Buenos dias everyone! Back in November, I was able to snag two economy tickets from San Francisco to Auckland, New Zealand for a jaw-dropping $395 per person roundtrip, nonstop on Air New Zealand. (My understanding is tickets twice that price would still be a good deal – right now, the lowest price I see for these flights through the end of 2018 is $1,150). I used Citi Thank You Points from my Citi Prestige Credit Card to book these tickets at a value of 1.25 cents per point (so a little over 63,000 points total).
At first, I avoided making any further plans because I thought the tickets might get canceled – but after a couple of months, I was pretty confident that they would stick. I eventually booked tickets from Mexico City to San Francisco (using American Express Membership Rewards points with the 35% AMEX Platinum Card rebate), and a few days before our trip, I finally started sketching out our plan.
For a long time, Amtrak has had a very generous cancellation policy, similar to Southwest Airlines – as long as you canceled your ticket before departure, you could get the full amount paid back as an eVoucher valid for one year. And depending on the type of fare you purchased, you could even get a refund back to your credit card (possibly with a 10% service fee depending on when you canceled your ticket).
This has all changed. For tickets purchased starting March 20, 2018, most tickets will be hit with a 25% service fee when refunding to an eVoucher. Unfortunately, the news of these changes is buried in the fare rules on Amtrak’s website and on their Refunds and Cancellations page – and even that doesn’t note that there’s been a change, or when it went into effect. Here’s the breakdown of the new policy (credit to AmtrakLKL on Amtrak Unlimited, via NovaEngr on Flyertalk):
Advance Purchase Saver Fares
Full refund to original form of payment (or eVoucher) within 24 hours of purchase
75% refund to eVoucher after 24 hours, as long as you cancel before departure
Buenos dias everyone! A couple of months ago, I logged into my Bank of America account and was surprised to see that my Merrill+ Visa Signature Card had a past due balance. Since I have a lot of credit cards, I always set them up for automatic payments initiated by the credit card company – that way, they’re usually on the hook if something goes wrong with a payment. Upon further investigation, I discovered that my automatic payment for the end of October had been scheduled and then canceled without any explanation. I also noticed that the same thing had happened to my Bank of America Spirit Airlines World MasterCard.
My connecting flight to Hong Kong boarded promptly at 9:35am, and we even managed to push back a few minutes early.
Narita to Hong Kong
My onward connection to Hong Kong was on a 767-300 operated by Air Japan (an ANA subsidiary). This plane has a somewhat unusual 2-1-2 configuration in business, so I chose the middle seat in row 2 (someone warned me that people often use the row 1 bulkhead to move between the two aisles). The center seat has more storage than the others: a side console with a large storage compartment, as well as two smaller compartments for glasses and a water bottle. All the seats have a seatback pocket and a literature slot next to the footwell, plus generously sized tray tables, but there’s a lot more storage room and elbow room in the middle seat.
Like last year, I just left Mexico City for a long international trip over the holidays – this time to Asia instead of Europe. This time the trip wasn’t built around a mistake fare, but rather a desire to visit the Leshan Giant Buddha and the Chengdu Panda Base, both in western China.
I started planning the trip in mid-September, and found that Asiana Airlines had pretty good business class availability across the Pacific for the dates we were looking at. I tacked on United economy flights between Mexico City and LAX (though this resulted in an overnight layover in each direction, since United only has one flight per day between those two cities), and added a domestic Air China economy flight from Shanghai to Chengdu after a one-week stopover.