Last weekend I teased you all with news on the way about the blog. Well that news is that my great friend Chris Carley, who writes “The Points Lounge” blog, is joining RenésPoints! We have both been Delta fans even before it was “cool” to be Delta fans! Anyway, let’s get to know Chris a bit with a fun back and forth.
First off, Chris welcome to RenésPoints! So tell us a little about yourself and when you first started blogging.
Thanks! I’m excited, honored and happy to be here!
I live in Los Angeles with my wife and daughter. I’ve worked various jobs in the entertainment industry for almost 20 years. I do voice-over work — audio books, commercials, corporate videos, etc (If you tune in to CRN Digital Talk Radio or listen to Los Angeles’ AM 870 The Answer, I’m the Heritage for the Blind guy). I’m a freelance photo editor and spend a lot of time traveling to concerts and award shows my client shoots. I co-produced two movies with William Shatner, worked as his assistant, was a talent agent’s assistant before being promoted to agent, and worked for a producer.
Before that, I studied aviation at the University of North Dakota. But it was so expensive — and I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to be a career pilot (a decision I’ve re-examined many, many times in the past several years!).
So, naturally, I decided to pursue the movie business.
I’ve always loved writing. My first experience blogging was writing for and editing a celebrity news website called Gossip Brigade. That was about six years ago. Since then, I’ve contributed to a few blogs and websites (including this one!). I launched PointsLounge.com a couple of years ago, which was sort of my foray into regular travel blogging. I had several ghostwriting jobs in the last couple of years, which is why I haven’t blogged in a bit — but I’m ready to get back on board! I have a bunch of unpublished posts that might find their way onto RenésPoints!
So you are a Delta fan? Do you always fly Delta or? What about status?
I am a Delta fan! Like you, I don’t hesitate to call them out when they devalue SkyMiles, pull upgrade shenanigans, or do other things that annoy most of us. That being said, those instances are pretty far and between. Delta has a great product and fantastic people. I love flying them.
A lot of my family and my wife’s family live in Delta hubs, cities served by Delta, or smaller destinations where Delta reigns supreme.
One of my clients uses their own travel resources to book flights. Unsurprisingly, Delta usually isn’t the cheapest option available. So I spend time on other carriers — mostly Southwest — with the usual suspects (American, United, Alaska, and JetBlue) thrown in for good measure. I recently flew Sun Country for the first time — that’ll be the subject of an upcoming post.
I dropped down from Diamond last year to Platinum this year for a couple of reasons. The first is that the client for whom I do the most traveling has me on Delta less and less and Southwest more and more. The second is, I had enough MQMs for another year of Diamond and could’ve tried to get the $250,000 Amex spend waived — but instead transferred my Delta Amex Reserve card MQMs to my wife, so she could hit Platinum. We have a new little traveler in our family, so two statuses make upgrades easier.
OK great. So I understand you recently became a dad – congrats – so you will be helping readers with family travel?
Thanks! My daughter turned two last week — which means she’s a paid passenger in the airlines’ eyes! The BOGOF certs that come with the Amex Delta Platinum and Reserve cards have already saved us money with a couple of upcoming trips.
I look forward to sharing family travel tips — as well as learning some from the awesome RenésPoints readers — and sharing experiences.
Next, what is your favorite trip and was it on points?
My wife and I spent a week in Belgium and the Netherlands, visiting Christmas markets. We love the movie In Bruges and always wanted to visit the film’s namesake city. It’s such a beautiful, romantic, and historical destination. We transferred Amex Membership Rewards points to SkyMiles and flew Air France business class over to Europe and KLM business on the return. This was back in the days when business class could be easily-ish found for 125,000 SkyMiles roundtrip. Those were the days, right?
A trip for which we paid retail — because we hadn’t yet discovered this wonderful world of points and miles — was our honeymoon cruise around Tahiti aboard the Paul Gauguin. We highly recommend it!
About points cards (since we are all about points after all). What are your favorites and why?
Whichever one I’m using to meet a minimum spend! 🙂
I love my Amex cards! I love the Amex Business Platinum Card because of the 35% points rebate, which we’ve used enough to cover the annual fee, even post-hike. Not to mention, those redemptions are considered cash fares, so we earn SkyPennies on top of the rebate. Even though I’m an Apple/Mac guy, the Dell credit still comes in handy for supplies and other items.
I’ve really come to enjoy the non-Delta Amex Gold card. I like the category bonuses, GrubHub credit, and airline credit which can be used for a variety of expenses.
Even though its annual free night benefit was devalued, I still like my IHG Rewards Club MasterCard, simply for that perk.
I’m still not under 5/24 — and haven’t been for a long time — so I don’t have a Sapphire Reserve card. My family and friends who hold the CSR really love it.
Do you think it is still worth it to chase status with Delta or?
Yes. Sure, business class upgrades are fewer and farther between. C+ seats — with the exception of some bulkhead and other locations — are “meh,” at best (although I’m never one to turn down a free cocktail!).
It’s no secret airlines value their status holders’ business over the average “free agent’s.” Holding status is valuable when something goes awry (weather, mechanical delays, etc): exceptions are frequently made, fees often waived, and seats “magically” found on sold out flights. I experienced and benefited from this first hand a couple of months ago when it took me three days to depart Fargo, North Dakota, because of weather and full flights. So holding status is more than just upgrades.
Have you ever been on a mileage run? Keeping the above in mind would you take another one?
Several and yes! I prefer the “mini-vacation” style of mileage run, where I spend a night in a city. Just this week, my wife, Randee, and I flew SJC-SEA-KOA-SEA-LAX. We recently completed a LAX-HND-LAX run with an overnight in Tokyo and used GUs to fly Delta One roundtrip! Our first foray into mileage running was a LAX-SLC-SEA-PEK-SEA-SLC-LAX trip that involved two nights in Beijing. I also love the “true” mileage runs — trips during which one never leaves an airport. I can talk forever about mileage runs — just ask my family and friends, they’ll tell you! 🙂
Good times! Well I am thrilled you have joined the blog and can’t wait to read your stuff and travel tips.
Thanks René. Great to be onboard.
I am thrilled to have Chris joining RenésPoints and I really think you will enjoy what Chris will bring to the blog. In fact, due to necessary family matters, you will see a number of posts from Chris during May. Please take the time to welcome Chris and to follow him on Twitter and on Instagram while you are at it! – René