Visit Machu Picchu for less than $150, British Airways Avios devalued and Southwest $140 million penalty (Saturday Selection) – Frequent Miler

Southwest fined $140 million after holiday operational collapse, British Airways raises prices on partner awards and How to visit Machu Picchu for less than $150. All that and more in this week’s Saturday Selection, our weekly roundup of interesting tidbits from around the web (links to each article are embedded in the titles).

Southwest Airlines fined $140 million to make up for the holiday mishap

Visit Machu Picchu for less than 150 British Airways AviosBaltimore airport last year after Southwest canceled more than 16,000 flights over the holidays. (Image courtesy of The Washington Post)

New Cola. Bacon scented candles. Will Smith’s Aladdin remake. These modern catastrophes, each horrific in their own right, cannot hold a candle to the despair that awaited those who tried to fly Southwest for the holidays last year (smelling like pork). Bad weather and misplaced staff created a synergistic snowball effect that crippled the country’s second-largest airline during one of the busiest travel times of the year. In the end, Southwest canceled nearly 17,000 flights and reported a loss of more than $220 million in that quarter alone. Worse, the airline became a byword for incompetence, leading many travelers to vow never to leave the boarding door again. The Department of Transport has since investigated what went wrong and announced a fine of similarly epic proportions last week. The total penalty includes $35 million in cash and over $90 million that Southwest will have to spend over the next three years to issue $75 vouchers to passengers who are more than three hours late at their departure Have destination. Although it is a significant penalty, 30 times higher than any of the DOT’s previous enforcement actions, it still pales in comparison to the compensation guarantees that almost every passenger receives when flying on an EU airline.

British Airways increases prices for Alaska and AA redemptions

1703395949 769 Visit Machu Picchu for less than 150 British Airways Avios

If there’s one constant in the world of points and miles, it’s that what goes up will eventually go up again. And again. And again. So we probably shouldn’t be alarmed when British Airways Avios suddenly informed us last week of an unannounced devaluation of partner awards for Alaska and American Airlines. North American awards have long been a brilliant, if lightly praised, virtue of Avios. Previously, you could book flights within the continent for as little as 4,500 Avios each way, which was often a bargain on expensive routes between the US and the Caribbean. A few years ago this starting price increased to 7,500 miles one way, but the pseudotable topped out at 13,000 miles one way as long as your flight was less than 3,000 miles…still often a very good deal compared to AA’s own premium pricing . Now AA and Alaska awards are between 10% and 32% more expensive than last month, with longer flights seeing the biggest increases. Everything has gone haywire and Thrifty Traveler breaks down the negative changes.

El Al adds Delta as partner, leaves Alaska and American

1703395951 157 Visit Machu Picchu for less than 150 British Airways AviosEl Al 787

El Al is Israel’s leading airline and therefore offers some of the best connections between the US and Tel Aviv, with five nonstop destinations from the US West and East Coasts. I’ve never had the opportunity to fly with the airline, but have heard good things about the Soft product, both in terms of service and catering. However, in the past it has been somewhat difficult to determine availability based on points and miles, especially from the West Coast when using partner rewards. Alaska and El Al began earning money from each other in 2019, with promises of early repayments. “Soon” took almost four years, but Alaska Mileage Plan finally gained access to El Al’s flights and appeared to have much better availability compared to El Al’s other partners, although business class was a bit pricey at 85,000 miles each (although flights between the US and Israel should get better with Alaska’s new award chart). Last summer, El Al announced that it would also be entering into a “strategic partnership” with Delta, leading most people to suspect that it was only a matter of time before AA and Alaska were kicked to the curb. It turned out it was only a matter of months. Last week, El Al and Delta announced that their partnership would be effective for flights starting 01/01/24. AA will be offloaded at the end of March, with Alaska following in June. While El Al awards from the US on Alaska and AA haven’t necessarily been cheap, the award premium from Delta’s stratospheric partners makes me believe we’ll soon see business class flights from LAX to Tel Aviv starting at “just” 400,000 SkyMiles. Dan’s Deals has the news.

Machu Picchu for less than $150?

1703395954 488 Visit Machu Picchu for less than 150 British Airways Avios

South America has long been the donut hole in my travel history. In fact, the first time I visited the continent was with the FM team at our Party of 5 Challenge earlier this year. I don’t have a good reason why this was so; My Spanish is good, the continent has a fascinating mix of landscape, history and culture. Best of all, you can get great points value for both flights and accommodations. A case in point is Dave Grossman’s (MilesTalk) recent trip to Machu Picchu, a destination for many travelers. Dave was able to take his family of four from New York to Cusco in LATAM Business Class and spend five nights in Marriott Luxury Collection hotels for a total of $132 per person out of pocket. One of the hotels he stayed at was Tambo del Inka, a great looking property that Nick and I had been considering for Party of 5. The hotel has a beautiful riverside location in the Sacred Valley and has a private train to Machu Picchu. I loved reading about Dave’s journey. It’s a great example of the wonderful opportunities points and miles give us to explore the world – even with family.

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