It’s time for my traditional look back at the year in review – both my personal travels and events that affected the miles and points community. In direct contrast to last year, 2015 was a quiet, safe and relaxed travel year for us.
Quiet month, only interesting news is that Barclays ditched their forex fees making the card more useful for overseas travel. I cancelled a few credit card to avoid annual fees and make way for future churning.
The AUD continues to nosedive so I swap around a couple of South American countries and bring the trip to Ecuador & Colombia ahead to 2016.
The USDM program officially merges to AA and I find myself once again with a healthy balance of AA miles and take a nostalgic look back at USDM.
We enjoy our only overseas trip this year – a relaxed birding trip to Thailand & Malaysia and a week in the Cook Islands. The whole trip is in economy and we manage to survive. Tomorrow you will see many of these birds in my top ten bird sightings.
While we are blissfully away and offline, US Bank announces the eminent demise of the free award night bogo that came with the Club Carlson Visa.
Planning begins for next year’s trip which will be an epic adventure to Ecuador, Colombia, the Caribbean and a visit to family in the USA. I do a small app-o-rama for needed cards: Chase United which was back in churning range over 24 months since last bonus, the Citibank Thank You Premier and the US Bank Lanpass Visa because there was no other way to get free seats to the Galapagos.
I finish booking award flights for next year as the fruits of my May app-o-rama roll in.
A pleasant surprise from Club Carlson as they watch customers leave in droves which means a free night for us in Trinidad. SPG runs a lucrative bonus transfer to AA which replenishes my account via my Aussie Amex.
We take a relaxing road trip to Lake Coolmunda & Karara/Durikai to see some Aussie birds. I rediscover how much fun travel can be when no airlines are involved! We both win $110 Orbucks in the photo contest which gets us a few free hotels next year.
The month of the bloodbaths! First SPG announces that they have been sold to Marriott which means no more transfers from Amex MR – SPG – AA & other partner airlines. A disaster for Aussie miles & points collectors since we don’t have direct earn credit cards to most USA & South American programs. Then American fresh from merging US Airways to AA announces the devaluation for AAdvantage which seriously DIS-AAdvantages Australians even further. I am very thankful to have already booked next year’s trip and recalculate the miles need for future trips.
Attracted by the chance to see rare Ground Parrots, we join a Birds Queensland trip to Rainbow Beach. Some light amusement in the miles & points world as SPG & Accor have games. Ina wins 10k SPG and we both win 1100 Accor. Woolies bows to the social media backlash and relents on offering Qantas points.
So there it was – a year of upheavals, especially involving 2 major programs – AA & SPG but a quiet, fulfilling year of personal travel. I hope everyone else had a great year!