As part of my Baltic Explorer trip, I participated in a number of hotel and airline promotions to make the most out of my membership in reward programs (read Power of Promotions – Baltic Edition) – and all of them worked out great, showing again, how much value there is in those promotions!
Airline Promotions: One of the greatest opportunities to take advantage of airline promotions are status matches! It usually takes a lot of flying (usually 25,000 miles) to the lowest “Silver” level (or equivalent) and typically 50,000 miles to “Gold” which will in most airlines give you access to priority check-in and boarding, premium seats, extra luggage and lounge access. I consider “Gold” the sweet spot of most award programs based on these features.
I have “Gold” with United Airlines‘ MileagePlus program as a 1 Million Miler, giving me all those perks for Star Alliance carriers! For this trip, I wanted to leverage two status matches courtesy of my United Gold card: AirBerlin, a member of the OneWorld alliance and Allitalia, a member of the SkyTeam alliance! And both of those status matches worked out:
AirBerlin granted to match to their “Gold” level without issues and it got me access to their premium seating on my short flight from Krakow to Berlin. Unfortunately I did not get to enjoy the other perks: boarding was a bit chaotic in Krakow, so there was no priority boarding and they don’t have a lounge there!
Alitalia took its sweet time to match status, but match they did! I’m now a “Freccia Alata Club” member, there version of Gold, with the perks outlined above. Unfortunately, KLM seemed to have trouble recognizing the card during online check-in, so I didn’t get access to the premium seats for my short hop from Hannover, Germany to Amsterdam, nor did they have a lounge in Hannover or priority boarding (due to the bus used!). Alas, I did get the 50% elite bonus as well as the 2,000 sign-up bonus, resulting in a total of 2,563 miles for the 375 mile flight!
I now have Gold level status in all three major airline alliances, at least for a year, at absolutely no extra cost to me! I’m looking forward to utilizing the status perks on future flights with OneWorld or SkyTeam while they last!
Hotel Promotions: One of the triggers to finally do a trip to the Baltics was the discontinuation of the Club Carlson Bonus Award Night feature of the Club Carlson Credit Card (reported here). By booking before the deadline, I was able to get 5 free Bonus
Nights, saving a total of 179,000 Club Carlson points. While I’m happy about that, I’m of course sad to see this powerful feature go – it was great while it lasted. At least the 2-for-1-Weekend-Night feature of the Club Carlson Gold elite level is still around for hotels in Europe. I was able to use it three times during this trip, with a total saving of $308!
I also got lucky with the IHG Rewards Club PointBreak Promotion and booked two nights at the excellent Holiday Inn West Helsinki for a total of only 10,000 points (equivalent to $70) – a great bargain!
I have stayed a lot lately at Accor Hotels, due to their generous promotions, and earned Gold status in their Le Club program late last year. Fast forward a few lucrative promotions, and I was close to Platinum prior to this trip! With a double points promotion, I was able to just make it over the finish line and am now a proud Platinum member! I did notice on this trip that the European hotels are a lot better at honoring the Le Club rules and delivering the associated perks: I was upgraded at both of my stays to very nice rooms!
The last promotion I was eager to complete was the Fasttrack to Hilton Gold, courtesy of AirBerlin, after three stays. I had heard from other members that points stays also count towards the Fasttrack promotion and booked two cash stays and one points stay! Sure enough, they all counted and I was upgraded to Gold after my third stay! It usually takes 20 stays or 40 nights to reach this level and I consider Hilton HHonors Gold to be very valuable due to their upgrade and breakfast benefit. It worked out perfectly and I was able to make use of it shortly after at the wonderful Conrad Macau – we were upgraded to a huge suite and enjoyed the happy hour and free breakfast at their Club Lounge! Stay tuned for reviews of the Hilton Group, the Conrad Macau and the HHonors rewards program!
So, all my targeted promotions turned out great and I was able to upgrade my elite level in two airlines and two hotel programs, unlocking lots of perks for future flights and hotel stays and save a lot of money on the rooms, using the promo rates and my points! That’s the power of promotions and why you should look out for promotions in the programs you are participating in! Sign up for my newsletter to stay informed of future promotions and how you can get access to perks and points via promotion shortcuts!