The podcast returns after the guys get through another busy holiday season. Jake and Anthony dive into the planned revamp of the US passport renewal process and touch on more unruly behavior in the skies. Amex Platinum is on Jake’s chopping block once the increased new nearly $700 fee comes due so we break down why it’s not the value it used to be. Also, we finally wrap Anthony’s trip to France and Italy with his stop in Milan filled with drinks and apartment balconies with trees.
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More mid-air shenanigans. A couple of international flights were turned around not long after takeoff due to disruptive passengers this past week. First, an American Airlines flight bound for London was turned back to Miami after a passenger refused to comply with the current federal mask mandate. THAT passenger is added to the airlines no-fly list pending an investigation according to Boarding Area partner Paddle your own Canoe. Another incident came just the other day as a UNITED flight from Newark to TelAviv turned around after 2 passengers self-upgraded to business class. The pair argued that they should be able to sit there because the flight was half empty. (okay) A quote from the article points out that the cost to divert a plane due to an unruly passenger can be as much as $108,000 taking into account fuel costs, airport charges, staff costs, compensation for delayed passengers and rerouting costs.
While a lot of us are cancelling our American Express Platinum cards due to it’s NEW, nearly $700 annual fee, the card is NOW offering a JUICY bonus. Travel Update and others report that if you can manage a 6k spend over 6 months, you’ll get 150 THOUSAND membership rewards points. Membership rewards is arguably the most valuable of the flexible point currencies, so the bonus itself more than worth it in my opinion …The reason I’m likely dumping the card is that it’s regular benefits are becoming increasingly difficult to use.
A rundown if I may:
$200 Hotel credit with Fine Hotels and Resorts and The Hotel Collection – Some love this, I likely won’t use those.
$200 Airline Fee Credit with US based airlines. This is likely the best of the benefits but only good for airline fees like baggage or in-flight wifi, not airfare.
$240 Digital Entertainment Credit- This could pay for all or part of your SiriusXM subscription but the $240 is broken by month into $20 increments and options are limited to SXM, Peacock, New York Times and Audible.
$155 Walmart Credit – Covers your Walmart+ membership. Seems slightly off-brand for Amex Platinum but whatever.
$200 credit for Uber or Uber Eats- This is a good one since you can use it for rides or meals but again broken into monthly increments of $15 per., $20 in December.
$300 Equinox Credit – Virtually worthless in my opinion. Equinox memberships are pricey and $300 in a drop in the bucket if you’re using it for a gym membership.
$179 Clear Credit – Worth it. This is the best added feature with the card if you fly more than a few times a year. Pair clear with Precheck and you’re in good shape.
$100 Saks Credit – I use this but wouldn’t miss it. The hundred is broken into half-year increments. The Saks app lets you sort by price and I’m usually able to find $50 worth of nick-knacks for stocking stuffers around Christmas and $50 for birthdays or other occasions in the first half of the year.
Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck – You can get this with a number of other cards now.
Additionally, you’ll also get the following benefits:
Complimentary Gold Elite Status with Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors – Nice but not high-level enough status to really notice a difference in experience.
Complimentary Centurion lounge access and access to Priority Pass lounges and Delta SkyClubs (while flying Delta) – If you fly a bunch, you may miss this. I’ve already got Priority Pass with my Sapphire Reserve but I’d miss out on access to Centurion lounges. Delta lounges can be accessed in other ways. — Finally, Here’s one thing I think is long overdue. Online Passport Renewal. According to Travel and Leisure, this process and others, are slated for an overhaul thanks to President Bidens executive order on transforming federal customer experience and service delivery to rebuild trust in government. If you’ve ever tried to renew your passport, you know the hassle of printing out paperwork, filling it in, getting a new photo, gathering and sometimes sending other sensitive documents like marriage certificates by mail…it’s messy. Online renewal hopes to eliminate much of that hassle and it’ll certainly be welcome once it has a chance to roll out.