The Citibank envelope that was in the mailbox when I returned home today contained two new American Airlines AAdvantage linked cards. But, in a first for me, I received both a replacement Visa and a new American Express. Huh?

When I signed up for the card, it was just a Visa. How did I now get two different cards?

The enclosure explained:

We have enhanced your Citi/AAdvantage credit card account. You now have two Citi/AAdvantage cards, including a Citi/AAdvantage American Express card, to access your existing account and credit line. These two new cards – which are enclosed and carry no additional fee — replace the Citi/AAdvantage card you are currently carrying, and provide you with more places to earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles.

Perhaps there’s precedent for this, but I’ve never had a bank issue me a second, different card before.

I suppose it’s a no-cost addition, and since it’s considered part of the same credit line, it doesn’t hit my credit report as a new, separate account. (Their enclosed FAQ’s stress this point.)

But no thanks. My wallet’s credit card space is already fully occupied, and frankly, I don’t need this Amex. (“Waste of plastic” comes to mind.) If I’m using an Amex, it’ll be my Starwood-linked card.

Anyone have a different take?

Downgraded: Prospects for carrying on liquids in the European Union
While the European Union’s European Commission is aiming to allow you to carry on liquids again — as we reported back in October — airports and airlines are actually fighting the EC and lobbying to keep the nearly five-year liquid restrictions in carry-on luggage:

In recent months, trade groups representing hundreds of airports and dozens of airlines have quietly stepped up the pressure on the European Commission to abandon its plan for a gradual easing of restrictions. From April 29, the change would allow passengers passing through Europe from a third country to carry liquids, aerosols and gels purchased either at an airport duty-free shop or on board a non-European airline. They are calling instead for the ban to remain in place until 2013, when Brussels has vowed to eliminate all cabin restrictions on such goods.

“The existing technology is not fit for the purpose,” said Olivier Jankovec, the director general of the Airports Council International Europe, a lobbying group based in Brussels that represents more than 400 airports. “We risk paralyzing the big hubs.”
But the intense lobbying has so far failed to sway the commission, which committed two years ago to simplifying the often onerous security screening process. It remains a source of frustration for passengers who are forced to jettison drink containers, toothpaste, skin creams and even jars of marmalade before boarding planes.

Aides to Siim Kallas, the European transportation commissioner, said he remained unconvinced by the industry’s arguments and was satisfied by the performance standards set by European regulators for liquid-explosive detectors. Moreover, they said, the numbers of transfer passengers likely to be affected by this first phase of the plan should be manageable.

Upgraded: AA miles on Facebook
It’s a spin of the wheel, essentially, but you could earn a random number of American AAdvantage miles — between 100 and 1,000,000 — if you “like” the AAdvantage program on their Facebook page. I think these “like” campaigns are kind of lame, but hey, if you’re a Facebooker, have some free miles. Full details here.

Upgraded: Atlanta Braves parking for Delta SkyMiles Medallion members
I guess this is a thinking-outside-the-box perk for upper-tier Delta elite frequent fliers: Medallion-level members get access to a special parking area within the Green Lot for Atlanta Braves games at Turner Field. It’s not free parking — normal rates apply. I’ve never been to a game at Turner Field, but the Green Lot looks like it’s as convenient as it’s going to get.

Upgraded: Taiwanese analysis of American aviation
For those who appreciate the kitschy animations of global news by the Taiwanese animators at Next Media Animation, please enjoy this cartoon analysis of American aviation’s obsession with fees. Note the not-so-subtle digs at the age of U.S. flight attendants (ouch) and the ragging on US Airways in particular, going so far as to use their logo. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the video celebrates the triumphant Asian airline industry, singling out Cathay Pacific. Who knows, maybe Cathay paid for this episode. Watch it below.

hotel ukraina moscow Upgrades and Downgrades: Moscow hotels, Tokyo flights, $5 rental cars, and hot cheese
Downgraded: Moscow
For the sixth year in a row, Moscow has the most expensive hotel rates in the world for business travelers. The average Moscow rate fell 12 percent to 13,250 rubles ($452). Fell.

Upgraded: Flights from NYC to Tokyo
American Airlines is launching flights from New York JFK to Tokyo Haneda Airport. Haneda, which is closer to downtown Tokyo, not Narita, the primary international airport.

Downgraded, then Upgraded: United grounds, then fixes, its 757s
United grounded all 96 of its Boeing 757s yesterday, to perform required emergency updates to all the planes’ air data computers. A day later, the airline reported that only 15 flights were nixed, and that all planes were back online.

Upgraded: One-way rentals out of Florida
If you’re in Florida and looking to leave the state between April and June, Hertz is serving up one-way out-of-Florida rentals for merely $5 a day. Rates are good for a limited range of destination states, and for a max of 14 days, but $5 is cheap. No one-way drop-off fees, either. Snowbirds bring the car in, you bring it out. This isn’t necessarily something for everyone, but if it meets your needs, go for it. (via)

Downgraded: Hot cheese
Beware of hot cheese when you travel. Seriously. The headline: “Disney in Hot Cheese Lawsuit.” It’s quite sad, actually, for the kid who got hurt. Poor child, but wow, what a sentence: “[Walt Disney Parks and Resorts] has just received the lawsuit from a Californian couple who say their four-year-old Isaiah Harris was injured at Cosmic Ray’s Starlite Café [at Orlando's Magic Kingdom] when he toppled into a scalding hot cup of cheese that had been prepared for pouring over nachos.”



It’s Election Day in the USA, and I’m obsessively watching the returns, so here are a few quick nuggets you should be aware of, if you’re looking to upgrade your travel experience:

FareCompare wants you to go on a mileage run
The folks at FareCompare are running a sweepstakes of sorts, offering the lucky winner the opportunity to go on a mileage run for up to 15,000 miles of travel on the airline of their choice. If you’re just shy of elite status (re)qualification and have time to kill, it can’t hurt to enter.

OpenSkies knocks $200 off fares to Paris
All-premium carrier (and British Airways subsidiary) OpenSkies has a promo code for $200 off flights from New York to Paris if you book and fly by November 30, 2010. Promo code is PAR200DO.

Citibank brings back the 75,000-mile American AAdvantage bonus
Well, that didn’t take long… While the mega-bonuses on new Citibank/American Airlines credit cards ended on October 31, a new offer is already up. 75,000 miles after $4000 spend within 6 months, with no annual fee. Not quite as easy to attain as the last round of offers, but still a fine, fine way to collect some major mileage balances. (via Gary Leff)

Now, back to the polls…

aa citibank bonus miles American AAdvantage Citibank mega bonuses: Only one week left
Back in September, I posted about the amazingly huge mileage bonuses which Citibank was offering new American Airlines AAdvantage Visa and Amex cardholders. For no annual fee in the first year, you could get 75,000 or 100,000 miles for reaching spending thresholds.

I opted for a personal Visa card that offered up 75,000 bonus miles after just $1500 in spending. I quickly reached the threshold, and the bonus appears on my current statement (screenshot above). The miles were reflected in my AA account the next day.

Echoing Gary Leff’s comments on this subject, these bonuses are among the best credit card mileage offers that have ever been made available. If you’re feeling particularly frisky, sign up for one personal card and one business card. If you’ve got a partner, have the partner do the same. This is an easy way to rack up a boatload of miles in one of the best programs out there, a program that actually has solid award availability.

The mega-offers run out on October 31, 2010, so act fast.

Here are the links again.

75,000 miles after $1500 in purchases within 6 months, no fee the first year:

100,000 miles: 50,000 miles after $750 in purchases within 4 months, and another 50,000 miles after $10,000 in purchases within 12 months, no fee the first year

Following up on their new-and-improved partnership, American Airlines and British Airways have announced a reconfiguration of their New York to London schedule. And they’re making it a “shuttle” service. There won’t be more flights, just different scheduling.

So what will the new schedule look like?

Two morning flights: 8:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Then, starting at 6:00 p.m., flights leave every half hour, through 11:30 p.m., albeit not necessarily from the same airport. The reconfigured schedule will be take effect in April 2011.

So is this much of a change? I’ve always been impressed, frankly, at the sheer number of flights between New York and London. Here’s the current schedule of New York (JFK and Newark) flights to Heathrow on American and British Airways (chosen for October 28, an arbitrary date in the near future). This list excludes BA002 and 004, which are all-business class flights to London-City Airport. And this obviously doesn’t even take other airlines’ service into account at all, such as Virgin Atlantic, Delta, Continental, Air India, or Kuwait Airways…

Again, this is the OLD schedule:

AA142 departs JFK at 8:30 a.m.
BA178 departs JFK at 8:40 a.m.
AA100 departs JFK at 6:15 p.m.
BA112 departs JFK at 6:20 p.m.
BA184 departs EWR at 6:25 p.m.
BA174 departs JFK at 6:50 p.m.
BA176 departs JFK at 7:35 p.m.
AA104 departs JFK at 8:20 p.m.
BA188 departs EWR at 8:50 p.m.
AA132 departs JFK at 9:25 p.m.
BA114 departs JFK at 9:35 p.m.
BA182 departs JFK at 10:40 p.m.
BA186 departs EWR at 10:55 p.m.
AA116 departs JFK at 11:50 p.m.

From where I sit, a move to flights on the half-hour is a tweak, not a radical shift, but it’s still an improvement in booking ease. It sure is a lot easier to remember your flight options this way. But it’s still the same number of total flights, at the end of the day.