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Today we received a Reader Question asking about the immigration lines at Bali Ngurah Rai Airport and if there is an option of using a Fast Track to speed through the arrival procedures.
Remember that you can always , send a message via Facebook or use Twitter and include photos too. We’ll try to cover Reader Questions & Comments here several times a week.
Bali Airport can be either heaven or hell depending on what time of the day you’re arriving there which mirrors any other international airport. Since Indonesia began to collect fingerprints of travelers the lineup can be extremely long if you have the misfortune of arriving together with a few other planes whose passengers then fill the arrivals hall at Bali Airport to capacity.
In the old airport there were always people hanging around the immigration area who essentially collected bribes from travelers who were willing to pay for a shortcut. They would then have these people processed at the Citizen or Diplomatic channels and distribute part of the bribe to the officials there.
These figures seem to have disappeared now (at least I haven’t seen them the last 6+ times I’ve been to Bali since the new terminal opened) and immigration in Bali has to go through regular channels.
Dennis from Australia sent me an email after my recent Bali articles and asked if there is still the possibility of a fast track.
The answer is yes and there are multiple ways. As an Australian citizen he could apply for the APEC Travel Card that gives him access to APEC fast track counters at all countries participating in the scheme. The application process varies by country, both the U.S. and Canada are very easy to get an APEC card.
An easy commercial option is to use The Bali Concierge where you pay for the official fast track service available. The cost is 450,000 IDR which is roughly US$32 and can very well save a good portion of your day.
If you arrive midday or in the early afternoon, getting out of the airport quickly can make a difference of being able to spend a few hours by the beach or not. Spending that money is somewhat of an insurance policy. If there is nobody in line then well you just blew thirty bucks. If the arrivals hall is hell on earth then it’s the best money ever spent. Keep in mind you can’t book this service upon arrival.
There is also a discount program where you can save 20% for a (positive?) comment on Tripadvisor:
Not sure if all this is worth the trouble of saving $6 but if you arrive with a family then it might be worth it.
The process now is relatively quick because Indonesia has eliminated the paid visa on arrival for most nationalities and instead moved to a visa waiver system (there are still a range of countries that do require the VOA). For eligible travelers I always recommend having a look of getting the APEC card as it helps at many destinations.
So far Bali Concierge fast track was able to really speed me through, saving at least an estimated two hours. Other times it was a futile as there was literally nobody in the arrivals hall. Consider the investment as a backup and not having to worry then it should be ok.
IHG Rewards Club with ANA brought back an offer that allowed select members to get Mileage Club Platinum-status (Star Alliance Gold) through March 2020.
ANA operates InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn hotels in Japan under a franchise agreement from IHG that was likely the reason for this match. The registration for this offer closed on June 23. ANA has now processed the Platinum upgrades for eligible members.
A LoyaltyLobby reader who originally forwarded us this offer yesterday sent the above screenshot of his new ANA Mileage Club Platinum-status.
Here’s information from the original post about this offer:
Here’s copy of the email:
ANA Mileage Club status levels:
Mileage Club Platinum is a Star Alliance Gold that comes with alliance wide benefits such as lounge access, Business Class check in, extra luggage allowance and priority boarding + some ANA specific ones.
Glad to know that IHG and ANA have processed the submissions and upgraded at least some of the members. Would be interesting to know if members who didn’t originally receive this email had their upgrades processed?
Here are the terms and conditions of this offer:
As a selected, eligible IHG® Rewards Club member, you qualify for an upgrade to ANA Mileage Club (AMC) Platinum status. Offer is valid for recipient only. Invitation and offer is non-transferable and status matches cannot be bought or sold. Offer only redeemable once for the lifetime of the promotion. Must be an IHG® Rewards Club member and must register your IHG® Rewards Club member number and AMC account number in order for AMC upgrade to be processed. Registration period is open from 10 June 2019 to 11:59pm EDT 23 June 2019. Upon registration and upgrade completion, AMC Platinum status upgrade is valid until 11:59pm JST, 31 March 2020. Thereafter, standard tier requirements must be met to maintain elite status. IHG® Rewards Club members receiving complimentary AMC Platinum upgrade will not be eligible to register for the ANA Super Flyer Card, receive Upgrade Points, receive desktop calendar and desk diary, or subscription for ana-logue lifestyle magazine. ANA is responsible for fulfilment of status upgrade. Please allow four (4) to six (6) weeks for the upgrade to be applied to your AMC account. This offer is subject to the standard IHG® Rewards Club Membership Terms and Conditions, which can be obtained by visiting www.ihgrewardsclub.com and the AMC Membership Terms and Conditions, which can be obtained by visiting www.ana.co.jp/en/us/amc/kiyaku/ . IHG and ANA reserve the right to cancel a member’s account if fraudulent use of the offer is detected. To the extent permitted by applicable law, IHG and ANA reserve the right to cancel, suspend and/or modify the offer at any time with or without notice. To the extent permitted by applicable law, IHG and ANA reserve the right of final interpretation of this offer. This exclusive offer valid for original recipient only.
There have been more news coming from Italy regarding Alitalia that has been in the bankruptcy for the past two years and lost billions after billions over the last twenty or so years (has this airline ever turned a profit?).
The airline is essentially nationalized. The government of Italy and railway operator (100% owned by the government) being the majority shareholders while Delta and Atlantia (highway and airport operator in Italy) will own part of the new company.
The old Alitalia (this is yet another restart) will be left more than three billions in debt that is covered mostly by the tax payers and unsecured creditors. The management (or the government) is already promising employees that there won’t be job cuts.
Here’s an excerpt from AINonline (access their piece here):
Following months of delay and persistent changes to various deadlines—including the deadline to repay a government-backed €900 million bridge loan—the re-launch of Alitalia appears within reach as a second private investor group has won the right to participate in the rescue operation of Italy’s perennially loss-making national airline.
“Yesterday we received four expressions of interest regarding a possible participation in Alitalia,” a spokesman for state-owned railway operator Ferrovie dello Stato Italiano (FS), which leads efforts to find new shareholders and devise a business plan for the “New Alitalia,” told AIN. The board of directors considered the four proposals at its meeting on Monday, he said.
In a statement released Monday evening, FS said the board had identified Italian motorway and airport infrastructure group Atlantia as a partner alongside Delta Air Lines and the ministry of economy and finance on the Alitalia rescue operation. It will start working with the chosen partners “as soon as possible” to share the business plan and the other elements of the possible binding offer.
This essentially means that the Italian tax payers are subsidizing the highly unprofitable airline yet again. This is not the first, the second or even the third restart of the airline.
You would think that at some point someone in Italy would come to a conclusion that throwing more money into this unprofitable exercise is lose-lose proposition?
The Atlantia was likely forced to become a partner due to “owning” government a favor after the bridge collapse in Italy. Not exactly sure what Delta sees here? I guess that they are willing to lose some cash keeping Alitalia live couple of more years and competitors at bay.
I’ll see another rescue in two to three years time….
Note that the weekend is defined as Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights except in the Middle East where it is Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. You must book this offer minimum three nights before the intended stay.
Here are featured destinations by Hilton:
Here are some price examples for a weekend night in October:Waldorf Hilton London
Hilton Paris Opera
DoubleTree Amsterdam Central Station
Rome Cavalieri – A Waldorf Astoria Resort
Hilton Tel Aviv
The participation is very good as there are very few hotels that don’t have this rate plan loaded when I last time checked.
Just make sure that your plans are firm if you plan to book this offer as it is prepaid, nonrefundable and noncancelable.
Here are the terms and conditions of this rate promotion:
Offer is subject to availability at participating hotels within the Hilton portfolio of brands in Europe, Middle East & Africa. For hotels within the UAE, the Sale SRPs will open on May 7th, 2019 and for all other hotels within Europe, The Middle East & Africa, the Sale SRPs will open on May 15th, 2019.
Offer available for weekend stays, in the UAE, booked between May 7th, 2019 – August 19th, 2019. For all other participating properties across Europe, The Middle East and Africa, offer available for weekend stays booked between May 15th, 2019- August 19th, 2019. Stays in The UAE to be completedon weekends between May 9th, 2019 – January 6th, 2020. For all other participating properties across Europe, The Middle East and Africa, stays to be completed on weekends between May 16th, 2019- January 6th, 2020. For purposes of this offer, “weekend” is defined as Friday, Saturday and/or Sunday nights and in Middle East (excluding Turkey, Lebanon, Morocco, Africa) as Thursday, Friday and/or Saturday nights. Must book a minimum of 3 days before arrival.
Full prepayment is required at time of booking. Your credit card will be charged immediately for the total amount quoted for the entire stay as reserved. Rates are not refundable; in case your contract with Hilton is governed by German law a refund of 10%, of the paid rates applies upon cancellation. In such case you may however prove that no or a significantly lower damage has been incurred for Hilton. Charges cannot be applied to other stays, services or merchandise. Booking cannot be changed. If you fail to arrive at the hotel on the scheduled arrival date, your reservation will be cancelled and you will not receive any refund or credit. Rates featured in advertising are the lowest rates available for destinations, not at specific properties.
Blackout dates may apply and vary by hotel. Offer is subject to offer details herein and the individual hotel’s booking terms and conditions. Prices shown are per room per night based on two adults sharing. Unless otherwise stated, rates include taxes but exclude gratuities and incidental charges. Offer is not combinable with other promotions, packages, negotiated/qualified rate plans or bonus offers and is not valid for group bookings. The Hilton Minibreaks offer of a 2nd room for children for half price is not combinable with this promotion.
Participating Waldorf Astoria™ Hotels & Resorts, Conrad® Hotels & Resorts, LXR, DoubleTree by Hilton™, Hilton Hotels & Resorts®, Curio, a collection by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn™ and Canopy by Hilton hotels™ are offering 25% discount off the Best Available Rate and the Best Available Bed and Breakfast Rates for weekend stays. Participating Hampton by Hilton™ properties are offering a 10% discount off the Best Available Rate for weekend stays. Some participating hotels may offer availability on midweek arrival dates during the promotional period. Some hotels may offer discount on premium room categories only (i.e. Executive or Deluxe rooms) and rates advertised may be for premium room categories. Some participating hotels may offer a discount off the Best Available Dinner, Bed and Breakfast Rate (or half board rate).The actual discount rate relates to the hotel’s Best Available (Flexible) Rate (“BAR”), which is a specific rate type that varies depending on time of purchase, is unrestricted, non-qualified and excludes discount rates.
The Hilton Honors member sale rates are an additional 5% off of the Best Available Rate and the Best Available Bed and Breakfast Rate (indicated above) for stays i.e. up to 30% off for participating hotels as outlined above. To qualify you must be a registered member of Hilton Honors™ at the time of booking and the booking must be made through Hilton direct channels: Hilton.com or Honors.com, or the Hilton Reservation call center (HRCC). Enroll at Honors.com before booking.
Any currency conversions displayed on advertising are for comparison only. Reservations will be booked in the local hotel currency displayed. Currency rates utilised in each conversion rely upon several different public sources from other parties without independent investigation or verification and should be used only as examples. Hilton does not, and cannot, verify the accuracy of any rate conversion examples. Rates booked will be the Best Available Rates at the time of booking with the discount applied. Once the promotional period has ended Best Available Rates may fluctuate and in the instance that a lower rate is available after the sale period, the booked rate remains non-refundable.
Hilton Honors™ membership, earning of Points & Miles™ and redemption of points are subject to Honors Terms and Conditions.
Guaranteed Discount or lowest price offering is valid for Hilton Honors members only.
Marriott Bonvoy launched Escapes earlier this year that replaced Last Minute Escapes that were available for few months. Marriott previously had eBreaks while SPG had its own Hot Escapes.
Members save 20% while the non-member discount is capped at 15%. These Escapes are valid 7 days a week at resorts and Friday to Sunday at city hotels. You must book them by Sunday. Escapes are available for bookings every other week.
If someone doesn’t have use for Wyndham Rewards points but does have for United miles this conversion bonus can make sense.
Here are the terms and conditions of this promotion:
Void where prohibited by law. To qualify for the United MileagePlus® Award Miles Point Transfer Bonus (the “Promotion”) and bonus miles, a member must: (i) transfer 6,000, 16,000 or 30,000 Wyndham Rewards points to United MileagePlus award miles between July 15, 2019 and August 15, 2019; (ii) ensure that the account from which the transfer is made and the account to which the transfer is made are in the name of the same account holder; and (iii) have their Wyndham Rewards and United MileagePlus® membership numbers available. For purposes of this Promotion, 6,000 Wyndham Rewards points equals 2,400 United MileagePlus award miles, 16,000 Wyndham Rewards points equals 6,400 United MileagePlus award miles, and 30,000 Wyndham Rewards points equals 12,000 United MileagePlus award miles. MileagePlus miles, awards and benefits are subject to the rules of the United MileagePlus program. For details, see www.united.com. This Promotion may be canceled or modified at any time without notice.
Air France – KLM’s Flying Blue has launched new mileage sale with up to 75% mystery bonus that is valid through August 11, 2019.
Elite Flying Blue members can purchase up to 100,000 and others 75,000 miles before the bonus. There is no limit on number of miles that elite members can purchase yearly.
You can access Flying Blue’s page for buying miles here.
My personal bonus is 50%.
Here’s the price:
The price of a mile is 1.83 euro cents each.
Flying Blue miles come handy at times (easiest to book awards is to use their app) and only way to get access to La Premiere-cabin (need to be an elite member as well).
75% bonus is generally the best that Flying Blue offers, although they have offered 100% bonus few times in the past.
Here are the terms and conditions of this promotion:
Bonus Miles will be rewarded on transactions made between 15 July and 11 August 2019, 23:59 CET +1, and will be credited to the recipient’s account when the transaction is complete.
During the promotional period, Elite members can receive a maximum bonus of 100,000 Miles. Elite members may purchase an unlimited number of base Miles annually, while Explorer members may only purchase or receive up to 75,000 Miles in any calendar year, unless a promotion is active in which case it is possible to receive bonus Miles on top of the 75,000 Miles. Miles are sold in units of 2,000 Miles.
Miles are sold to you by Points Inc. Miles will be deposited into your account within 72 hours of purchase. You have the right to withdraw your purchase within 14 days as provided in the Buy and Gift Miles Program Terms and Conditions. To exercise the withdrawal right or to obtain assistance with the Buy and Gift Miles Program, please contact the Customer Service Centre.
There is no stay length requirement on this offer so it is valid for one nighters too. Accor has traditionally lumped Israel with other countries on their bonus offers. I believe that this is the first time we see Israel specific offer.
Here are the terms and conditions of this promotion:
1. General Le Club AccorHotels terms and conditions apply to the 1200 Rewards points in Israel offer and you must be Le Club AccorHotels member to benefit from it.
2. This offer entitles Le Club AccorHotels members, regardless of their membership status, to earn 300 Rewards points for the 1st stay, 400 Rewards points for the 2nd stay, 500 Rewards points for the 3rd stay in one of the participating hotels in the Le Club AccorHotels Loyalty program in Israel. This bonus of Rewards points is offered in addition to the Rewards points and Status points that are usually earned by the Le Club AccorHotels member for each eligible stay done in application to the Le Club Accorhotels General Conditions of Use. This promotion is not applicable for hotel partners of Le Club AccorHotels. The number of Rewards points earned for this offer are calculated based on a Classic membership status level earn rate.
3. This offer is valid for a member’s stay from 22/07/2019 to 30/09/2019 in one of the participating hotels in Russia and booked between 15/07/2019 and 31/08/2019.
4. The stay must be a minimum of 1 night(s).
5. Any consecutive stays (check-out and check-in same day) in the same hotel, will be considered as a single stay.
6. For the purpose of this offer, a stay is one (1) reservation made by a Le Club AccorHotels member for one or more rooms in a participating hotel. For the avoidance of doubt, a reservation made for more than one room will therefore be considered as only one (1) stay.
7. To benefit from this offer, your booking must be made on AccorHotels.com, our participating brands web sites and applications and via AccorHotels Call Centers. All other reservation channels will not be eligible to this offer.
8. You must provide your Le Club AccorHotels Loyalty card number when making your reservation, and present your card at the hotel reception desk when you check-in for your stay.
9. Le Club AccorHotels Rewards points are credited to the member’s account within 10 days following the end of his/her stay.
10. This offer cannot be combined with other current promotional offers or advantages and does not apply to groups. If the stay meets the terms and conditions for several offers, only the Rewards points linked to the most generous offer (meaning that allows you to earn the highest number of Rewards points) will be credited to your account.
11. Any stay partly or entirely paid with Le Club AccorHotels Rewards points or with one or more vouchers will not be eligible to receive this offer. Stays entirely or partly paid for with Le Club AccorHotels points, or with one or more vouchers will not count towards offers that require multiple stays for points earn.
12. This offer is subject to availability. General sales terms and conditions apply for reserved public rates specific to each hotel.
13. To benefit from this offer, a member must subscribe to it on the offer page.
14. Please, specify the reference 011007 in all your communications with AccorHotels call centers or customers care services related to this offer.
It is the beginning of the top summer tourist season in Europe, when travelers flock to Southern and other parts of Europe on their holidays.
If you are using non-Euro dominated cards to withdraw money from the ATMs within the Euro area, you should pay close attention to the screens and choices presented or otherwise you will be taken for a ride as the case below case illustrates.
I spent ten nights total in Athens, Mykonos and Chania earlier this month and withdraw money couple of times, as Greece is not one of those European countries where one could get by without any, although card acceptance rate is getting better.
Piraeus Bank ATM
The ATM screen clearly stated that there is 0% COMMISSION and had the text EXCHANGE RATE & MARK UP next to it.
What is the difference between a commission and a mark up?
Checked the rate of 250 euros to USD using Google. The rate offered by bank was off by $25.32 that is exactly 9%. There was also an additional withdrawal fee of 3 or 3.5 euros.
Here’s how it should be disclosed:
Above is an example from a hotel terminal in Norway.
The screen clearly disclosed that the rate is marked up by 3.5%.
These fees should be clearly disclosed as the hotel terminal in Norway did and not like the Piraeus bank in Greece hid with 0% commission-text. I could swear that the terminals in Greece also changed the sides where the options were presented from time to time.
You can also escape the Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) attempts by using an American Express issued card. They don’t allow merchants to do the conversion with a hefty fee, unlike Visa and Mastercard.