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The Higher Flyer

Analyzing the 737 MAX in the contemporary aviation industry

The future of air travel?

Even though the first iteration of the 737 MAX has already taken to the skies this year, the 2017 Paris Air Show was the equivalent of a break-out party for this next generation of planes. The producer of them, Boeing, inked deals for 571 new orders over the course of the four day event, which inspired speculation regarding the development and progression of commercial air travel. Continue reading “Analyzing the 737 MAX in the contemporary aviation industry”

Debunking Chase’s 5/24 Rule

In the olden days of higher flying, it was possible to earn thousands upon thousands of points through a process called “churning.” The premise was simple enough: apply for a compelling credit card, complete the minimum spend and earn the signing bonus, then cancel the account. Shortly thereafter, reapply for that same card. Repeat over and over again to collect an unlimited amount of points.

Unfortunately, you can’t do that anymore.

Continue reading “Debunking Chase’s 5/24 Rule”

2017 Guide: oneworld

oneSMALLworld

oneworld is the smallest of the three alliances (14 member carriers), but it is far from lacking. It provides customers exceptional coverage in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Oceania, but unfortunately it does lack in Africa. There are some excellent member airlines of oneworld too, such as Cathay Pacific and Qatar Airways and Japan Airlines, which all complement American Airlines’ massive domestic route network in the United States. Although there are lots of world-class products available, they can be a bit challenging to attain with miles/points.

Key Facts

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2017 Guide: SkyTeam

The Leftover Alliance

SkyTeam is the youngest of the three alliances, but despite that, it boasts a relatively large number of members (20). As a result, travelers can fly to most everywhere in the world (sans Oceania) with ease. Access to Europe and Asia is particularly strong, as consumers have a lot of choices. Award availability can also be pretty decent, and some programs, like FlyingBlue of Air France and KLM (and others), have some fantastic bargains, even in the United States. Bear in mind that some refer to SkyTeam as the “leftover alliance,” because some of its carriers are considered second-tier in terms of their service offerings, accommodations, and overall reputations. Be wary of this as you look to fly higher.

Key Facts

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2017 Guide: Star Alliance

Introduction

Many argue that Star Alliance is the best of the three alliances. With 27 member airlines, it is bigger than both oneworld and SkyTeam, and it correspondingly has far and away the most expansive route map. With the exception of intra-Australian routes and the South Pacific, a Star Alliance carrier has a large presence in any given region on the planet. In addition to that, many airlines have both lucrative frequent flyer mile programs and top-tier first and business class products. These conditions incentivize higher flying on the Star Alliance airlines; it’s usually the easiest on these carriers.

Key Facts

Continue reading “2017 Guide: Star Alliance”

How To: Boost and maintain your credit score, student edition

In the Beginner’s Guide and throughout The Higher Flyer, I stress the importance of maintaining a good credit score. I recommend that everyone has at least a 675, and without that, you won’t be approved for the cards required to earn lots of redeemable miles and points. Such a standard is pretty high already, and if you’re a student, you might not have a credit score at all. While that might seem problematic — how could you possibly get approved for a credit card? — you shouldn’t be discouraged. It’s entirely possible to build a score high enough to get you higher flying within a year.

Continue reading “How To: Boost and maintain your credit score, student edition”

Airbus unveils updated A380 at Paris Air Show

To renew interest in its otherwise fledgling A380 program, Airbus announced an updated version of its double-deckered plane at the Paris Air Show today: the A380plus. Toting winglets that improve fuel burn by 4% and a redesigned cabin capable of holding 80 additional passengers (for a total of 960 in an all-economy configuration with 3-5-3 abreast), Airbus says that this new iteration of the superjumbo will reduce the cost per seat ratio by 13%. In an industry characterized by razor-thin profit margins, these refinements could make the difference of being in the black or in the red.

Continue reading “Airbus unveils updated A380 at Paris Air Show”

How To: Boost and maintain your credit score

As I write in the Beginner’s Guide, it’s quite difficult to fly higher without the assistance of credit cards; through signing bonuses and daily spend, you can earn a significant number of points which you can then use for travel redemptions. To have access to the best ones, you should have a credit score of at least 675, which, all things considered, is high. If your credit score isn’t at that level, don’t worry, because that won’t stop you from becoming a higher flyer. There are just some steps that you need to take before you try to enter the world of miles and points. I outline below what to do in order to get started with higher flyer credit cards.

Continue reading “How To: Boost and maintain your credit score”

Top 10: Ways to survive long-haul economy class

The image above depicts a long-haul economy class that only exists in the minds of those who work in the Cathay Pacific (or some other airline’s) marketing department. For everyone else, the reality is a cramped and dark environment that’s crammed full with irritating passengers and irritable flight attendants. As the flight goes into its umpteenth hour, you’re uncomfortable from sitting in the same place for hours; you can’t feel your legs anymore and your butt hurts. Meanwhile, you’re floating in and out of consciousness as you try to fend off boredom. The worst moment comes when you’re tired and hungry and miserable, but there are still three hours remaining in your flight. Gah!

Continue reading “Top 10: Ways to survive long-haul economy class”

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