I continue to use Marriott Travel Packages to acquire air miles and, in my case, always with United's frequent flyer program. With the major devaluation coming next year in United's Mileage redemptions, it's getting harder to accumulate enough miles for two tickets for international travel, and especially so now with the way the United devaluation is working. While the effects are not so severe if flying economy, there are times when no economy seats are available. The really big gouge being put to United frequent flyers is in business class and first class tickets on partner airlines. I would certainly be willing to pay more Marriot points for additional air miles above the 120,000 maximum that can be obtained, though there is a 10% bonus of 12,000 miles now for being Platinum redeeming, as I recall. That 12,000 miles isn't enough, though, to mitigate the damage to vacation plans. If Marriott could bump the high end to 160,000 air miles on United and other select arilines, that would help a great deal. I don't know that anyone at Marriott will consider this request, but, you can't get shot for asking.
I've booked one trip in Business to Europe and back next fall, all on other airlines in order to avoid UA........and will be looking to do more of the same for next summer, again using UA miles and avoiding them totally.
Use the miles now before they are devalued again and again. UA is getting very good at making changes to their programs including the inflight services or lack of and not telling anyone.
Nice post howieg.
One can end up feeling like an ear of corn with a hog on each end between dueling devaluations--the hotel and the air carrier's. I've touted the Travel Packages before with colleagues and in the last couple months lured two extended stay guests from a Holiday Inn in this town to join me at a Fairfield Inn where I've been ensconcsed since August.
The one fellow hadn't stayed in a Marriott property for probably 10 or more years and forgot he even had a Marriott membership. He enrolled again--and they later informed him he'd joined many years ago. I lost the referral bonus on him. The other fellow, however, in fact was never a member and I'm now getting my referral bonuses from his stays.
The scenarios I used to be able to paint to seduce guests staying at other hotel properties to switch to Marriott, based on what they could do travelling internationally with a travel package, are being devoured as both Marriott and United devalue their plans. The lure in the travel packages isn't to go flying cross country but, "See Rome! See Paris!" and stay at some great Marriott properties as you fly there. Well . . . you used to be able to . . . but . . . the way United is eating up my miles for tickets, I no longer can do what I once could.
Using your post as an alert and shashack's and iahflyr's input (we could toss up a poll and be 100% in favor and still get squat, and book before 2/14 because it gets even uglier) I'm getting off my fanny (well, actually, that's where I'll do the planning ) and putting together a spring trip. Even in economy, where you are correct in saying that the point devaluation isn't as bad, it's the seat size and the unannounced inflight service reductions that will get us - ouch.
Good stuff, thanks for posting.
Glad you find the combined contributions of use. I'm trying to make plans now for a trip for the very end of 2014 and first few weeks of 2015 but don't know that I can fit the windows for seat redemptions on United on both outgoing and return flights before the devaluation takes effect. They open seasts up 330 days in advance on United so we'd be able in January of 2014 to get seats for outgoing flights but we may be caught short of points for the return trip as we move into February of 2014 to start buying seats for the return leg. We'll cancel the trip if short of points but that's where if the Marriott had more points one could buy in a travel package redemption than the maximum 120,000 it has now that it could save the day.
No doubt as much as you're into the weeds of reward travel, you've already considered this - but just in case;
don't forget about the current bonus (ends 11/30/13) offering of converting Marriott points into United miles
With your earn rate, it might be worth using up short term Marriott points (quickly earned back) for some United miles to lock in the exact dates/trip you want. Plus, you can book the Marriott rooms for points without having the point balance, in a 'layaway' manner (in effect, shorting Marriott points, going long on United miles).
Erc, it was on my mind to consider this but, the conversion ratio is terrible, when compared to a Travel Package; however, being on that razor thin line where I might not be able to make the desired international trip, I sat back and thought about it further. With buyer's remorse as I was doing it, I went ahead--with your encouragement--and bought 25,000 United Miles but it cost me 56,000 Marriott Reward points. At the same time, if that 25,000 miles purchase makes a difference in the margin on not taking the trip I have in mind, it's worth it. In the final analysis, life has to be lived forward but sometimes can only be understood looking backward. I'll know in January and February of next year whether this was a good gamble or bad. Thank you for pushing me over the edge--more so if the gamble pays off, less so if it doesn't! LOL! :-)
It cost you how many Marriott Reward points? WOW!!!! Great partnership they made with UA huh?
With all due respect, I find it intriguing that without your having any comprehension whatsoever of my particular facts, you take a very condescending approach to the decision I have personally made. As Will Rogers once said, "We are all ignorant--just on diffrent subjects." And, in this particular case, you are completely, totally, and utterly ignorant.
Excuse me, my comment was not driven by anything other than the ratio of points taken from one program and the value to the another....period! We all have our own reasons for the decisions we make, I'm quite sure if I told you some transactions I've completed over the years you'd be scratching your head thinking how could that be.
There was nothing condescending meant in the least, please accept my apology for it coming across in that manner.
I hear ya howieg, it is a steep price (especially when compared to the travel package conversion rate) but like you say, sometimes you just bite the bullet to close out the deal (think weddings ). Living well is the best revenge and with a marvelous vacation all wrapped up and then enjoyed, the incremental premium will long be forgotten and the memories will remain. Go man, go. Happy trails.