...constantly searching to find the best travel deals and places to visit. A never-ending quest for adventure!

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Happy New Year!

Happy New year to all!

2020 can be done now - on to a better (and safer) 2021.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Hyatt Reduced Status Qualifications for 2021

I really have to give Hyatt kudos for the promotions they are running during this challenging time for travel.  Having already extended status through 2021, they have just announced a further enhancement to earning status in 2021 (through early 2023).  All elite status qualification requirements have been reduced by 50%!  

More info and the announcement

If you're collecting stays now through 12/31 in the Bonus Journeys promo, each night counts an additional for 2021.  And if you have the World of Hyatt card, you automatically get 5 nights at the start of the new year.  Only thirteen more stays needed for top status!

Saturday, November 14, 2020

The Absence of Travel

It's already almost mid-November, and I should be planning to depart this next week for vacation.  The original plan was going to be another points-inspired trip to the Maldives followed by Christmas markets in Switzerland.  Unfortunately Covid has meant most European countries are still closed for tourists and therefore this years trip will not occur for the first time in many.  Even though I may not be in the air this Friday evening, I'm still determined to continue planning for next year!

Hyatt properties are showing nearly 12 month availability for bookings, so I've already made some points reservations for late next year - optimism!  I'll likely hold on any airline reservations until the picture is clearer since schedules are constantly in flux.  

Are you planning any travel yet for 2021?  

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Chase bonus points promotions for Amazon/Grocery through 12/31/20!

I was excited to receive several emails today with special bonus points offers for spend at grocery stores and Amazon.com through December 31st - if you have these Chase cards, make sure to sign up via the invite email link received!

Hyatt Card: 5x points at Amazon.com/3x points for grocery on up to $1500 spend each month through 12/31

United Card: 5x points at Amazon.com/5x points for grocery on up to $1500 spend each month through 12/31

IHG Card: 5x points at Amazon.com/3x points for grocery on up to $1500 spend each month through 12/31

British Airways Card: 5x points at Amazon.com/5x points for grocery on up to $1500 spend each month through 12/31

Update! Sapphire Reserve: 3x points for grocery on up to $1000 spend each month through 4/30/21

Saturday, October 17, 2020

End of the Boeing 747

I've flown on quite a number of planes over the years, from the small (Cessna 402/Dash-8/Fokker 70) to the largest (A380).  One of the more memorable experiences, though, is flying on the 747.  It's hard to put into words exactly what the feeling is; during takeoff, it's as though you are being lifted gracefully off the ground with almost no effort.  

With recent announcements that production of the 747 will be ending, it will be the end of an era in aviation history: https://metroairportnews.com/boeing-announces-end-of-747/

I count myself fortunate that I've flown on several 747s, including to Seoul in GlobalFirst on United and to Doha on British Airways.  I even managed to visit in the cockpit on the way back from Doha.

I'm hopeful I can still fly a Lufthansa 747 before they're retired, though it doesn't look promising.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

What to do in lieu of travel?

Fall is here, and looking back on my what my typical travel pattern would be, I likely would have been finishing details for our usual November excursion.  Sadly that is now off the table.  I would have also been planning to head to San Diego this weekend - that also has been postponed.  In fact, I have no trips scheduled in TripIt which is making me a little disappointed!  So what can I do in lieu of travel? 

One thing is to continue to accrue points and miles.  There have been many different promotions across credit cards over the past few months, including some lucrative 6x points on grocery and Amazon.com purchases.  There have also been some significant signup bonuses for the Marriott and IHG cards.  Saving up points now means more options for travel later.   Maximizing those bonuses with regular spend has been very helpful.

I may not be back in the air, though I feel as though I'm setting up for some great travel options in the future. 

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Mid-Year 2020 Travel Check

The coronavirus has changed everything for 2020, and while some activities are beginning to resume, air travel is going to take a while longer to return to the way things were before March 1st.  Working from home along with travel restrictions for international travel/cancellations is certainly having an impact on what my schedule was supposed to be for the year.  It remains to be seen how the rest of the year will look and if I'll even be in the air this fall or winter. 


No status presently on American even though I took advantage of a brief status match in late spring.  I was able to leverage some new CC spend and have increased my miles balance ahead to prepare for travel hopefully next fall.


United is still primary for me given my close proximity to Newark.  A lack of air travel since March means I normally wouldn't be able to re-qualify, however, United has extended status through 2021 so I will be able to hold 1K into next year.  


I was able to reach Globalist late last year and anticipated travel meant I was hoping for many opportunities to stay and upgrade in 2020.  However, similar to what happened with the airlines, my hotel stays have stopped.  Luckily, Hyatt has also extended status through February of 2022.  Existing awards are also extended until the end of 2021, so I'm glad I'm not losing a number of free stays.

I'm hoping that we can continue to move forward with mitigation and possible treatments for Covid so that safe travel is once again possible.  Thankfully this won't immediately impact status changes for 2020.  Wear a mask!

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

American Airlines and JetBlue New Partnership

I'm always intrigued by new relationships in the airline industry, since it usually affords new ways to accrue points, miles, and status.  AA and Jetblue have recently announced an expanded partnership - some details include (from JetBlue):

  • Seamless connectivity — Our partnership will make travel easy between JetBlue's and American's complementary route networks, including integrated website booking capabilities, convenient connections, and an improved on-the-ground experience.
  • Expanded network — JetBlue will grow in New York City, adding flights in LaGuardia (LGA) and Newark (EWR), while also increasing our presence at JFK. With improved schedules and competitive fares, you will be able to access 60 new destinations across American's global network.
  • More options — We are working with American to bring TrueBlue members additional opportunities to earn and redeem TrueBlue points.

What I think interests me the most are the miles earning opportunities through codeshares noted by AA:

Through their integrated networks, JetBlue and American will operate reciprocal codeshare flights, giving customers new options with improved schedules, competitive fares and nonstop access to more domestic and international destinations. JetBlue will gain connectivity to more U.S. destinations, a broad global network and an improved frequent flyer proposition, while American will complement JetBlue’s improved and expanded service with new international routes. JetBlue and American loyalty members will also enjoy new benefits while the carriers are exploring additional premium experiences for customers.

It will be interesting to see how this works in the coming months.  With COVID still affecting air travel, I suspect many of us will have to wait to see how the partnership expands.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

United Extends Fee Waiver for Flights Through 8/31/20

2020 will be a year to remember for many reasons - Covid is certainly at the top of the list, reduced travel somewhere after.  This is shaping up to be a year with the fewest flights I've taken in almost 20 years.  Airlines are trying to figure out what to do with so few passengers buying flights - refunds have taken far longer than they should and are usually a hassle.

United has issued varying guidance on existing tickets since May, and the most recent deadline for flight changes was through 7/31 (meaning one reservation I have for fall is still open for issue).  I was pleased to see, though, that United has extended fee waivers now through 8/31.  Link is here:

I continue to pray that the pandemic will subside and travel returns.  For now we must all be safe, do our part, and wear a mask!

Friday, June 12, 2020

Still grounded

This weekend was to be the kickoff of a week-long trip to Switzerland and Leipzig for BachFest - in fact, I should be on a flight right now over the Atlantic.  Sadly I'm still grounded; the effects of the pandemic are still being felt around the world and especially here in the greater NE region. 

I can't stress enough how important it is to be safe and make sure we actually get through this time smartly.  No reason to take unnecessary risks unless there is a clear strategy to stay safe. I believe the airlines are doing the best they can and I have no doubt air travel will return soon.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Time for travel?

It's June 1st.  This week starts the summer air travel season.  In 12 days I was supposed to be on my way to Leipzig though that trip has been cancelled.  It's been 3 months since my last boarding pass was issued. 

Has it really been three months???

Air travel will gradually pick up in the coming weeks/months, though I'm not sure it's going to look the same way it was on March 1st when I flew home from San Francisco.

If you believe the Newark data for upcoming departures compared to last June, trans-atlantic travel will only be 11% (link).

I suspect air travel is going to take quite a while to return to the normalcy we had earlier this year.  2020 is shaping up to be a year we won't soon forget.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Weekend is here

Happy weekend everyone - this was supposed to be a trip back to Maine, though the travel/Covid issues have prevented that from taking place this year.  Not happy about it though there's not much I can do to fix it.  Thank goodness United was able to refund the flight costs!

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Citi Changing Premier Card Benefits this Fall

I've enjoyed using the Citi Premier and Double Cash as an option for points accrual to differentiate from Chase Ultimate Rewards.  The points transfer options to partners are more numerous and having that portfolio available can help with new and interesting travel ideas around the world.

In the last few weeks, Citi announced some points earning changes to the Premier card:

1x on Other Travel - starting April 10, 2021, all travel purchases (excluding air travel, hotels, and gas stations) will earn 1 ThankYou point per $1 instead of 3 points per $1

1x on Entertainment - starting April 10, 2021, entertainment purchases will earn 1 ThankYou point per $1 instead of 3 points per $1

Travel Redemption value - points redeemed for airfare, hotels, cruises, and car rentals through the ThankYou travel center will no longer get 25% more value

On August 23rd 2020, the following will be new:

- 3x points on Supermarkets and Restaurants (new), Air Travel, Hotels, and Fuel
- 2x points on Entertainment
- 1x points on everything else


I'm disappointed that "other travel" will no longer be a 3x option and the redemption value is being dropped - this has been a great choice to use for parking, tolls, and airport expenses.  I already get 3x points on the Sapphire Reserve for restaurants, so it's hard to use a new card for those purchases.  It's good they're giving plenty of notice for the changes, though I believe this devalues the card overall.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Hyatt Reward bonus for spend through 6/30/20

We are in a challenging time right now due to the coronavirus and that has seen travel screech to a halt.  Despite the economic impact being seen by many companies, there are still promotions being rolled out to mitigate the loss of travel.  Hyatt and Chase have implemented an increased reward structure for spend on Hyatt credit cards through June 30th:

From April 15 – June 30, 2020, your card purchases can earn more:

World of Hyatt Credit Cardmember Offer
3 Qualifying Night Credits

World of Hyatt Credit Cardmembers can now earn a total of 3 qualifying night creditstoward the next tier status for every $5,000 spent on their card between April 15, 2020 and June 30, 2020.1That's 1 bonus qualifying night credit in addition to the 2 qualifying night credits Cardmembers already earn (credits may post a different times).

Hyatt Credit Cardmember Offer

2 Qualifying Night Credits

If you have a Hyatt Credit Card, you can now earn 2 qualifying night creditstoward the next tier status for every $5,000 spent on your card between April 15, 2020 and June 30, 2020.2

If you happen to have either of these cards, this is a nice bonus to keep in mind for any upcoming spend.  Since Hyatt has extended status until 2022, these extra nights could help you reach any milestone stay bonuses.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

United extending Elite Status until 2022

Another round of thanks is in order as United has followed other travel companies and extended elite status through 2022.  You can find the full announcement here.

A brief highlight:

The big news: If you have current 2020 Premier status, it will be extended to January 31, 2022. At a minimum, you will enjoy the same published status next year that you have today, up to and including Premier 1K®. 

While many of us are not currently flying for good reasons, it's great to know that I'll have 1k status for all of next year.

I'm ready to fly!

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Hyatt Program Update...more kudos!

I feel as though it's only a matter of time before most (if not all) travel-related companies adopt policies to avoid penalizing frequent travelers who have status in their programs.  We saw it this last week or so with Hilton - others have followed suit.  Delta just extended voucher use through 2022.

I'm pretty stoked that Hyatt released an update as well detailing new program guidelines, and I have to share a measure of kudos.  The highlight for me, along with no points expiration, is that status held as of March 31 will be good through February 2022.  For me that means Globalist status for another year!

More time for elite members to enjoy their status and benefits: Status and benefits will be extended for all existing elite members without having to re-qualify. This means that whatever your status was as of March 31, 2020 – whether Discoverist, Explorist or Globalist – it will be automatically updated to reflect a February 28, 2022 expiration date. All elite tier extensions should be reflected in members’ accounts no later than April 15, 2020. Visit the World of Hyatt COVID-19 FAQsfor details.

You can read the entire update here:  Hyatt Program Update April 3

Thank you, Hyatt, for doing the right thing for your patrons.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Virtual Travel options - available streams

Most of the world is at home due to the coronavirus, and many (me included) are also grounded from travel both for work and vacation.  In that spirit, I wanted to share this link from Conde Nast with live streams of places around the world include Rome, Sydney, and the northern lights.

CN Live stream links


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Hilton Program update - and kudos

Hilton shared the following update today regarding program status and points earning - overall I have to give them kudos for extending status and expiration deadlines:

On behalf of the entire Hilton team, we hope this message finds you in good health. As the world adapts to these unusual circumstances, I wanted to share what we are doing to extend your Hilton Honors benefits and to support our communities during this turbulent time.

Your Hilton Honors Status and Points

We consider it our privilege to have you as a Hilton Honors member and we want to show our appreciation by extending your benefits: 

  • 2019 Status Extension. All members whose 2019 status was scheduled to be downgraded on March 31, 2020—whether it’s Diamond, Gold or Silver—will automatically receive an extension through March 31, 2021.
  • 2020 Status Extension. We are extending your 2020 member status through March 31, 2022. This means you will continue to enjoy all the Diamond, Gold or Silver benefits you have access to today for the next 24 months.
  • Points Extension. We will pause the expiration of all Points scheduled to expire between now and December 31, 2020.
  • Weekend Night Rewards Earned on Eligible Hilton Credit Cards. We have extended the expiration date of all unexpired Weekend Night Rewards as of March 11, 2020, and all new ones issued until August 30, 2020, through the end of next summer (August 31, 2021).
Your Travel Flexibility

We remain committed to offering you flexible booking options. Given these unique circumstances, we are making further adjustments to our individual booking policies:

  • Existing Reservations. All reservations—even those described as “non-cancellable” (“Advanced Purchase”)—that are scheduled for arrival on or before June 30, 2020 can be changed or cancelled at no charge, up to 24 hours before your scheduled arrival day.
  • New Reservations. Any reservations you make—even those described as “non-cancellable” (“Advanced Purchase”)—that are booked between today and June 30, 2020 for any future arrival date can be changed or cancelled at no charge, up to 24 hours before your scheduled arrival day.
If you need to adjust reservations made via the Hilton website, app or call center, you can change your reservation here or contact the Hilton Guest Assistance team. If you need to adjust reservations made through another travel site, please contact them for assistance.

Will Hyatt follow suit??

Saturday, March 14, 2020

United flight updates (3/14/20)

To say my travel plans for the year have been impacted would be an understatement.  AirlineRoute is reporting the following additional changes/cancellations from United:

Chicago O’Hare – Amsterdam 20MAR20 – 30APR20 1 daily 767-300ER cancelled
Chicago O’Hare – Brussels 20MAR20 – 30APR20 1 daily 767-300ER (787-10 from 29MAR20) cancelled
Chicago O’Hare – Frankfurt 20MAR20 – 30APR20 2 daily 767-300ER/777-200ER (767-300ER/787-10 from 29MAR20) cancelled
Chicago O’Hare – Munich 20MAR20 – 30APR20 1 daily 767-300ER (787-9 from 29MAR20) cancelled
Chicago O’Hare – Paris CDG 20MAR20 – 30APR20 1 daily 767-300ER cancelled
Denver – Frankfurt 
17MAR20 – 30APR20 1 daily 787-8 cancelled
Guam – Yap 
737-800 replaces -700 on following dates: 01APR20, 12APR20, 15APR20, 26APR20, 29APR20 (This route is served twice weekly)
Houston – Amsterdam 18MAR20 – 30APR20 1 daily 777-200ER cancelled
Houston – Frankfurt 18MAR20 – 30APR20 1 daily 777-200ER cancelled
Houston – Munich 16MAR20 – 30APR20 1 daily 767-300ER cancelled
Newark – Amsterdam 
28MAR20 – 30APR20 Reduce from 2 to 1 daily (Planned 2nd daily with 767-300ER delayed to 01MAY20)
Newark – Barcelona 20MAR20 – 30APR20 1 daily 767-400ER cancelled
Newark – Berlin Tegel 20MAR20 – 30APR20 1 daily 767-300ER/-400ER cancelled
Newark – Geneva 20MAR20 – 30APR20 1 daily 767-300ER cancelled
Newark – Lisbon 20MAR20 – 29APR20 Reduce from 7 to 4 weekly, 767-400ER operating
Newark – Madrid 20MAR20 – 30APR20 1 daily 767-300ER cancelled
Newark – Milan Malpensa 01MAR20 – 30APR20 1 daily 767-300ER/-400ER cancelled
Newark – Porto 28MAR20 – 30APR20 1 daily 757-200 cancelled
Newark – Rome 18MAR20 – 30APR20 1 daily 767-400ER cancelled
Newark – Tel Aviv 04APR20 – 29APR20 Reduce from 14 to 12 weekly
San Francisco – Amsterdam 28MAR20 – 30APR20 1 daily 787-8 cancelled (Seasonal start up moves from 28MAR20 to 01MAY20)
San Francisco – Frankfurt 20MAR20 – 30APR20 Reduce from 2 to 1 daily, 777-300ER operating
San Francisco – Paris CDG 
20MAR20 – 30APR20 1 daily 787-8/-9 cancelled
San Francisco – Tel Aviv 29MAR20 – 30APR20 Reduce from 7 to 4 weekly, 777-300ER operating
Washington Dulles – Amsterdam 20MAR20 – 30APR20 1 daily 767-300ER/-400ER cancelled
Washington Dulles – Brussels 
20MAR20 – 30APR20 1 daily 767-400ER cancelled
Washington Dulles – Frankfurt 20MAR20 – 30APR20 Reduce from 2 to 1 daily, 777-200ER operating
Washington Dulles – Geneva 20MAR20 – 30APR20 1 daily 767-400ER cancelled
Washington Dulles – Lisbon 28MAR20 – 30APR20 1 daily 757-200 cancelled
Washington Dulles – Munich 20MAR20 – 30APR20 1 daily 767-400ER cancelled
Washington Dulles – Paris CDG 
20MAR20 – 30APR20 1 daily 787-9 cancelled
Washington Dulles – Sao Paulo Guarulhos 01APR20 – 30APR20 1 daily 787-8 cancelled
Washington Dulles – Tel Aviv 30MAR20 – 03MAY20 3 weekly 777-200ER cancelled
Washington Dulles – Zurich 20MAR20 – 30APR20 1 daily 767-300ER cancelled


Monday, March 2, 2020

More flight impacts from coronavirus

From CNN posted this afternoon:

British Airways, one of the largest airlines in Europe, has announced that it will be canceling several flights to “match reduced demand due to the continuing coronavirus issue,” it said in a statement today. 
The cancelations will impact flights between March 16 and March 28 and include:
  • Cancelling 12 roundtrips from London Heathrow to New York JFK
  • Cancelling 171 short-haul roundtrip flights from London Heathrow to countries including Italy, France, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland
  • Cancelling 7 short-haul roundtrip flights from Gatwick to Italy, France and Albania
  • Cancelling 26 short-haul roundtrip flights from London City to Germany and Italy
“We will be contacting customers on cancelled flights so we can discuss their travel options, including rebooking onto other carriers where possible, full refunds or booking with BA for a later date of travel,” the statement added.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Update: ELI conference canceled

I'm heading back...while waiting for my flight to SeaTac, I received a response via Twitter letting me know the ELI conference was canceled.  Luckily I had time to change flights and cancel my stay to get back to Newark same day.

While I'm disappointed about not attending the conference, I'm glad the organizers made the right decision.

On my way to Educause ELI

Greetings from the San Francisco Airport!  I'm on my way to ELI in the Seattle area and wanted to share this quick post.  The coronavirus has been in the news every hour it seems, though conference organizers have said the show will go on.  I will of course be vigilant while onsite; flights back are on Wednesday.

It's been a while since I've been through SFO - it used to be one of my regular connection options. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Alaska Airlines to join OneWorld Alliance

In case you missed the news (and major news at that in the airline industry), Alaska Airlines has announced their intention to more closely partner with American Airlines and will join the OneWorld Alliance in 2021.

To say this is significant news is an understatement.

You can read the official announcement here.

Alaska has one of the only remaining frequent flyer programs that is based on actual flying miles.  Details are likely still forthcoming about other changes; I hope they consider keeping the current model in place.

I'm also curious what this new alignment will mean for Alaska's other program partners (Emirates, Singapore, etc).

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Top places to stay in the world - CN

These types of articles are a bit subjective, though I enjoy reading them because they typically include a number of new locations that I wouldn't mind thinking about visiting at some point in the future.

21 Most Romantic Places to Stay in the World (updated)

One location to highlight: ION Adventure Luxury Hotel in Selfoss, Iceland

Another: Lion Sands River Lodge in Sabi Sand, South Africa

Friday, February 7, 2020

Semester resumes

The spring semester is here and we're back to busy preparing for summer construction. This also is a typically slow time of the year for travel for me.  As we ramp up work supporting campus classrooms, my schedule typically keeps me in the area until later spring when I'll have a number of meetings (ELI, Ivy+, etc). 

No complaints about being home!

Sunday, January 26, 2020

To MA and back

Just returned from visiting committee meetings at Harvard where our group was working with teams on a potential classroom initiative similar to what we have at Princeton.  Looking forward to seeing where leaders go with next steps!

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Cards in my wallet right now (2020)

Happy New Year!

I'm expecting a fairly stable card cache for 2020 though it wouldn't be unexpected to jump on a deal if presented.  The last few card offers I've seen for Marriott and Hilton have significant bonuses.

Cards in my Wallet:

Chase Sapphire Reserve - one of the best earning cards with 3x points for travel and 3x for dining

Chase Freedom - Quarterly bonus categories give 5x points and pairs with Sapphire

Chase World of Hyatt - 4x Hyatt points per stay make this one of the best for hotel stays

Chase IHG Rewards Club Select (no longer available) - Platinum Elite status plus free night every cardmember year

Chase United Mileage Plus Select (no longer available) - 3x miles on United purchases plus EQM, 2x gas/grocery/dining + Star Alliance purchases

Chase Biz Plus (replaced with Business Preferred) - 5x points at office supply and phone, 2x on gas station and hotel

Chase Biz Cash - 5x points at office supply and phone, 2x points on gas stations and restaurants

Citibank Premier - 3x points on travel including gas stations; 2x on dining/entertainment

Citibank AA Biz Platinum - 2x American Airlines miles on purchases plus free checked bag and priority boarding; 2x on gas stations

Citibank AA Mileup - 2x American Airlines miles on flights plus 2x miles for grocery purchases

Citibank Double Cash - New card - 2% cash back on all purchases, though the new transfer option to Citi ThankYou Points makes this card strong for all non-category spend

American Express Hilton card - 7x Hilton points on stays, 5x points restaurant/gas/grocery, 3x all other purchases

Discover It card - 5x points/cash on quarterly bonus categories, link to Amazon.com purchases

Bank of American Alaska Airlines card - 3x miles on Alaska purchases, $99 companion fare

Barclays American Airlines Aviator Red - New Card - 2x points on AA, free checked bag, wifi credit, and $99 companion certificate

Many of these are no annual fee cards though I still value certain cards for the benefits compared to the yearly fee.