The Best Use of U.S. Bank FlexPerks Points

A year ago Million Mile Secrets posted a creative way to use FlexPerks, a strange type of reward points. I’ve been sitting on slightly over 20,000 points and had no immediate use for them. My family flies Southwest Airlines a lot. So I turned to the MMS trick…and it still works!

Trick for Big Travel on Southwest Using US Bank FlexPerks Cards

As I’ve noted in the comments section of MMS, I successfully converted the 20K of FlexPerks into $395+ “cash” in my Southwest Airlines account, funds that can be used for future air travel.

Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines

If you have FlexPerks and fly Southwest, this is a great technique to get the maximum possible benefit.

Austin – Denver $117 r/t on United & Southwest

Austin – Denver $59 one-way either-way on Southwest and United, mid-August to November.

Nonstop Flights: Austin to/from Denver $117 r/t – United / Southwest

A quick check on BookingBuddy or Hipmunk may find other airlines matching this fare.

Change / Cancellation Fees for Airline Award Ticket Bookings

This is an excellent summary of airline charges for changes and cancellations of award tickets.

Change And Cancellation Fees For Airline Award Tickets

The policies of twelve airlines are examined. The best, with no charge for changes / cancellations, are Korean Air and Southwest.

AAdvantage Gold Card
AAdvantage Gold Card

List of Airline Fees and Policies for Last-Minute Award Bookings

MileValue has compiled a helpful chart of the (often substantial) fees that airlines charge for last-minute bookings using frequent flyer miles and points.

Some airlines, like Air Canada, Alaska Air, British Air and KLM, do not charge a fee.

Others, like American and United, charge $75. Still others, like Delta, JetBlue and Southwest, charge a hidden fee.

The blog post links to a method of avoiding the $75 fee on United.

Photo by Leo Reynolds / Flickr

10 Freebies To Ask For on Your Next Flight

This newspaper article lists 10 unexpected benefits that some airlines offer even in Coach.

The list includes full cans of soft drinks (something I always ask for and receive), hot chocolate (even on Southwest Airlines), and temporary babysitting.

Also on the list are sanitizing wipes, amenity kits (comb, earplugs, eyeshade, etc.), extra snack packs, bandages and cute wing pins for the kids.

Some people avoid the cost of on-board alcohol purchases by taking their own mini-bottles of booze aboard. The small full bottles are available for about $1.50 at liquor stores in many states, and can be refilled at home.

Of course, you are more likely to receive these if you are polite to the flight crew.

Dallas to NYC/Chicago/Baltimore/Phoenix only $72 r/t

Southwest Airlines is offering some deeply discounted fares from Dallas DAL (Love Field, not close to DFW) to / from New York LGA / Chicago MDW / Baltimore BWI/ Phoenix PHX. The price is only $36 each way.

Southwest Airlines: $36 One-way Dallas to/from New York / Chicago / Baltimore / Phoenix

Of course, there are limitations: Fly Tue, Wed or Sat, late August to mid-November, not Thanksgiving. Other airlines like American may match, be sure and check if you prefer them.

Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines

Six Airlines Approved for Flights to Cuba

Six American airlines have been approved by the US government for scheduled flights to Cuba.

Six U.S. Airlines Approved for Cuba Service

The six are American Airlines, Frontier, JetBlue, Silver Airways, Southwest, and Sun Country. They will fly to Cuban cities other than Havana, but in the future some may be approved to that popular destination.

The origination cities in the US are Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Philadelphia.

Americans continue to face significant obstacles to Cuban travel, due to the continuing “12 reasons” rule. Abolition of these restrictions may depend upon Congressional action.

My Trip to Iceland

For most of the past week I’ve been in Iceland, a beautiful country with very friendly people who are fluent in English. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, one that I highly recommend.

I used WOW Airlines’ very low fares from Baltimore (BWI) to Reykjavik (KEF) and back, with Southwest Airlines award travel from Austin to Baltimore and back.

WOW Airline Offers Low Cost Airfares to Iceland and Europe
WOW Airline Offers Low Cost Airfares to Europe

The flight from BWI to KEF was delayed by about 3 hours due to a strike by Icelandic air traffic controllers. This strike apparently occurs every few days. Upon arrival I took the Flybus shuttle to the Radisson Blu Saga hotel, which had a room available even at 10 AM. This had been booked last year, when Club Carlson had a ‘2 nights for the cost in points of one’ sale going.

After the first 2 nights at the Radisson Blu Saga, I transferred to the Radisson Blu 1919 hotel for the same deal. The two hotels are about 1/2 mile apart.

Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel in Reykjavik, Iceland
Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel in Reykjavik, Iceland

My days in Reykjavik were filled with a must-do Golden Circle tour, a hop-on-hop-off (HOHO) bus tour of Reykjavik, hot-tubbing at one of the local public geothermal pools (Vesturbaejarlaug, an alternative to the tourist-favored Blue Lagoon), attending a theatrical comedy called “How to Become Icelandic in 60 Minutes”, taking the ferry to Vithey island nature preserve, and walking all over town.

Among the must-sees in town, easily reachable by the HOHO bus, are the dramatic spire-like church Hallgrimskirkja, the Harpa music hall and the Pearl geothermal facility.

I’m not an adventurous eater, so I chose American favorites like hot dogs and Subway for several meals. For those so inclined, there are restaurants that advertise fried puffin and whale steaks. Other available delicacies are foal meat, boiled sheep’s head and “ALL parts of sheep except the fur.”

The weather was sunny and warm some days, and overcast and long-sleeve-shirt cool other days. It rained only on my last day there, during the Flybus ride from Reykjavik out to KEF.

If you are considering a trip to Iceland in order to view the Aurora Borealis, note that it is only visible at night and there is no night during the summer. However, during my nighttime flight from BWI to KEF there was a period when we were over northern Canada and the sky was still dark. During that time I believe I saw a weak aurora…it was dim but had moving areas that indicated it wasn’t merely high-altitude clouds.

Speculation on Award Travel to Cuba

A blogger has analyzed the possible number of frequent-flyer miles needed when Americans are permitted to fly to Cuba.

The airlines covered are American, Delta, Southwest and United.

It seems likely that very few award seats will actually be released, since the airlines probably will be able to sell (for money) just about every seat they fly to the Cuba.