My Latest Amex Retention Call: Talked to a Computer

amex retention call

I’m weeding out the credit cards that I’m no longer using as I refocus on financial simplicity, bring my personal balance sheet back to reality, and replenish my cash coffers so I can start tip-toeing back into a focus on miles and points. OK, I’m doing some of this because team MJ on Travel is getting ready to relocate, but I digress. 🙂 Next on my list of cards: The Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express. I’ve dithered with the idea of keeping this card. I do appreciate the utility of SPG points, but limited earning potential coupled with Starwood stays becoming a relative rarity for me made this the most likely card to go. Amex Retention Call: The Results…

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Why I Am Not Applying for the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

chase sapphire reserve

As you likely know, a brand new credit card product just arrived on the scene. The Chase Sapphire Reserve card may be the best credit card product of all time if you travel frequently. Let’s take a look at a few of the reasons why. 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. 3X Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining purchases, and 1X points on all others. A $300 annual travel credit. Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit. ($100 value every 4 years) Airport lounge access through the Priority Pass Select program. Trip cancellation/interruption insurance. Primary auto rental collision damage waiver. Emergency evacuation & transportation coverage.…

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Royal Caribbean Backs Off Loyalty Program Changes

free cruise

I reported here a few days ago that Royal Caribbean was removing the popular balcony discount for its Crown & Anchor Society loyalty members for cruises booked within 6 months. A predictable outcry ensued from Royal Caribbean’s most loyal cruisers. While I wasn’t happy, I noted that I could now take advantage of other benefits like Amex Cruise Privileges which offered me an equivalent or near equivalent value. Well, it appears that Royal Caribbean has heard the cries. According to this post on Cruise Critic, they have decided to put the changes on hold for now. Notably, postpone is not the same thing as cancel….but it does suggest the company is considering the viability of such a move after hearing an…

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How Do You Fall Off a Cruise Ship?

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Short answer – you don’t. Now if one is standing on the guard rail, leaning over from the waist so you can get that perfect shot, and/or intoxicated, then you may find yourself going for a swim. Further, if you have the good fortune to survive the “fall,” the likelihood that you’ll be recovered is pretty low. It appears that a Chinese tourist aboard Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas has defied all the odds. According to crew-center.com, Chinese tourist Wang Si went overboard on August 10. “First to notice her disappearance was her family who informed the ships officers. All crew were engaged in an on board search operation, but they could not find the 32 year-old woman. Ship’s…

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Royal Caribbean Dropping Crown and Anchor Balcony Discount for Close-in Bookings

Image of Anthem's Sister Ship, Quantum of the Seas © 2014 - Marshall Jackson

Much to the chagrin of Royal Caribbean Crown & Anchor Society members, the cruise line has announced that it is dropping the popular balcony and suite discounts as of September 1, 2016, for its loyalty program participants unless they book more than 6 months in advance. The change was rolled out on a promotional flyer recently and reads: “Encourage your clients to book now! As of September 1, 2016 balcony and suite discounts will only apply to sailings booked more than six months out.” The balcony discount is one of the most valuable perks of being loyal to Royal, and it is disappointing to see it removed for cruises booked less than 6 months in advance. My Take Disappointing, but…

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Summer Travel Tips Work When Airline Computers Attack Too

tips for travel problems

Well, the last few weeks have been interesting from an information technology perspective. One could be forgiven for asking “what can I do” in this kind of situation. Not that much, but my “Summer Travel Tips from an ex-Airline Guy” post contains a few nuggets that apply here to. Of course, “flying early” would not have helped today, but these tips are still worth a review. So here’s a “Best of” post from way back in 2013. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. What can I possibly be talking about? Summer travel season, of course! It’s the best because it’s summer, and it’s time to play. It’s the worst because that means the cherubs…

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10 Years of Blogging, Drink Package Discounts, and a CLEAR Vision

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I’m finally spending a week at home and at the office, and I’m not unhappy about that at all. Lots going on and I need to catch up at the day job and the job of blogging. While I’m looking at another month or so before things settle down, I did manage to say a few words here on the blog over the last week or so. Let’s take a look. Happy Birthday to MJ on Travel – 10 Years of Blogging….WOW! My First CLEAR Experience in Years Royal Caribbean Discounting Drink Packages SS United States Not Returning to Sea American Commits to Charlotte (CLT) Two FREE Uber Rides for Hotel Stays JetBlue to Europe? Yes Please A Tale of…

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SS United States Will Not Return to Sea

ss united states, crystal cruises, #ssusfullahead

In February, Crystal Cruises disclosed that it was exploring the possibility of restoring the iconic oceanliner, SS United States, to seagoing service. Crystal undertook an extensive technical feasibility study to ascertain whether or not the ship could be brought into compliance with current regulatory requirements and start sailing regular cruises again. After a 6-month study, the company determined that the investments needed to modernize the ship were not commercially viable. According to a press release from the SS United States Conservancy “Following an intensive, six-month evaluation, Crystal Cruises today determined that while the SS United States is structurally sound, the technical and commercial challenges associated with returning the historic liner to service as a modern cruise ship have unfortunately proven insurmountable. As a…

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American Commits to Charlotte

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I was always entertained at all the predictions about American’s Charlotte hub “going away” once AA and US were fully integrated. I mean….the original AA couldn’t make it in Raleigh, so Charlotte had to go, right? Not really. Many armchair CEOs liked to hang their hat on a little nugget of information – Raleigh produces more “local” traffic than Charlotte….or at least it has, even though Charlotte’s metro area is larger. There are a few reasons for that little anomaly, in my opinion, that I won’t get into here. For sure, the nature of the CLT hub has changed within a larger AA network, but I never thought the hub was going away. So, did American make some proclamation about…

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10 Years, 2735 Posts, Immeasurable Memories

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Ten years ago Wednesday, I wrote my first blog post. Some 2,734 posts would follow that one. Daily page views have ranged from 1 to over 6,000. Not surprisingly, I suppose, my most read topics have been cruise reviews, cruise line drink packages (what does that say about me? 🙂 ), Delta Air Lines, SkyMiles, and my overall thoughts on the new loyalty paradigm….not necessarily in that order, and not always popular. I’ve been posting less lately, and that’s no one’s fault but my own. Blogging is not a career for me, and my actual job is taking increasing amounts of my time. Unfortunately, that’s probably not going to change in the next month or so. I have a few thoughts to…

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