Richard Branson’s private island is again available on points, why cheaper Air France business awards mean more profit for the airline and the best SNL skit I’ve seen in ages…at the expense of Alaska Airlines. All that and more in this week’s Saturday Selection, our weekly round-up of interesting tidbits from around the interwebs (links to each article are embedded in the titles).
SNL Alaska Airlines parody ad: “You Didn’t Die and You Got a Cool Story”
“On other airlines you can watch movies. On Alaska, you’re in the movie.” This is one of a half-dozen or so laugh-out-loud lines from Saturday Night Live’s recent parody of an Alaska Airlines ad that promotes two new slogans: “Still better than Spirit” and “You didn’t die and you got a cool story.” Alaska’s had a tough couple of months, between losing a section of the cabin mid-flight on one flight and having a mushroom-influenced, off-duty pilot try to shut off the engines on another. While I’m normally not a huge fan of contemporary SNL, I gotta say, I thought this was hilarious and on point. My wife was laughing so hard she was crying. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s worth a watch.
One of the highlights of Greg the Frequent Miler’s worldwide travels was when he earned 1.2 million Virgin points in order to book a week on Richard Branson’s private island, Necker Island, during which he got to hang-out with Sir Virgin himself. Since Greg’s trip, Necker Island redemptions went away, came back again and now now cost a whopping 2 million Virgin points for a week. Even when you’re paying with funny-money, that’s a chunk of change. But, I know what you’re thinking: is it really worth all that bling? Back in the halcyon days of 2016, when Greg made his foray into the heart of the Virgin empire for a mere 1.2 million points, his answer was an unequivocable “yes.” Not everyone agrees, though. Last year, a Head for Points contributor paid $8,000/night to check out the island and called it “a piss-up that offers no more than a budget holiday to Spain.”
If we had to choose just one SkyTeam rewards program, Air France/KLM Flying Blue would probably be the unanimous choice for everyone on the FM Team. Flying Blue has had a great last couple of years, lowering its pricing on saver business class awards to Europe by 10%, adding free stopovers on award flights and upping the frequency of its transfer bonuses, including two opportunities at a previously unheard of 100%+ bonus (from Bilt). What’s driving all of these seemingly customer-friendly improvements? US credit card revenue and the desire to compete with other airline programs for points transfers from Amex, Chase, Citi, Capital One and Bilt. Gary at View from the Wing breaks down a fascinating interview with Ben Lipsey, the person who runs Flying Blue. It shows how the push to compete for US credit card bling, combined with the introduction of award comparison tools like Point.me and PointsYeah, have created pressure on Flying Blue to make its mileage redemptions more competitive for consumers…even though many of them may rarely, if ever, fly KLM or Flying Blue. Both Gary’s post and the full Ben Lipsey interview are worth a read.
As I write this, I can see the rolled eyes. “Can it get more boring? A post about changing the statement closing date on your credit card?” Yes, this Thrifty Traveler post gets in the weeds a bit and, no, it’s not terribly exciting. That said, we’ve talked with plenty of readers over the years about various reasons for changing the due date on your credit cards. It can be a great idea, both for keeping credit card payment dates simple and organized (like Kyle mentions above) or if you’re trying go next level and manage the statement closing dates on Southwest cards in order to smooth the path to a two year Companion Pass. Thrifty Traveler does a great job of compiling the ways to change your statement closing date across multiple issuers, making it a good resource post for the bookmark list.