Just Returned From Thailand & Malaysia, Recap Of Miles & Points News While We Were Gone, 1000 Free AA Miles

Over the last month it may have looked like business as usual at MTTW because I scheduled a pre-written post to appear each day.  But we spent most of April in Thailand and Malaysia for a relaxed birding trip with plenty of R&R time in Chiang Mai and Koh Samui while maximising a United Airlines award between Australia and South-East Asia.  Then we went to see my husband’s friends & family in the Cook Islands (which also have great birding on some of the islands like Aitutaki & Atiu).

I’ll start blogging about this trip as soon as my series on Africa is finished.  This will be our only overseas trip this year as we have some much needed home renovations to take care of but we will do a short road trip for birding in Outback Queensland later this year.  And there’s no rest for the wicked as I need to get flights for the very extensive trip to Ecuador, Colombia, Caribbean and USA in 2016 booked before AA devalues their program so the race is on!


There have been huge changes that happened in the miles and points world while we were gone.

The Club Carlson Visa devalued by losing the last night free benefit.  You have until 1 June to book an award night that gets the 2nd night free.  This was somewhat expected as the bonus was unsustainable but disappointing still.   I had used this quite a bit in places like Panama, Tahiti, Port Elizabeth, Israel & France.  I also discovered that my planned redemption for next year is no longer available since the San Juan Radisson closed down so I need to figure out what to do with my remaining Club Carlson points.  They just don’t seem to have properties where we plan to travel!  I just paid my annual fee on this card but called in to complain and got 7500 points compensation.  But next year I’ll be saying Adios to Club Carlson and this card.

Chase Ink lost the Lounge Club benefit.  This is not a deal breaker because of the 5x feature on office supply stores, internet, phones, etc but disappointing as we did use these lounges in BKK and PVG to get free internet and snacks in airports we otherwise didn’t have access to lounges as we flew economy this trip.  Our Lounge Club memberships expire end of July and they won’t extend them to end April 2016 so we can use them next year.  Best I can do is reapply and hope they give us new cards but it’s a punt at best.  30 April 2015 is the last date to apply.

British Airways Avios devalued which doesn’t really affect most of us as the best use of Avios – short haul economy redemptions is still the same.

Southwest Airlines devalued in some markets.  This airline was previously just a domestic US carrier so of limited interest to eco-tourists but they are expanding to the Caribbean and Central America.  Since they fly to SJU they are on my radar for the trip next year.  My dummy runs shows scarce availability for award tickets using AA or UA miles between SJU and the mainland USA so I need to have alternatives in mind.

And just to end things on a positive note – AA is giving 1000 free miles just for watching some videos about the program and answering some easy questions.  Experienced miles & pointers will already know the answers and can scroll ahead through the video.  Newbies should watch the videos, it only takes 10 minutes and does give a nice synopsis of the program.