BIG SKYMILES BONUSES FOR HOTEL BOOKINGS. Have you heard of RocketMiles? It’s a new hotel booking site (new since last November) that is offering unbelievably large mileage bonuses for bookings at a handful of high-end hotels in several major cities around the country. For example, it’s offering a whopping 9,500 SkyMiles bonus for a two night stay at the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan in April; 10,000 SkyMiles for a two-night stay at Ian Schrager’s swanky new PUBLIC hotel in Chicago. How about 7,000 SkyMiles at the InterContinental San Francisco near Moscone Center? How do they do it? “Every property is selected and screened by our staff of experienced business travelers. Rocketmiles attracts the type of frequent travelers that our hotel providers are trying to reach, which is why they offer us rates with enough margin to bundle the rooms with incredible amounts of airline miles. It’s a win-win for everybody,” said Bjorn Larsen, one of RocketMiles’ founders contacted by The TICKET. We checked and found some of RocketMiles’s hotel rates mildly inflated compared to rates found on the hotel brand sites. For example, the RocketMiles rate at the InterConti San Francisco is $319 per night, but on IHG.com, it’s $284. So this might work best for “unmanaged” business travelers who simply have to submit a receipt to their client or company for reimbursement. Larsen contends that in a recent RocketMiles study, its rates were the same or lower than other online sites 85% of the time. Along with Delta SkyMiles, RocketMiles works with American AAdvantage, HawaiianMiles and United Mileage Plus. Check it out and let us know what you think. Note: RocketMiles has a “refer a friend” offer on the site, and we signed up for it (and you can, too). So if you make a booking from links posted here, we get 1000 miles. Come on and help us out!
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TAXES & FEES…AND SURCHARGES. Delta’s new SkyMiles rules state that you’ll earn Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) on fare only—you will not earn it on the taxes and fees included in the ticket price. When we first dug into that new wrinkle, it looked ugly. For example, on a $1,149 coach fare between Atlanta and London in May, nearly half that– $644– is comprised of “taxes/carrier-imposed fees,” which made it look like you’d only earn 505 MQDs for that round trip.
That seemed like a total rip off, so we asked Delta to confirm.
Thankfully, Delta told The TICKET that it’s only the government-imposed taxes and fees that don’t count as MQDs. Since “surcharges” are imposed by Delta, they do count toward MQDs. In the case of the $1,149 ticket to London, there’s a $458 “carrier imposed international surcharge.” So when you tack that on to the $505 base fare, you get $963—and 963 MQDs.
Not great, but not as bad as we thought.
This means that the math used in this widely circulated CNN/Fortune/Money article about Medallion Qualification Dollars– which was sent to us by many alarmed TICKET readers– is not correct.
SKYMILES IN YOUR WILL? Here’s another reason to burn up those banked SkyMiles as soon as you can. Last month Delta quietly (and without any warning) changed its rules when it comes to passing your SkyMiles along to heirs when/if you die. The new rules state that as of March 2013 “miles may not be transferred…upon death.” Old rules allowed an executor to transfer miles to the accounts of heirs. Delta joins several other carriers that do not allow mileage transfers upon death. How do you get around this? First, those who are terminally ill should transfer miles to heirs as soon as possible. At a minimum, everyone should leave their SkyMiles account number and login information with someone who can redeem miles or make transfers in the event of their demise. Have you done this??