News: International Airlines Group steps in to purchase stricken Niki
International Airlines Group is to buy assets of the Austrian airline Niki, formerly part of the airberlin group.
The deal is worth €20 million and will provide liquidity to Niki of up to €16.5 million.
The transaction is being made by a newly formed subsidiary of Vueling which will be incorporated as an Austrian company and run initially as a separate operation.
It is subject to customary closing conditions such as the EC competition approval.
The assets include up to 15 A320 family aircraft and an attractive slot portfolio at various airports including Vienna, Dusseldorf, Munich, Palma and Zurich.
The new company plans to employ approximately 740 former NIKI employees to run the operation.
Willie Walsh, IAG chief executive, said: “Niki was the most financially viable part of airberlin and its focus on leisure travel means it’s a great fit with Vueling.
“This deal will enable Vueling to increase its presence in Austria, Germany and Switzerland and provide the region’s consumers with more choice of low cost air travel.”
airberlin ceased operations in October after equity investor Etihad withdrew financial support.
Niki itself was grounded earlier this month after filing for insolvency protection.
More details about the new subsidiary’s branding and route network will be provided in due course, when appropriate.
IAG also owns Iberia, Aer Lingus, and British Airways.
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December 30, 2017 at 11:09AM
News: European nations lead Economist tourism sustainability index
France and Germany have topped a new sustainable tourism index from The Economist Intelligence Unit.
The index, sponsored by Chinese tourism conglomerate HNA, is the first of its kind to compare countries on their commitment to develop and promote sustainable practices in tourism.
The findings were released in white paper The Sustainable Tourism Index: enhancing the global travel environment, featuring interviews with 11 global experts in the field.
It finds that while sustainable practices are taking hold around the world, fragmentation reigns even in high-scoring countries, with implementation and monitoring split between different government bodies.
In no country, say experts interviewed for the study, is sustainable tourism policy sufficiently integrated between national, local and regional levels.
Other findings reveal strong policies supporting sustainability in the tourism industry help European countries take the top three spots in inaugural index, with the UK following France and Germany to complete the top three.
Developing countries fall well short in policy implementation, though they are showing greater awareness of sustainable tourism goals.
At the same time, China and India, index leaders in travel and tourism industry growth, are poised to make a huge impact on sustainability if they can complement their robust tourism sectors with comprehensive environmental- and cultural-protection policies.
Japan leads the socio-cultural sustainability category of the index, but ranks at the bottom for economic sustainability, which gauges the economic importance of tourism to a country.
The index measures performance across five categories: political and regulatory environment, environmental sustainability, socio-economic sustainability, economic sustainability, and travel and tourism industry.
One of the main findings of the index is that the effective pursuit of sustainable tourism requires a high degree of coordination between the business and public sector, as well as civil society and individual tourists themselves.
Where policies are lagging, companies may be stepping in to fill the void, although the small and medium-sized enterprises which comprise the lion’s share of the tourism industry worldwide still struggle to meet sustainability goals.
Compared to their emerging-world rivals, rich nations have done more at the national level to foster this trend.
France and Germany, for example, tie for first place in the clarity and robustness of their milestones and action plans around sustainable tourism, while France and the UK tie for first on the rigour of their tourism laws.
Nevertheless, there are a number of areas where less developed countries are putting building blocks in place that could positively contribute to sustainable tourism in future.
Indonesia, for example, ties for first on the comprehensiveness of its sustainable tourism policy, while Brazil trails only Germany when it comes to the share of national territory (terrestrial and marine) that is under protection.
China, meanwhile, is the standout leader on growth in the overall tourism industry – a domain which, while not related to sustainability, indicates where efforts should be directed in order to make the biggest impact on sustainability on a global scale.
Michael Gold, editor in charge of research programme, said: “Progress in sustainable tourism is ongoing in the emerging world, and will hopefully continue apace.
“While the strong performance of developed nations is encouraging, as developing countries grow in prominence as tourism destinations, they will take on a greater role in driving sustainability in this field, worldwide.”
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December 30, 2017 at 11:09AM
The Chef Who Sprinkled Some Joy—and Salt—on 2017
The video that became the Salt Bae
meme was posted on Instagram
in early January, before Inauguration Day, before the sexual-harassment
floodgates opened, bringing to light the deep sexism and the generally nasty
behavior in the trenches of the
In the video, a man with a slicked-back ponytail, a tight T-shirt, and
sunglasses carved a massive Tomahawk steak and, as if with a touch of
magic, showered it with glittering salt flakes. It was an elixir of food
porn, entertainment (does he know he’s funny?), and charm, and it has
racked up more than sixteen million views. But who is this hunky
Tinkerbell known as Salt Bae? (If you don’t even know what “bae” means,
here’s a cheat
sheet from 2014.) He
is a Turkish chef, named Nusret Gökçe, who owns a chain of steakhouses
called Nusr-Et. His macho, casino-slick, sunglasses-at-all-times style
actually adds to the intrigue. This guy clearly cares about his work,
and knows that he is part of the show, which puts forth a compelling
thesis—his perfection as a specimen matches that of the beautiful meat
Since his first video went viral, he has released many others, on
Instagram, a few of which veer dangerously into the
Ken Friedman realm. (Also, he has nine
children!) The videos
hit a sweet spot when it’s just Salt Bae going to town on a steak with
his knife, a long sabre curved at the tip, like a bandolero—brandishing,
smacking, caressing, and always handling his meat oh-so-carefully, with
the goal of delivering a dish that is, in the end, pristine, with a
little razzle-dazzle. Perhaps that’s why the meme captured the
Zeitgeist: even as we laugh at the Vegas-magician absurdity of Salt
Bae’s shtick, maybe we’re also kind of digging what he’s selling. Who doesn’t
want a little magic along with the best steak in town? It seems to be
working—Gökçe has steakhouses in Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Miami, and, coming in
early 2018, New York City.
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December 30, 2017 at 10:00AM
Driving Off Towards Glenorchy
If you’re interested in a quick way to edit videos or do a screen recording, be sure to check out my Screenflow Review I just finished here on the blog. I’ll embed the video from the review right here below to give you a taste!
Oldie But Goodie!
Here’s one of the first videos I made when I moved to this area about six years ago. It’s called 30 Days and 30 Nights in Queenstown. It’s pretty much the only time-lapse I have ever made. It was so time-consuming that I haven’t had time to make another one!
Daily Photo – Driving Off Towards Glenorchy
I should make this drive once a week! I don’t know why I don’t. It’s so beautiful here and the water and sky are different enough each time to make it worth it. Also, when you get to the end of the road about 25 minutes later, there are some great spots for lunch and relaxation.
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December 30, 2017 at 08:06AM
The TPG Staff’s Predictions for Air Travel in 2018
2017 was a big year for air travel. We saw the introduction of outstanding premium products like Qatar’s QSuite and an amazing revamp of Emirates first class. Low-cost carriers continued their expansion on long-haul routes and airfares stayed generally low throughout the year. We said goodbye to some airlines, like Air Berlin, and hello to a few more, like Joon and LEVEL. The 747 finished up its service with US airlines, with Delta retiring the Queen of Skies just earlier this month.
While 2017 included lots of big news for air travel, we are likely to see more changes in 2018. We’ve asked the TPG staff about what they think 2018 holds for air travel:
More insane first class suites
“With the introduction of Emirates insane new first class enclosed suite and Singapore’s suite that’s practically you’re own apartment, I think we may see a first class arms race. Your move, Qatar.” Brendan Dorsey, Assistant Editor
“As US airlines scale back on their own underwhelming first-class offerings, international carriers are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to develop and build out products that are far more luxurious than anything we could have imagined even just a few years ago. Emirates and Singapore are leading the way, and will continue to add their new suites to new routes throughout 2018.” Zach Honig, Editor-at-Large
Low-cost carriers continue to pop up and grow
“WOW and Norwegian have been expanding like crazy, adding new routes and increasing passenger loads. We’ll probably see more routes operated by narrowbody aircraft that can now cross the Atlantic, à la Primera Air’s A321 and Norwegian’s 737 MAX.” Brendan Dorsey, Assistant Editor
“In 2017, we saw the introduction/announcement of Joon, LEVEL, Jetlines, World Airways, Primera Air and more. At the same time, established LCC carriers have expanded operations, such as Norwegian. As the consumer looks for cheap airfare, the LCC model will continue to be appealing.” Emily McNutt, Associate Editor
Basic economy will continue to expand, and more baggage fees
“Delta already announced plans to take its basic economy worldwide in 2018, and AA has started expanding beyond the US. What’s yet to be seen is how the basic economy offering for each carrier will change (if at all) over the coming year.” Emily McNutt, Associate Editor
“With Delta now charging for checked bags on transatlantic flights, I think it’s only a matter of time before American and United follow suit. Large flag carriers like TAP Portugal and Ireland’s Aer Lingus have already started doing this.” Brendan Dorsey, Assistant Editor
Biometrics will play a larger role in the passenger experience
“With the successful expansion of CLEAR to get through security fast and with a biometric scan, there is clearly a desire for biometric technology. Delta has been testing out biometrics a lot for boarding, bag-drop and lounge entry. In 2018, we’ll see more airlines test out the technology for a more seamless, speedy and paper-free passenger experience.” Emily McNutt, Associate Editor
The Airbus 380 might officially get cut
“If Emirates doesn’t order more, or Airbus doesn’t relaunch the project with more fuel-efficient engines, then Airbus might announce the program will end.” Alberto Riva, Managing Editor
Dreamliners will continue to fuel expansion and super long haul travel
“US and foreign airlines continue to embrace the efficiencies afforded by adding 787s to their fleets, making it economical to bypass hubs in order to offer more nonstop routes. We just heard about United’s plan to launch nonstop service to Tahiti, Norwegian continues its explosive growth and other carriers around the world are clearly committed to taking advantage of the plane’s economics to beat their competitors to the point-to-point punch.” Zach Honig, Editor-at-Large
“Perth to London. The return of JFK to Singapore. Some insanely long nonstops will happen in 2018, and now they can really make money thanks to hyper-efficient twinjets. (See above, death of A380.) Get ready to stay in the air longer next year.” Alberto Riva, Managing Editor
Airline profits will shrink
“Fuel prices will likely rise, so airlines will want to raise fares. But the proliferation of ultra low cost long-range carriers will work to keep prices low. So get ready to see two things: Fare wars to defend market share, and lower airline profits than the record highs seen over the past few years.” Alberto Riva, Managing Editor
Cuba will see less service
More points devaluations
“More airline program devaluations — more carriers will raise award prices, hopefully not eliminating too many redemption sweet spots in the process.” Sarah Silbert, Points and Miles Editor
Illustration by Eirian Chapman.
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December 30, 2017 at 12:03AM
5 Last-Minute New Year’s Eve Ideas for Busy New Yorkers
New Yorkers are (in)famous for holding their city in a rather high regard. Most people love their hometown, but only someone from the five boroughs has the audacity to call theirs the “center of the universe.” But one night of the year, at least, it’s difficult to dispute the claim. That night, of course, is the ultimate end to the calendar year, when eyes across the world fix a collective gaze upon Times Square for the dropping of the ball — the official ringing in of the New Year.
If you’ve never made it to the Big Apple on this very special evening, you’re missing out. No need for that. Because even in this late stage of the game, there are still a number of quality ways to place yourself in the center of it all. Consider these last-minute deals for where to play and stay your way into 2018.
Times Square’s newest boutique hotel is a modern getaway complete with its own robotic butler service. On the big night, Ortzi — its Spanish-themed lobby bar and dining room — serves up a special party menu, including jamón carving stations, copious quantities of paella and table-side sherry service. And sangria. Lots of sangria. Most of the hotel’s high-rise rooms feature direct views of the ball, above the million-plus revelers gathered below. If you’re looking to ball out yourself, you can still book the $10,000 NYE Experience, which includes three nights in a top-level suite, a helicopter ride around the city, the Ortzi tasting menu and even a $2,000 shopping spree.
If you really need to be in the thick of it all, it’s high time to book your ticket to the closest view of the live ball-drop available in the world. The historic Knickerbocker Hotel is located on 42nd Street, a literal stone’s throw from the Waterford crystal-covered orb in question. All-inclusive guest packages range from the Bronze tier up to Platinum, and will guarantee you space upon the hotel’s rooftop bar, from 8pm until 2am. It’ll cost you, of course. The most affordable rate still available is the “Superior Room King Bed,” at $3,799 for the overnight.
Keep it classy this new year with the Luxury Tasting Menu at the Ritz. The property’s stylish dining space, seated at the foot of Central Park, hosts a six-course affair for $195. Highlights include smoked duck, Beef Wellington and the restaurant’s signature multilayered white chocolate dome dessert. In addition to the meal — and the brand’s expected elegance — this specific real estate is especially alluring for its address. Central Park South is conveniently located in the very heart of Midtown, yet just far enough away from Times Square (about 15 blocks), to reserve yourself some breathing room.
For nautical-loving night-goers, the obvious choice is a scenic cruise peering into the heart of Times Square from the Hudson River. This is truly a three-hour tour to remember, including dinner, a live DJ and an open bar. After the ball drops, you’ll have unparalleled views of the ensuing fireworks above the harbor, with Lady Liberty looming proudly overhead. The ride departs out of Hudson’s at Pier 81 and tickets are still available for just under $500 a head.
If you’re more comfortable wandering New York neighborhoods beyond Times Square, Lower Manhattan is full of action. An evening-long bar crawl along Houston Street is always an option. But why not consider one of the area’s endless all-inclusives? A prime example is this hotel bar in the heart of SoHo: For $250 each guest is treated to a five-course tasting menu, designed by chef John Creger, along with five hours of open bar and endless “party favors.” As the zero hour nears, festivities push out and over to the adjoining Mr. Jones bar for a Champagne toast.
Out with the old, in with the new and a very happy and healthy 2018 to you and yours.
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December 29, 2017 at 11:15PM
Trump Reopens an Old Wound for Haitians
In the early nineteen-eighties, soon after cases of Acquired
Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) were first discovered in the United
States, the Centers for Disease Control named four groups at “high risk”
for the disease: intravenous drug users, homosexuals, hemophiliacs, and
Haitians. Haitians were the only ones solely identified by nationality,
in part because of twenty or so Haitian patients who’d shown up at
Jackson Memorial Hospital, in Miami. “We forwarded these cases to the
C.D.C.,” Dr. Arthur Fournier, who treated some of those first Haitian
patients, told me recently. “The media then took off with the
sensationalistic headlines.” Suddenly, every Haitian was suspected of
having AIDS. At the junior high school I attended, in Brooklyn, some of
the non-Haitian students would regularly shove and hit me and the other
Haitian kids, telling us that we had dirty blood. My English as a Second
Language class was excluded from a school trip to the Statue of Liberty
out of fear that our sharing a school bus with the other kids might
prove dangerous to them.
Last week, as many Haitians and Haitian-Americans were preparing for the
Christmas holidays—some burdened by the fear that they or their loved
ones might be deported in a year’s time because of the Trump’s
Administration decision to end Temporary Protected
Status(T.P.S.)—a Timesarticleabout President Trump’s anti-immigrant efforts brought back these
memories and more. The article described a meeting that took place at
the White House in June, when Trump expressed outrage that, in spite of
his contested January, 2017, executive order barring refugees,
particularly those from seven predominantly Muslim countries, too many
immigrants had been granted visas to enter the United States. According
to the Times, Trump was angry that fifteen thousand Haitians were
among them. They “all have AIDS,” he allegedly said.
We are used to Trump insulting people of color with callous or racist
remarks. He has referred to Mexicans as criminals and rapists and, in
the June meeting described in the Times, Trump reportedly also
complained that forty thousand Nigerian visa recipients would never “go
back to their huts,” while branding Afghanistan a terrorist haven. (The
White House has denied that Trump denigrated immigrant groups during the
meeting.) Still, Trump’s alleged remark about Haiti and AIDS cut deep,
reopening a painful wound that goes back several decades.
“It was a dark period in our history as Black refugees from the first
independent nation in the Western Hemisphere,” Marleine Bastien, the
executive director of the nonprofit organization Haitian Women of Miami,
recalled. “I was working as a medical social worker at the time, and
every week I saw patients who lost jobs as a result of this. Haitians
kids were teased so much that many refused to go to school. Being called
‘Haitian’ was the worst possible curse.”
Taina Bien-Aimé, the executive director of the New York-based Coalition
Against Trafficking in Women, was born in New York City to Haitian
parents who’d emigrated to the U.S. in the nineteen-fifties. She
recalled that, in the eighties, a friend of hers used a manager’s pen
while filling out some financial documents at a bank. When her friend
was done, the bank manager, who’d learned that her friend was Haitian,
took the pen back with a tissue then threw it in the garbage. “You never
know,” he said.
The linguist Michel DeGraff, who is currently the director of the
M.I.T.-Haiti Initiative, came to New York, as a student, in the early
eighties. “I still remember a particularly traumatic moment when I was
being introduced to a female student that I had a crush on. She refused
to shake my hands. Then I overheard her say to another fellow-student,
‘Better stay away from these Haitians so we don’t catch AIDS.’ ”
At the height of the AIDS crisis, the Food and Drug Administration
banned Haitians from donating
Nicole Rosefort, a retired New York City public-school teacher, recalls
her father being sick in the hospital and desperately needing a blood
transfusion. “When my sister and I went to donate, we were turned
away. We couldn’t give blood for our own father.”
Haitians mobilized against the ban, protesting in large numbers in
Washington, Boston, and Miami. The activism culminated on April 20,
1990, when between fifty thousand and eighty thousand people
marchedacross the Brooklyn Bridge to denounce the ban and the stigmatization
and discrimination connected to it. I was twenty-one years old and a
recent college graduate at the time. My family and I took part in the
march along with nearly everyone we knew. We felt the bridge shake that
day, as if from the weight of our humiliation and rage.
The blood-donation ban was eventually lifted, but the stigma against
Haitians lingered, and occasionally resurfaced in popular culture. In
the film “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” from 1998, one of the main
character’s sisters scolds her for having unprotected sex with a
Jamaican man because “these people have a history of AIDS.” Another
sister corrects her: “That’s Haiti, Miss Manners.” In December of 2010,
decades after many initial misconceptions about the transmission and
spread of H.I.V. and AIDS had been debunked, a popular New York radio disc
declaredon air that the reason he was H.I.V.-negative was that he refrained from
having sex with Haitian women.
President Trump’s alleged remarks have taken many of us back to a time
when such attitudes were commonplace. They are also particularly
disturbing in the context of his larger anti-immigrant program. As
Haitian-community advocates are trying to rally support in Congress and
elsewhere to find a permanent solution for T.P.S. recipients and their
families, we are reminded of a time when all H.I.V.-positive immigrants
were banned from entering the United States, and H.I.V.-positive
Haitians were detained, in deplorable conditions, at Guantánamo
Trump’s alleged statement re-stigmatizes both Haitians and people living
with H.I.V./AIDS by pegging them as undesirables. Will the next travel
ban be a medical one?
If there is a positive side to these alleged remarks, it’s that they
have the potential to galvanize. Patricia Lespinasse, an Assistant
Professor of African-American and African Diaspora Literature at
Binghamton University, is the co-director of a documentary film, “Proud
Blood,” that focusses on Haitians’ mobilization around the
blood-donation ban. Lespinasse was eleven years old when her father, an
accountant at a Wall Street bank, left work to attend the march, and
then told her stories about it. While gathering recollections from the
march organizers, activists, and other demonstrators, Lespinasse came to
see the march and the eventual lift of the ban as a triumph against
prejudice. “Much like back in the nineteen-eighties and nineties, when
this stereotype was first espoused, we should take this opportunity with
what the President has allegedly said to educate a new generation,” she
Among the many signs I recall seeing at the march on the Brooklyn
Bridge, back in April, 1990, was one that read, “We are all living with
AIDS”—not because we belong to an arbitrarily assigned high-risk group,
or came from a certain country, but because we are all human. As
Lespinasse put it, “It was Haitians then, but tomorrow it could be any
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December 29, 2017 at 11:09PM
A Look Back at TPG’s 2017 Philanthropic Efforts
As 2017 draws to a close, there’s no better time than now to reflect on the year that was. In terms of charitable giving, 2017 was The Points Guy’s best year ever. As a company, TPG has donated more than $500,000 and millions of miles to charities ranging from hurricane relief to getting members of the LGBTQ out of life-threatening conditions and to safety.
Philanthropy is a huge part of the culture at The Points Guy. Each year, we look to expand our donations and the organizations that are doing amazing work. At the end of the day, the points and miles we earn can be used for so much more than premium travel experiences for ourselves. That’s why we’re committed to using those same points and miles — and cash! — to do good.
Here’s a look back at some of the philanthropic highlights from 2017:
- GlobalGiving for Hurricane Harvey Relief
- Goalkeepers (part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)
- Housing Works
- Human Rights Campaign
- Puerto Rico Relief (including from profits from the TPG Shop)
- Rainbow Railroad
With how much of a success 2017 has been in terms of giving, we’re incredibly excited to kick 2018 off with a bang. The first week of January, the TPG team will head to Puerto Rico. Following the devastating damage caused by Hurricane Maria, the island is in desperate need of help to get back on its feet. One area that hits especially close to home for TPG is the tourism industry. Because Puerto Rico’s economy relies so heavily on tourism, the tourist attractions need some help to get back at their pre-storm levels. We’ve teamed up with the Puerto Rico tourism board to help rebuild some of the tourism attractions on the island.
In 2018, we’re hoping to beat 2017 in terms of amount donated — cash and points and miles — and the organizations to which we donate. We want to get you, our readers, to get more involved. In 2018, we aim to let you know about any opportunities for you to donate your points and miles or cash to help create good in our communities and around the world. Additionally, we’d like to sincerely thank you for supporting TPG so we can continue to support such amazing causes.
Happy New Year, and thank you for your generosity in 2017! We look forward to continue giving in 2018.
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December 29, 2017 at 10:15PM
Jon Stewart’s Children, and Trolling the Press Corps
In the years after 9/11, Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” made political satire a central part of the media landscape. This hour, we hear from some of today’s leading practitioners: The New Yorker’s Andy Borowitz; Trevor Noah, of “The Daily Show”; Bassem Youssef; and the founders of Reductress. An alt-right blogger turned White House correspondent explains that journalism is only politics by other means. And the cartoonists Emily Flake and Drew Dernavich attempt to escape from an escape room.
Originally aired on April 7, 2017.
Andy Borowitz Reports
The New Yorker’s in-house satirist shares a moment from a Presidential Administration that’s almost beyond satire.
Trevor Noah Talks with David Remnick
Jon Stewart’s successor on “The Daily Show” had big shoes to fill, but the rise of Trump gave Trevor Noah the chance to prove his mettle.
Egypt’s “Daily Show” Goes off the Air
Bassem Youssef gave up practicing surgery to perform hard-hitting political satire. His enemies hit harder.
Beth Newell and Sarah Pappalardo founded a satirical Web site that finds plenty of fodder in the way women’s magazines speak to their readers.
Trolling the Press Corps
A far-right blogger trolls the White House press corps.
Escaping the Escape Room
The cartoonists Emily Flake and Drew Dernavich attempt to escape from an escape room.
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December 29, 2017 at 09:08PM
Watch TPG Talk Points, Miles and More on the ‘Today Show’
Friday morning, TPG appeared on NBC’s Today Show and talked with Megyn Kelly about some of his best tips and tricks on how to save money while traveling in the new year.
First, TPG explained how to use Google Flight’s Map feature. The website prompts you to put in your departure city and travel dates, and then shows destinations all over the world helping you find a cheap getaway to a destination that may have never been on your radar before.
Another simple and easy way to save money when arranging travel is to book your tickets through a foreign version of an airline’s website. While it doesn’t work for every carrier, it’s a great “hack” when booking on certain airlines, with the best example being Norwegian. You can sometimes save 20%-30% just by selecting your tickets on a foreign version of its website. Just make sure you use Google Translate!
When it comes to canceling that dreaded non-refundable ticket, it usually seems like you’re totally out of luck. But TPG shared a pro tip: If an airline changes your flight’s schedule, even just by a few minutes, you can ask for a refund at no cost.
After dealing with hundreds of airline agents and hotel employees over the years, TPG’s main tip is to be nice. You’re much more likely to get what you want when you treat other people like human beings — “Nice people win.”
Finally, when it comes to points and miles, you need to keep in mind that airline websites often “lie” about award availability. Most carriers have partner airlines that you can use points on, but you might not be able to find availability because the different websites don’t communicate with each other. What you need to do is pick up the phone, call the airline and ask if they can search on partner airlines for award seats you want.
Check out the full segment below:
Featured image by NBC.
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December 29, 2017 at 08:07PM