I don’t mind telling you I am feeling rusty and totally out of sorts. When you travel as much as I do — or at least used to travel as much as I do — so much in my travel life is simply automatic. All my travel “stuff” has it’s place in my travel bag (#ProTip – you need this stuff btw). All my bits that come with batteries are fully charged the night before travel and ready to go. I have all my “very” important cards (loyalty and credit cards) and all my digital cards a tap away in my phone. In other words:
I am a lean – mean – flying machine.
Well, sorta like that anyway and I think you get my drift. But by the time I get on a jet in May it will have been about one year and three months since I last was up in the air. This is still simply inconceivable to me (and yes that word means what I think it means – see The Princess Bride)!
But there seems to be light at the end of this almost endless COVID nightmare (as long as folks keep getting their JABs). I will have my two shots in a matter of weeks. I will be READY, like Chris, to fly! But the new norm will be different than the old norm for a while — and maybe forever, in some ways.
If you look at the top of the post you will see a few screen shots from my CLEARme app. I am a full member of CLEAR “free” thanks to my Delta Diamond Medallion status and have been for many many years and simply love it (I called it better than chocolate in 2016). I look forward to touchless security by having my eyes scanned at TSA checkpoints from now on. But I really like — no LOVE — the idea of CLEAR including my COVID vaccination info and being able to simply hold up a QR code to wave me past whatever “block” in my way to get wherever I want to go vs. having to provide my CDC vaccine card itself.
Simplicity post-COVID. Yes, please!
I have now started to update and remind myself of all the things I have neglected for a year. I loaded back into my phone my Priority Pass app and refreshed my memory that my Chase Sapphire Reserve card Priority Pass DOES include credit at select airport restaurants. The Amex Platinum Card Priority Pass no longer does. I have both available and wrote on the back of the cards to what card each one belongs to keep them straight.
I have a few beach days scheduled in the not-so-distant future to burn up a bunch of soon-to-expire hotel free night certs from credit cards (mostly Chase IHG certs). I will blog later where I went and what value I got but right now I am most pleased. I am mixing my flights but can tell you I am again reminded how much more Delta charges for award tickets than other airlines and it truly is disheartening.
What else has COVID travel pause reminded me of?
I have too many points and am not burning them. I have never been a fan of when blogs tell you a certain frequent flyer point is worth “whatever” per point. Valuations, when you get down to it, are very personal (unless it is cash back, clearly). With this upcoming trip I am, not just looking for value and perks, but on what points I can drain down and from now on keep in check.
Also, moving forward, I will really try to not just think that I would rather pay cash for something travel related because of all the points I will get for later use. Points that keep devaluing and sit and rot are of no use to me. We have really learned this lesson from massive two no-notice Delta partner devaluations during COVID no less. No point program is ever to be trusted again — and they do not ever “have our backs”.
Summer 2021 will be mostly at home for me.
I have to say I am thrilled to get back into the travel game at long last. I will be careful and this trip will be one of the few I am booking until Q4 i.e. this fall. I will be mostly home over the summer, enjoying time on my patio, and hope – MOST – in the US get vaccinated when they can. I also hope the rest of the world has access to vaccinations over the summer as well.
Are you gearing back up for travel, one day, like me? – René
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