- Amitabh Sarma
- Tour Operators
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There’s no shortage of bonus miles this spring, and even if you haven’t completely thawed out yet, you should definitely take advantage of these mileage and points opportunities.
Airlines welcome new members with loyalty point bonuses. Both JetBlue and Delta are ready to reward new members of their loyalty programs with bonus miles to get them closer toward a free flight more quickly. New members to JetBlue’s TrueBlue program can earn a 5,000-point bonus for signing up first and then flying by April 16. Delta is welcoming new members with international travel plans to join for as many as 10,000 bonus miles if they fly within the first six months of signing up.
Best Western boosts perks for elite members. Business travelers will find a heftier Best Western Rewards program going forward with a few changes that make earning points and status more valuable. Achieving status is now easier since reward nights count toward elite status qualification. Elite status comes with bonus points plus some new welcome gifts (a choice of points or food and beverage items) at most hotels in the U.S. for top tier members. Some members are even eligible for points discounts when redeeming points for stays, and Gold members and above get a boost thanks to new eligibility for room type upgrades within the U.S.
American Express Platinum makes program changes for cardmembers. Amex is making some big changes to its Platinum card. There’s bad news and good news. First, the bad: The annual fee goes up to $550 per year effective March 30. Then there’s the good: With the uptick in the fee comes a bonus of five Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at amextravel.com on flights and prepaid hotel rates. There’s also a $15 monthly credit to Uber. Centurion Lounge access is a popular amenity for fliers (especially with the lounge network growing to even more cities including Hong Kong and Philadelphia), but new access rules are limiting the guest policy to only two people (immediate family members are no longer exempt).
Houston Bush Intercontinental plans new dining options with a United Airlines tie-in. Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport will soon open a new C North terminal with a host of dining options using local chefs including a Vietnamese-Cajun fusion restaurant by chef John Nguyen, a taqueria outlet with chef Roland Laurenzo, and a restaurant with a James Beard Award-winner Chris Shepherd’s Houston-themed menu. OTG is the country’s second largest provider of airport restaurants and is known for providing diners with café-style seating in gate boarding areas with iPads for free Internet access and the chance to order meals delivered to your gate. OTG even likes to surprise and delight some of United’s top fliers with prizes and free meals. You can also redeem United Mileage Plus miles for food and gift purchases (this is a great bargain for those that fly United infrequently, but have some miles to burn).
Hilton Honors introduces new program features including points and cash redemptions. Hilton Honors is launching new program features that make it more flexible to earn and redeem points. The opportunity to combine points and cash will help members that may not have enough points for their ideal redemption to score a free night and makes their points more valuable. There’s also a new promotion for members that make any reservation via the Hilton Honors app between now and the end of the year rewarding them with 500 bonus points per stay. Registration is required first.
IHG partners with Shell Fuel Rewards to offer discounts. Shell gasoline customers can take advantage of a new discount opportunity with IHG Rewards. By linking your accounts, Club and Gold Elite members can receive a discount of 5 cents per gallon while Platinum Elite members can save 6 cents per gallon. Top-level Spire Elite members can save 7 cents per gallon. This is on top of the few cents’ discount already provided to members making it worth it to join even as a base member.