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Better Late Than Never – What I’m Now Doing to Improve My Travel

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Easy Travel Strategies

Easy Travel Strategies

I’m slow sometimes.  But slow is better than stubborn, right?  When it comes to travel, I’m not often an early adopter.  I’m a curmudgeon on certain stuff.  I still have zero plans to enroll in TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, Clear, whatever the next thing is, etc.  But with some easy travel strategies, I’ve turned the corner.  Here are just a few.

Mobile Boarding Passes

I long enjoyed paper boarding passes.  In general, I’m not a fan of unnecessarily fiddling with my phone, so mobile boarding passes haven’t been my bag.  But over time, I’ve had less of a need to visit airport check-in.  In most cases, sticking to a paper boarding pass turned out to be the only reason for going there.  And TSA hasn’t asked me for a boarding pass in a long time.  Bringing up my boarding pass on the phone at the gate once, and I’m done?  Sounds good to me.

Easy Travel Strategies

Delta Sky Clubs

I haven’t purposely avoided Sky Clubs.  But based on where I live and travel, I hardly ever come across them.  In the past year, that changed a bit.  Using an Amex Platinum, I accessed one of the BOS Sky Clubs.  The lounge was small but had a much better food and beverage spread than I’ve seen in other domestic airline lounges.  And the ATL Concourse B Sky Club takes it to a different level, literally.  I enjoyed the high ceilings throughout, in addition to the spacious, open seating.  Excellent views, coffee stations, and dining offerings were available at seemingly every turn.  The lounge cleverly encourages the illusion of not feeling packed while being fully occupied.  Are you listening, Amex?

Airline Elite Status

I fully acknowledge that I’m a tourist when it comes to airline status.  In general, it’s not something I focus on obtaining.  Until I reached American Airlines Executive Platinum last year, I hadn’t held any airline status of significance other than United 1K over ten years ago.

I’m enjoying the taste of status right now.  Particularly, I’ve been surprised by my high level of success in obtaining upgrades on award bookings.  But the extra award availability and phone support have been outstanding, as well.

I don’t permanently belong here, and I know it.  But wisely, intermittently obtaining airline status is something I’ll probably consider again.

Easy Travel Strategies

Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts

With the refresh of the Platinum card a few years ago, Amex basically forced me to think about Fine Hotels & Resorts again.  I’d heard about it for years and knew some people enjoyed maximizing it.  But before the Platinum $200 credit appeared, I didn’t want to put any real time into FHR.  Ever since, I’ve enjoyed the puzzle of using this credit at properties I should’ve tried years ago.

I’ve come full circle where I now would consider a Fine Hotels & Resorts stay on a paid booking without the Platinum benefit.  Amex’s strategy is apparently working on me.  I know other banks have their versions of FHR, but I haven’t tried them yet.  Maybe they’ll give me reason to do so in the future!

Easy Travel Strategies

Forgetting About Fuel Loyalty Programs, A Bit

I’m taking a spell away from fuel loyalty programs.  The simplicity that comes with doing so has been refreshing.  Mindlessly filling up at Wawa or a convenient Sam’s Club, where I know prices are competitive enough, has overtaken Kroger Fuel Points and other involved stacks.  Recently, I haven’t been drowning in fuel points and find myself otherwise uninterested in reaching for more with gift card plays.  I imagine I’ll be back, but the now is a pleasure.

Easy Travel Strategies – Conclusion

These are just a few easy travel strategies I’ve slowly embraced, and I look forward to reading yours in the comments.  None of these are cutting edge, and perhaps that’s the point.  Adopting certain angles at my own pace has worked out optimally.  Taking on everything immediately and all at once can be overwhelming and lead to unforced errors.  Indeed, I don’t believe in multitasking – not in my situation, at least.  I’ll continue ruminating over all the possibilities and striking when I see fit.  Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.

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Benjy Harmon
Benjy Harmon
Benjy focuses on the intersection of points, travel, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently roams throughout the USA close to expense-free. Benjy enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. Tip – After checking in via the mobile app, take a screenshot of your boarding pass and that of P2, then text the screenshots to P2. If your phone battery dies, you have a backup. If you drop your phone and crack your screen and TSA can’t read your boarding pass, you have a backup. Years ago, the cracked screen scenario occurred to a colleague on a business trip and the delay caused us to miss our flight. Hope this helps someone.

    • That’s a great tip. I almost missed a flight in Australia when my phone died, having duplicates on P2’s phone would have eliminated all that stress. I do have paranoia about having my phone stolen. Going to London next week and all my theatre tickets use a system in which they are delivered to the phone within 24 hours of the performance—would prefer a bigger time window to have a backup.

    • Somewhat related, I suggest taking a photo of the boarding pass and saving it to your photos. It’s usually easier to pull up on your phone than clicking through the app, and if there are connectivity issues, the app isn’t loading, etc., you’ll have it someplace you can usually boop up pretty fast on your phone.

  2. I’m continually surprised by your lack of interest in PreCheck, Global Entry, Benjy! I honestly don’t know anyone who has it who doesn’t love the time saving perks, not having to take off your footwear, etc. Sure, it might take an hour or two combined for the application + interview process, but the airport time savings and decrease in line-waiting stress made it worth it years ago.

    When you go to Disney, would you ever use FastPass or now Genie+? I’m curious of your reason(s) why 🙂

  3. Thanks Cavil. My credit card covered either, but I’m surprised that most only cover Global entry. My concern now is that Canada will change their mind about the program which Iread is why they’re so backlogged now. I’ll probably still go with Global entry in the future

  4. I’ve loved global entry, but the agent at Blaine Washington told me when it was time to renew to choose Nexus which I did. From my research, my global entry would have been renewed within a few months. It now appears that Nexus will take a year or so. I don’t go to Canada often enough to justify waiting a year. Never again will I choose Nexus.

    • The agent may have suggested Nexus because it is less expensive than Global Entry but offers all the same benefits. Nexus is only $50 for 5 years. Once you have it, renewals can be done online and are quite fast. In your case the long wait time for a new application should have been made clear. And with so many credit cards covering the Global Entry fee these days the price difference isn’t really that important. I frequent Vancouver enough for the Nexus pass to be invaluable. The fact that it also provides Global Entry is gravy.

  5. Having CLEAR, PreCheck, electronic boarding pass, and just a carry-on saved me from missing my flight 2 weeks ago out of MIA. I was running late and literally didn’t leave my hotel in South Beach in my LYFT till 8:45 am for a 10am departure flight. Thankfully traffic wasn’t too bad and I arrived at the airport at 9:30. The DELTA baggage drop line was long so I was so glad I didn’t have to check a bag. Then the regular TSA line was long as well. But the CLEAR with Precheck line only had a few people and I was thankfully through security in a few mins. I got to the boarding gate as they were calling my boarding zone. Having all these little extras really made a difference that day. No sky club that day but I was happy that all the extras I get with my AMEX platinum saved the day.

    • Rup,
      I grew increasingly nervous as I continued reading your comment. 😉 I’m glad it all worked out thanks to your benefits!

  6. Yeah – I just wrote an article about whether it made sense to print a boarding pass and I decided I never print one any more unless I’m flying internationally or if I’m with my whole family. But man was the comment section angry and pro-printing boarding passes 🙂

    • Dan,
      The passion on such minutiae is just another example of our hobby’s greatness, right? Thanks for reading.

  7. I was always a paper boarding pass user and used them as my bookmark. But now with Kindle that isn’t needed so I’ve gone mobile. Having the Platinum card pushed me to get CLEAR. So glad I did. It’s been a great time saver in many situations. I have global entry through having a Nexus pass and cannot now imagine international travel without it.

    For gas purchases I am still buying gasoline gift cards at grocery stores to get the 4x or 5x points. With the higher prices at name brand stations this may not be optimal.


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