Point & Center: Book AA Off Peak Awards with US Airways Flights, Two New Hyatt Diamond Benefits & a Southwest Devaluation

It was an exciting week in the points and mile world, highlighted by the craziness of the United first class mistake fare and then the announcement United will not honor those fares. Here is a quick look at what else I missed last week that you should know about:

1) American Airlines Off-Peak Awards Now Include US Airways – I saw this post last night, which now shows that American Airlines off-peak awards, which are a fantastic value, can now include flights on US Airways metal instead of just American Airlines. As a reminder, here is the list of off-peak award destinations and dates:

AAOffPeak

The best values to me are the Europe off peak awards since the off peak period is 7 months or over half the year, including early spring which is a great time to visit Europe. By including US Airways flights now, this opens up a lot of options to Europe from either Philadelphia or Charlotte. I also like the two month window for the Caribbean/Mexico in early fall and Hawaii isn’t bad as well though from the east coast. If you live on the west coast, Avios are a better and cheaper option.

2) Hyatt Adds Two Benefits for Diamond Members In a time when you see programs devaluing, it is nice to see a positive announcement from Hyatt that Diamond members will get two new benefits starting March 1st. The first benefit is called “Guest of Honor” which allows Diamond members to book award stays for others and the guests actually staying will have Diamond status for the duration of their stay. Hyatt is basically encouraging Diamond members to treat non-Diamond members to award stays and will give non-Diamond members “a taste of the good stuff” which includes breakfast, chances at upgrades and a check-in amenity among other benefits. Hopefully you have some friends who are Diamond :).

The other benefit for Diamond members is 2 United Club one day passes annually. Certainly not a huge benefit but its nice to see Hyatt get involved with other partners in the travel space to offer a non-traditional benefit that could benefit some flyers.

3) Potential Southwest Devaluation – It’s never a good sign when an airline announces changes to its frequent flyer program, especially if the changes mentioned are little too vague and don’t give much insight to the actual changes. Southwest announced the following last week:

“Beginning April 17, 2015, the number of Rapid Rewards Points needed to redeem for certain flights will vary based on destination, time, day of travel, demand, fare class, and other factors. However, there are still many flights which will stay at the current redemption rate. And don’t forget that when fares go on sale, so do the points needed for redeeming for a reward flight on those fares”

To me (and other bloggers seem to be in agreement), this news isn’t good news for the value of Southwest points. Southwest points have a fixed value of about 1.4 cents per point when used towards “Wanna Get Away Fares” but this announcement indicates there will no longer be any standard value for points. Southwest will now have the ability to increase the points required for a flight based on “other factors” so my guess is flights to popular destinations (i.e. international destinations) will now cost more and offer a poorer value on a per point basis.

4) Daily Getaways Return Early This Year – The Daily Getaways program, which is a program initiated by the US Travel Association to get more people to travel by offering discounted rates on hotels, car rentals, amusement park tickets and even the opportunity to buy point at a discounted rates, is returning this year on March 23rd. In the past, the Daily Getaways have been offered later in the spring into summer and American Express is usually listed as a sponsor which would entitle American Express cardholders 10% off on any purchase. This year the sales are moved up to the end of March and it appears you can longer save 10% by using an American Express card. The deals and packages should be unveiled by March 16th and I will cover any solid offerings on the blog.

DailyGetaways

Enjoy the rest of this long weekend!

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