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- Sunday News Roundup 11/17/19: 12 Quick Takes On Aviation And Travel; Dubious Marriott Claims, TWA Ice Rink, A380 Failure, Mileage Ban, And More
- Sunday News Roundup 11/3/19: 9 Quick Takes On What’s Going On In Aviation And Travel; Airbnb Scam, Cathay’s Tel Aviv Plans, United Plays Dirty, 747 Farewell, LAX Uber Disaster, And More
- Sunday News Roundup 10/27/19: 11 Quick Takes On What’s Going On In Aviation, Credit, And Deals That You Should Know About
Featured trip reports of the day:
- DDF member and resident photographer Something Fishy shares in this short and sweet DDF trip report how he spent 36 hours on Hawaii’s Big Island shooting video for a tripod ad. The ad is great, but the pictures are even better. Mimi and I spent a week on the Big Island on our month-long Hawaiian honeymoon some 11 years ago and the pictures of Mauna Kea and Waipio Valley sure bought back some good memories!
- DD throwback trip report: Back in July 2017 I flew with Mimi to Rome for a 48 hour trip. She was 4 months pregnant, but we still had a magnificent time seeing the sights and eating delicious Italian food.
Some stories and deals don’t get their own post, but should get some coverage. Here are some quick takes on stories that caught my eye. Click on the headline in each blurb to read the full article.
Table of Contents
I miss the days when I was able to travel with a spare battery for my phone that I could swap in. But those days are never coming back, thanks Steve Jobs.
I carry a power bank with me when I travel now. So should you.
Plugging into a USB charger leaves you exposed to malware. So-called juice jackers can gain access to your email and drain your financial accounts within minutes.
Another version of this scam is SIM-swapping, where a criminal manages to transfer your phone number onto their SIM card. That can be done through social engineering when calling a phone company if someone knows your name and number or it can be done by bribing a company employee. With many accounts able to be reset with a text message to your phone, hackers can access your email and drain your financial accounts. Using a phone number to gain account access may not be the best idea after all.
It’s a brave new world out there, it pays to take all the precautions you can take advantage of.
It’s not much of a surprise to most people that water on a plane is not clean. Like, really really not clean.
But seriously though, get your coffee fix in before you board your flight.
Big bottles of water scare me ever since I saw a flight attendant refilling one with plane water. I always bring my own Hydroflask of ice water on a plane. (Life hack: You can bring ice or any frozen product through TSA screening).
But for whatever reason, it never occurred to me that I also shouldn’t wash my hands with water on a plane.
Current recommendations are to bring your own hand sanitizer onto a plane as it makes little sense to wash your hands with water that may be contaminated with E. coli or coliform.
At the very minimum, use the hand sanitizer after you wash your hands.
Do you avoid washing your hands on a plane?
AMEX has long been trying to catch up to Visa and Mastercard when it comes to card acceptance.
I know locally there were some stores that had registers that didn’t take AMEX year-round, but magically on Small Business Saturday they would be able to take AMEX cards.
The WSJ reports that AMEX is paying between $10,000 to $450,000 for businesses to start accepting AMEX card. They’re also pledging to match Mastercard and Visa fees.
Alas, the DansDeals ads department already accepts AMEX and the rates are in fact often lower than Mastercard and Visa.
But with these payouts, perhaps the day may be near when AMEX will be accepted everywhere you want to be?
The launch of the Sapphire Reserve brought some major changes to AMEX Platinum cards. The Consumer Platinum pumped up its air travel bonus to 5x and added Uber and Saks credits. The Business Platinum added a 50% points rebate (though that was trimmed back down to 35%) Dell credit and WeWork membership. The annual fees of both cards were hiked as well.
I was dubious about the changes, but they worked. While AMEX lost business when Sapphire Reserve was launched, they saw 60% growth increase after they added the new benefits. While the new benefit surely helped, AMEX also says the growth was thanks to millennials discovering the perks of Sapphire Reserve and hunting for other premium cards with big benefits.
With the cost of the Centurion card jumping to a whopping $5,000 per year, it sure seems like there’s an opportunity for a card laden with benefits and elite status at a cost of $1,000 per year or so. The only question is will Chase or AMEX get there first?
Richard Anderson shook things up at Delta. The airline turned into an operational success and profit machine. It became so successful that it no longer felt the need to have a valuable mileage program, as people would fly them anyway.
This profile of Anderson and Amtrak is fascinating. If anyone knows how to fix Amtrak it’s likely Anderson, but he’s sure to anger train enthusiasts as much as he angered the mileage community.
This reminds me of having to search for first class awards even when only desiring a coach award, as the first class award can be cheaper if it’s available as a saver award when the coach award isn’t available in saver class.
Uber has apparently been dynamically pricing their helicopter option cheaper than catching a car at times. That makes sense if they have the space on a helicopter that will otherwise go empty. And it’s a good reminder to check the pricing for all ride options!
Tesla has over 146K reservations for their Cybertruck:
Despite the awkward unveiling and epic fail when Tesla managed to break the armored glass:
Over 146K people put down $100 to get themselves on a waiting list for a Cybertruck, all without Tesla spending a dime on advertising.
146k Cybertruck orders so far, with 42% choosing dual, 41% tri & 17% single motor
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 23, 2019
Looks ugly to me, but I guess I’m not in the target market.
I know Elon is a big Atari fan, so is this based off the tank in Battlezone?
I’ve had my Model 3 for a year now and despite bumps along the road it’s truly a remarkable car. It gets new features every week via software updates and it’s unquestionably a superior car than the day I got it, which is pretty amazing when you think about it. Last week my car got 10% faster and got a convenient new hold mode that makes driving even more pleasurable. Not having to buy gas and support the regimes that export it is just a bonus compared to the thrill of hitting the accelerator on a Tesla. If you want one, the federal tax credit expires this year and you need to take delivery of the car by 12/31. You can use my referral link to also get free supercharging.
Even renting a luxury car that cost multiples times the Model 3, feels like stepping back into the stone age. Electric cars are the future of driving and Tesla has one giant lead, though their customer service issues will be what lets other companies catch up…one day.
The Calala Island is an SLH hotel that is now bookable with Hyatt points.
It’s advertised as a private island, and with just 4 rooms in the entire hotel, it sort of is. 3 of the 4 rooms are bookable with points. It certainly looks beautiful from the pictures.
The points value is incredible. Instead of paying $3,150/night:
You can use 40K Chase or Hyatt points, a value of 7.9 cents per point:
There are minimum stay requirements that vary based on the time of year, which makes hunting for award space a challenge.
The rate also includes the flight and boat transfers from Managua International Airport
Food and even alcoholic beverages are included, as are boats and snorkeling gear.
It’s not quite your own private island as there will be dozens of staff members around, but it sure does seem neat! As an all-inclusive hotel though you will lose out on some of the value if you keep kosher. C’est la vie.
Will you book a getaway to Calala Island?
One DansDeals reader shared this video of a Vlad, a Royal Jordanian ground agent in Tel Aviv, causing problems when a reader is trying to bring a carseat onboard for an infant booked as a lap child.
I wouldn’t call this story a nightmare, as the reader writes that they did get a seat for a lap child due to the in-flight crew going to bat for them. Losing out on a dirt cheap business class trip to London and getting stuck in an airport overnight with your kids is closer to my idea of a nightmare. But it’s certainly scary to deal with agents like Vlad.
The reader played it right by taking a video of the incident. Having concrete video evidence always helps in case things go wrong, though it can escalate a situation like this. Another alternative is to record and hold the phone in your hand without the camera in the person’s face so that at least you get audio of the interaction.
We flew in first class to Buenos Aires using miles on American back when we had just one newborn. There was an empty seat, but the flight attendant said that they can’t just give a $20,000 seat to an infant for free and that we would have to hold Rafi. Mimi explained that Rafi wasn’t going to sleep if he wasn’t in a carseat, but that fell on deaf ears. At least until he cried and the flight attendant asked if he would be quiet if she gave him the seat…
But from then on I just buy a ticket for our infants. The savings isn’t worth the flight.
No surprises in this article. Mileage tickets cost more than they used to. Airlines are trying to tie the cost of award tickets to the price of a ticket in order to remove value from miles. Airlines are removing award charts to move towards dynamic pricing that keeps people in the dark.
The article blames credit card miles and airline consolidation, but surprisingly the article doesn’t mention using bank points, or Hybrid Points in DansDeals speak, in order to hedge against mileage inflation.
By doing that you can take advantage of outsized mileage values when they’re available, and of increased bank points value when miles are offering a poor value for travel.
Share your thoughts on these stories or post a comment about what other stories that I missed!