View From The Wing has some news on changes to the Hyatt Visa card. The card is now free for the first year, which I think is a big plus. Earlier this year they added double points for restaurants, airline tickets and rental cars, which was also a positive move.
On the down side, I think the benefit they added earlier that allowed you to earn credits towards elite status is a bit pricey. $20K in spend gets you 2 stay credits and 5 night credits, $40K gets you an additional 3 stay and 5 night credits. It beats nothing, but when you consider that the SPG Amex gives you 2 stay credits and 5 night credits just for having the card, that’s a clear advantage.
As Gary points out, though, even after doing away with the annual fee they’re still offering a statement credit if you apply while booking a room on the Hyatt website. That makes it pretty easy to justify the card. Keeping it once the annual fee kicks in is pretty easy in my opinion, since you also get a free night (at a limited number of properties) with your renewal, which is easy to get more than $75 in value out of.
Speaking of Hyatt, there’s some more expansion at my favorite chain. They just opened up a Hyatt Place in Denver. It’s not quite downtown but just a few minutes away in Cherry Creek. As I noted a few months ago, this property used to be a Loews hotel that definitely needed a renovation. Not huge news, but two things of note. First, Hyatt doesn’t really have anything “budget” or “limited service” in the downtown Denver market, though they do have Hyatt Places and Hyatt Houses further away. This is closer to downtown. I’d say it was an even bigger plus if it was right downtown. Second, I’ll be checking it out in a couple weeks. I’m expecting a standard Hyatt Place, but I am curious to see how they handled the renovation of the old Loews property.
Loyalty Lobby also has news of Hyatt scoring a property in South Beach again. It won’t open for over a year, but does cover another hole in the Hyatt map. I’m not a huge South Beach fan but this looks like it will be a solid addition,
A 9-year old boy snuck through security at Minneapolis airport. Then, he snuck past a gate agent onto a plane. Bound for Las Vegas. And, somehow the plane’s crew missed him when they were doing their final passenger counts. He made all the way to Las Vegas before getting caught. HT: Mike Reed on Milepoint.
Wandering Aramean has info on the new coach seats you can expect to find coming to a United Airlines Boing jet you’re flying soon. I just sat in one of these on an Airbus 320 from Denver to Washington-Dulles. That’s a 3-hour flight, but I also boarded right away to find space for my bag and we had taxi time when we landed, so I was in the seat for just about 4 hours. I don’t think I found it any more or less comfortable than the existing coach seats, but it was really just one experience. I do slightly prefer the new adjustable headrest to the old ones.
The seatback pockets on the new seats are dreadful, which is just another reason I like the bulkhead on the Airbus planes. There’s a cutout under the bulkhead so you can store a bag at your feet, plenty of legroom and a real pocket to store things in.
WA also has notes about Lufthansa pulling First Class from some international routes that they currently serve with 3 classes of service. While most of the routes don’t affect me, it is a kick in the butt that I need to go ahead and try out the new product while I still have a chance.
Airline codeshares make strange bedfellows. Delta and Alaska Airlines have been partners for quite some time. The relationship has served both nicely. But, Delta’s financial strength has it expanding in multiple places, including Alaska’s dominance in Seattle. It’ll be interesting to see how this shakes out, since new routes like SEA-SFO are good ones for Alaska (and United, for that matter). HT: ballardFlyer on Milepoint.
I’ve been lukewarm on the changes to the Starwood Preferred Guest program over the past year or so. I’m pretty happy with the lifetime status part of the program, especially as I close in on lifetime Platinum. I’ve had mediocre results from my Platinum Ambassador in the first half of the year and have had limited success redeeming my Suite Night Upgrades. Apparently, I’m not the only one. Given, this is a benefit we didn’t used to have before, but I’m not thrilled with the rollout so far. I think it’s better than it used to be, but not as advertised. How has your experience been with SPG’s new program?