spreadsheets and suitcases

organization + travel = family fun

Bits & Pieces: Southwest Hawaii news, IHG and SPG card changes

on May 8, 2018

Holy cannoli, things have been crazy lately.  My trip planning took a bit of a back seat, though I did manage to book some tickets from Paris to Seville on Transavia, which is a European low-cost carrier affiliated with Air France/KLM.  More on that in another post- especially as they’ve already made an unfavorable schedule change…I refused the change via email and they said they’ll be contacting me (during THEIR business hours, in the Netherlands) to discuss the alternatives.  Anyway…on to the good stuff!

Southwest made some announcements this week.  The first was not a surprise to me: they’d be starting their Hawaii service from 4 West Coast airports. They are all in California: Oakland (OAK), Sacramento (SMF), San Jose (SJC), and San Diego (SAN).  I raised one eyebrow at Los Angeles (LAX) not being included in that list, but it makes sense.  Lots of competition, notoriously hard to get into from a scheduling perspective.  Southwest be servicing 4 Hawaii airports: Honolulu- Oahu (HNL), Lihue- Kauai (LIH), Kahului- Maui (OGG), and Kona-Big Island of Hawaii (KOA).


The second announcement was a welcome surprise- they’d be dipping their toes into Interisland Travel!  I wondered if they might take on Hawaiian Airlines, which really has a stranglehold on fares these days, and it turns out they do.  Any competition in this area is good for the customer, in my opinion.  The statement from Southwest’s President was vague regarding timeline….

He shared Southwest’s eventual interisland flights would come following the initial ramp-up of operations across the state’s four principal airports.

I guess it comes when it comes.  I, for one, am hoping for an introductory fare to Honolulu in early January!  It would give me a chance to fly Southwest, which I have never done, and keep me on budget on the Mainland-to-Hawaii leg of my trip, which I still haven’t booked!

mickey yikes

Next up, let’s go on a small roller coaster ride.  The IHG Rewards card has, in the past few weeks: had its regular online application link taken down, introduced a premium version of the card with a different Annual Free Night redemption rule, reduced the Annual Free Night benefit for existing cardholders, and then changed its mind and reversed the reduction.

When the regular application link got taken down, it was (correctly) assumed that a new, and hopefully enhanced version of the card would be available.  It turns out they introduced the IHG Rewards Club Premier card , with a higher annual fee than the standard card ($89 compared to the $49 I pay for mine), and differences in the earning structure.  The big deal was the change to the Annual Free Night Certificate.  Previously, you could use it on any IHG hotel, anywhere, as long as a room was available.  With the new card, and Annual Free Night Cert could only be used at IHG properties where rooms were redeemable for 40,000 points/night or less.  That eliminated a bunch of the higher-end properties.  They were nice enough to provide a list of the excluded hotels…which includes the Crowne Plaza Paris-Republique, where I planned to apply both my husband’s and my Certs.  Oh well, I thought….this restriction applies to just the new, premier version of the card.  But I was wrong!  Current “Select” cardholders would be affected, too, boooo.

After a few weeks of brou-ha-ha over the short notice of the change (less than one month), and the fact that recent card applicants would never enjoy the unrestricted Free Night they literally signed up for, Chase announced a reversal of the decision.  Anyone who was approved for an IHG card before May 1st would still get at least 1 unrestricted Free Night.  Just waiting for the Certs to post in our accounts.  I may still have a chance!


Finally, some changes to the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Amex card.  As I mentioned a while back, Marriott bought Starwood.  After much speculation on what the combined loyalty program might look like, and what benefits CC holders would lose (I particularly feared the loss of ability to transfer Starpoints to partner airlines, for example), they announced what the internet is calling the “Starriott” program.

In hopes of not reinventing the wheel, please see this complete summary by blogger Mommy Points.  What it comes down to for me is the ease of transferring/using points.  It seems those details are stable, and a new benefit is an Annual Free Night with a value of up to 35k present-day Starpoints, which will be called Marriott points after August 1st, 2018.

That’s all for now!  My thoughts are with the residents of the Big Island, who are dealing with the ongoing Kilauea eruption.  Stay safe!


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