Chase Reserve offering $100 Annual Fee credit

As a travel and spend has fallen dramatically in the past months, those with premium credit cards are having difficult getting enough value to help justify the fee. The Chase Reserve is one of the most popular travel credit cards and Chase has just announced that cardholders whose renewal dates fall between April 1, 2020 and July 1, 2020 are eligible for a $100 Annual Fee credit. Here’s the statement from Chase:

We recognize this is a difficult time for everyone. As a way to help, we’re providing you a one-time $100 statement credit toward the 2020 $550 annual fee on your Reserve credit card. On an upcoming billing statement (based on your renewal date), you’ll see a $550 charge for the annual fee, followed by a $100 statement credit. We will continue to bill the $550 annual fee in 2021. Because this credit only applies to open Reserve accounts, if you’ve closed your Reserve account or traded to another credit card before your renewal, you will not receive the $100 statement credit. We know COVID-19 has affected people in many different ways. Please check chase.com/StayConnected for updates and helpful ways to stay connected to your accounts.

I think this is a helpful offer and would encourage readers to take Chase up on this if they have a qualifying renewal date.

Alternatives for travelers putting off trips to Asia due to coronavirus

In my latest article for NerdWallet, I wrote about how I’m considering cancelling an upcoming trip that I have to Taipei due to concerns about the coronavirus. Right now, after discussing it with my doctor, I’m still planning to go to Taiwan (although I will keep monitoring the news and may change plans if the situation deteriorates).

That said, concerns for the coronavirus has travelers around the world re-thinking their Asia travel. While I do not think it makes sense to avoid Asia entirely, I wanted to compile a list of alternative destinations you could travel to if you were considering postponing your Asia trips.

Instead of Singapore, go to Dubai.

Both Singapore and Dubai share a passion of futuristic design, safety (at the cost of personal freedoms, but that’s for another post), skyscrapers, and cleanliness.

Dubai2

While Dubai is technically still in Asia, it’s much closer to Africa and even Europe than where the coronavirus outbreak is occurring, which is why I’ve included it on this list.

Instead of Ho Chi Minh City, go to Istanbul.

Looking for a bustling city on a river that is full of culture? Well, if you’re travel is going to take you away from Ho Chi Minh City, a good alternative would be Istanbul.

Istanbul2

Located on the Bosporus River and straddling Europe and Asia (but again, far enough away from the outbreak to make this list!), Istanbul is an affordable city with great food, wonderful people, and a rich history that makes the city worth discovering.

Instead of Koh Samui, go to Mallorca.

Thailand is one of my favorite places on the planet but, luckily, so is Mallorca. If you were planning on going to Koh Samui and are looking for crystal-clear blue water, beaches galore, warm weather, and a fun experience for either solo travelers or families, you should consider going to Mallorca instead.

Mallorca

I’d recommend getting out outside of Palma and traveling to the beach downs of either Port de Sóller or Port de Pollença.

Instead of Beijing, go to Mexico City.

If you’re looking for a sprawling metropolis with impressive man-man architecture just outside the city, you may want to consider swapping Beijing for Mexico City.

Mexico City

Mexico City is home to just about 9 million residents and just outside of the city you can find Teotihuacán, a complex of temples is known for its two massive pyramids, Pirámide del Sol (Pyramid of the Sun) and Pirámide de la Luna (Pyramid of the Moon)

Instead of Hong Kong, go to Rio.

There is perhaps no skyline in the world as beautiful as Hong Kong… except, maybe, Rio. I’ll just post the picture below and you’ll be able to see why Rio may be a good alternative to those looking to enjoy the city lights of Hong Kong.

Rio

At the end of the day, I’d recommend speaking with your doctor before rescheduling any travel to Asia. That said, for those who have already decide to cancel a trip or are too hesitant to book one, the cities listed above provide great alternatives for your Asia travel.

Alaska Airlines joining oneworld alliance

In breaking travel news, Alaska Airlines will be joining the oneworld alliance sometime in summer 2021.

This news is both huge and surprising, as Alaska has been cutting ties in recent years with former partner American Airlines. I’m sure the news is especially well-received among oneworld members, as they recently lost LATAM (which was a significant loss, since it was their only Latin American-based carrier).

My thoughts: I’m a bit uneasy about this change, as my fear is that the following will be (negatively) affected:

  • How you earn status on Alaska (currently, pretty easy and based on the actual miles you fly regardless of how much you spend on your tickets)
  • Redemption rates for Alaska partners (an example of a redemption rate that I don’t want to lose is that you can redeem 55,000 Alaska miles for business class to New Zealand or Australia on Qantas)
  • Alaska partners (currently Alaska has a hodgepodge of great airline partners and they may lose some, like Emirates and Singapore, by joining oneworld)

That said, as a San Francisco-based traveler, this makes the prospect of status on Alaska makes a lot more since it’s hubbed in SFO and I can fly American Airlines for my international trips with oneworld status.

What are your thoughts on Alaska joining oneworld? Let me know in the comments!

Only 5 cities in the world have more than 1 mega airport

With Beijing opening up a new airport last month, the city is taking steps to join a list of cities that have multiple airports handling 50 million or more airline seats in a year. Although it’s not uncommon for cities to have more than 1 airport, there are only 5 cities in the world that have 2 mega airports.

They are (listed in order of routes operated).

  • New York (JFK, EWR)
  • London (LHR, LGW)
  • Bangkok (BKK, DMK)
  • Shanghai (PVG, SHA)
  • Tokyo (HND, NRT)

I had actually entirely forgotten about Bangkok’s second airport, even though I’ve flown out of it before. Also, although initially I didn’t think it was fair to count Newark since it’s technically in another state, EWR is actually only half the distance away from NYC as compared to how far Narita is from downtown Tokyo.

There are a few cities that are close to joining this list, including:

  • Chicago (ORD, MDW)
  • Paris (CDG, ORY)
  • Istanbul (IST, SAW)
  • Seoul (ICN, GMP)

Generally speaking, larger airports tend to have the flagship routes and lounges, although secondary airports can be quieter and easier to navigate. I’d probably prefer the larger airports, although I’m excited to check out ORY for the first time in April

Phoenix Sky Harbor named best large U.S. airport for 2019

The Wall Street Journal just released it’s list of the best and worst U.S. airports for 2019, with Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport receiving the number 1 spot for large airports.

The Wall Street Journal used 15 metrics to determine the rankings, which included operations, dining options, and on-time departures and arrivals.

Rounding out the top 5 are Denver (DEN), Fort Lauderdale (FLL), Detroit (DTW), and Orlando (MCO).

The top 5 worst large U.S. airports, ranked in descending order, are Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Miami (MIA), Philadelphia (PHL), New York (JFK), and Newark (EWR). Adding insult to injury for NYC-based travelers, New York LaGuardia (LGA) was ranked as the worst mid-sized airport in the U.S.

What do you think of these rankings? Let me know in the comments!

 

My experience with Delta’s new facial recognition boarding process

When I was flying from Atlanta to the Cayman Islands last month, I was in for a surprise – there was a sign at the gate saying that I’d be boarding using Delta’s new biometric boarding process.

Prior to seeing the sign, I actually had no idea that this was even a thing (and, in fact, already had a boarding pass ready to go on my phone). Before boarding began, the gate agent made an announcement telling passengers how it would work – basically that instead of handing over a ticket to board, we’d need to stand in front of a machine that would scan our faces, recognize us, and print out our ticket.

I think the process actually took a little longer than actually handing over tickets, but it may have been because there were a few families in front of me with small children that the parents needed to lift off the ground so that they were high enough to have their faces scanned. When it was my turn to go, it took about 2-3 seconds for my face to be scanned and for the boarding pass to be issued, which was pretty cool.

As cool as it was to try out biometric boarding, it definitely made me uncomfortable that Delta had enough information that it could recognize my face without me ever consenting to it. That said, like most Americans, I’m usually ready to trade a bit of privacy for convenience.

Have you tried Delta’s biometric boarding yet? What were your thoughts?

Alaska Airlines is offering up to 30% off flights to Hawaii based on wave height

Not only do I love Hawaii and Alaska Airlines, but I love big waves.  When I was in Maui for whale season last year, there was a 40-60 foot swell at Jaws, the world-famous big wave surfing hot-spot, which I tried to get to (but had to miss because of wind conditions).

So, I was thrilled when I received notification of a really cool Alaska Airlines sale to Hawaii where they are discounting travel based on wave height. Here’s how it works:

The bigger the waves, the more you’ll save on flights to and from Lihue, Kona, Maui, and Honolulu for travel between November 4-20, 2019.

Discount amounts are determined by the predicted heights of upcoming swells from Surfline. How much will you save? If the maximum swell height is:

0 to 10ft = 10% off

11 to 15ft = 15% off

16 to 20ft = 20% off

21ft or more = 30% off

The deal ends on November 8th and you’ll need to use code SURFLINE15 to access the reduced fares (currently at 15% off based on 12.9 foot swells).