Richard Kerr: I've told the story so many times, I lost $900 from when the Plastic Merchant went under.
Ed Pizza: I'm going to give you two stories that you have to match them up to the airline.
Richard Kerr: IN these groups resale, they said hey, man, a lot of people are angry at you for that too. I was like, why?
Ed Pizza: The problem doesn't change. There's just a longer row of dominoes when one starts to fall.
Speaker 1: You're listening to the Miles To Go Podcast, the go-to source for travel tips, news and reviews you can't afford to miss. Now here's your host, travel expert, Ed Pizza.
Ed Pizza: Hey guys, welcome back to the mile to go podcast. Richard and I both have what I would call pretty big RV news, but we're going to hold off on that for just a bit, aren't we?
Richard Kerr: What's my big news? I don't...
Ed Pizza: I'll tell you.
Richard Kerr: I'm home here. You tell me when you tell everybody else.
Ed Pizza: I'll tell you just a minute. But anyway, we had a bunch of stuff to cover today. So we had a little bit of a Twitter discussion going on on a bunch of these American Express Card shut downs so we're definitely to talk about that. We've got this big Southwest meltdown. We got Spirit Airlines pretending they're not Spirit Airlines, which I'm still a little bit baffled by, but a bunch of good stuff to get to. But before we get through that, a quick reminder for you guys to shoot us any questions you have, we'll answer them on a future show. You can email us, firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can text us or leave a voicemail at 5-7-1-2-9-3-6-6-5-9. Lastly, you can always hit us up on social media, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I am @pizzainmotion and he is @ K-E-R-R points. And lastly, another review come in from a Scotty Mon, thanks very much for the five star rating review. He says nice things about you, Richard. I know that's a little hard to believe.
Richard Kerr: I like how you save these until we're on air, because otherwise, I'll never hear anybody say anything nice about me.
Ed Pizza: Well, you know, I want to brighten your day.
Richard Kerr: Boost my spirits. Go ahead.
Ed Pizza: Scotty Mon says I am an experienced travel hacker and I think this is the best of the travel hacking podcasts. Good information, concise and timely. I don't know that we're concise. I feel like we're a little diarrhea of the mouth, but I'll go with it. Always enjoy when Richard Kerr is the guest, keep them coming. Well, we're going to try to keep Mr. Kerr on, but let's tease folks on the RV stuff a little bit longer because I want to, I want to digest some of the Amex shutdown stuff. So just to reset it, there was a bunch of stuff mixed in here, but the newest thing that we've learned with the round of American Express shutdowns is there seems to be two separate groups of people here. One are people who may have taken advantage of multiple offers with no lifetime bonus language in them, something that Amex has proven the past they're pretty not okay with. And then the thing bubbled up with some random American Express employee named Adam, who apparently-
Richard Kerr: The infamous Adam, now. Yes.
Ed Pizza: The infamous Adam, who apparently gave a whole bunch of people are really great offer for a card, I think it was the Amex Platinum Card. And anybody who's been associated with this guy who's part of the points of miles community is now shut out in the cold. Not just they don't have their Amex Platinum Card anymore, they lost all of their Amex cards.
Richard Kerr: And now, as of 24 hours ago from recording this, some people unable to transfer their earned points. I think you and I might be on two separate pages on one part of this, but I made a tweet the other day that got a lot of people really butt hurt because I took a different interpretation. So I tweeted the other day. I said, "Hey, really surprised that Amex is shutting down people who got 10 cards a month. I'm not surprised." And some people, many people apparently, talked about this behind the scenes and then a few of my trusted confidants who were in these 25 private stock crosstalk-
Ed Pizza: Trusted confidants.
Richard Kerr: In these groups resale, and they said, "Hey man, a lot of people are angry at you for that tweet." And I was like, why? And they're like, "because you said everybody that got shut down today got what they deserve." And that's not what I said. I said if you got 10 cards a month through these no language lifetime offers and expand your membership and you guys shut down, then I'm not surprised at all. The people who applied once through Adam, even up to two years ago in 2019, I'm a member of some of these closed groups where Adam's information was passed around, there were people doing completely legitimate 150,000 point business platinum offers who did on their account no other shady things. And some of these people I know really well and they're not manufacturers, spenders or anything, but they applied through Adam up to two years ago, lost all of their accounts.
So the people who applied once, if they legitimately did no other shenanigans but just because they applied through Adam because his information was shared and Adam proactively offered them an increased sign up bonus, I think that's a little crappy. I don't think those people deserve to get shut down. The people who continue to do multiple no languages lifetime offers, add 99 authorized users on their Business Platinum Card to get the bonus points per spend, for the obvious shenanigans, you got what you deserved. I have no sympathy for you. I don't care that they were, quote unquote, targeted for you. I don't care that they kept showing up in your account. You know that that's not going to end up well for you. We've seen other banks do this with the American Airlines shutdowns. These companies don't have the ability to adequately target it, and with the rise of the Amex RAT, the rewards audit team or rewards abuse team, you know that's not going to work out well for you.
So I got an overarching comment to make after that, but I want to hear your take on the Adam shut downs versus the people who are crushing these, get as many cards, as many no lifetime language offers as I can.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. And I would just say that I don't think I disagree with anything that you said. I would clarify something about the Adam signups because this came up, I was having a discussion with another travel blogger and part of the discussion, there were lots of pieces of it and I want to get to some of it. And some of it gets a little bit nerdy but parts of it were that they were signing up for, and I forget the exact wording, but something along the lines of it was only their second Business Platinum Card. And I was like, okay, my sympathy just ended. So I would just say that I'd want to understand more about the folks who signed up through Adam in that we know that Amex has been ramping up their vigilance on this sort of stuff, and we know that they cut with a very broad knife. They are not surgical when they do this. It's more like a sledgehammer or a meat cleaver.
Richard Kerr: Just like they're not surgical and sending out offers, they're not surgical in shutting down.
Ed Pizza: Correct, yeah. And so just to be clear, I'm not saying that I'm right and anybody else is wrong. I'm saying my personal comfort level, given Amex's inconsistency in how they've applied some of this stuff, I'm not going to apply for a second version of a card that has a bonus that I've already received, because I've had a relationship with Amex for over 20 years, I need those cards to run my businesses and I don't want to get my stuff shut down. Could I in theory get one? I probably could but it's not worth the risk and so I make that risk assessment for myself. So I think what I'd say is where I'm guessing you would say we disagree is that I think the Adam people are at fault as well. And I would say, show me the specific examples of the Adam people.
If it's somebody who has never applied for that card before, it was their first time applying and they'd done nothing else wrong, you and I are in 100% agreement. If they're even a couple of inches past that, we're not because Amex does things like this and they've done things like this repeatedly for years. And we look up when they do it and go, "Wow, they've never done that before. I never thought they'd do that." And then they do something a little bit more aggressive, so you see the pattern. It's like, well, okay, so they haven't done this exact thing before but they've done a lot of really similar things, so why tempt fate?
Richard Kerr: There's kind of two subsections of folks here. There's the heavy hitters that do this that are in the real deep underground of the points and miles community, to some of them that do this for a living. Like lately, before the Schwab 1.25% cash out went away, they hit this as hard as they could and got as many Amex points as they could to make money. Those people understand the risk and that eventually, the gravy train is going to come to an end. The problem is that all the people who know these heavy hitters and are in some of the same circles, close Facebook groups, Slack, Discords, whatever, kind of see these people hitting the gravy train and they decide, oh, I'll dip my toes in too, without fully recognizing that it's a bad idea, and then they become collateral damage.
That's probably where the fault would lie I guess with these people. I still don't think it's the right thing to do if people literally had never had a business platinum before and applied through Adam, or if they had a second business, a second legitimate business that needed a second Business Platinum Card, either for their spouse had a business or something, they applied through Adam and got shut down, I think that's really crappy of Amex. But if you're even in the gray a little bit with Amex or Chase for that matter, it's not going to end up well.
My bigger overarching problem with this, and it's not putting blame on the people at Adam. There are people in our community whose mindset is I'm going to murder every deal as hard as I can until something bad happens, and then I'm going to encourage everybody else to go and do this. Or I'm going to hit this super hard and I'm going to routinely talk about it and broadcast it and advertise it without adequately disclaiming, hey, if you do this, there's a reasonable chance that something's going to go wrong.
Ed Pizza: Yeah, there's some risk here, yeah.
Richard Kerr: Our community does not learn. The Plastic Merchant, gone. People losing thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars with the gift card reseller. Buying groups going south, people losing out on money, people doing these ridiculous behaviors of getting 99 authorized users, talking about it in these groups, getting people who probably should not be doing this stuff excited and thinking that it's going to go okay, without adequately disclaiming, "Hey, if you do this stuff that we do, you need to recognize the risk here and that you're probably going to lose your relationship sooner or later with these banks." And it just keeps happening over and over and over. And I've done things in the past, I've towed to that gray line, I've always been aware of it, but it became apparent to me years ago, maybe three, four, the days of just going Willy nilly are done.
And so I still have my American account because I didn't crush 30 Citi AA cards. I didn't apply through Adam when I first saw what was going around because I was like, I don't know, there's some wild conspiracy theories now about Adam was intentionally placed in the community to find the people doing this, and it is a bit more surgical in this way that they're shutting people down. I don't know, I just know when my Spidey sense goes off when this stuff starts making the rounds in some of these groups, that I'm like, nope, I want to be earning Amex points years from now. So to the people that got shut down literally by applying for their first business platinum through Adam, I'm sorry and I think that's wrong of Amex. To people that got 40 no limit lifetime offers, expand your membership, 99 authorized users, told everybody else to do it too and got shut down, I got a problem with that and I have zero sympathy for you.
Ed Pizza: Yeah, and again, I still don't think that... Look, certainly there's a lot more use of words like right and wrong for the folks that have 99 authorized users and were signing up for 10 of these a month. For folks maybe that like you commented on like the second business platinum, stuff like that, there are absolutely use cases for that. There are people that have legitimate second businesses, I'm one of them to be clear. I actually went about applying for an Amex card recently and I was very deliberate in the conversations I had with Amex and what I was going to use it for and what card it was replacing and all...
Ed Pizza: ... with Amex and what are we going to use it for and what card it was replacing and all that sort of stuff, because I know how squirrely they can get. So for somebody who has two legitimate businesses and got the second one and happened to get it through Adam, yeah, I mean I do feel bad for that person. And you're right. The people in the community who don't disclose the risk more clearly have some culpability there. For anybody else who didn't think they were... The comment that I heard come up a couple of times was like, "I'm not doing anything nearly as bad as anybody else did." It's like, "Okay, well..."
Richard Kerr: Amex didn't see it that way.
Ed Pizza: That doesn't count. I think the thing that people need to remember here... I mean, and I understand I'm among the minority here when I say this, but just be honest with yourself for a second. I mean, you're not a great customer for a lot of the banks that you do business with right now. Meaning you, Mr. Kerr, and me too. We maximize every redemption we can. We never take the breakage redemptions. We never take the crappy redemptions. We're always maximizing how much we can cash out for. We typically try to focus the majority of our spending in bonus categories that are more costly to the banks. You're the guy and I'm the guy. Well, maybe not me as much as you, but we're going to the Centurion Lounges 5, 10, 15, 20 times a year. We are using way more resources than most of the other customers. We're already not great customers for these banks.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. I would agree with that. I think even not doing some of the things I would have done in years past for the last four years now. Sometimes I am surprised that I haven't run into more speed bumps in the way, but I have chilled out on all that stuff because every time I see these reports it's like, yeah, it's not going to end well.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. I think if you look at it... I was having a discussion with another mutual friend of yours or mine. We were talking about their value and they were talking about how they thought they were a very valuable customer for Amex. And we started going through it and they were talking about the merchants that they frequent, and the vast majority of merchants that they frequent are also... This is getting really in the weeds and nerdy, but they're merchants that have really heavily negotiated deals with Amex. So they're not paying anywhere near 3%. That'd be like not even close. So Amex is likely upside down on them if all they're doing is hammering these merchants who get virtually no fee from Amex because of the size. Walmarts of the world, Targets, major food vendors, restaurant chains, stuff like that.
I think the other thing that we lose focus on is you look at like your total family of cards with Amex or Chase or whoever, and say if you're not putting some sort of 1X spending on these cards and you're always hitting just the categories on each of four or five different cards, I mean, yeah, of course, they're going to look down and go like, "This customer doesn't fit our typical profile." Especially for someone like Amex that really caters to people that just want to hold a card for prestige. They bank on making money off of people's vanity and stupidity.
Richard Kerr: I really think that is becoming an antiquated way of thinking. And Amex has kind of always in my mind been last on that, and they've really lost a lot of their appeal that way. But we're seeing now inaudible is now mainstream for better or for worse, has been for I'd argue three or four years when people started recognizing the names of bloggers and websites out there. So I think these kinds of shutdowns are going to become more routine, and it's given me pause. Once again, I have taken the lesson from this of as much as I would love to take my Delta Reserve Card and go to the grocery store and buy $25,000 in gift cards so that I could get bonus MQMS, I'm not going to do it because I'm not going to be an Amex member anymore if I do that. It's so tempting to do that, but I'm not going to.
Ed Pizza: And you might not get canceled, but you know you're taking that risk. I buy a lot of Amazon gift cards for our various businesses and I actually have a use for them. They fit really well for our restaurants just being able to buy stuff online quickly and get a box of pencils or stuff like that without having to leave the store. But I also make sure that on that card, it's my Chase Ink card. I put a lot of standard 1X spend on it, so that I'm a good customer for Chase so they don't look down and go, "Look, all this guy is doing is whacking us on this 5X category, putting nothing else on the card. Let's just cancel it."
Richard Kerr: Yeah. I've put the Delta platinum card, put it in my wallet and my wife's wallet has gotten all of the spend basically on this road trip that we just completed so that we could get those bonus MQMs. So that can be Delta gold and Amex Exec plaque next year. Again, just to get that free same day change. I know the past very well to hit the shortcut. I bend the rules every once in a while, but I'm pretty on my toes these days to make sure that I can maintain the optics of being a profitable customer. And look the folks listening to this who are a part of the shutdown, it sucks. I got you. I know it hurts. I know emotions are running high. I'm really sorry if some of you thought that I was telling everybody who got shut down you got what you deserved with my tweet. That's not what I meant at all. I mean the people hammering the offers.
If you applied through Adam once, that sucks. And I hope maybe there's some recourse there and there's some folks who are looking out, but I hope as a larger community, again, I've told this story so many times. I lost $900 when the plastic merchant went under. I was left holding. I got the check here on my desk. I keep it on my desk while we went under and still owes me $900 to this day. A month before that, I'd sold him twenty-five thousand dollars in Amex and Best Buy gift cards and luckily cashed that check when it was still good.
I was a couple of weeks from being ruined and probably losing my marriage. Try to tell that story. But that taught me a lesson. That taught me like, okay, this is not a game. I was weeks away from being ruined. This community, we have to be smarter than this, people. We have to be wiser. And then to the people that do this and understand the risk, that's fine. You understand it. You have a responsibility to let those on the edges of your circle, to those that read and listen to your content, adequate disclaimers of what this behavior is probably going to result in. I just want this community, all of us, to continue to learn and be better.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. I agree. And I think I'd echo everything you said. I think it really sucks for people who got shut down who were legitimately just trying to open an Amex account and get the best bonus category. And this wasn't their second or fifth or 50th card. I think that does suck. And I think for everybody else who wasn't affected by this but plays outside the rules, I think, hey, look this isn't about right or wrong. It's about just think about the risk you're taking. And is it worth losing all of your points? You might win in small claims court. I think people who lost their points after what maybe largely legitimate spending probably have a claim to their points and it might be worth it from a financial standpoint to take Amex to small claims court, but that's a lot of hassle.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. I was surprised. A good buddy of mine put in our group group chat yesterday that he tried five calls to transfer his points and it was a no go. And I was like, "Oh, well this is a new level of..." Usually you get the 30 days to transfer your points. See you later, thanks for being a customer, get out of here. But if they're not going to let people transfer points, now that's a different ball game.
Ed Pizza: And mark my words, you and I are going to be having this conversation, whether it's on the podcast or just in real life. Not that this podcast isn't real life, but we're absolutely going to be having this conversation two, three, six months down the road, a year down the road where people are going to be like up in arms and I can't believe this happened. And now Amex has this new thing that they're shutting people down for. At some point, you got to look at yourself and be like the pages and pages of Reddit threads and blog posts about all this stuff. At some point, you can't sit there and go, "I had no idea." One guy who was tweeting with me, it was back before it. He was like, "Well, they've never done this exact thing." I'm like, "I get it. But the 10,000 posts on Reddit didn't make you think they might do something new after they've done something new every three or four months for the past two years?" Things are going to keep rolling here.
Richard Kerr: All right. Enough of that. Sorry you lost your Amex points. Let's all learn. What are we talking about next?
Ed Pizza: Well, let's celebrate the good news. You might not view it as good news. I view it as good news. You have returned home after 42 days on the road.
Richard Kerr: Literally an hour ago. 42 days on the road. I got home from parking the RV in the storage lot an hour ago. Actually, funny story. My spidey sense went off this morning when I was driving home. Drove my last 375 miles home from my parents in Charleston today. And I was like, "You know what? I wonder if the storage unit thinks I left." Because I didn't ever give him a heads up. And I didn't know we were going to be gone this long, to be honest. I thought it'd be three weeks at most.
So I called the storage unit this morning and said, "Hey, just thinking. I left five weeks ago. Here's my unit." And they were like, "Oh yeah, we moved you out. You've been gone a while. So you don't have spot anymore." And I was like, "Oh, no. I'm coming home today. I can't leave it in my driveway, HOA and all that stuff." And he was like, "Well, you're in luck, man. Your space is the only one we have left. So I'll prorate the rest of the month for you and you can come on back." And I was like, "Oh my God, I'm so glad."
Ed Pizza: You don't even need to prorate me. Just give me that spot back.
Richard Kerr: Just keep me the spot because I'm not driving 45 minutes each way like you do to store my RV. So yeah, we got it back. I cleaned it all up yesterday at my parents' house. 42 days. I put the stats on Instagram just a minute ago. 42 days, eight states, 2,836 miles over 75 hours and 44 minutes of driving. No crashes, bumps, bruises, five and six year old are alive, no damage to the equipment. So that was the absolute best case scenario. It's good to be home. Finally get to see my bathroom remodel that I've paid for in June that I hadn't seen yet. That's a whole other story. But what an awesome trip, what a great time. We saw a lot of stuff. And looking forward to the next one, the next trip.
Ed Pizza: It's funny you mentioned your times because I went and looked. I wanted to get a sense of what mine were from our long trip. So the interesting thing was a lot of our pieces were similar. Well, I guess the other thing too the thing we weren't similar on was miles per gallon. And obviously I have a bigger, much less fuel efficient engine than you do, but for our long trip, we were less total days, but you were more efficient. We didn't want to go all the way to Maine. We were 71 hours driving for 2,200 miles. You were 600 more miles than me total and four more hours of driving. And we were gone... I don't have the exact number of days we were gone, but it was like high 20s. So you were gone almost another two weeks than us. And I did nine and a half miles per gallon to your 13 and a half.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. I love the truck. I love the rig we got. It's the perfect setup, no problems at all towing with the great hitch we have. I really like it. We just need a little bit more space, which I think is why you might be excited.
Ed Pizza: What a beautiful segue.
Richard Kerr: You like to eat that up.
Ed Pizza: Boy, you really teed that right up for me. We're super excited that our youngest son is what appears to be on the precipice of being able to get vaccinated. But Pfizer has submitted their information to the CDC. In true CDC form, they're going to wait a month to have a meeting about it while people are dying. And then we're hoping that they're going to approve a vaccine for five to 11 year olds. In which case, our entire family will be vaccinated and we can get back to traveling any which way we want. Now we're not going to be crazy about it. And Richard and I have talked a lot about international travel and how that's still a really big impediment, set aside the COVID risk and just you have all the risk of, did you take the right test and did you get stopped in the wrong place? And did they-
Ed Pizza: You have all the risk of, did you take the right test and did you get stopped in the wrong place and did they change the rules, and did you find somebody who was in a bad mood because they got yelled at by their spouse last night, all those things. They end you up in a two week quarantine or getting turned back around.
Any rate, so I asked my kids and there was no question that I would definitely had an ulterior motive, but I wanted to make this as even as possible for them. I said, here's three buckets for you. The first bucket is airline flights to cool places like Disney or Japan or Australia or whatever. That's bucket number one. Bucket number two is what we call Deep Creek, which is a lake, it's a couple hours from our house here in Virginia, up in the Western corner of Maryland, where we'll go and rent a house for a weekend or a week and spend some time on the lake or skiing or whatever, or just hanging out at the house and starting a fire. So that was vacation type number two. And vacation type number three was our RV trips.
And I said, "Go ahead and rank those for me." My son said he wanted to think about it a bit and so he thought about it overnight, but my daughter said, "I really love our big trips like Australia. That stuff was awesome. And I really love going to Deep Creek." And she never even mentioned RVs. And she didn't say she hated it
Richard Kerr: Here's the excitement in his voice already.
Ed Pizza: I know. The kid's getting giddy. And so we were driving to a pumpkin patch yesterday as a family to go pick up pumpkins, and, I said to my son, "Hey, have you thought about these choices?" And he's like, "Well, I think number one on my list is flying," because I thought he wanted to go to Disney, but he's obsessed with going to Japan because he wants to buy toys out of vending machines. He's convinced that every vending machine in every-
Richard Kerr: Good country, good reason. I approve.
Ed Pizza: Exactly right. He's convinced. And he says, " I really want to try the seafood," which I think was a throw in, but whatever, okay. So he really wants to do that, and he also really likes the thought of Deep Creek. And so they both ranked the RV last, and I'm real tentatively like, "Well guys, what do you think about?"
Richard Kerr: Ed sees the light at the end of the tunnel,
Ed Pizza: Please, dear God, Jeremiah drop in a drum roll right here. I am trying to sell my RV to Richard.
Richard Kerr: Yep. Yeah. crosstalk.
Ed Pizza: I haven't been this happy in a long time.
Richard Kerr: So yesterday, in North Charleston, there's a Camping World, which by the way, don't buy an RV from Camping World, but if you want to go look at a ton of different floor plans, you should go do it, it's a good place to go do it. My wife had never been before, we had to go get a replacement part because I went to dump my black valve Friday night after camping with my siblings. We had nine people in the RV, Ed, Friday night. We had nine people spend the night at the county park and it was as absolutely awesome. But the next morning, put my hand down there to show my brother, hey, this is how you dump the black tank and the gray tank, and I inaudible I put my hand where the handle is, I flapped my hand around. I looked down and there's no handle, the valve handle was just gone.
Ed Pizza: How did it happen? I don't understand how this happened.
Richard Kerr: Apparently they do, they back themselves off from the vibration on the road. They back all the way off the stem, and then once they're backed all the way off and unscrewed, the poof, down, gone somewhere down the road. So we went to Camping World, my wife was excited to finally go check out this place that has a ton of RV stuff, and she legitimately enjoyed the trip. She wasn't with us the whole time, she was with us over 25 nights, so a really decent amount on the RV. And while she enjoyed the travel and the trip and homeschooling the kids and showing the kids that a classroom isn't just pencil and paper and a desk, her one problem was I just need more space, we don't have a fifth wheel, we got a travel trailer.
So we went and looked at all the different floor plans, a ton of them at Camping World yesterday, and without knowing that you had this Cougar Bunkhouse, the one she liked the most was like, I really like this. This is the best one that we've looked at, easily. And I was like, "Well, this is the exact same one Ed has." And she was like, "Well, just buy Ed's.' And she started texting you, but she was like, you have to ... And you're like, "Well, this is going to work out well."
Ed Pizza: Funny you should bring that up.
Richard Kerr: Bring that up because Ed's kids just said sell it. So ladies and gentlemen, Ed and I still have to come to an agreement on terms here. Actually, my only hesitation is I have to get a bigger truck and right now with the truck market, that's a problem. So we're going to have to see what it's going to cost up, and I really just like inaudible 13 and a half miles per gallon on almost 3000 mile trip is fantastic, with all the ways I can save on gas, it was great. Anyways, we'll have to discuss this more. Mr. Pizzarello.
Ed Pizza: Indeed. Although, I will say that that Richard did get a chuckle when I named our recording session Buy My RV, so.
Richard Kerr: It's like, I got an easy out, there it is. If you drove around, man, it'd be a done deal, since you drive that piece of junk forward, I don't know. I don't know if we can do it.
Ed Pizza: I had no idea. I knew these sorts of conversations existed, where people threw shade at each other for what type of pickup truck they drove. But I never in my life thought, I'd be a part of one.
Richard Kerr: I'm not getting rid of the RV, man. We had a great time, it was awesome all to go out west, loved putting the states up on the side of our map on the RV. I'm definitely going to be flying first-class, teaser with you later this week, it's going to be awesome. We got much more to come on that in the following weeks, but I'm not giving inaudible though.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. And I'm looking forward to our trip as well. Hopefully, we'll be podcasting on our trip. But I will say, there was one other piece of the plan that I neglected to mention.
I'm not ... As stated, pickup trucks are a little bit of a problem right now, but our current plan is not to get out of the camping life. Our current plan is to sell the RV to Richard and then to sell our new pickup truck and buy a used pickup truck, so we just have less cash tied up in a vehicle. And then use sites like RVshare, which I think are horrible for RV owners, but potentially really solid for RV wannabes. And there's also a local place that we rent from periodically. And just say, "Look, I'm going to have the right truck to rent," which was a big hurdle for us when we first started renting RVs in the pandemic started, and that'll be our second vehicle, will be a used pickup truck that doesn't get a whole lot of driving on it. And we'll do a few camping trips a year, but that doesn't make financial sense to own our own RV, especially because I'm still making my monthly payment on my RV, and I dropped it off at Camping World when you were here, which was almost a month ago now.
Richard Kerr: Oh man. Was it that long ago?
Ed Pizza: It was, it was mid September. It was almost a month ago. It was two days short of a month ago and I still don't have it back. So I have paid the last month, RV rental and parking space rental. RV loan, parking space rental, and gotten zero use out of it.
Richard Kerr: Yeah, that's why we say don't buy from Camping World, because you got to get service. It ain't going to happen. But it's a great place to go and window shop if you want to check out all different floor plans.
Ed Pizza: All right. So for people who hate RV talk, shifting gears for a second, I'm going to ask you Richard, and you know the answer already, but for people who don't, I'm going to give you two stories and you have to match them up to the airline. The first story is a complete and utter meltdown with thousands of flights canceled or delayed and people stuck everywhere around the country. And the other story is an airline who is proactively moving people to other airlines so they can get to where they're going and giving them meal vouchers when they have delays. The two airlines are Southwest Airlines and Spirit Airlines.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. It's quite a wingdinger wham-a-lama ding dong with the two airlines switching places this weekend.
Ed Pizza: It's crazy.
Richard Kerr: That will be Southwest stranding folks all over the country with up to a quarter of their daily flights canceled, and Spirit were actually booking people on other airlines, despite the fact they have no co-chair agreements and getting them to where they need to go is amazing, right?
Ed Pizza: It's crazy. And I think, I've said for a while that I didn't mind Spirit, with the exception of the fact that they didn't have wifi, which they're working on. I don't think they've rolled it out yet. I think it got delayed again during the pandemic.
Richard Kerr: Couple planes have it. crosstalk.
Ed Pizza: It's not widespread yet. So normally what I do with Spirit is, I'll fly Spirit on a route as long as I know there's a backup choice. So if United's got a flight, I know that they're going to charge me whatever last minute, which is also, in the past has been pretty close to whatever I'd pay seven or eight or nine days out, which is usually how far out I'm booking tickets, unfortunately. But if Spirit actually gave reaccommodation benefits to people.
Richard Kerr: Yeah, maybe they learned lesson this summer with their massive meltdown, that it seems Southwest ... but it's every, so to be fair, every airline this year so far has had a bit of a meltdown that is a result of the inability to recover, because they're scheduling too aggressive for the staff that they have. So that's what happened this last weekend on Friday with Southwest, there was a Navy exercise in Florida that put a lot of airspace under restrictions, storms came through and then the Jacksonville Air Traffic Control Center was on reduced staff, which is not an out of the ordinary thing to happened at the Air Traffic Control Center. But that meant that Friday, because of the scheduling and the staff that Southwest had, and the fact that they don't run the traditional hub and spoke, they do to a certain degree but there are a little bit more origins of destination. And they had the inability to recover and just resulting in a disastrous weekend.
There's a little bit side of politics in there, right? Where some made up story aid that pilots were on a walkout and air traffic controls was on a walkout because of vaccine mandates, which ended up being not true whatsoever. Great writeup over by Dave Slotnick on The Points Guy that tells you the full story. And to be fair, he has been out in front all weekend on Twitter saying this has nothing to do with vaccine mandates, this is Southwest over-scheduling the staff it has and the inability to recover.
So I mean, where do you go from here? My sister's flying Southwest today and all weekend she's asking me, I was with her in Charleston and she's like, "I can't miss school. Do I got to fly home a day early now? Do I book United backup flight for a gazillion dollars, which I can't afford as a school teacher? I have to be in Houston Tuesday morning for school. What do I do?" And it sucks to be underneath that stress the whole time. And there were points and miles group out in Albuquerque for a balloon festival, several of them stuck, and Southwest on Saturday was like, "We can get you home on Tuesday," and it's already a holiday weekend, so there's barely any stretch capacity anywhere else, either. What a mess.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. And I mean, there's routes that they're the only airline that operates, and I think that's where you get into some really sticky situations. There's two, one that I think is just painful from afar and the other that's hurting me as a business person, and that's the route between Las Vegas and Reno, where Southwest is the only one that serves that route on a consistent basis. JSX, JetSuiteX does have a very small amount of service between the two airports and it's not horrible, but they do have a small amount of service, they're subject to some limitations in terms of temperatures taking off and ground weights and stuff like that, so.
But Southwest is the only one that flies this route, so there were a bunch of people who had Southwest tickets to come to Vegas this weekend to see the Raiders play from Reno, Tahoe and all the area people were well off up there. And the flight wouldn't take off because there was no plane or there was no crew or whatever. And so these people had to scramble to try and scalp their tickets last minute, so they could at least get something back, because it's a seven hour drive and they weren't going to make the game. And then the flip side, I have employees that fly back and forth between those two cities, and we need them to go up this week and I'm not sure if they can. And putting an employee in the car for 14 hours round trip, kind of kills productivity.
Richard Kerr: And morale.
Ed Pizza: Over 14 hours round trip kind of kills productivity.
Richard Kerr: And morale and all that stuff.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. Yeah. Crushes your soul as Richard would say.
Richard Kerr: Yeah, it does. It leads me to think about just a month from now when Thanksgiving's around the corner and then Christmas and holidays after that, how robust is the schedule and the tickets already sold for that for Southwest or for anybody really, versus the crew that's going to be available. And is it like, what should people do now? What actionable information can we do?
I would say if you're booked on a Spirit or Southwest, or even an American out of a hub at this point for the holidays, I would go ahead and book a refundable backup ticket, if getting to where you want to go is that important, because I don't know what it's going to look like the week of Thanksgiving when this happens. I don't see pretty things happening over the holidays.
Ed Pizza: No. And you say that like everybody's going to be maxed out. So your ability to buy that backup ticket, the closer you get to your departure dates is going to shrink considerably.
I think it's... Not to keep drawing parallels between my business life, but we had some ongoing discussions with some folks who were part of the franchise system, or a part of, and there was this push for us to do more in terms of opening up dining rooms and expanding our hours and try to get back to more normalcy. And I said at the time like, "Hey, I don't want to jerk our customers around. I don't want this to be like a bungee cord. I want to slowly and gradually get back to normal. We're going to slow roll expanding our hours and opening our dining rooms. And so if things get wonky, we won't have to just roll everything back again and continue to confuse the customer."
It feels like that's where these airlines are stuck. Southwest is just the current one where there's still plenty of stuff going on with the pandemic, with all other sorts of craziness. You don't need a mass sick out. You need 1% more people calling out today than in the past for you to have this sort of ripple effect in your business.
They've made these decisions to really max out their flying. Again, they lost tons of money last year, so I understand the desire to try and get every penny they can right now. But it's a recipe for utter disaster.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. They also did okay with three taxpayer-funded bailouts. So, everybody is still getting paid over there. My bigger problem, I guess, with Southwest is telling people on Saturday and Sunday, that the problem was the air traffic control delays in Florida on Friday is still causing this, which just isn't true.
Even the FAA came out on Twitter and said, "We don't have any problems. No other airlines are being affected by this. It's not our fault. So stop doing that."
You know, which the real actionable point to there is some insurance, some travel protections don't kick in if it's weather related, if it's not delayed; or Southwest itself won't take care of you if they can claim it's weather or air traffic control out their control, which is just not true at Southwest. So let's do a better job of being transparent going forward and stop this narrative that it was air traffic control and weather that was only affecting your airline and nobody else.
Ed Pizza: So let's close real quickly with our last story, which really dovetails well into the Southwest discussion where one of our fellow travel bloggers has the quote from Scott Kirby, the CEO of United Airlines, saying that he believes that next summer will be the busiest transatlantic summer ever for airfare.
You think about what's happening now. And you say, "They're going to continue to ramp up capacity as demand ramps up." The problem doesn't change. There's just a longer row of dominoes when one starts to fall.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. I mean, his job is to be optimistic and get shareholders excited and try and control that stock price. No CEO's going to come out and say, "Next year's going to be awful." You just don't know. So we saw these comments from CEO after CEO, even going back a year that, "Hey, we see this recovery will look like this. Here's a chart at some presentation that I'm giving. We're bullish about this recovery." "Oh, the vaccine is here, so now here are our projections for this massive thing."
It's just like, "Nah, okay Scott. I'm not buying it, man. I appreciate what you got to do here, but pent up demand, sure. Business travel, no." And what lies ahead over the next six months before we get to next summer, that derails the whole thing again. So I just don't put much stock in these kinds of statements right now.
Ed Pizza: All right. Well, there you have it. And as a quickie last update in lieu of Richard's favorite part of the show, the final two pennies.
Richard Kerr: Which I listen to every week on my long drives, but now my drives are over at least for the next few weeks. So I got to figure out another time for this.
Ed Pizza: Since you are home, I'm going to give you the final two pennies ahead of time. You don't even have to wait for it.
Richard Kerr: Ooh.
Ed Pizza: How about that? So the final two pennies right now is something that you guys need to do right now. When I say right now, I mean like really soon. Yeah. As things have smoothed out with the pandemic, Hyatt has kicked the can down the road a handful of times on instituting peak and off-peak award pricing. This time it really feels like they're actually going to implement it now. Things have started to smooth out, bookings are moving up, all that stuff.
They originally messaged this as in mid-October, they will implement peak and off-peak award pricing for all properties, starting with stays in March of 2022. So what that means is if you want to book spring break, summer trips, Thanksgiving, or Christmas for next year, with Christmas being just on the outside edge right now, because most of them open their books 13 months ahead of the time, you need to book them now because we don't have a firm date on this. I'm hoping we'll have a firmer date really soon.
But I was putting some math together for a story that I'm writing for TPG. And when I started looking at some of these properties, it's an extra 5,000 points per night on a category seven property. So if you were going to stay at a category seven property for five days, that's 25,000 points if you booked two or three weeks from now, instead of booking today.
Since almost all of these bookings are fully refundable up until a few days before you arrive, now is the time to pick out your favorite Hyatt properties, make some speculative bookings that you think you're going to use for next year before peak pricing goes into play. Because I can guarantee you that all the best properties are going to have a pretty decent chunk of peak pricing. You would agree, Mr. Kerr?
Richard Kerr: Yep, for sure. That's a great point. I actually need to go and do this myself. So everybody get out there and book those Hyatts. Remember, currency is a bad long-term investment, loyalty currency. So use it now. Earn and burn, baby.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. And I'm slightly less earn and burn than Mr. Kerr, but I'm also lucky to have the business spend to keep churning out points.
Richard Kerr: Oh, you fancy. Fancy Ed.
Ed Pizza: That's right. That's why I'm trying to sell you my RV. But anyway guys, don't mess around. If you've got some Hyatt points in your account and you're thinking about booking a stay, you can save thousands of points if you just book it now. And if you have to cancel in a few weeks because plans change or even in a few months if plans change, you'll get all those points back.
We are holding off just a bit talking about the Hyatt Business credit card. We are chasing an exec from Hyatt to come on next week to talk about it in a little bit more detail. And then after that, I anticipate that Mr. Kerr and I will have a handful of opinions, don't you think?
Richard Kerr: I think so.
Ed Pizza: We're pretty good at this opinion stuff.
Richard Kerr: Great thing about America is everybody's entitled to your wrong opinion.
Ed Pizza: Right.
Richard Kerr: Come on now.
Ed Pizza: Right. All right. So last question, Mr. Kerr, before I kick you out.
As we were record this before game four and a potential game five of the Braves versus the Brewers, the next time we record, will the Braves still be playing baseball this year?
Richard Kerr: Yes, they absolutely will. The Brewers had three starters we've gone through, and they've got a bullpen game tomorrow. They used up a lot of their bullpen today during the Bravos great win. Braves taking it and going to the NLCS, baby. Final call.
Ed Pizza: There you have it folks. It is recorded for posterity. By the time this episode comes out, game four will have already happened. So we will have a lot more information about whether or not Mr. Kerr is correct.
Richard Kerr: Kerrect. K-E-R-R-E-C-T.
Ed Pizza: I walked right into that.
Richard Kerr: I'm out of here.
Ed Pizza: Baseball bat right in between the eyeballs. Right. All right. Well, tell folks where they can find you since you're running away.
Richard Kerr: At Kerr Points and make sure to always check out all the great things we're doing at biltrewards.com.
Ed Pizza: I don't have one of those fancy extra websites. I only got one. So you can find me at Pizza in Motion, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You can also find me writing at pizzainmotion.com when I'm not busy doing a million other things. And you could text us your questions at (571) 293-6659.
Like Mr. Kerr said earlier, he and I are going to be on a plane together, traveling internationally. So we are either going to be in a two-week quarantine, reporting from quarantine, or we'll be back here to talk to you guys again next week.
Until we upload again, we've got miles to go.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.
If you enjoy the podcast, I hope you’ll take a moment to leave us a rating. That helps us grow our audience!
We have a new way for you to reach us with your questions. You can text us at (571) 293-6659. Listen for your question on a future show!
Hope you enjoy the show!