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Should I Bother Earning IHG Spire for Just $119 Out of Pocket?



Since last year I’ve been pretty settled on a hotel status plan. The World of Hyatt Visa makes attaining Hyatt Globalist possible, and I’ve been loyal to Hyatt since 2019 when I was first able to qualify for their top-tier status. Hilton Diamond has been my “backup” status, attained through the Hilton Aspire American Express Card. Together, this has been a great hotel loyalty strategy.

However, I just ran the numbers for attaining top-tier status with IHG, and it is an intriguing idea.

My Potential Path to IHG Spire Status

This opportunity starts with a mishap. Last month I did my in-person Simon verification in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, I ended up having to run my IHG Premier Mastercard instead of my Double Cash, as Citibank declined the charge. Simon has a policy of not attempting the same card twice when buying gift cards, which is unfortunate. The only backup card I had with sufficient credit limit for the purchase was my IHG Premier Card. The value of 9,000 IHG points is far less than $180 cash back, but I couldn’t complain since the fees were waived for this particular in-person visit.

What hadn’t occurred to me is how much further along the path toward IHG Spire status this would put me. IHG has reduced their 2020 status requirements, and credit card spending counts toward the base points needed to attain IHG elite status. I’d forgotten this was the case. The card already provides automatic Platinum status, and I pretty much forget about the IHG elite program beyond that. When I saw that I only needed just shy of 39,000 points, my wheels started to turn.

With the Simon charge and a couple other purchases at grocery stores during the 5x promotion, my current statement will be earning me 12,000 IHG points. All of these should be elite qualifying points. This will put me at 26,000 points remaining.

There is a single upcoming stay where I’ve elected to earn an extra 5,000 IHG points through one of their bonus point packages (for just $19 more). Since these points are elite qualifying as well, the stay will add another 6,000 points to the total. This will put me at just under 20,000 points needed.

This might sound like a lot, but hear me out. I generally do some manufactured spending through online Simon bulk gift cards each month. If I switch my spending to my IHG card instead of the Double Cash, I could knock out IHG Spire before the end of the year pretty easily. Card fees and liquidation costs come to $119. In the process I’d earn:

  • 20,000 IHG points from the card spend
  • 10,000 bonus IHG points from hitting over $20,000 in cumulative spend on the IHG card
  • 25,000 bonus IHG points when qualifying for Spire elite

Rather than just earning 20,000 IHG points, which are not worth $119 to me, I’d take home many more points. The 55,000 IHG points are worth $330. Even discounting the value of the status entirely, I still come out ahead.

What Does IHG Spire Status Provide?

Unlike top-tier status with Hyatt, Hilton, or Marriott, the benefits of IHG Spire are lackluster. These include:

  • 100% bonus points on IHG stays
  • 25,000 bonus IHG points upon qualification
  • Complimentary room upgrades
  • Check-in as early as 10:00 AM
  • Hertz Five Star status
  • Kimpton Raid the Bar benefit
  • Kimpton $30 in-room spa credit
  • Kimpton Inner Circle Amenity each stay (if Inner Circle)
  • Kimpton Chef’s Taste each stay (if Inner Circle)

Unless you really like the Kimpton benefits, Spire doesn’t offer much. IHG upgrades have never been guaranteed and I’ve never had anything to write home about. The biggest perks are honestly the 25,000 bonus points and the 100% bonus on stays. This will come in handy for potential work travel next year, but even that doesn’t offer massive value.

Final Thoughts

It’s a toss-up whether I’m going to switch things up and pull in IHG points and status rather than keep earning ThankYou Points for two months. I’m essentially getting $330 in value for $119 out of pocket, which is a net gain of $211. But I’m also forgoing a net gain of 25,000 ThankYou Points, which I value at $500. Is earning IHG Spire for 2021 worth $289? That I don’t really know.

What would you do if presented with this option? 

By: Family Flys Free
Title: Should I Bother Earning IHG Spire for Just $119 Out of Pocket?
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Published Date: Tue, 06 Oct 2020 13:07:01 +0000

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What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?




People have always liked to drink on board flights, especially people from Australia. Therefore, it should be no surprise to anyone that there was an inflight bar offering in the 1970s.

Ansett Airlines were a major player in the Australian domestic market up until their demise in September 2001. For many years, there were two domestic airlines, Trans-Australia Airlines (TAA) and Ansett.

Ansett’s Inflight Bar

At the time, Ansett operated Boeing 727s, Douglas DC-9s and Fokker F27 Friendships on domestic routes in the country. Airline tickets were quite expensive, with tariffs agreed upon by both airlines thanks to Australia’s weird two-airline policy at the time.

While tickets were expensive and food complimentary, you still had to pay for a drink at the bar. Here is an inflight bar menu from the era, showing the drinks available and their prices.

Clearly the pricing is astounding by today’s standards – 30 cents for a beer? I’ll have thirty-three please! I like how Australian gin is 35c while the imported gin is just 5c more. Which would you choose?

You can tell it is from another era as you can buy cigarettes on board. These price up at 45c, a far cry from the extortionate prices people in the west pay these days for a smoke!

Overall Thoughts

The on board offering is pretty comprehensive for internal flights, and I imagine you’d be hard pressed not to find something you might like. In those times, all payments would have been by cash as well, which would have meant a lot of coinage being handled on board.

Of course, things haven’t changed too much over the years. On many airlines you pay for your drinks just as they did back in the 1970s. Shame the prices aren’t the same of course!

Did you ever buy drinks on board flights from the inflight bar back in the day? Do you still? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Daniel Tanner on via Wikimedia Commons.
Menu image by Ikara on Australian Frequent Flyer.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?
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Published Date: Thu, 19 Nov 2020 15:03:14 +0000

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These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?




The shrimp stop swimming at dusk and gather near the river’s edge. After sunset, they begin to climb out of the water. Then they march. All night long, the inch-long crustaceans parade along the rocks.

The parading shrimp of northeastern Thailand have inspired legends, dances and even a statue. (Locals also eat them.) During the rainy season, between late August and early October, tourists crowd the riverbanks with flashlights to watch the shrimp walk.

Watcharapong Hongjamrassilp first learned about the parading shrimp, and the hundred thousand or more tourists who come each year to see them, about 20 years ago. When he started studying biology, he returned to the topic. “I realized that we know nothing about this,” he said: What species are they? Why and how do they leave the safety of the water to walk upstream on dry land? Where are they going?

Mr. Hongjamrassilp, a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, decided to answer those questions himself. His findings appeared this month in the Journal of Zoology.

Working with wildlife center staff members, Mr. Hongjamrassilp staked out nine sites along a river in Thailand’s Ubon Ratchathani province. They found shrimp parading at two of the sites — a stretch of rapids, and a low dam.

The videos they recorded revealed that the shrimp paraded from sundown to sunup. They traveled up to 65 feet upstream. Some individual shrimp stayed out of the water for 10 minutes or more.

“I was so surprised,” Mr. Hongjamrassilp said, “because I never thought that a shrimp can walk that long.” Staying in the river’s splash zone may help them keep their gills wet, so they can keep taking in oxygen. He also observed that the shells of the shrimp seem to trap a little water around their gills, like a reverse dive helmet.

DNA analysis from captured shrimp showed that nearly all belonged to the species Macrobrachium dienbienphuense, part of a genus of shrimp that live mostly or fully in freshwater. Many Macrobrachiumspecies spend part of their lives migrating upstream to their preferred habitats.

Most parading shrimp that Mr. Hongjamrassilp captured were young. Observations and lab experiments showed that these shrimp probably leave the water when the flow becomes too strong for them. Larger adult shrimp can handle a stronger current without washing away, so they’re less likely to leave the water.

Walking on land is dangerous for the little shrimp, even under cover of darkness. Predators including frogs, snakes and large spiders lurk nearby, Mr. Hongjamrassilp says. “Literally, they wait to eat them along the river.”

And the shrimp can survive on land for only so long. If the parading crustaceans lose their way, they may dry out and die before they get back to the river. A few times, Mr. Hongjamrassilp came across groups of lost shrimp dead on the rocks, their once-translucent bodies baked pink.

Yet most navigate upstream successfully, and scientists have spotted other freshwater shrimp around the world performing similar feats, scaling dams and even climbing waterfalls.

Leaving the water when the swimming gets tough may have helped these animals spread to new habitats over their evolutionary history, Mr. Hongjamrassilp said. Today, the number of parading shrimp in Thailand seems to be declining. He thinks tourist activity may be a factor, and learning more about the shrimp might help protect them.

The study’s authors made “some really excellent observations,” said Alan Covich, an ecologist at the University of Georgia who was not involved in the research. But understanding why the Ubon Ratchathani shrimp move upstream, and how far they travel, will require more research, he said.

“The most surprising thing to me was that it attracted so many tourists,” Dr. Covich said. He doesn’t know of any other example of people gathering to appreciate a crustacean in quite the same way.

“We have crayfish festivals, we have all kinds of things,” Dr. Covich said, “but generally it’s people eating them, not watching them move.”

By: Elizabeth Preston
Title: These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?
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Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:02:07 +0000

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Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?




There are reports that Aer Lingus have applied for 1,500 slots at Manchester Airport for the Summer 2021 season. This will allow the airline to base four aircraft there and service flights to the United States.

At present, there have been no press releases from the airline stating what is going on. Even so, it probably makes sense for the Irish airline to do this in the current market.

Aer Lingus And Manchester

From what is known, there will be three Airbus A321LRs and an A330 based at Manchester. These will operate non-stop services to New York JFK, Boston, Chicago and Orlando, and the season starts on 28 March 2021.

With Thomas Cook having gone out of business, there is likely space for another competitor. New York and Orlando will see competition from Virgin Atlantic, while the other two routes have no airline flying at the moment.

Aer Lingus has been connecting passengers over Dublin very successfully from the UK regions for a while now. Due to this, they will have visibility on traffic patterns, potential yields and more, making this an informed decision.

I imagine they also hope to cream off some of the connecting traffic that routes through London Heathrow on British Airways and Amsterdam on KLM among others. It would prove to be quite successful.

Transatlantic Joint Venture Approval

The US Department of Transport has tentatively given its approval for Aer Lingus to join the oneworld transatlantic joint business. This is operated by American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia and Finnair.

These airlines coordinate schedules and pricing, share revenues and expenses. For the consumer, it means more choice – those making a booking on British Airways across the Atlantic will also see options on American Airlines on the BA web site as one example.

Theoretically, it would allow people seeking flights on the British Airways web site to automatically be given options to fly non-stop with Aer Lingus, along with the Manchester-London Heathrow-US city connecting itinerary.

Whether Aer Lingus will join the oneworld alliance, even in a oneworld connect capacity remains to be seen. Frequent flyers would welcome it, especially those in Ireland.

Overall Thoughts

No doubt the boffins have been working behind the scenes to see if the business case for transatlantic flights from Manchester stack up. As things have proceeded as far as a slot application, I would guess chances are good that it will go ahead.

Either way, let’s see if this happens and if it does, whether Aer Lingus will stay for the long haul. If they can make more money elsewhere, they’ll up sticks and leave. Regardless, it is an interesting development in European aviation.

What do you think of Aer Lingus starting transatlantic services from Manchester? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

To never miss a post, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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Featured image by N509FZ via Wikimedia Commons.
Aer Lingus A321neo LR by Pitmanaaron via Wikimedia Commons.
Business class cabin via One Mile At A Time.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?
Sourced From:
Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 18:03:48 +0000

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