United Revolutionizes the World of Airline Elite Status

United made a dramatic change to the way MileagePlus members qualify for elite status. The changes go into effect on January 1 and are applied to earning for status in 2021. This may turn out to be one of the most important stories of the year, depending on how it works out and whether other airlines adopt it—or it could become an embarrassing boondoggle. Here are the essentials:

Miles Earned No Longer Count Toward Elite Status on United

 You heard that correctly: miles are no longer in the picture. Beginning in January, status will be determined by the number of flight segments plus the amount of money spent, or merely on spending alone. Each segment will become a PQS (Premier Qualifying Segment), and each dollar spent on a United ticket will become a PQP (Premier Qualifying Point).

The Cost of Elite Status Is Going Up

Starting next year, these are the requirements to become a United elite:

  • Silver: 12 PQF and 4,000 PQP, or 5,000 PQP.
  • Gold: 24 PQF and 8,000 PQP, or 10,000 PQP.
  • Platinum: 36 PQF and 12,000 PQP, or 15,000 PQP.
  • Premier 1K: 54 PQF and 18,000 PQP, or 24,000 PQP.

By contrast, the requirements for the four elite levels on both AA and Delta are currently $3,000/$6,000/$9,000/$15,000.

International Flights on Partner Airlines Now Count

United elites were previously unable to earn Premier Qualifying Dollars for international flights on Star Alliance partners. Now those flights will earn PQPs. To determine the number of PQPs, divide by six (unless the flight is on ANA, Air Canada, Copa or Lufthansa, in which case divide by five). Some bloggers are touting this as a big plus, or even as a revival of the mileage run, but it’s hard to see how either of those things are true. If you (or your company) is in a position to shell out $10,000 for a premium cabin on a United flight, you earn 10,000 PQPs; that same flight on Lufthansa nets you 2,000.

Credit Card Spending Is Now Less Rewarding

Previously, spending $25,000 or more on United credit cards earned you a waiver from the PQD requirement. Going forward, you can earn 500 PQPs for the first $12,000 in credit card spend and another 500 for the next $12,000, but that’s it. Strangely enough, the meager return on credit card spending doesn’t even benefit flyers chasing 1K status—it only applies to Platinum level and below.

Other Ways to Earn PQPs

You can also boost your PQP totals by purchasing Economy Plus seating, Preferred seating, paid upgrades or MileagePlus Upgrade Award co-pays.

Upgrades for Top Elites Are Now More Difficult

Previously, United Platinum and 1K members earned Regional Premier Upgrades and Global Premier Upgrades. That system was recently changed to Points Plus, which grants top elites points they can use toward upgrades. Now Points Plus has been devalued: for spending above the 1K threshold, elites will now receive half the number of points.

Who Benefits From the New Requirements?

It’s hard to see how anyone does (except United, of course). For occasional or semi-frequent flyers, the new stringent rules make it difficult to qualify for elite status at all. The only person it might benefit is someone who formerly met the spending requirement but didn’t fly the necessary number of miles, and the number of those travelers is limited. There are commentators who have suggested the new requirements will result in far more elites, but that doesn’t seem likely. It’s very possible there will be less, since trying to qualify seems futile unless you live near a United hub.

Could It Possibly Be Any More Complicated?

Not really, unless the new rules were printed in Urdu, Swahili or Esperanto.

Increasingly, more and more loyalty programs are becoming revenue-based. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, provided the rules are straightforward and transparent (JetBlue is a good example). You have to wonder, though, about the motivations behind all the complex twists and turns in the new United program.

What Effect Will This Have, Industry-Wide?

This is the key question. Will this program be quickly adopted by American and Delta? The traditional pattern among the big three has been that an increase by one has quickly turned into an increase by all. Remember that the frequent flyer programs at American and Delta were identical to United prior to this upheaval.

There’s also the real possibility that the United strategy will backfire. The whole point of a loyalty program is encouraging customers to spend more and go out of their way to use your brand. There was a time when that was true, when frequent flyers would pay a bit more or accept an extra connection to rank higher on their preferred airline’s elite scale. In recent years, United has almost doubled the requirements for elite status while giving customers no additional benefits (or even curtailing them). We’ll find out if that strategy will succeed over the long term.

Source: frugal travel guy

London: Free and cheap things to do for Christmas

The Christmas lights are sparkling, the temperature has dropped and London town is starting to feel oh so very festive.

While there are tons of “official” Christmas activities to partake in over the next few weeks, you’ll find that many (like the plethora of ice rinks that have popped up in all corners of the capital) don’t really fit within a Cheapo’s budget. From raising a pint at a cheery pub to taking in the view of the famous Christmas lights on Oxford Street, London is a good place to be for Cheapos.

So here are some foolproof ways to embrace the festive spirit without frittering away your Christmas present budget!

Read more about visiting London:
Here are the 5 best cheap hotels in Central London
10 Free things that will make you fall in love with London
Follow these 25 tips for a much better trip to London

Christmas in London: Fun activities for less

London Pub

A cozy pub is always a good idea during the holiday season! Photo: chas.

1. The London pub

A favorite retreat at all times of the year, London’s traditional pubs come into their own at Christmas time. Serving up warming mugs of mulled wine and cider while offering some cozy relief from the bitter cold, make the pub your first port of call. Of particular note is the Churchill Arms in Kensington, which gets into the Christmas spirit with holiday decorations everywhere you look, while our round-up of favorite London pubs is also a good place to start.

Related: Everything you need to know about raising a pint in a British pub

2. Carolers are caroling

Belting out some carols to your heart’s content is a fun way to feel festive and there’s no better place to do it than around Trafalgar Square’s enormous Christmas Tree (an annual gift from Norway to London). Four hours of carol singing takes place daily from December 9 to 24 (except 14 and 22) from 4 to 9 pm on weekdays and 2 to 7 pm on weekends. It’s free to attend but donations are encouraged.

Related: 10 free things to do during winter in London

3. Release your inner child

Whether you have children or not, a trip to Hamleys is a sure-fire way to get into the Christmas spirit. This wonderful toy store, the oldest in the world, buzzes with life and excitement every day of the week but never more so than at Christmas. It has been a Regent Street institution since 1881 but actually started life even earlier, back in 1760. Containing 50,000 toys across seven floors, after a mulled wine in the pub it’s another great pit stop to get some welcome respite from the cold.


Harrods all lit up for the holiday season. Photo:

4. Light up London

Another free and festive activity is to take in London’s best illuminations and decorations, which you’ll find all over the city. Oxford Street and Regent Street have the biggest light displays, but nearby Carnaby and South Molten Streets, as well as St Christopher’s Place, always boast some truly magical creations. The Christmas tree and decorations in Covent Garden piazza are another must-sees, while you can enjoy the fantastic window displays at classy shops like Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Fortnum & Mason, and Selfridges without having to fork out any cash at all.

Related: How to shop in London without blowing your budget

5. Welcome to Winter Wonderland

Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland has been running for years and while it is a family favorite, it’s also known for big crowds and hefty price tags. The fun runs daily through January 5th, 10 am to 10 pm (closed on December 25th). A few other Christmas activities to take note of are Winter at Southbank Centre and Christmas in Leicester Square with a lively market and shows inside a 1920s spiegeltent.

Have you been to London during the holidays? Let us know your favorite cheap and free things to do at Christmas time!

The post London: Free and cheap things to do for Christmas appeared first on EuroCheapo's Budget Travel Blog.

Source: Euro Cheapo

Paris: 6 ways to celebrate the holidays (without blowing your budget)

There’s a nip in the air, but with Christmas right around the corner, Paris always seems to shine a bit brighter during the holiday season.

But all those extra bobbles and balls do not mean you can’t still find some affordable cheer around town.

It’s not too late to book one of the best cheap hotels in Paris and head to the City of Light for a holiday getaway as 2019 turns into 2020.

More Paris budget tips

Paris on the Cheap: The top 25 free things to do
A guide to finding the best time of year to visit Paris
10 ways to prepare for your Paris vacation

How to celebrate the holiday season in Paris

Have you ever dreamed of visiting Paris in the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year’s Eve? Here are six easy ways to celebrate in Paris à la Cheapo.

1. Bask in the glow

Through early January, the city’s iconic streets are aglow with holiday lights, Christmas window displays and the sounds of the holidays. Of special note are the trees and lights at Place Vendome (through January 2020) the festive decorations hanging across rue Montorgueil, and of course, the ever-campy but always appreciated displays on the historic Champs-Elysées (November 24 to January 8, 2020).

Ladling up a mulled mug at the Christmas market along the Champs-Elysées. Photo: anniemole

Ladling up a mulled mug at the Christmas market along the Champs-Elysées. Photo: anniemole

2. Stroll with mulled wine

To appreciate the lights, be sure to grab a cup of hot wine (vin chaud) to go while strolling the streets. The Christmas markets, while selling plenty of trinkets, do manage to provide enough of the sweetened, spiced wine to make them worth a trip. Once the holidays are finished, the wine is still available in most cafés, and is often a bit tastier — and it doesn’t get cold as quickly.

Check out the official Paris tourism website for the 2019 list of markets and holiday activities.

Chartier Paris

A classic and affordable French dining experience awaits at Chartier. Photo: shufgy

3. Feast for less

Holiday eating in Paris can be tricky because many places close on December 24, 25, and January 1, but diners won’t starve, even on a budget. A simple yet exceedingly affordable meal can be had at old favorite Chartier while those looking to drop a bit more can have a four-course Christmas meal (including Champagne!) at the famed Coupole for €75. Though it may seem steep, it’s a lot cheaper than many holiday menus around town!

Ice skate under the spectacular dome of the Grand Palais. Photo: Le Grand Palais des Glaces Facebook Page

4. Hit the rink

Winter is here, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend all of your time in Paris huddled away. Strap on your skates or rent a pair and hit the largest rink in the world at Le Grand Palais from December 13 to January 8, 2020. You can also skate at the Christmas Market at Champs de Mars right under the Eiffel Tower (through January 2020). If it’s a bit too frigid outside, the Patinoire Pailleron by the Parc de Buttes Chaumont is a bit more tolerable with its indoor rink and costs just a few euros to take hit the ice.

Eiffel Tower New Year

Ring in the New Year with a twinkling Eiffel Tower. Photo: tonyjcase

5. Toast the New Year

Although there haven’t been fireworks for several years in Paris on New Year’s, the Eiffel Tower does offer a lively light show, and the Champs-Elysees is the place to be if you want to join the throngs. Otherwise, don’t expect much more than a Champagne toast at midnight and some rabble-rousers in the streets.

Galette des Rois

A cake fit for a king. Photo: lesteph

6. …and cut the cake

There is more to look forward to in early 2020. On January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, you’ll see bakeries decked out with the galette des rois, the frangipane-based cake that ushers in the New Year. A small figurine of the baby Jesus is hiding inside each cake, and French tradition holds that he or she who finds the token in their slice buys next year’s cake.

Did you find the baby? Congratulations! You can start off the New Year in debt — vive la France!

Your tips

Have you been to Paris during the holiday season? Tell us what you like to do during your visit!

The post Paris: 6 ways to celebrate the holidays (without blowing your budget) appeared first on EuroCheapo's Budget Travel Blog.

Source: Euro Cheapo

Two Citi Expedia Credit Card Offers

I’d never heard nor seen these two cards before but the terms and conditions on getting approved caught my eye right away. Note the language only talks about other Expedia Voyager Cards:

Expedia+ Points Bonus Offer is not available if you have had any Expedia+ or Expedia+ Voyager card opened or closed in the past 24 months.

Citi has fairly strict rules on repeating a bonus on a card. If the card is so little well known, many of you may qualify for a new and different card with these.

The better offer is now increased on the Expedia + Voyager card to 50,000 points after $2000 of spend in the first 3 months. The annual fee is $95. You also receive an annual credit of $100 for airline incidentals.

The points work out to a value of about .7 cents each or $350 of credit on an Expedia booking, less the annual fee. The value is more if you have elite status with Expedia or are booking a VIP Hotel where the points are worth 1.4 cents each. They also offer a no annual fee version where the sign-up bonus is only 20,000 points.

The two unique things that caught my eye were the very clear cut multiple application restrictions for this card. (See Above) and the fact that you can book cruises, activities like boat tours. show tickets, virtually anything Expedia has for sale with these points. We so often are stuck with airfare or hotel only to get decent value out of our points. With these points, the sky is the limit and I’m sure you can find something you’d like to try using these Expedia points.

Here’s a link I found to the card application page at Doctor of Credit. This may be a card you’ve never thought of getting. We are going to give it a try for the $95 fee one.

Source: frugal travel guy

Germany: Our 7 favorite Christmas markets in Bavaria

Germany lights up the holiday season every year with 140 different Christmas markets across the country. And Bavaria gets into the spirit with dozens of markets from Munich to Nuremberg. These community celebrations, known as Christkindlmärkte in German, transform center cities into holiday wonderlands. Locals and visitors come out to shop for gifts at open-air booths, enjoy traditional treats, and soak up the festive atmosphere.

And these markets are more than just shopping affairs. You can also admire the Christmas trees and decorations, or check out live entertainment (usually including traditional carols and dancing). If you get cold, the tastiest and most practical solution is to order a glass of Glühwein, a delicious mulled wine that will warm you up after a few sips.

10-day itinerary of Germany
Berlin’s best Christmas markets

7 Best Christmas markets in Bavaria

Ready to hit the holiday markets? Here are seven of our favorite Christmas markets in Bavaria.

Ornaments and holiday gifts at the Nuremberg Christmas Market. Photo: Tania & Artur

Ornaments and holiday gifts at the Nuremberg Christmas Market. Photo: Tania & Artur

Nuremberg Christmas Market

November 29 to December 24
Hours: 10 am – 9 pm (Christmas Eve until 2 pm)

With a history that goes all the way back to 1628, the Nuremberg Christmas Market is one of Germany’s oldest. Don’t leave without trying a famous Nuremberg sausage with a piece of gingerbread for dessert. Browse through hundreds of vendors selling handcrafted gifts including Christmas ornaments. You can also hop on a horse-drawn carriage for a stagecoach ride through the market.

Related: Search through 200 hotels in Nuremberg.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a fairy tale town in Bavaria. Photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/128012202@N05/15336059031/">traveljunction

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a fairy tale town in Bavaria. Photo: traveljunction

Rothenburg ob der Tauber Reiterlesmarkt

November 11 to December 23
Hours: 11 am to 8 pm

The charming medieval town of Rothenburg has a magical look, making it a wonderful location for a holiday visit. The Rothenburg Christmas Market offers an intimate atmosphere where you can roam the food and gift stalls sparkling with thousands of lights. Snack on a bag of freshly roasted chestnuts or try a traditional Rothenburg Snowball Cake (fried dough covered in powdered sugar).

Don’t miss: Santa Claus makes an appearance at the market every day at 4:30 pm, and is followed by a brass band concert at 5:30 pm.

Ready to go? Search hotels in Rothenburg ob der Tauber

The old town hall makes a beautiful backdrop for the Munich Christmas Market. Photo: Peter

The new town hall makes a beautiful backdrop for the Munich Christmas Market. Photo: ragingwire

Munich Christmas Market

November 27 to December 24
Hours: 11 pm to 8 pm

Nestled in the heart of Marienplatz, the city’s central square, the Munich Christmas Market is a holiday sight to behold. Featuring more than 160 booths selling vintage Christmas ornaments, hand-painted glass, and Bavarian specialties, Munich’s market traces its origin back to the 14th century. The Christmas tree is lit with over 3,000 tiny lights for a breathtaking scene in the city’s main square.

Don’t leave without trying a cup of homemade berry mulled wine and herb liqueurs.

Need a hotel when visiting the market? Check out our favorite budget hotels in Munich.

Discover a Christmas wonderland under one roof at the Winter Market at Munich Airport. Photo: Munich Airport

Discover a Christmas wonderland under one roof at the Winter Market at Munich Airport. Photo: Munich Airport

Winter Market at the Munich Airport

November 15 to December 29
11 am to 9 pm (until 10 pm on Friday & Saturdays and 5 pm on Christmas Eve)

How many airports host an annual Christmas market? Welcome to Munich International Airport! Boasting 300 real trees and an ice skating rink under the airport’s roof, the Winter Market at Munich Airport will make you wish for an extended layover. Enjoy live music while you visit 50 market stands to pick up a Bavarian sausage or a special gift for someone back home. Before you flight, warm up with a glass of mulled wine.

Related: While you’re at Munich airport, why not check out the airport’s beer garden?

Augsburg Christmas Market. Photo: Peter

A festive evening at the Augsburg Christmas Market. Photo: Peter

Augsburg Christmas Market

November 25 to December 25
Hours: 10 am – 8 pm, Sun – Thurs, 10 am – 9:30 pm, Fri – Sat, (Christmas Eve until 2 pm)

Over one million people visit the Augsburg Christmas Market each holiday season to browse through more than 90 booths selling gifts and food. The market features special activities for kids and live entertainment every day.

If you visit on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, you can see the famous Angel Performance when City Hall transforms into a beautiful Advent calendar with the help of 24 girls from Augsburg playing the part of the angels.

Related: Search for rooms at more than 60 hotels in Augsburg

Do you like mulled wine? Keep an eye out for the word "Glühwein!" Photo George N.

Do you like mulled wine? Keep an eye out for the word “Glühwein!” Photo George N.

Bamberg Christmas Market

November 26 to December 23
Hours: 9:30 am to 8 pm (Sundays from 11 am to 8 pm)

Stroll the charming streets of Old Town Bamberg to discover a winter wonderland. At the Bamberg Christmas Market, vendors grill bratwurst, roast almonds, and sell traditional lebkuchen (a Christmas treat similar to gingerbread). Highlights include the impressive nativity scene in a half-timbered house that’s part of a nativity trail with over 400 Christmas cribs around the city.

Ready to visit? Search budget-friendly hotels in Bamberg.

Celebrate the Christmas season along the Danube in Vilshofen. Photo: ashchand

Celebrate the Christmas season along the Danube in Vilshofen. Photo: ashchand

Floating Christmas Market in Vilshofen

Scheduled for the first three weekends of Advent, this unique market floats along Danube River on a boat! Pick up Christmas-themed gifts from Bavaria as well as unique crafts from Austria, Slovenia, and Hungary. The Vilshofen market is famous for another reason — the wooden creche scene is the largest of its kind in the world!

Additional German Christmas markets

That’s just a small sampling of the Christmas markets in Bavaria. Other locations hosting Christmas Markets include Passau, Coburg, Landshut, Bayreuth, Dachau, Forchheim, and Würzburg. Check out the full list on the Bavaria Tourism website.

The post Germany: Our 7 favorite Christmas markets in Bavaria appeared first on EuroCheapo's Budget Travel Blog.

Source: Euro Cheapo

Traveler Gifts That Will Actually Get Used – From $10 to $130

adventure lodge peru

Want to buy traveler gifts that are actually useful? This is the time of year when seemingly every magazine and travel blog has some kind “ultimate travel gift guide” or “100 great ideas for the traveler on your list.” Many of the magazine ones are written by desk jockey editors who don’t travel very much […]

Want to live a better life for half the price? Sign up for the Cheap Living Abroad Newsletter.


Source: Cheapest Destinations

The Best Credit Cards to Have in Your Pocket When Traveling Overseas

Are you looking for a new travel companion that will pay you back with robust rewards, open the doors to exclusive perks and answer the phone if you hit a snag during a visit to a foreign country? It may be time to track down a new credit card that’s built for travel lovers. There’s no reason why the card you use for everyday spending shouldn’t also provide the perks, adaptability and customer service that can give you confidence when you travel. Here are some big things to know when choosing a travel-friendly credit card:

  • Foreign transaction fees can cancel out your awards if you’re not vigilant.
  • Poor customer service can cause a real nightmare if something goes wrong while you’re traveling.
  • Not every card is accepted everywhere!
  • You can actually use more than one card for travel to make sure you’re always covered.
  • You can often make the most out of travel rewards if you’re willing to remain brand loyal by booking your trips using a card’s official travel-booking portal.

Has it been a while since you checked around for good travel credit cards? Get ready to upgrade the way you pay while traveling. Check out the five cards that are considered the best in the industry when it comes to paying you back and having your back whenever you travel.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is an amazing card for frequent travelers for two primary reasons. The first reason is that cardholders earn two times the points on travel. That means that Chase is basically rewarding you for doing something fun. The second big reason why this card is a great option for travelers is that it doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees. You can make your points go even farther by transferring them to any of Chase’s airline or hotel partners. All points redeemed for travel through the Chase Unlimited Rewards portal are worth 25% more! Perks like insurance for baggage delays, lost luggage, trip delays and cancellations will be there for you. There’s also the fact that Chase’s customer service for this card has a reputation for being pretty stellar. Cardholders have access to a concierge service that will help out with travel needs anywhere in the world! The one thing that does detract from this card’s status as a winning option for frequent travelers just a pinch is that you aren’t going to get any type of special lounge access as a cardholder.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Venture Rewards card is a rock star of a card for busy travelers. This card offers robust rewards with no foreign transaction fees. The double miles that you’ll earn per dollar for all purchases can be spent on travel at basically any time. What’s more, there’s no rush to plan your next trip before some big expiration date arrives because your earned miles will never expire with this card. You also don’t have to worry about reaching some type of ceiling when it comes to your reward miles. This card will even reimburse you for your application fee for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. There’s no limit to how much you can earn in travel rewards.

Bank of America Travel Rewards Visa Card

The Bank of America Travel Rewards Visa card is a solid option if you’re looking for a card without foreign transaction fees or annual fees. Travelers with busy or unpredictable schedules love the fact that points earned with this card are never subject to blackout dates or expiration dates. This card also offers tons of flexibility when it comes to booking trips. You aren’t obligated to book your trips through any branded portals in order to use your rewards. The points you earn can be used for hotel rooms, flights, cruises and full vacation packages. You can even apply your points to cover your baggage fees when you travel. Another nice thing about this card is that it’s backed by Visa’s powerful network. Visa is much more widely accepted around the globe than options offered by Discover or American Express. That means you may want to keep this card as a backup card even if you decide to use another card as your primary card while traveling. The fact that you won’t be on the hook for an annual fee with the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Visa® card makes that a very realistic option.

Platinum Card From American Express

The Platinum Card is on this list for one very big reason. What traveler can resist being dazzled by the fact that the Platinum Card from American Express offers five times the rewards on all flights and hotels booked via the Amex travel portal? The travel benefits don’t end there. This card doesn’t have any foreign transaction fees. What’s more, you’re actually going to be getting a credit of $200 for airline fees. There’s also a generous monthly Uber credit and reimbursement for your TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application. Are you ready for the tidbit that lounge lovers have been waiting for? The Platinum Card from American Express gives you access to Delta Sky Clubs when you fly with Delta. You’ll also be able to saunter into select Priority Pass lounges by simply flashing your card. Of course, you’ll have more than 1,200 airport lounges that are part of the American Express Global Lounge Collection at your fingertips when you’re a cardholder. Let’s see if you can calm down enough to also hear about the way cardholders get high-level status in both Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card

The Wells Fargo Propel American Express card makes the list due to the fact that it offers three times the points on dining and travel. That includes charges made for fuel, takeout, rideshares, flights, hotels and rental cars. This card also gives you higher point-redemption powers when you use the Wells Fargo travel portal to book trips. Propel even provides practical perks like reimbursement for lost luggage.

Find a Credit Card That Feeds Your Wanderlust

All of the cards above offer really nice perks for travelers. However, your decision may ultimately have to be based on the places you prefer to visit. People with Discover and American Express cards tend to have the most trouble when it comes to finding places where their cards are accepted outside of the United States. The fact that American Express has higher-than-average processing fees for vendors means that you might have a tough time using your card in some spots on the globe. Visa and Mastercard tend to offer the most options for global travelers. Play around with the numbers and perks to unlock your perfect card for getting on the road today!

Source: frugal travel guy

What to Get Your Favorite Traveler for the Holidays

It’s that time of the year. Time for you to look at someone special and ask yourself what the heck do I get someone who travels often and probably has everything they need? Well slap them right in the holiday with these fun, functional, and useful travel items.

The post What to Get Your Favorite Traveler for the Holidays appeared first on Andy's Travel Blog.

Source: Andys travel blog

Jetblue Rolls out New Basic Economy

Last week, JetBlue revised its fare structure by adding two new categories. Blue Basic is a close equivalent of Basic Economy on other airlines, and Blue Extra (formerly Blue Flex) is a refundable fare with a number of additional perks. Blue and Mint remain unchanged; the old Blue Plus fare, which includes one free checked bag, will still be offered on some international routes. If that’s not complicated enough, not all fares will be available on all routes.

JetBlue loyalists are crying over Blue Basic, complaining that the fare brings JetBlue one step closer to the business model of American, Delta and United. However, there are significant differences. On the legacy carriers, Basic Economy seats are the most cramped and least comfortable on the plane. When you book Basic Blue, you’re allowed a personal item and a full-sized carry-on, space permitting. You’ll still get a seat as roomy as any other (excluding Even More Space, of course), as well as complimentary snacks and drinks, high-speed internet access, and movies and DIRECTV on demand. Until the planes are reconfigured, Basic Blue is a change in fare and benefits but not comfort.

Here’s how the two new fares break down:

Blue Basic: If you book your flight online, you’ll only receive two TrueBlue points per dollar (compared with six points per dollar with the other fares). The following are not allowed: cancellations (you forfeit the entire fare), changes, same-day changes (even for Mosaic members, JetBlue’s elite tier), revenue standby and advanced core seat selection (you won’t be able to select a seat until 24 hours before the flight, unless you want to pay a fee). You board last with Blue Basic and are charged for checked bags, although the assumption at this point is that a “full-sized carry-on” would include a rollaboard.

Blue Extra: You earn six TrueBlue points per dollar when booking online. You receive early boarding as well as free cancellations, changes, same-day changes, revenue standby and advanced core seat selection. Even More Speed (JetBlue’s expedited security lane) is also included. Strangely enough, this fare doesn’t include free checked baggage, although the ability to board early will probably guarantee enough space in the overhead bins to stash your carry-on.

The new fares are initially available on flights from Fort Lauderdale to Nassau, Bahamas, and between New York City and Long Beach, California. They will expand to the entire JetBlue schedule over the next few months. It’s been widely reported that the airline anticipates additional revenues of $150 million in 2020 as a result of Blue Basic. Much of that profit will probably come from price-conscious passengers who book the lower fare and then decide they want to add extras such as a checked bag (or more likely, from passengers who board last and discover there’s no more room in the overhead bins).

How cheap are they? I did a search for a flight from NYC to Long Beach for next June, and Blue Basic came up $20 lower each way. While everyone’s financial priorities are different, a savings of $40 might not seem large enough to give up being able to cancel or change plans, not to mention the inconvenience of boarding last and possibly paying a checked bag fee ($40 each way). On the same dates, the Fort Lauderdale-Nassau flight was $15 lower each way.

Here are four takeaways from the introduction of Blue Basic:

  1. JetBlue’s fare structure now resembles the legacy airlines more closely, both by offering a Basic Economy fare and implementing a schedule that the occasional traveler will find complex and difficult to understand.
  2. Previously, Mosaic members (JetBlue’s elite tier) received free checked bags, early boarding, access to the expedited security lane, and the ability to avoid change and cancellation fees. Now they will still be exempt from bag fees, but they’ll lose all other perks if they buy a Blue Basic fare.
  3. The JetBlue Plus credit card, issued by Barclays ($99 annual fee), comes with one free checked bag and now looks like more of a bargain than ever. If you take six JetBlue flights per year, you save nearly $500.
  4. Look for more changes in the months to come. As of now, on routes where the Blue Plus fare is still offered, it will include one free checked bag, while the more expensive Blue Extra will not. Glitches like these will be ironed out over time, and adjustments will be made according to customer demand and the realities of the market.

Source: frugal travel guy

4 surprisingly affordable New York hotels for Christmas

The holiday season is a wonderful time to visit New York City. The city shines even brighter, and despite chilly temperatures, a festive atmosphere takes hold across Manhattan. Go ice skating in Central Park, pick up unique gifts at the many holiday markets, and view the dazzling window displays along Fifth Avenue. You can feel the excitement in the days leading up to Christmas.

There’s just one catch — it’s also one of the most expensive times when it comes to booking hotels. And although there are ways to save on your New York hotel, with so many sparkling attractions, millions of other travelers want to experience this special holiday joy as well. Rates soar and rooms fill up fast. 2019 might bring a little relief because the holiday falls on a Wednesday making it harder for travelers to plan a long weekend getaway.

However, there are a handful of hotels that keep prices down, even during one of the busiest times of the year. Here are four hotels that put you in the heart of the holiday action for less. All of our picks offer double rooms for under $160 on Christmas Eve.

New York is full of surprises, even holiday hotel rates sometimes!

Cheapo Guide: Visiting New York on a budget
5 Super cheap and central hotels in New York City
Best cheap hotels near Broadway theaters

Affordable New York Christmas hotels

The classic Hotel 31 makes an affordable home base during the holidays.

Hotel 31

120 East 31st St (between Lexington & Park Ave)
Doubles with shared bathroom on Christmas Eve from: $134

Nestled between two major Manhattan streets, this two-star hotel puts you in a lovely New York neighborhood. There’s nothing trendy about the hotel’s location or style (think “grandmotherly”), but the rooms are cozy, very clean and come with free Wi-Fi. When you want to see New York decked out for the season, you can stroll over to Madison Square Park or the Union Square Holiday Market in about 15 minutes.

On Christmas Eve, you can walk a few blocks south to Gramercy Park to see the beautiful tree and sing carols. It’s the only time of the year when the park is open to the public!

Mayfair Hotel

Rooms are cheap and charming at the Mayfair Hotel in the Theater District.

Mayfair Hotel

242 West 49th St (at 8th Ave)
Doubles on Christmas Eve from: $135

If you don’t mind a little old-fashioned style, the 78 rooms at this hotel near Times Square are an excellent deal. They come with a flat-screen TV, safe and complimentary Wi-Fi. Catch a holiday performance on Broadway — you will be staying a few steps from some of the most famous playhouses in the Theater District. You’ll also be right around the corner from Restaurant Row on 46th Street.

Small and stylish, the rooms at Pod 51 are a Cheapo’s best friend.

Pod 51 Hotel

230 East 51st (at Second Ave)
Doubles with a private bathroom on Christmas Eve from: $122

Sure the rooms are tiny, but so are the prices for Christmastime in NYC!  You can walk to Central Park in about 15 minutes or head south to Grand Central Terminal to see the Holiday Train Show. In the morning, you can go around the corner to Ess-a-Bagel for the perfect way to start your holiday adventure!

Get into the holiday spirit with a stroll over to Fifth Avenue for the sparkling window displays, then hit up Rockefeller Center which is only 10 minutes from Pod 51.

Hotel at Times Square

The Hotel @ Times Square has a comfy sitting area, perfect for reading your guidebook (or iPhone!) before heading out.

The Hotel @ Times Square

59 West 46th St (at 6th Ave)
Doubles on Christmas Eve from: $152

With a location, just a five-minute stroll to the famous tree and ice rink at Rockefeller Center in one direction and Bryant Park Winter Village the other way, this three-star hotel places you in the middle of the holiday festivities. And did we mention they have spacious rooms (at least by Manhattan standards), coffee makers, Wi-Fi and free breakfast? It will be hard to find a better (or cheaper for what you get) base for exploring New York during the holidays.

More options

Want to see more affordable hotel options in the center of Manhattan? Check out our guide to recommended budget hotels in New York.

The post 4 surprisingly affordable New York hotels for Christmas appeared first on EuroCheapo's Budget Travel Blog.

Source: Euro Cheapo