How Far Can You Fly With Amex Platinum’s 60k Sign-up Bonus?

How Far Can You Fly With Amex Platinum’s 60k Sign-up Bonus?

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With the sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card from American Express increasing to 60,000 points over the last month, many are wondering how to put these points to good use. There are currently hundreds of ways to redeem 60,000 Membership Rewards points, thanks to Amex’ extensive transfer partner list. After meeting the $5,000 spending requirement, here are some ways you can get great value out of your 60,000 point haul:

The Platinum Card® from American Express

 

1 – Singapore Business Class

Following the March 2017 Singapore Krisflyer devaluation, the number of miles required for premium cabin awards increased substantially. Part of this was due to increases in redemption rates and part of it was the discontinuation of the 15% online booking rebate.

That said, it’s still possible to book Singapore’s premium cabin awards with the 60,000 point sign-up bonus from the Amex Platinum cards. One example is the New York – Frankfurt route, which costs 65,000 miles each way in business class. Now that’s not as great as the previous 48,875 miles but it’s still at least possible to cover one-way fare with a single credit card sign-up bonus.

2 – Transfer to Avios for a JAL flight to Japan

If you’re on the West Coast, you’re probably aware of a British Airways award chart sweet spot: 25,000 miles each way for a flight to Tokyo on Japan Airlines. With the 60,000 point sign-up bonus from the Amex Platinum card, you could book one roundtrip ticket and have 15,000 points left to spare. Or you could splurge on a business class ticket, setting you back 50,000 miles each way.

3 – Transfer to Avios for 12,500 West Coast – Hawaii Flights

There are lots of great ways to redeem Avios and flights between the West Coast and Hawaii is one definite sweet spot. Considering legacy carriers normally charge 22,500 miles each way for these awards, redeeming just 12,500 Avios each way is a bargain. With the 60,000 point sign-up bonus from the Amex Platinum card, you can cover roundtrip airfare for two to Hawaii and have 15,000 Membership Rewards points left to play with.

4 – Redeem a Star Alliance Award between the West Coast and Europe

American Express’ partnership with Aeroplan makes it possible to use the sign-up bonus from the Amex Platinum card for travel to Europe on Star Alliance carriers. For just 60,000 miles and $112 you can fly roundtrip between San Francisco and Frankfurt on United. If you prefer a premium cabin, you could instead redeem 55,000 miles and around $500 for a one-way business class ticket on the same route. All this for just one sign-up bonus. Not bad!

5 – Book travel through Membership Rewards

Redeeming points directly through Membership Rewards Travel can work out well if you play it right. You can redeem 65,000 Membership Rewards points for $650 worth of travel. If you’re someone who likes staying at budget hotels and flying budget airlines, that travel cash can go a long way and actually save you a ton of more valuable points through your favorite hotel or airline program.

These are some of the ways you can get hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars worth of value out of the 60,000 point sign-up bonus from the Amex Platinum card. If you’ve recently picked up this card, I’d love to know: How are you putting your sign-up bonus to use?

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April 28, 2017 at 12:01PM

Scott SuperGuide 95 Review – Up/Down/All-Around Ski

Scott SuperGuide 95 Review – Up/Down/All-Around Ski

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Scott 1.jpg Just getting distracted (in the best way) before taking Scott SuperGuide 95 out for a rip on an April deep day in the San Juans.

Just getting distracted (in the best way) before taking Scott SuperGuide 95 out for a rip on an April deep day in the San Juans.

You know those long tours that are more for the adventure itself and less about the great skiing conditions? You know the type: they usually involve good friends, a flask of something yummy, lots of beautiful scenic alpine miles, and generally some really junky “snow.” Well sometimes those walks end up having surprise killer tree skiing and include north-facing untouched powder fields! When those days happen, you want skis like the Scott SuperGuide “SG” 95.

One of those days

One of those days.

First and foremost, this winter, the SuperGuide proved to be a versatile and reliable backcountry ski. Again, this is the kind of ski that is nice to have around on the days that you’re going to hit all sorts of variations in snow conditions. I’ve tested it in deep powder, on the most heinous breakable crust my knees have ever experienced, spring corn, and frozen chunder while night skiing.

Scott SuperGuide 95, 168cm length

Scott SuperGuide 95, 168cm length

I wouldn’t say that this ski performed at the highest in its class in any of these individual types of snow, however, I will say that it worked through ALL of the variations in snow quite well. This leads me to say that it is a good all-around ski that has the ability to be playful and maneuverable. If you were to have one ski in your AT quiver, the SuperGuide could be the perfect fit.

On the uphill SuperGuide 95 feels light but sturdy. The Paulownia wood core gives the ski a nice light float to it, while the carbon and Aramid wrap keeps it strong and resilient. I felt confident while billygoating around on exposed rock sections and during narrow creek crossings. This ski is a pleasure to uphill on.

The Scott SuperGuide 95 is available in three lengths: 168, 178, 184. I tested the shortest of the bunch, which comes in at a weight of about 1306 grams on the WildSnow scale. Scott states that the 184s weight about 1530 grams. This ski sits in the comfy zone of compromise between a nice downhill ride and skin track efficiency.

tips and tails feature deeper cut sidewalls

The tips and tails feature deeper cut sidewalls for smaller radius turns while the sections closer to center have next to vertical side walls for better edging abilities. Early rise in the tips allows for some added buoyancy.

This ski first arrived for the winter 2015/16 season and pretty much remains unchanged except for updated graphic on the 2016/17 ski.

Cleaver holes in the tips and tails allow for Scott skins to be clipped closer to the center of the ski reducing unnecessary skin weight.

Cleaver holes in the tips and tails allow for Scott skins to be clipped closer to the center of the ski reducing unnecessary skin weight.

Overall, if a one-quiver wonder is your game or you just want a reliable ski that will happily take you up and down all the different versions of “snow” we find out there, the Scott SuperGuide 95 might be the perfect all-in-one for you!

Manufacturer specs:
Available lengths cm: 168, 178, 184
Tip mm: 126, 128, 130
Waist mm: 94, 95, 96
Tail mm: 114, 116, 118
Radius: 19m, 21m, 22m
Construction: Sandwich Sidewall Construction, Carbon/Aramid Elliptic
Weight gm/ski: 1370, 1450, 1530

Shop for Scott skis here.

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April 28, 2017 at 11:21AM

Daily Cartoon: Friday, April 28th

Daily Cartoon: Friday, April 28th

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April 28, 2017 at 11:13AM

Fort Ord in Monterey, California

Fort Ord in Monterey, California

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Fort Ord was once the jewel of the United States Army. Founded in 1917 as a target range for field artillery, it was situated on 45 square miles of dunes and forest along the coast of Monterey Bay. It was considered fortunate to stationed at Fort Ord, as the surroundings were picturesque and the weather beautiful.

At its height, Fort Ord was home to upwards of 50,000 troops, serving as the staging area for soldiers of the Korean and Vietnam Wars. This installation had an action-packed life for nearly 80 years. And then President George H. W. Bush signed into legislation the Base Realignment and Closure act in 1988.

With the new law, the EPA ran an assessment of the army base’s environmental impact, and the results were not promising. Within its 45 acres were underground storage tanks leaking petroleum into the groundwater, numerous landfills and dump sites, and innumerable unexploded mines. The Fort was promptly closed in 1994—the largest of the military’s bases to be shut down—and placed on the National Priorities List as a Superfund site, one of the most toxic places in America.

And so begun a coordinated effort between the government, the military, and the local community to clean up and rejuvenate the aging, polluted property. A major portion of the base became the Fort Ord National Monument, with over 80 miles of public trails snaking through the forests. Another part was given to the California State University of Monterey Bay. And still another section was set aside for commercial and residential development by the surrounding towns.

But approximately 20 percent of the original military structures remain, with lead paint on their walls and weeds peeking through the cracked floorboards. They will eventually either be stripped of their toxic elements and reused in new construction or completely disposed of. Until then, these buildings from Fort Ord’s glory days can still be seen, nature slowly creeping through the streets that once heard the rhythmic steps of servicemen long gone.

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April 28, 2017 at 11:02AM

Fort Ord in Monterey, California

Fort Ord in Monterey, California

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Fort Ord was once the jewel of the United States Army. Founded in 1917 as a target range for field artillery, it was situated on 45 square miles of dunes and forest along the coast of Monterey Bay. It was considered fortunate to stationed at Fort Ord, as the surroundings were picturesque and the weather beautiful.

At its height, Fort Ord was home to upwards of 50,000 troops, serving as the staging area for soldiers of the Korean and Vietnam Wars. This installation had an action-packed life for nearly 80 years. And then President George H. W. Bush signed into legislation the Base Realignment and Closure act in 1988.

With the new law, the EPA ran an assessment of the army base’s environmental impact, and the results were not promising. Within its 45 acres were underground storage tanks leaking petroleum into the groundwater, numerous landfills and dump sites, and innumerable unexploded mines. The Fort was promptly closed in 1994—the largest of the military’s bases to be shut down—and placed on the National Priorities List as a Superfund site, one of the most toxic places in America.

And so begun a coordinated effort between the government, the military, and the local community to clean up and rejuvenate the aging, polluted property. A major portion of the base became the Fort Ord National Monument, with over 80 miles of public trails snaking through the forests. Another part was given to the California State University of Monterey Bay. And still another section was set aside for commercial and residential development by the surrounding towns.

But approximately 20 percent of the original military structures remain, with lead paint on their walls and weeds peeking through the cracked floorboards. They will eventually either be stripped of their toxic elements and reused in new construction or completely disposed of. Until then, these buildings from Fort Ord’s glory days can still be seen, nature slowly creeping through the streets that once heard the rhythmic steps of servicemen long gone.

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April 28, 2017 at 11:01AM

Islet of Vila Franca do Campo in Vila Franca Do Campo, Portugal

Islet of Vila Franca do Campo in Vila Franca Do Campo, Portugal

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If swimming pools and ponds have become too mainstream for a quick swim, perhaps it’s time to take a dip in the crater of an ancient submerged volcano, such as this natural lagoon on the Islet of Vila Franca do Campo in Portugal.

This tiny island is a rocky crater formation off the coast of Sao Miguel. Its main attraction is the circular lagoon on the islet, which is broken up by a tiny channel that connects it with the ocean. The result is a clear and calm pool that is perfect for swimming and diving. 

The islet and this natural pool are accessible only during the summer and their stunning geography has made them a popular destination. Erosion through continuous exposure to wind and water have created different rock formations around the islet, including a fascinating column-like structure.

Over the years, the islet has helped whalers spot their targets and has also served as a military fort. In 1983, the unique location was declared a nature reserve to protect the endemic vegetation around the crater, as well as the crustaceans and birds who have made the islet their home. 

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April 28, 2017 at 10:47AM

Looking at Destination Marketing through Data

Looking at Destination Marketing through Data

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Last week we launched the latest report in our Skift Research service, The State of Destination Marketing 2017 accompanied by our comprehensive Data Sheet: Digital Destinations Global DMO Survey Results 2017.

Alongside our latest report we released our subscriber only data sheet, illustrating the key trends and digital adoptions in the DMO world. Below are some charts showing selected findings of our survey.

One area we looked at in detail was the DMOs capability of measuring digital ROI and other key analytics, while a significant number showed a good grasp of the subject room for improvement remains. Particularly among smaller DMOs.

.Preview and Buy the Full Report

When asked about the different types of content and platforms DMOs use to engage with their audience we found that measuring ROI in certain areas proved difficult. However, a platform which was particularly popular among DMOs was Instagram which also proved to have good and measurable ROI.

Preview and Buy the Full Report

Producing original content is clearly a trend for DMOs, whether traditional videos or more advanced video content such as virtual reality, a vast majority of DMOs are actively engaged in the creation of video campaigns.

Subscribe now to Skift Research Reports

This is the latest in a series of research reports, analyst calls, and data sheets aimed at analyzing the fault lines of disruption in travel. These reports are intended for the busy travel industry decision maker. Tap into the opinions and insights of our seasoned network of staffers and contributors. Over 200 hours of desk research, data collection, and/or analysis goes into each report.

After you subscribe, you will gain access to our entire vault of reports, analyst calls, and data sheets conducted on topics ranging from technology to marketing strategy to deep-dives on key travel brands. Reports are available online in a responsive design format, or you can also buy each report a la carte at a higher price.

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April 28, 2017 at 10:42AM

Islet of Vila Franca do Campo in Vila Franca Do Campo, Portugal

Islet of Vila Franca do Campo in Vila Franca Do Campo, Portugal

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The crystal clear lagoon was once an underwater volcano.

If swimming pools and ponds have become too mainstream for a quick swim, perhaps it’s time to take a dip in the crater of an ancient submerged volcano, such as this natural lagoon on the Islet of Vila Franca do Campo in Portugal.

This tiny island is a rocky crater formation off the coast of Sao Miguel. Its main attraction is the circular lagoon on the islet, which is broken up by a tiny channel that connects it with the ocean. The result is a clear and calm pool that is perfect for swimming and diving. 

The islet and this natural pool are accessible only during the summer and their stunning geography has made them a popular destination. Erosion through continuous exposure to wind and water have created different rock formations around the islet, including a fascinating column-like structure.

Over the years, the islet has helped whalers spot their targets and has also served as a military fort. In 1983, the unique location was declared a nature reserve to protect the endemic vegetation around the crater, as well as the crustaceans and birds who have made the islet their home. 

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April 28, 2017 at 10:41AM

Is this Europe’s scariest ski run?

Is this Europe’s scariest ski run?

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Swiss freerider Sam Anthamatten drops in, makes a couple of turns down what looks like a near vertical slope, aims for a seemingly intractable rock band, pauses, jumps it, flies on, jumps again, spinning through 360 degrees – but then crashes hard and tumbles head over heels several times before stopping… and then getting up again to continue.

This is the final of the annual Freeride World Tour ski and snowboard competition, taking place on the rocky north face of the 3,223m Bec des Rosses in Verbier, Switzerland.

Anthamatten mid-360 before the crash

Credit:
Freeride World Tour/Jeremy Bernard

There are naturally no pistes on this mega mountain, which has hosted the Xtreme Verbier competition for 22 years, and most routes down are over 50-degrees of intimidating steepness. Most skiers would consider 35 degrees to be quite steep enough on a piste.

But the riders taking part in the final of the Tour have to do more than just get down that face. They need to impress a panel of freeride judges, paying attention not only to the difficulty of the line they choose to take down the Bec, and the massive jumps they might take over cliffs, but how in control and fluid their run is, and their technique. They have to ski or snowboard a fine line between taking risks to show off their skill, and staying in control, and their GoPro footage is a heart-thumping insight into what that feels like.

Only the best can take on this steepest of faces, and for this season’s final, which took place April 3, 2017, there was less snow cover than usual. Ahead of the event Anthamatten, skiing with a group of us on a behind-the scenes weekend organised by tour operator Much Better Adventures along with FatMap and Athamatten’s ski sponsor Faction, told us his strategy would be to “find the good snow”. While there was some powder, the Bec is a pile of rocks in the summer he said, and those rocks would be a hazard for riders to look out for. He wasn’t wrong.

Before Anthamatten’s run, one of the top contenders for the men’s skiing title, Frenchman Loïc Collumb-Patton, crashed spectacularly, catching rocks on a jump and tumbling over and over – before coming to a halt and eventually skiing down, luckily minus only one pole. The follow-up photos he posted of his helmet are testimony to the severity of the fall.

The following two skiers pulled off incredible runs – eventual men’s ski Tour winner, Léo Slemett of France including a huge 360 at the top, and Reine Barkered of Sweden, who won the men’s ski competition on the day, skiing a ridiculously fast and technical line.

But Anthamatten, riding after them, crashed attempting a 360 spin off a rock that he’d planned to hit differently. “The goal would be to make it bigger and spin slowly,” he said afterwards. “But I was on the side of it, so I didn’t know how much rotation I needed.”

Spectators over the valley at Col des Gentianes in the ski area, watching live and on big screen, made a collective gasp, sighed as Anthamatten shook himself off after a series of tumbles and continued with the run – even though the fall meant he couldn’t win – then groaned again as everyone realised he’d lost a ski.

He could have just taken it easy after the fall, but that’s not the mindset of a pro. “For me the fall meant it’s over, so I don’t take big risks anymore,” said Anthamatten afterwards. “But if I have a fun line I still want to do it, still want to ride it to the bottom. I don’t prepare myself for one day to do just half of it. For sure I lost my points, but on the other side I want to show myself if it’s possible or not.”

While the riders are able to check the run and plan their line from afar before the event, it’s not until they get to the top that they see what it’s really like. Everyone watching the run thought it was going to plan until the crash, but in fact lots of decisions were being made on the hoof. “The upper part of it was a little rockier than I thought so I couldn’t get to my top feature, so I just skied fast, tried to make some points that way.” But with the extra speed, he over egged the 360. “On a 360 if you have too much rotation, you fall. That happened.”

The Bec des Rosses is said to be the the most intimidating face on the Tour. “As a skier if you look at the mountain it’s impressive, even for myself,” said Anthamatten. “You can do an easy line down, it’s doable for a lot of good skiers, but if you’re going to jump a 15m cliff in a 50-degree slope, well it’s intimidating for sure. I haven’t had the real good run on the Bec des Rosses in competition, so it’s always a real mental fight for me. It’s still one I would love to do well.”

In the meantime, as a regular in the Timeline Missions series of movies, he’s just returned from an exploratory visit, along with Léo Slemett and Italian skier Markus Eder, to the Caucasus mountains in north-western Georgia. The aim of the project is a first ski descent of the 4,700m Mount Ushba. “First we heliskied down there in April, to gather good footage skiing wise and have some fun. Then the second trip there is in May/June, to ski that peak. It’s been climbed lots of times, but never skied.”

All the runs from the Freeride World Tour are streamed live during the events, and are still available to watch at freerideworldtour.com.

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April 28, 2017 at 10:35AM

Central State Hospital in Milledgeville, Georgia

Central State Hospital in Milledgeville, Georgia

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The abandoned buildings of Central State Hospital, now in a state of neglect and decay, once comprised the largest mental health facility the world had ever seen, with more than 200 buildings on 2,000 acres.

Opened in 1842 as the Georgia State Lunatic, Idiot, and Epileptic Asylum, the hospital’s story was much like other mental health institutions of its time. At first its treatment methods seemed effective and humane. Head Doctor Thomas A. Greene Patients banned chain and rope restraints. Patients took part in their rehabilitation and helped run the asylum, tending the land and the facilities alongside staff.

But by the 1960s the hospital’s population had swelled to 12,000, way over its maximum capacity. It was badly understaffed, with a doctor/patient ratio of 1 to 100. Under these conditions the quality of treatment declined vastly, and the asylum became notorious for its mistreatment of those committed there. Rumors abounded of children confined to cages, adults living in straight jackets, and forced shock therapy with electricity, insulin, and ice baths. A 1959 exposé revealed that none of the 48 doctors patrolling the wards were actually psychiatrists. Mothers across the South threatened to send misbehaving children to Milledgeville. 

Central State began closing in the wave of deinstitutionalization during the ’60s and ’70s, but it wasn’t until 2010 that it shut its doors for good. The buildings have sat empty and abandoned ever since.

Today, a visit to the former Central State Hospital is an eerie experience. The property includes buildings given to a prison, the houses of former doctors, and a pecan grove, the hospital buildings themselves, as well as a cemetery of roughly 25,000 unmarked graves. Around 2,000 somber markers in the nearby Cedar Lane Cemetery memorialize these unknown dead.

Security patrollers ensure that no one gets into the abandoned buildings, so visitors must be content to see the asylum from the outside. However a museum on the old campus has preserved artifacts from Central State Hospital so those curious can learn what life was like at the world’s largest insane asylum.

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April 28, 2017 at 10:05AM