 😬, so I guess cash out those airline credits?
  2. October’s AirFrance/KLM FlyingBlue promo awards have been released for travel through March 31, 2023. This round has discounted economy with good availability and some spotty discounted business class redemptions too. The awards are for travel to and from Europe and LAX, JFK, MIA, IAD, SFO, or SEA.
  3. Chase’s credit card IT systems are currently preventing product changes. This should be cleared up quickly, so don’t lose sleep over it. Update: We now have reports that some product changes are working again, no surprise (like Credit Suisse?)
  4. Check your AmEx offers for 20,000 Membership Rewards or $200 back on $1,000 or more at AirFrance/KLM. Normally I’d say that you should buy in a foreign currency to break the correlation thanks to variable foreign exchange rates, but the T&C specify that the transaction has to be in US Dollars so you’ll need to use another method, and believe me they offer plenty.

Exclusive picture of the Credit Suisse American Express Blue card, as seen in December, 2022.

In case you hadn’t heard before now (maybe you didn’t read this post’s title), Virgin Atlantic announced yesterday that they’re joining SkyTeam. What that probably means:

  • Delta award availability will get better, but cost more (#bonvoyed)
  • ANA, Singapore Airlines, and Air New Zealand award redemptions will go away since each of these airlines is in Star Alliance, a SkyTeam competitor
  • Virgin Atlantic award availability will probably get better for SkyTeam partners
  • The 50,000 Virgin Atlantic mileage redemption for Delta business class to and from Europe loophole will likely be closed

As a result, I’d do the following, and do it quickly:

  • Book any ANA business class or first class round-trip awards to Japan and South Asia now, especially since Japan is opening on October 11. At 90,000-95,000 points round trip for business class, and 110,000-120,000 points round trip for first class, it’s hard to find a better redemption in any program
  • Book any Delta business class award tickets to and from Europe right away, again assuming that you can find availability
  • Book any Air New Zealand awards to Australia and New Zealand right away, also assuming you can find any availability

Don’t forget that American Express has a 30% transfer bonus for Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic that runs through Friday. Good luck!

Act fast on V05 too. Soon you’ll lose access to use it a toothpaste and mouthwash.

  1. The AirFrance and KLM FlyingBlue program has great economy award availability for 15,000 miles each way or 30,000 miles round trip between the US and Europe. I’m a diva when traveling internationally though, and because economy doesn’t start with a “J” or an “F” I’m not personally interested.

    If you want good availability direct to CDG or AMS, look for plane+train tickets and accidentally miss the train portion of your travel.
  2. Do this now: Register for IHG’s September promotion. The promotional offer is varied, my offer was:

    – 10,000 bonus points for staying 5 nights
    – 20,000 bonus points for staying 10 nights
    – 30,000 bonus points for staying 15 nights
  3. Apparently Chase business credit card applications are occasionally being denied based on erroneously tagging your IP address as outside of the US. If you’re affected by this, apparently you can get it straightened out by calling (888) 270-2127 and asking to speak to the New Account Lending Department.

A traveling diva.


Last month we discussed getting an upgrade for each elite and +1 as part of a big group on Delta and it generated a few common questions:

  • Q: Why would you split off an elite and a single companion?
    A: The most common case is parents up front, kids in the back
  • Q: What are upgrades like with a companion, all-or-nothing?
    A: Ymmv. Before the day of departure, it’s an all-or-nothing proposition. On the day of departure you’ll both be upgraded if space is available. If there’s only one seat, then some gate agents will call you up and ask what you want to do, and some will just upgrade the elite only. If the outcome matters to you, I’d let the gate agent know ahead of time what you want to happen

Related Hack

There’s a related hack that we didn’t discuss: On Delta, Platinum and Diamond medallions are eligible for an at-booking upgrade to Comfort+ for the elite and a single companion. What if you want to get a whole group into Comfort+ though? Easy in-principle, slightly annoying in-practice:

  1. Book a ticket for the elite and a single companion
  2. Select the companion’s seat in Comfort+ after booking
  3. Call or chat with Delta to cancel the elite’s ticket only, leaving the companion in place
  4. Start over for each companion in your group

The caveats from the prior post apply here too: Schedule changes and IROPS could leave a mess for you to clean up, and aircraft swaps might cause lost seat assignments. The flip-side is Delta is the friendliest US airline for patching up stuff like that, so #slay I guess?

Have fun out there!

Getting everyone in Comfort+ doesn’t get you out of this gate mess though.