Points and Travel Trends
As we approach Thanksgiving, I feel it’s important to share gratitude. Of course, I give thanks for family, friends, and other blessings unrelated to our points and travel hobby. But writing about those things here would be tremendously boring for me and unremarkable for you. Instead, I’ll stick to what I perceive as one of my few strengths – esoterically pontificating on firmly niche topics which matter exactly zero in the grand scheme of things. I’m most thankful for these points and travel trends this year – let the silliness begin!
Delta Sky Club Snobbery
Back in September, Delta dared travelers to not be loyal with their program changes, broadly considered devaluations. Delta also changed the access policy to their stellar Sky Clubs. They went hard on the changes, including only 10 visits annually for Delta Reserve cardholders and only six for Amex Platinum cardholders. After an outcry, Delta backed off a bit, loosening to 15 and 10 visits each year, respectively.
Regardless of this softening, I like that Delta has aggressively tightened the Sky Club access policy in recent years. They know they have a superior product, at least in comparison to the other domestic airline heavyweights, and keeping some exclusivity can help maintain it. It doesn’t take much extra effort to obtain more visits, but beyond hardcore hobbyists, I doubt many will bother.
I enjoy lounges most when I’m traveling solo, anyway, so I have no problem with that fact I can’t get my family into a Sky Club. If/when I’m able to get my whole family into a lounge thanks to one credit card, that’s a red flag to me on the likely overall quality of the lounge.
American Airlines Hidden Gems
Thanks to Loyalty Points and some fortuitous timing and opportunities, I ended up with American Airlines Executive Platinum status this past year. Not coincidentally, I’ve spent much more time on American’s site for the past couple years. I’m so grateful I can still find huge wins there, particularly on premium classes. And it’s not rocket science – it only required some time, curiosity, and a few less miles than expected. I now feel similarly about American’s site as Amex’s. Every time I log in, I think to myself – what unexpected goodness can I unearth on this visit?
My Dell Agent
Dell ordering problems are so prevalent, it’s hard to listen at this point. I take pleasure listening to these tales as much as I enjoy hearing my neighbor talk about fantasy football. Long story short, cancellations got even worse for me earlier this year, and I know I’m not alone. Luckily, I subsequently found an excellent Dell chat agent. In the twisted Dell world, “excellent” just means the rep was able to put an order through, it didn’t get cancelled, and I received the stuff. Ever since, I’ve emailed this agent to originate new orders, which usually involve follow-up chats and phone calls to accomplish. All this and no portal rewards, but I don’t care. I’ve liquidated all my Amex Business Platinum Dell credits, and that’s a win.
I’ve talked ad nauseam about how Chase bores me. But boring can be good – no news is good news, sometimes. While some still bemoan the loss of cashing out at 1.5 cents per point (cpp) on the original version of Pay Yourself Back from years past, I appreciate the continued ability to cash out at 1.25 cpp fairly easily. Chase kicks the can every quarter, refusing to make Pay Yourself Back categories permanent, but I’ve never had issues cashing out in some form at 1.25 cpp. Keep being boring, Chase!
I largely avoided Simon orders, in person or online, throughout the pandemic. But I’m back in both regards and loving it. I particularly value the low fees, reliability, efficiency, and scalability (if that’s a word) of these unsexy transactions. Gift card fraud seems more rampant than ever, and I’m happy to avoid the drama whenever possible.
While I bite into my unnecessarily large piece of Sam’s Club fresh apple pie and ultimately regret the portion size, I’m confident I’ll appreciate other points and travel trends this year. We have access to so many different options, and let’s be thankful there’s so much for us to argue over. At the same time, let’s also remember how ridiculously small all of this same stuff is and cherish the people and experiences which truly matter. Cheers!
Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.