Paris, Chip Cards, Holiday Travel, and Some Cruising Too

Sunset at sea - © 2015 Marshall Jackson

I hope this finds you well after the long holiday weekend. I’ll be in the office this week prepping for a lengthy biz trip, and you might even find me passing by a west coast frequent travel event next weekend too. This will likely be my last business trip of the year. That’s significant for a lot of reasons, but the biggest of which is this – it assures that there is no way I will re-earn Platinum Medallion with Delta for 2016. I knew that was going to happen, and in fact, I’m OK with it…….I think. Yes, there’s a blog post in the works on that. In the meantime, here’s a look at last week’s posts. (Feature image credit:…

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Chip and Signature Experiences in Europe

chip and pin, chip and signature, emv cards

Those who travel outside the country semi-often are well aware of chipped credit cards. Frankly, getting your magstripe card accepted outside of the most touristy areas has been a challenge for years. Finally, EMV Chip and Signature (and a few Chip and PIN) cards are coming to the USA. The vaunted “liability shift” that was meant to encourage merchants to upgrade their equipment to accept chip cards came and went on October 1 without much of a change. Retailing giant Wal-Mart made the switch to EMV well in advance of the deadline, and Target was ready prior to October 1 as well. If you were expecting mass acceptance effective October 1, you’ll likely be disappointed. While the liability shift date has…

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Holiday Travel Tips to Make Flying a Little Better

holiday travel tips, holiday travel, travel tips

The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us, and soon after that Christmas bells will ring. This Thanksgiving promises to be one of the busiest for air travel in years, perhaps ever. I thought a few tried and true holiday travel tips I’ve shared before might be in order. Most of these apply all year too! Tips for Holiday Travel Fly early – This was the advice I offered in one of my very first blog posts, and it still holds true. I recommend this in the summer, and frankly, it holds true throughout the year and especially the holidays. Airlines are very focused on getting their morning launch out of the gate on time. Flying early helps you better avoid possible delays that…

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Paris On My Mind

Paris, thoughts on Paris

It’s hard to believe that just a month ago my wife and I were exploring Paris. We had both been before, but not together so it was a fun adventure. As for me, I have been several times, but always on business. Translation – I had never taken the time to actually visit Paris. While I suppose I am glad we went when we did and were not there for the awful attack, the truth is, we want to go back. We both loved being there. Five years of French for MrsMJ paid off in communicating. My 2 years…..well, we won’t talk about that. I found everyone to be polite and welcoming, helpful when we we had a question, and just…

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Smooth AA Flights, a DevAAl, and Then There’s Marriott-SPG


Has there been a week this eventful in loyalty in recent memory? AAdvantage 2016 and a Marriott – SPG merger in the same week. Admittedly, I had tied Starwood and Hyatt together in my mind. Obviously, Marriott had other ideas, and from their perspective, I can see why. From the perspective of a former SPG Platinum, I can also see why Starwood loyalists are nervous. Now it’s time for a break from the road to talk turkey over the American Thanksgiving holiday. In the meantime, let’s look at posts from last week. (Feature image credit: Shutterstock) Via MJ on Travel First American Flights Since Reservations System Cutover Marriott and SPG: Mixed Emotions A Word on AAdvantage 2016 Southwest’s Business Select:…

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The Question on my Mind: AAdvantage Award Availability


As the dust settles on American’s recently announced 2016 AAdvantage program, I find myself in a reflective mood. The bottom line of the changes is that many, if not most will earn fewer miles with the new program, even if I don’t count myself in that category. The price of most (but certainly not all) awards is going up, in some cases, way up. (Feature image credit: Shutterstock) My initial focus on the changes was not surprisingly on the things that matter most in my workaday domestic business travel life. Those are: priority boarding, upgrades, and customer support. In short – elite status. For the most part, other than the loss of four systemwide upgrades for Executive Platinums, elite status and…

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My First Southwest Business Select Purchase

southwest airlines, atlanta, rapid rewards, companion pass

Business Select is Southwest’s top fare class and includes guaranteed A1-15 boarding, priority security, bonus Rapid Rewards points, and a complimentary cocktail. Southwest has seen a bit more of me this year, and recently I made my first Business Select purchase. I wasn’t seeking to buy a Business Select fare or even fly Southwest specifically. Simply put, I had a short-notice travel need and Southwest not only offered nonstops to where I needed to go, Business Select was by far the most affordable option. Throw in a $100 dollar credit I had with Southwest, and the decision was an easy one. Southwest Offers Compelling Value for Many Frankly, for the flak they get from some circles, Southwest offers a perfectly acceptable…

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A Word on AAdvantage 2016

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We now have a picture of what the 2016 AAdvantage program is going to look like. Not ironically, it looks a lot like the programs of Delta and United, but not exactly like them. American’s managers were right to focus on getting US Airways and American onto the same reservations system before making any big frequent flier changes. Now, that the October 17 computer merger is behind them, they’re out with the new 2016 AAdvantage program. This Happened More Quickly Than I Expected I am not going to review the particulars of changes to the program or award charts as that has been done across the blogosphere since American’s press release yesterday, and in reality, for weeks prior. In all…

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Marriott and SPG: Mixed Emotions


The proposed merger of Marriott and Starwood has brought a predictable course of tears from many that are invested in the SPG program. As a SPG Platinum alumnus, I have to say that all things being equal, I preferred the SPG program to Marriott Rewards overall. It’s just that all things were not equal…..and they still aren’t. Given my stay patterns at the time, obtaining and maintaining SPG Platinum was a bit of an endurance contest. Ultimately, the allure of Marriott’s plethora of properties in cities and towns of all sizes won out, and I moved over to Marriott Rewards even though stay requirements were tougher. Simply put, it made the most sense for me at the time. That has not changed.…

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First American Flights Since PSS Cutover

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On Saturday, I took my first American Airlines flights since their reservations system cutover on October 17th. I had not purposely sought to avoid flying them, I just hadn’t needed to. I was excited when a last-minute travel requirement popped up earlier this week and American’s pricing was exactly what I wanted. The route of flight was ATL-CLT-RDU. Both flights were former US routes with US (and US Express on the E175 from CLT to RDU) crews with a connection in Charlotte. I purposely booked a longer layover than necessary so I could work in an Admirals Club visit too. This was my first set of “sub 500 mile” flights since American introduced complimentary upgrades on flights of 500 miles or…

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