Monday, June 30, 2014

Small Town Hours

You definitely have your choices when you want to rent a car. And if you're like my father, these companies are all a commodity and you would rent based on the best price (assuming they're not a total joke of a company).

So on his 2 day trip to Columbus, Ohio for work meetings, he went to and looked for the lowest cost option. It came up Enterprise for $45/day.

So back in early May, he booked a reservation online and added his Enterprise loyalty #.
Enterprise Plus Member Number: ******NS
Car and Rate Information: Intermediate SUV Toyota Rav 4, Ford Escape or similar
Pick Up Date: Sunday, June 29, 2014 at 8:30 pm
Drop Off Date: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at 6:30 pm
Pick Up Location Address and Phone Number: PORT COLUMBUS INTL ARPT 4600 INTERNATIONAL GTWY COLUMBUS, OH 43219-1779 Tel.: (614) 239-3200
Pick Up Location Hours for the week of : June 23, 2014
Monday-Friday 7:00 am 11:00 pm
Saturday 9:00 am 8:00 pm
Sunday 9:00 am 9:00 pm 
Fast forward to last evening, where my father's 6:09PM United 1196 flight was scheduled to arrive in Columbus, Ohio at 8:29PM. But due to late arriving aircraft, the flight was delayed until 7PM...then 7:30PM...then 8PM. Even after boarding in his customary Row 8 seat, the flight didn't actually depart until 8:20PM.

Frustrated with the fact that he spent an extra 2.5 hours at O'Hare Airport, he just fell asleep on the hour long minute flight. But due to Ohio being an Eastern time zone (1 hour ahead of Chicago), the flight arrived at 10:29PM.

Unfortunately, if you scroll up to the Enterprise location hours, the counter closed at 9PM.

My father, being used to 24/7 type of staffing at "international" airports in major cities, completely overlooked the fact that no one would be at the Enterprise desk to rent him his vehicle. So when he landed, he panicked a bit, but was soon calmed down by the fact that he had Enterprise elite status. Perhaps his reserved car would be ready and waiting for him with the keys and paperwork already...

Nope. This was Columbus, Ohio.

At 10:30PM.

On a Sunday night.

The Enterprise desk just had a sign saying "Sorry, we're closed." (Note: this photo was taken when I returned the car a few days later)

Thankfully, the Enterprise desk was in the same area as the Hertz Rental desk. And Hertz had 3 staff members ready and waiting to "pick him up" (note: in order for the reference to be funny, you need to know that Enterprise' slogan is "We'll pick you up.")

If you're not familiar, Hertz and Avis are the premium rental car agencies. They usually have new cars and offer top tier services for their members (i.e., having your car with paperwork waiting for you so you can skip the counter). But of course, for premium service, you pay premium prices.

The other mid-tier car rental companies (Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, National) offer some of those services, but not always depending on the location. Additionally, their cars are typically used (a few years older) and have some moderate wear and tear.

Then you have the bottom feeders (Fox, Advantage, Payless) where my father doesn't even know what happens at those companies, because we've never had a reason to be so desperate. But I digress...

So the Columbus Airport Hertz was ready to rent my father a car as a walk-in. Now, he knew Hertz was going to be pricier, but when they quoted him $147 for 2 days for "the lowest priced car available," my father rolled his eyes. That was about $60 more than the was going to pay for Enterprise.

My father told the young Hertz representative that the price was too high. So the agent went back into his computer and found a $135 option. Really? This lower priced option just came out of no where? Now my father smelled blood in the water.

My father: "Enterprise was going to give me an Intermediate SUV for $89..." while showing him the email confirmation from Enterprise.

Hertz: "Like a RAV4?"

My father: "Yeah, sure."

Hertz:  "OK, let me see what I can do...OK, I have a brand new Chevy Malibu for $97 for 2 days."

My father: "OK, I'll take that."

Sunday, June 29, 2014

First Class (Upgrade) Problems

I realize in the grand scheme of things that my father really has nothing to complain about, but when you're so close...

Friday, June 27, 2014

United Same Day Change

Sometimes you book a flight so far out in advance, you didn't know what ideal flight time you should have booked. Othertimes, one flight is so much cheaper than others departing the same day, so you prioritize your wallet over your watch.

The end result is the same. You wish you were on an earlier or later flight than the one you originally booked.

Fortunately, the airlines do offer SOME flexibility.

If your desired flight is earlier than the one you have, then you can always ask to go Standby. Most of the time, you can get this for free. You simply go up to the airport counter or call and request it. Of course, going standby doesn't mean you're owed anything. If there's an opening at the last minute, and your name is next on the list, you get to fly. It's a favor, more than a right.

And because a standby is not confirmed, you can only request a new flight to your original connecting airport or to your final destination. Why? If you were originally flying EWR-ORD-SEA and wanted to change to EWR-DEN-SEA, United doesn’t want you to standby on the first flight, show up in Denver, and find out that there is no available space to get you home to Seattle. They want to know you have a confirmed flight waiting for you.

But lately, I've noticed that most flights are leaving full and are more oversold than anything else. So standby success is hardly guaranteed. Plus, if there are delayed passengers who have missed their original connection or higher tier elite flyers, they will jump ahead of you on the Standby List. In theory, a Premier 1K status holder could walk up to a nearly full flight and jump to the front of the Standby List even if there are a dozen people with lower or no status already on it.

Nevertheless, you can still arrive early to the airport and take your chances with the confidence that you still have your original flight confirmed for later on.

Same Day Change
However, unbeknownst to many leisure travelers is a concept called a Same Day Change (SDC). Unlike going standby, a SDC is a confirmed change. You're issued a new ticket for the desired flight and give up your old ticket.

So what's the difference between a SDC and a regular flight change? Well, for regular changes to your flight (either time or destination), United charges $200 plus any difference in fare. But within 24 hours of your originally scheduled flight time, they will allow you to do a SDC for a reduced $75 fee (and no fee if you have United Gold status or above) and you may not have to pay any difference in fare.

To get the new flight for the reduced SDC fee (without the difference in fare), the desired flight needs to have availability in the same fare class as your original flight. So if you booked a S fare (deep discount economy), then you can only SDC into another S fare to avoid the fare difference.

Each carrier has its own rules, but I know United Airlines the best. Here are the rules:
  • The itinerary must be operated by United or United Express
  • The ticket number must begin with 016
  • The SDC option will be available within 24 hours before your originally scheduled flight. 
  • The requested flight must be departing within 24 hours from the time the SDC request is made and can include any fare class, but:
- When the original ticketed fare class is available, only the SDC fee will apply.
- When the original ticketed fare class is not available, the SDC fee plus any difference in fare.
  • Changes are only available for the same origin and destination airports, however, connections may be added/removed/changed.
  • You may stand by if seats are not available in the purchased fare class. 
- In these cases, the SDC will apply, but will not be charged unless you are assigned a seat on your desired flight.
- Changes in routing are not allowed when standing by. 
So as an example, back in early May, my father booked an 8PM flight to Chicago for later today. It would arrive at 9:30PM Chicago time, not giving him much time to do anything there that night. So early this morning (within the 24 hour window), he called up United to see if he could SDC to an earlier flight. Pulling up the list of LGA-ORD flights today, there were plenty of available options, but not every flight had the S fare class available.

Fortunately, the 4PM flight did, so the phone agent was able to rebook him onto that earlier flight with no fee. Now he will land at 5:30PM and be able to have dinner with our friends, Beth and Paul.

Again, my father could have still gotten a SDC on any flight he wanted with an open seat, but then he would have to pay the fare difference, which isn't something he wanted to do.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Hotel Points vs. Frequent Flyer Miles

The other day, I gave out some tactics that my family uses to generate some extra hotel points and frequent flyer miles while minimizing actual cash outlays. I concluded the post with a few different options in terms of using these extra points/miles - either for free hotel rooms or for free flights.

Now, there's a few different schools of thought here as both point currencies have their merits and drawbacks. But which is better?

Spoiler Alert - it really depends.

Pro-Hotel Points
Even getting a premium first class seat on the longest commercial flight in the world would only be about 16 hours long. Chances are, you'll spend more than 16 hours in your hotel room on vacation. So wouldn't it be a better to focus your resources on a travel product that you'll be spending more time in?

Further, some people view the flight as just a means to an end. The end being the destination (read: hotel). While sometimes people want to venture out of the hotel when traveling, let's be honest. You're still going to spend a meaningful amount of time there.

And many of those people want that time spent in a place that's a little better than what they have at home - basically, an "aspirational hotel." I mean, if someone offered you a free night or two at a hotel such as The Westin Riverfront or Conrad Koh Samui, who wouldn't jump at the chance?

And though not every hotel chain truly follows the "no blackout date" policy to a perfect tee, some chains are very true to their word. They will almost always allow point redemptions whenever a standard room is available for cash. Flight redemptions using miles, however, are almost the opposite. Most flights are not available unless the airline determines they won't sell out the flight for cash.

Additionally, with hotel redemptions, you could also "stretch" out your points depending on which hotel program you have points in. Most of the big ones have a Cash & Points option where you can pay for a portion of the room using points with the balance as a modest cash co-pay. As an example, my parents were able to use their SPG points to subsidize their four nights at the Le Meridien Chiang Mai in Thailand and only spend about $30 cash per night. Redemptions for flights using frequent flyer miles, on the other hand, are more "all or nothing" type deals (with the exception of taxes and occasional fuel surcharges).

Pro-Flight Miles
Not an error - this is what a hotel
room looks like when you're sleeping
The other group of travelers don't value the hotel component as critical to their travel experience. They would rather focus on the cuisine, shopping, entertainment and attractions that their destination offers. A hotel room is just a place to sleep and secure your belongings while you're out living life. All hotel rooms look exactly the same when you're sleeping. You get the idea.

These types of people are more likely to focus on loyalty currencies in the form of frequent flyer miles. After all, you can always save cash on your hotel by using one of a dozen different hotel search engines. Low cost housing options include hostels, guest houses, home shares and couch-surfing.

However, you can't always find a low cost alternative transportation option. A flight to Europe will almost always cost at least $800+/person (absent a mistake fare). I mean, if you want to get from New York to Paris, are you really going to take a boat to save money? Ignoring the huge increase in transit time, would it even be any cheaper?

So from a pure saving money perspective, it may be wiser to earn frequent flyer miles over hotel points given that you can find cheaper housing alternatives (but not flight options).

There's clearly no "right" way to play this game. Some people prefer getting a few nights in a luxury suite while others want to stretch their points as much as possible to cover their entire vacation. Some would rather feel like a VIP in the air while others view planes as nothing more than a flying bus that will get you from Point A to Point B.

The one key takeaway, however, should be that we should all be strategic in our points/miles accumulation. Getting "a little" across "a lot" of programs is pointless (no pun intended).

You're much better off having a specific goal in mind and then working your way towards that goal. Don't focus your spend on your Hyatt credit card if you want to vacation where they have no Hyatt hotels. Don't earn United miles if you're planning on going to a region where Star Alliance airlines are under-represented.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Monthly Manufactured Spending

I just got back yesterday morning on a 12 hour red-eye flight from Israel. Needless to say, I'm a bit off my regular schedule, so I decided to take a rest from travel related stuff and talk about credit cards for today's post.

Sometimes our friends wonder how we generate so many frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Well, I don't have any fancy things nor eat at 5 star restaurants, so it's not from regular spending. In fact, there's a well known tactic called "Manufactured Spending" where it looks like you're spending money on your credit cards, but you're actually not spending anything.

I've discussed it before a few times (here and here), but I figured I'd go into my parents' actual monthly routine in case it's helpful to others.

Tactic #1: Amazon Payments
Every calendar month, Amazon Payments will allow you to send up to $1,000 to anyone else with an Amazon account. It's the same log-in as your regular Amazon, but it's a separate product that's supposed to compete with Paypal. But since they're not Paypal, Amazon wants to attract customers by allowing someone to send up to $1,000 each month without any transaction fees. Paypal charges about 2.9%. plus $0.30 each transaction using a credit card.

So my mother (Person A) can send money to my aunt (B) for babysitting me the other week. Then my aunt (B) can send her friend (C) money for dinner last weekend. Then the friend (C) can send my father (D) for helping them move apartments.

1. Now, imagine that every transaction was exactly $50.
2. Then pretend that no services were actually provided.
3. Now change that $50 to $1,000.
4. Extrapolate this over a full year.
So now, you have A-B-C-D where A and D are basically the same entity for practical purposes. Everyone's net neutral at the end of the day, but as far as the credit card companies are concerned, they all "spent" $1,000/mo and earned 1,000 points or miles a month.

Final tally: $12,000 a year of manufactured spend per person - when in fact, everyone's $0 out of pocket at the end. For each person, that's a free 12,000 Starwood points or $240 worth of Barclay Arrival miles for a few clicks each year.

Of course, Amazon doesn't like being used (since they eat the credit card merchant fees), but this scheme is all legit - unless you send A-B-A. That's a clear faux-pas. So don't A-B-A-B.

Tactic #2: Amex Serve
A few months ago, we were talking about how great the American Express Serve card is for the 10 million unbanked individuals in America (as well as a few clever points/miles enthusiasts). However, a week after that posted, CVS decided to go Cash Only for Serve reloads.

Fortunately, Serve still had the monthly ability to load $1,000 online via credit cards ($200/day up to $1,000/month). As long as the source credit card had the same primary holder as the Serve card, then for 5 days each month, you could send $200 from one card to another and get a free 200 miles/points for doing so. Again, extrapolate to 5x a month, 12x a year and you get to $12,000 annually.

But unlike Amazon Payments where you had to wait for someone to pay the money back to you, Amex Serve gives you full control. Now with each of our Serve cards loaded with $1,000, we can then use the great Bill Pay feature to send that money to pay off bills such as medical expenses, car insurance, and even your monthly credit card statements!

Think about that for a minute. My father uses his Chase credit card to load $1,000 onto his American Express Serve. Then from Serve, he sends a $1,000 bill payment to Chase to pay off the original credit card. Meanwhile, he's earning 1,000 points along the way. There's truly something poetic about it all.

Of course, in reality, my father's too clever paranoid to have the cycle be so clean and easy for anyone to easily figure out. He's more likely to use his Chase credit card to load Amex Serve. Then use funds from Amex Serve to pay off his Citi credit card. Similar to Amazon, avoid the A-B-A patterns.

Further, in the small business my father helps manage, Five Star Painting IL, we can have our employees get cards and deposit their monthly paychecks into their Serve accounts.

Tactic #3: Google Wallet
And since nothing on the internet can be successful without Google wanting a piece of the action, here comes Google Wallet. What is Google Wallet? We'll, let's play a little analogy game.

Google Plus : Facebook :: Google Wallet : Paypal

If you're a nerd who took the GMAT for business school, then that probably made sense to you. For the rest of us, Google Wallet is their version of electronic payments system (Paypal or Amazon Payments).

The only difference is that Google's too smart to give away the goods. So they cap the amount of Free Sending to just $250. Not a month. Not a day. $250 TOTAL. Forever.

Of course, there are some clever parents out there that realize that you can have more than 1 gmail account. I mean, there is and and Each one can send $250 without any fees. Not a life-changer, but better than a sharp kick to the diaper. 

Now, to be clear, my parents definitely don't go overboard with this tactic. Maybe one unused email address every 3-4 months. Again, try to avoid the A-B-A patterns (and any other obvious patterns that the geniuses at Google with their billions of cash and IT would figure out).

Tactic #4: Paypal
Despite mentioning Paypal multiple times, I bring this method up last, because (a) it's the company most likely to shut you down and (b) it involves a fee.

Paypal is very vigilant about any type of transaction activity that it (in its sole discretion) deems questionable. Now, to be clear, there's no actual law being violated by Manufactured Spending. But very similar to counting cards at a Las Vegas casino, there are a lot of people who don't appreciate it and will ask you to take your business elsewhere. Paypal is like that.

Quickly loading up your Paypal account with Cash Reload Cards ($3.95 fee per card) is the best way to rack up a lot of credit card spend to earn your miles/points. But Paypal caps you at $4,000 per rolling 30 day period.

However, quickly unloading your account (bank withdraws or even sending too much to anyone else) - especially right after loading up - raises a lot of red flags. I mean, isn't that what a malicious credit card thief would do also?

Additionally, each $500 load (assuming you're smart enough to max out the card) costs you $3.95 in activation fees. So unlike the other tactics which are 100% free, this maneuver costs you a bit (0.8% seems small until you realize it's almost half of your points haul). Assuming your points are worth 2 cents each. Multiply that by $503.95, and you'd get $10.08 of gross points value. Subtract out the $3.95 and you're down to $6.13 of net value.

This method works a lot better when you have a 5x card like my mother does, but still, no one likes paying extra fees.

So there you have it. Each year, if you followed these simple strategies and kept yourself off the radar, then you'd rack up each year:
  1. Amazon Payments ($1,000/month per person) = 12,000 points
  2. Amex Serve ($1,000/month per person) = 12,000 points
  3. Google Wallet = $250 x 3 times a year = 750 points
  4. PayPal = $4,000/month per person less $31.60 in monthly fees (8 cards x $3.95) = 48,000 points less $379 in fees
Even if a single individual only did #1 and #2, they'd end the year with a free 24,000 points.

If those were Starwood points, they'd be able to get either:

W Vieques in Puerto Rico
A. 1 free night at a high end 20,000 pt Category 6 hotel (such as the W Vieques in Puerto Rico); or

B. 2 free nights at a very nice 12,000 pt Category 5 (such as the Westin Riverfront in Beaver Creek, Colorado); or

C. 8 free nights at a 3,000 pt Category 2 hotel (such as the Aloft Cancun in Mexico).

Depending on the hotel's prevailing seasonal rates, that's anywhere from $480-720 of value in the form of free hotel nights. 

Now imagine if there were 2 adults in your household. That's 48,000 points a year between the 2 of them. And imagine they used their Chase United Airlines or Citi American Airlines cards earning frequent flyer miles instead of a hotel card. Then between the 2 people, they'd almost have enough for a free round-trip ticket to Europe or a two round-trip tickets anywhere in the 48 United States. That'd be worth anywhere from $750-$1,500!

All for $0 cost and a few minutes each month of clicking on the internet.

Tomorrow, we'll discuss the options of earning Hotel points vs. Airline miles as your preferred loyalty currency of choice.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Family Time in Israel

A few fun snapshots of our two weeks visiting my extended family.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Aegean Gold Status

Flight #88 - United Airlines 91 
Tel Aviv (TLV) – Newark (EWR)
Monday, June 23, 2014
Depart: 11:10PM / Arrive: 4:20AM (+1 day) 
Duration: 12hr 10min 
Aircraft: Boeing 777 
Seat: 17J, 17K and 17L (Economy) 
Earned: 5,692 miles 
Lifetime Miles: 175,328 miles

[UPDATE (September 23, 2014): Aegean announced they are changing their Miles & Bonus frequent flyer program so that you need to re-qualify each year. Therefore, it makes less sense to go for Aegean Gold Status.]

By the time everyone reads this post, I'll likely be in transit coming back to New York. It's definitely not an easy commute. From my grandparents' house in Haifa, we drive about 2 hours south to Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv. Since this is Israel, we are advised to arrive a full 3 hours before our flight departure time due to the extra security check points. And unless we're flying in business/first class, my father's United elite status doesn't get him much preferential treatment at TLV.

Then it's another 12 hours on board the plane til we land at 4:20AM. By the time we get through Customs (thank you, Global Entry!), collect our bags and get a car to take us to Manhattan, we're looking at 6AM. That's about 19 hours of transit door-to-door!

But on the positive side of things, upon completion of this flight, I will earn my very own Aegean Airlines Gold Status membership, clearing 20,000 Aegean miles in their Miles & Bonus frequent flyer program. I'm sure you may have heard me mention this in other posts, but I figured I'd take time now to answer the series of questions you may have.

1. But aren't you flying United?
Yes, this flight is operated by United. And our home airport is Newark where United Airlines has a hub with dozens of non-stop domestic and international flights to just about anywhere we'd want to fly. So most of our flights are operated by United. But...United is a key member of the Star Alliance that partners up 26 international airlines.

2.  What's Aegean have to do with that flight?
Through the Star Alliance arrangement, I can fly just about any airline in the alliance and credit the mileage to any other airline's frequent flyer program. One of the Star Alliance members is Aegean Airlines based in Greece. So I will fly United on this trip and credit the mileage to their Star Alliance partner, Aegean. My Aegean frequent flyer # will be on the boarding pass and as far as they know, I'm just another loyal Aegean customer.

3. Why Aegean? 
The Aegean Airlines frequent flyer program is called Miles & Bonuses. Since Aegean is a Greek airline primarily serving a domestic market, they don't fly that many long haul routes compared to United or Lufthansa.

Therefore, M&B has one of the lowest mileage thresholds for earning elite status in the industry. In a single rolling 12 month period, only 4,000 miles are required for Aegean Blue (comparable to United Silver which requires 25,000 United mile per calendar year) and 20,000 miles for Aegean Gold (comparable to United Gold and it's 50,000 mile in a calendar year requirement). Plus, just for signing up with M&B, you get a free 1,000 mile head start, so it's really only 3,000 miles for Blue and 19,000 miles for Gold.

Additionally, while most frequent flyer programs have elite status that ends every year, Aegean's lasts indefinitely. After you have earned Blue or Gold status once with Aegean, you keep it as long as as your M&B account is active, which means having at least 1 flight credited to Aegean every 3 years. For United (and most other airlines), you'd have to fly another 50,000 miles each calendar year to retain Gold status for the next year. It's just a crazy hamster wheel.

4. 20,000 miles seems to be 3-4 month's worth of travel for you. Why did it take so long?
Good question. Not every flight earns the same % of miles in each program. It's based on a few things: (a) what airline I'm actually flying and (b) what the fare class was on my ticket.

Each operating airline (the one actually labeled on the plane you're flying) has a different agreement with each of the other Star Alliance members in terms of crediting mileage. Aegean has a website with each of their partner airlines to show you what you'd earn on each of the 25+ other partners.

Separately, the mileage credit depends on the fare class of your ticket. I'm not talking just the cabin classes of first, business or coach. There's literally a dozen fare classes within each cabin class (F, A, J, C, D, Z, Y, etc), so you can earn anywhere from 0%-300% of the mileage depending the airline program you want to credit the miles to.

Most leisure travelers who book weeks in advance have oftentimes purchased discounted economy tickets (W, S, T, L, K, or G). These discounted economy fare classes on United "metal" only earn 50% mileage credit with Aegean. In fact, even some discounted business class fares (P) earn nothing in Aegean's program.

5. So then you really flew 40,000 miles to get Aegean Gold? 
Not really 40,000 miles, but yes, definitely more than 20,000. First, as I mentioned earlier, you receive 1,000 Tier miles just for signing up.

Second, some of my flights were actually on US Airways (when they were still part of the Star Alliance). The agreement between Aegean and US Airways was to give 100% credit on all economy fare classes.

Additionally, there is also a 500 mile minimum you will earn on all flights, regardless of fare class. So for United flights under 1,000 miles (like New York-Chicago), I'd still earn 500 miles on Aegean and not 357 (50% of the actual 714 miles flown).

6. But then still...Why Aegean instead of just crediting to United?
Another multi-part answer. First, starting in 2014, United implemented a dollar spend requirement to earn status with their MileagePlus program. The way my family chooses to fly - long distances on cheap fares - we were not going to meet the $5,000 Premier Qualifying Dollar requirement for United Gold (or even $2,500 United Silver) even if we were able to hit the mileage targets.

To give you an example, my father has flown 36,928 miles credited to United already this year before including our ZRH-TLV (1,747 miles) and TLV-EWR (5,692 miles) flights. So he's well on his way towards United Gold's 50,000 threshold by December 31.

However, in terms of PQD, he has only spent $2,096 and will likely not get to $5,000 absent some really bad situation where he needs to buy an expensive last minute ticket. Fortunately, he can waive this PQD requirement by spending $25,000 on his United co-branded credit card in 2014. Through his manufactured spending tricks, he's already been able to do just that.

Fun fact, though - 2.5 year old toddlers can't get credit cards, so I'm SOL.

Second reason. If I earn Aegean Gold status now, I'll potentially have it for the rest of my life (as long as the M&B program rules don't change). I can always earn United Gold status later on and get on that hamster wheel later.

And the most important reason, when you have Gold status with a foreign Star Alliance airline, you get complimentary access to United's domestic airport lounges. Oddly enough, even having United Gold won't get you United lounge access within the US unless your itinerary includes an international segment overseas.

So if I'm flying United BusinessFirst class from New York-Honolulu and have United Gold status, no lounge access for me.

But if I were flying New York-Boston and flashed my Aegean M&B Gold card, then I'm relaxing in leather seats enjoying Youtube using the free lounge wifi while my dad is drinking free cheap beer and mother is stealing packing up the complimentary crackers and carrot sticks.

[UPDATE (September 23, 2014): Aegean announced they are changing their Miles & Bonus frequent flyer program so that you need to re-qualify each year. Therefore, it makes less sense to go for Aegean Gold Status.]