Credit card on keyboard (Photo: Index Open)

Among rewards credit cards, the Citibank cards linked to the ThankYou Rewards program may not be the best, but they definitely deserve recognition for being the most improved. That improvement has taken the form of expanding the list of airline and hotel programs that allow transfers of ThankYou points. And this week, Citi added yet another transfer partner, Virgin Atlantic. ... read more»

Air: Passenger-Filled Cabin (Photo: Shutterstock/dundanim)

If you're thinking about flying to Europe, you have a surprisingly wide range of alternatives to ordinary economy class, especially if you're heading from the New York area to London or Paris.

Let's face it: Ordinary economy class is a really bad product, with its seats designed to the dimensions of anorexic jockeys and its minimal cabin service. And an overnight red-eye in a crowded economy cabin qualifies, in my book, as cruel and unusual punishment. But it's cheap, and the many of you who value cheap over all else will wind up toughing it out in the cattle car. But if you want to avoid the worst of that experience, you have a fair number of options. ... read more»

Beginning today, flyers have a new option for getting between Manhattan and either New York JFK or Newark Liberty airports: a helicopter ride from Gotham Air. Price: $99 promotional rate for first-time users; $199 - $219 thereafter. Flight time: six minutes. ... read more»

When you search for a hotel room on a travel website, does the website's software recognize you, and does it adjust the price display based on that recognition? A new report goes some way to answer that question. And the short answer is, "Yes, in some cases, but the price differences are generally small."

Last spring, a research team at Northeastern University conducted a detailed study of online hotel-price presentations, specifically targeting two aspects of website personalization: manipulation of the order and price categories of hotels displayed to consumers and displays of different price information to different searchers. ... read more»

Madrid ar Night (Photo: iStockphoto/Ricardo De Mattos)

Enter the Red Diamond "International Dream Trip" sweepstakes by March 31, 2015, for a chance to win the grand prize: a seven-night trip for two to either Madrid or Barcelona, including air and hotel accommodations.

To enter, provide the requested information (name, email, etc.) on the sweepstakes landing page and press "Submit." Done! Time required to participate: less than 30 seconds. ... read more»

Cathay Pacific aircraft close up (Photo: Cathay Pacific)

Can an airline loyalty program become "too popular"?

That, according to a story in the South China Morning Post, is precisely the fate that has befallen Cathay Pacific's Marco Polo program.

How can it be a bad thing for a loyalty program to be too popular? Isn't that like a public company being too profitable, or a super model being too beautiful? In this case, "too popular" seems to be code for too generous. Because there are a limited number of award seats and upgrades and lounge seats, more generosity for the many means less generosity for the few. And those few—the airline's most profitable customers—are apparently feeling underappreciated.

Commenting on the story, an airline official was quoted as follows: "Airlines all over the world are recognizing the anomalies created by a mileage or sector-based reward and recognition system. We are carefully studying the impact of this and the possible implications for the Marco Polo Club in terms of how members earn their status and what benefits and recognition they should be receiving based on the value they bring to the airline."

If that sounds vaguely familiar, it's probably because similar thinking, whether explicitly communicated or not, was the business-case driver behind Delta and United's decision to convert their programs to revenue-based schemes in 2015. ... read more»

Following the December announcement regarding loosened travel restrictions to Cuba, new rules take effect today that will make it a lot easier to visit the Caribbean nation.

But, while Cuba travel is getting easier, it's still not as simple as booking a flight and getting a cab to the airport. Tourism remains restricted, and you'll need to follow the rules. Here's what you need to know before you start planning a vacation to Cuba. ... read more»

Miles & Points (Photo: Shutterstock)

Following is our regular summary of the latest travel news and best frequent traveler promotions reviewed during the past week.

If it was a good deal—or a notably bad deal—from an airline, hotel, or car rental loyalty program, you can read all about it here, and plan your travel accordingly.

Up to 50K Hyatt Bonus-Point Offer, But Was the Wait Worth It?

Hyatt Gold Passport members can earn bonus points for stays at more than 570 Hyatt properties between January 15 and April 30.

Hack Attack! Check Your American, United Miles

If you have miles in the programs of American or United, this would be a good time to check your account balance and confirm that all your miles are intact.

And the Best Airport in North America Is ... ... read more»

Photo: iStockphoto

The slow-motion merging of the American and US Airways mileage programs registered a significant milestone earlier this month, when the programs began allowing travelers who have both AAdvantage and Dividend Miles accounts to "match" them.

Matching the accounts does not merge them. That won't happen until sometime during the second quarter of 2015. Rather, matching means ensuring that the profile details (name, date of birth, email, contact information) are identical in both programs. That way, the accounts can be automatically merged later this year. If there are discrepancies between the accounts—you're identified as Jim in one and James in the other, say—the auto-merge process will fail and you will have to intervene manually to consolidate the accounts. ... read more»

People: Diver (Photo: Thinkstock/Zoonar)

Restrictions on travel to Cuba may have been loosened recently, but there are still so many rules about what American tour groups can and can't do, it's no surprise most of the itineraries are pretty similar. These educational, people-to-people trips are quickly creating a beaten path in the small, still-sort-of-off-limits Caribbean country. On most tours, you'll go to a cigar factory, you'll have dinner at a local family restaurant, and you'll visit a colonial city. It's not that these and other iconic activities aren't interesting, it's just that some travelers want something a little different.

Here are seven companies offering just that, tours that provide a unique lens through which to see Cuba: ... read more»

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