Pick a airline already or is airline elite status worth it anyway?

If you fly 25 times a year you need to start thinking about picking an airline.

I have to admit to my readers I have only had brief encounters with airline status.

The Air Canada Altitude was a brief, useless and frustrating acquisition for me despite having collected a substantial amount of Aeroplan points in the last 4 years. Air Canada does offer some nicer perks to there top tier elites like a special phone number for customer service or better upgrades but leaves the lower tiers almost useless.

So my flights in the last few years have been split between numerous carriers selecting the cheapest revenue flights advertised. I would use Google, Expedia and countless hours mastering the ITA Matrix in search of the cheaper flights available and not getting any sort of mileage in any one airline.

Well, that’s all about to change.

In comes delta’s Ed Bastian, someone I have been following since his 2016 jump to CEO  at the time a troubled airline. Flights with the airline who did a disappearing magic trick with my luggage 7 years earlier seem different today. Delta was not always the friendliest to its frequent flyer friends, the award devaluation was one of the hardest pills for its loyal community to swallow. But at the beginning of this year, I was flying delta between Vegas to Orlando, it was a counter agent who finally made me rethink everything, her attitude about the company made sure I noticed delta.

So 8 months later I now have a measly silver and soon to be gold status and I can tell you my experience with Delta has been worth it so far and as soon as all of my benefits kick-in I will write more about my experiences.

So this got me asking the question when is airline status worth it?

A good friend of mine has been flying American and Oneworld for longer then I have been out of high school and at the beginning of this year during a 6-hour layover in DFW, we had an honest conversation about his breakup with American Airlines over a pint of some slightly drinkable amber beer his language was clear, it was just not worth it.

It is worth talking about some of the reasons he’s leaving American and the resemblance to why I have given up on Air Canada’s Altitude program.  The chances of getting an upgrade on American seemed to have become more confusing to him as a user and IT related issues seem to also plage his user experience trying to get on an upgrade. If you almost never get upgraded the value of the status is diminished; if you get upgraded and that flight gets delayed or canceled finding yourself on an economy seat to another airport after being upgraded you don’t see the point in status. Standby and upgrade lists seem to always jump numbers having the avid flyer confused why he was not upgraded. Coupled with general upset feelings over American’s new policy of let’s make the seats in the economy side so uncomfortable no one ever flys us again and when there is an issue customer service seems to be trained in only one thing, the word NO.

This brings me to the concept I think most airlines need to understand, frequent flyers who are loyal to the alliance are more in a deep long relationship, it is apart of their identity more than just a frequent mileage number. My friend has paid 40% more for his flight just to fly with his airline, made mileage runs and has now lost faith in his marriage with the airline.  So when is it worth the insanity? It is all personal!

Flight upgrades, baggage fees, priority boarding, seating preference, and lounge access is what we are talking about. Award flights are also worth discussing here and how quickly you earn them is effected sometimes by the airline status. But I think Award Flights deserve there own post and I promise to do more posts before the end of the year.

If you fly 25 times a year; you need to start thinking about picking an airline. But if you don’t, this is not worth your time honestly.

The main financial reason to pick an airline is the upgrades, just forget about all the other reasons for now.

Let us be honest here, flying coach for 10 hours before a business meeting is not a great idea. Buying a main cabin ticket and upgrading directly to the next tier 35% of the flights will make this worth every penny.  Let’s look at the costs directly if you were purchasing these from Delta airlines.

Let’s say you purchased DL41 in the Main Cabin round trip and got an upgrade to Delta One 5 times a year. let’s say only 2 of the upgrades are worth $6,000 and the others are worth only $500 each.  That would be $13,500 in free upgrades available making the entire endeavor seem more worth the time and extra work.

So pick an alliance already?

Basically, the main benefit of status is the upgrades. If you pick an alliance, make sure you understand how upgrades apply to you. Star Alliance, One World, and SkyTeam is the choices available it really is up to the 3 big ones to make it worth your time.

Also, look at how one alliance services your airport, simple google flights search can help you see who is normally the cheapest to fly out of your airport. In my case, a Toronto to Sydney flight search using a number of different dates ranges returned SkyTeam as the cheapest ticket more often then star alliance or American’s one world. This helped solidify my choice with delta and furthermore WestJet.

But let’s look at another one here, Toronto to LaGuardia the American flight got cheaper but it is only a $19 dollar difference. In this case, I would book the Delta flight over the American flight before considering my personal experiences with  AA.

Now let’s use the ITA matrix for a minute to illustrate this again with a Toronto flight to Salt lake city.  Using the matrix the graphic on the top of the search shows me delta is cheaper here also.

But let’s look at a flight from Love’s field in Dallas, Here is a place the only carrier that is competing here is delta and Alaska. This is a great place to show you when maybe not to pick the airline you have status with. In this case, I like Alaska and almost never fly with them and at this price, I will take that Alaska flight saving $280 dollars on a short trip. If this was a longer flight with a large mileage haul the $280 would not make me switch away from Delta.

 

Something else to consider is how you value your time, Preboarding can or does sometimes save you stress. Paying for a comfort upgraded flight might be worth it but someone who budget travels a ton might not care about any of these things. You should always track how much you are spending with an airline to feel out what works best; if the financial cost is too high you should have a metric to monitor how much you have spent with an airline and if this is working for you directly. Build a spreadsheet and make sure this fits with your style of travel.

For me, I am pushing my spending with delta right now but in the future, if delta loses sight of taking care of its frequent traveling customers it will be time to talk about a new strategy.

Why are we talking only about upgrades? Because if you are an american the credit card options for free bags and lounge access is a better bet for your value if you don’t care about upgrades. Free bags and award flights are better with an airline credit card.

So if you are willing to make an effort to stick with an airline and fly a ton and don’t have status I would love to hear from you and offer any help I can.

email me   Jonathan  – – nomadicjonathan.com

 

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The picture is from an Air Canada flight to Miami I got upgraded on to premium but not first class.

 

2019 moving forward, updates and old questions from readers

Updates from the field of life.

2019 should be everyone’s year to travel more, to move forward with Ernest towards goals of progress, momentum and to push life forward; this is not a time to stand still or look back to the past. Remove politics, distractions, and noise from your life and hold tight to a new path.

The world is poised for growth in specialized fields, new energy, driverless cars and new global economic connections that’s never been seen before.  The political noise is only designed to distract the stupid and hold back the weak minded. Climate change is here, immigration and global trade will always win over protectionism. Innovation will always drive economies forward. You only hold back your potential when you dwell on the noise of politics and fight a fight of pointless noise.

This week I met a flight attendant who after 12 years has quit her job and moved to build her own business in Australia. She sees a world where inflation is much more rampant then we see at first glance and just making a salary will do nothing for her future; a world where millionaires are the middle class is the future she sees and I can’t disagree.

As we look into 2019 everyone should consider there will be some serious changes and disruptive technologies brewing around the corner for us all. Trucking as an example will see more testing of driverless vehicles, Tesla will be pushing their 500-mile batteries and rates should rise for logistics in North America for the coming year as fuel prices trend upwards again.

Cryptocurrency will still be here and I expect the downturn in prices to stay here awhile before any upward momentum, but the idea and technology will stay. The World needs this. Master-nodes are better investments than just holding currency or mining right now and I think this will continue for years to come.

Inflation is going to be a bigger issue then we think, it is by far been the next generation that is unprepared for larger inflationary moves than any other generation and by that token Millennials earn 20% less than Boomers did at the same stage of life adjusted to inflation. That said I expect growth to stagnate in the world economy somewhat and don’t invest in wild ideas of stocks and investments growing past this point.

I have been busy with building a new brand for my own technical services and pushing myself forward, working with some new clients and trying to be more healthy. I have gotten a number of emails from my nomadic friends and wanted to post again as I know its been too long. The same questions keep getting posed…

 

Where are you?  Toronto currently and will be here for a while.

Why have we not heard from you? I am busy, I just don’t always have time and ideas to blog about anymore. 

Are you just a business traveler these days? This is a complicated thing to answer really, I don’t travel just for pleasure as much as I used to. But I always find ways to grow my list of experiences and sometimes an event ends and I make sure to stay an extra day. 

Are you still travel hacking? Of course, I am; but as a Canadian, there is less and less available these days for really good travel hacks. There is still some good opportunity available in the US market but keep in mind that the airlines are cutting down on travel rewards as an industry. We should keep in mind that there are good investments to be made into cheaper revenue options for travel then non-revenue tickets. Also, credit card rewards are at an all-time low. 

I remember the days of you posting pictures of different places every month? What happened? Privacy concerns actually have been a large degree of the motivation to the shift or change in my social media posting. It’s not an anti-facebook rant or a broken sense of trust of the companies that I post on nor is it something that changing my viewpoints from past issues. I never had trust or felt something was private on these sites. We live in a world of crazy people, an example is someone researching you & finding your clients and going after them or border guards interpreting your facebook as something else other than the reality. People also see something that’s not reality when they follow you on Facebook or Instagram. 

Can you still help with hotel reviews and experience audits? Yes, but the clients have changed and it is something I am not focused on anymore. 

What keeps you busy? Event Coordination and working on logistics for these events.

Politics?  I hate the state of our politics in North America. It’s broken and trumpism just shows it. It is not something I can fix nor is it worth my time. Wanting to be fiscally conservative and socially responsible is harder then you would think in a world of negative liberal and republican rhetoric. This economist’s perspective is simple what is good for the few is never good for the many, what is good for the many is never good for the individual.  Be careful of Russian and Chinese troll farms this Canadian election cycle and the conservative and oil fear-mongering.  

Trips to war-torn areas? I honestly can’t answer these questions and you should stop asking me. But here is my generic answer, it’s a bad idea. On this note, rich men and wannabe journalists pay large sums of money to visit war-zones and this has some seriously negative effects. Touring war-zones is stupid and harmful to locals. But there is more to any story and you should take the time to personally do your research and reach out to local knowledge. When someplace has had something happen to detract tourism it’s always worth a quick look. If your location is on an ICAO list of conflict zones you should reconsider.  If you must go, communicate with the consulate in the area as its the best place to start if you run into trouble and gain information from them. 

I am searching for an affordable short term apartment rental in NYC? Honestly, so is everyone else. Find a furnished apartment agency or try staynovo.com. airbnb in NYC is a bad idea and I have had really bad experiences.  Paying to Housesit is another option. 

Tea or coffee? Ahem…  Coffee always. 

What’s been your weirdest moment? I was in South America and had an altercation with some obviously fake policía and I called them on it. I am still not sure why I am still alive actually but my aggressive attitude pushed them to back off. I am not invincible and it could have ended badly.  A local also joined in and the fakes dashed away.  Be careful with any third world law-enforcement.  We did a tour to Nicaragua just before the issues that there having there now. The tour operator got to the border and started passing a line up of people and flashed some cash to the guards. They stamped everyone’s passport at once and sent us on our way. He said it is the way things work out here. 

Favorite hotel chain? I don’t have one, but Fairfield by Marriot has been great to me. 

What’s your top travel tip? Mindset. Have fun, too many people find traveling is a pain and out of there comfort zone; honestly. Enjoy the time that is now and the journey ahead. Fear of flying is also a big deal and makes people not enjoy the journey.  Travel light and spend money wisely. But honestly have fun!  Also, be careful what you eat. My biggest piece of advice is to make sure you have lodging in place, too many people don’t book these things in advance.

 

I promise to blog more this year. I know.. I know.. You have heard this before.

 

####Picture from a trip this year where I had rental car trouble, I had decided to enjoy the historic donuts I have passed by about a million times.  3 hours later my car was towed away leaving me carless in L.A.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amelia finally found

I have followed this story for so many years as TIGHAR had searched and searched. Reading  Ric Gillespie’s book Finding Amelia….Watching as the evidence built up…

Its heartbreaking thinking of all the radio transmissions that had been received and documented.

We now know almost conclusively that the bones found in 1940 by the British are Amelia’s. She died a castaway on an island that should have been searched and was only flown over once.

The Navy fliers saw no airplane but did see “signs of recent habitation.” They thought that all the islands in the area were inhabited so they moved on. In fact, no one had lived on Gardner since 1892.

We know that a broken antenna on Amelia’s plane and failure to communicate issues before hand by USCGC Itasca contributed to the flights demise along with sexism and lack of faith in her abroad the Itasca. We know that Amelia herself was not as qualified with radio transmission as she should have been and this is ultimately a factor. The USCGC Itasca not communicating frequency issues and direction finding equipment that was out of service would have scraped the flight.

Also, the searchers themselves constantly made humor of the media circus that surrounded them. Like the search was for the benefit of the “newsman only”.

We know the chances of the bones found on Nikumaroro not being Amelia’s is statistically not probable.

 

This is a big day, its almost certain now what happened to Amelia, The radio broadcasts from her are real and this story has no happy ending.

Search report -https://tighar.org/…/Arch…/Documents/Lambrecht’s_Report.html

What went wrong – https://tighar.org/wiki/Failure_to_communicate

Findings of bone data- http://journals.upress.ufl.edu/fa/article/view/525

The Search – https://tighar.org/…/Earh…/Archives/Forum/FAQs/searchers.htm

 

##The picture is Amelia Earhart standing in front of the Lockheed Electra in which she disappeared in July 1937 and is public domain via NASA.

If you can, please donate to TIGHAR, There work is amazing.

tighar.org/donate.html

 

 

Safety is everyone’s responsibility

In this Thursday Jan. 15, 2009 file photo, airline passengers wait to be rescued on the wings of a US Airways Airbus 320 jetliner that safely ditched in the frigid waters of the Hudson River in New York, after a flock of birds knocked out both its engines. The audio recordings of US Airways Flight 1549, released Thursday, Feb 5, 2009 by the Federal Aviation Administration, reflect the initial tension between tower controllers and the cockpit and then confusion about whether the passenger jet went into the river. (AP Photo/Steven Day)

Dear fellow nomads, I am sorry that I have been not paying attention to this blog enough and I know I have more than a few people actually following me. So let me first off say thank you so much for all your emails and comments this past few months. I am grateful for everyone!

I have been meaning to post about the MBNA alaska airlines card, so if you have not gotten into this card you should as it has some awesome potential.

I am back in Winnipeg today from a long and fruitful trip around the states and feeling its time I should write a post about something that we all should consider this winter travel season. The traveling public seem to discount the role safety and passengers play in our modern airline world, ignoring the concept that if or when something bad happens we won’t have any control on the outcome. And Canadians feel as if they’re immune to tragic events.

In las Vegas recently a British Airways engine fire sent alarm bells off for me as I watched on CNN as passengers carrying large pieces of luggage walked away from the plane. YOU during an emergency evacuation took the time to open the overhead compartment and get your stupid bag? What about everyone else on the plane who wants off the plane?

I might take my backpack in a completely almost involuntary reactionary way, but my bag stays in the burning aircraft and so should yours. This is precious seconds wasted, when your aircrew actually initiates an evaluation it should be taken seriously; there could be a fire or something you are unaware of.

Also it was mentioned in a news report that one passenger was given a pair of shoes as his was on the aircraft and others had on flip flops.

Critical phases of flight are takeoff, landing and anything below 10,000 feet. Having your shoes on for example and being prepared to walk off that aircraft would be a smart decision. The hot sun beating on the black tarmac of the Las Vegas airport would make it uncomfortable to run away from a burning aircraft in socks or bare feet. Also the inverse would apply to the Air Canada crash landing at Halifax this year, loaded full of people in flip flops and t-shirts all of the sudden in a foot of snow and frost bit. Being prepared even just a little goes a long way, like keeping your shoes on during critical phases of flight or at least having shoes and a small jacket.

Airline aircraft evacuation speeds have for years been required to be demonstrated within 90 seconds; a number birthed from the Air Canada Flight 797 accident in 1983 that pushed evacuation standards on the industry. Had the crew in this case been trained to evacuate within 90 seconds the event would have never been taken as serious, but within ninety seconds after the plane landed and the doors were opened, the heat of the fire and fresh oxygen from the open exit doors created flashover conditions, and the plane’s interior immediately became engulfed in flames, killing 23 passengers who had yet to evacuate the aircraft.

If you have been reading this and you’re a nervous flyer; I’m sorry if i have alarmed you. In all my flights I have never experienced anything and most people never will. But this is not an excuse to be completely unprepared and unaware. The British Airways fire in Las Vegas is a brilliant example of a perfectly prepared and executed engine fire procedure by the professional pilots and crew involved. Pilots have trained and prepared their entire career to make sure they do everything right, why not give them the courtesy of at least keeping your shoes on and being prepared even just a little bit.

So being a little prepared, aware and understanding boyscout could save your life.

The trip out of blue and learning to be accepting of the journey.

freeshrugs

I love to travel. But….

I get up at the crack of early morning before even a hint of daylight catching a 5:30 Westjet out to Edmonton. It was not the trip I had planned this week and it left me in a crunch to get back as not to disrupt other plans. The whole mess starts with an email that gets followed up with a phone call late afternoon and the dread sets in that I will need to get my plane ticket right away. Booking almost any last minute flight in Canada and the word cost effective goes out the window. So I booked my overpriced round-trip Westjet flight and got on that early morning flight.

Here I was about to become the traveler I dislike! The flyer that just does not want to hop on that aircraft and the destination that explodes no excitement or suspense. I was as I started this trip the traveler I don’t ever want to become. Grumpy and Unhappy. The mindset of the traveler is everything!

Had I been going to close a deal or off to accomplish something that was exciting I would have been pumped and ready to go.

Unable to sleep on the trip back, I ponder how much time has been wasted due to the issues with my client and how I could avoid trips like this in the future.

As I arrive back home and I wait for the aircraft doors to open, It seems like it was longer than the flight itself. I am not the kind of person who needs to get home, but today felt like it was a waste of time itself. There are lots of days that I don’t accomplish anything, but spending money on a day like today sucks, and honestly anyone who knows me knows I don’t like spending / wasting money.

Finally, I think I understand the reasoning behind the feelings most business travelers have.

Most of us don’t take the time to enjoy the journey we are on everyday. Some people are dead set on carrying on as normal never challenging themselves to take a second thought, lugging 3 bags for a 2 day trip and checking luggage every trip frustrated with damaged, lost or late luggage. Allowing airline personnel or a TSA officer to shape their own attitude for the remainder of their journey.

Most of the things that can happen every trip we really have no control over or when we do we blame others.

My secret most important skill set of a good business traveler is to shrug off the simple stuff and always find something to look forward to and enjoy on your trips. Something I failed to do in Edmonton, really quite easily corrected with a cab ride to the amazing Muttart Conservatory and a cup of coffee from the Elm cafe Downtown.
So many of us are eager to complain about our trip and how it has drained us, how often do we actually sit and enjoy the journey. A simple mindset change could allow you to actually be recharged with the journey and not worn out.
Lets all propagate more blissful feelings than negatives ones on our journeys ahead.

###The picture was taken on a really warm day at a folk music festival this year in Winnipeg, at the entrance gate there was a guy holding a sign “free hugs”. These ingenious girls just shrugged off the sweaty hug wielding man and felt everyone needed free shrugs! Sometimes in life bad moments happen that just need to be shrugged off to open up yourself to enjoy the time that is now.