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 Miles to Go podcast. You know, I'm continuing to see a lot of people traveling when I open up my Instagram and Facebook feeds. That, it's super cool to see. But you should know what's going on out there. Airports and airplanes are insanely packed. During my Vegas business trips, yeah it's been uncomfortably crowded in most places. Even if there wasn't a pandemic, it would be uncomfortably crowded. This past week, I've been hiding up in the mountains in Deep Creek, Maryland, which is a lot less crowded. Back from his questionable decision to visit Disney in the summertime, I am joined by Richard Kerr.
Richard Kerr: I didn't know Maryland had mountains. You learn something every day you're on Miles to Go. That's impressive, man.
Ed Pizza: We were right on the West Virginian border.
Richard Kerr: I know even less about West Virginia.
Ed Pizza: Fair enough, fair enough. So I know we're going to dig into how Disney was from a crowds standpoint, but just off the bat, any regrets on the temperature and humidity, in making a decision to go to Disney in July?
Richard Kerr: So we basically had three days, three full days, in the park. Day one it was warm, but I told my wife, I said, "Hey, I remember it being a lot worse than this in previous summers when we've been down here." Day two, it was warm. Day two, it was hot, it was sunny, we really didn't get any breaks. Then day three, thankfully we had pretty much continuous overcast skies and clouds and rainstorms, and it was not that bad. But in the morning on Monday, before, the storm started early, right? So you get those Orlando storms that pop up after a day of heat. I walked out of the RV at like 8:30 and I could not believe how hot it was. It was like, "I just want to go back inside." And in an hour, the storms had started, I think because of that cooking heat.
It would've been awful, and there were plenty of times on that second day where I looked at the poor people out in Hollywood Studios, standing in the lines where they had maybe an umbrella here and there, but just absolutely cooking, man. I had grand plans on the adult Disney trip, as I've called it, to drink plenty of adult beverages. But all I did was chug Gatorade and those little Pedialyte hydration packs, man, to try to make sure I didn't die.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. So we tried it once. I think probably the best way to summarize it was, my kids who are huge, huge Disney fans, anytime since then that we've brought up going to Disney in summertime they're like, "Yeah, no, thanks, we're good."
Richard Kerr: Lou, my wife, was like, "Yeah, you have fun, I'm out. It's too hot." And you know, two out of three days, not bad.
Ed Pizza: We did it for about a week. We took the Auto Train down, we spent about a week there. It was, as you say, certainly the decision to drink adult beverages is a bold one in temperatures like that. Because as you said, all you can do is just hydrate. Just the heat is oppressive. And yet, the crowds are ...
Richard Kerr: They are there.
Ed Pizza: In normal times, they are there. But tell folks what you experienced.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. So kind of to overview the trip, I had planned this for months and months ago, a group of friends, our buddy Summer, buddy Julian, Sparkle Mike, Mike Larosa, shout out to him down there in Orlando, and Summer's family had planned to meet up and have a lot of fun. I drove the RV down to Fort Wilderness because Disney hotels are expensive right now. I was pretty upset with what I paid just for a parking spot for my RV. We're all kind of seasoned pro's at this point with the whole Disney deal, and if we want to skip the lines, we basically can. But what we found, man, is because there's still no FastPass system, and because the crowds and capacities are up, it was packed.
There's really no way, unless you get there and do the rope drop kind of deal, and go in the morning, and get through as many rides as you can, after that, there's nothing you can do. You're going to be standing in line. I just couldn't believe, especially that second day, with how hot it was, watching people get in 110 minute, 120 minute, 80 minute lines. For the majority of it is out in the sun. I'm going to get a little granular here for those of you that are Disney folks. Rock 'n' Roller Coaster line, out in front of that building, where there is no umbrellas whatsoever.
Ed Pizza: Nope.
Richard Kerr: You will be standing in the sun on the concrete for over an hour. Mickey and Minnie Railway out there, they kind of got little umbrellas, but the line's so long that you're going to be directly in the sun. Toy Story World, people waiting 110 minutes for Slinky Dog Dash. It's just like, we kept walking by the lines and just wondering why these people were doing this. We didn't do it. We got there, at least me and Sparkle Mike got there early morning and busted through a whole bunch of stuff before that started. But I just could not believe how many people all three days, especially Magic Kingdom, where we were lucky enough to do a VIP tour and not wait in any lines.
But just looking at how long those lines, I have been as many times as you, but I've never seen the Splash Mountain line fold back on itself five times out there in front of the big drop. I've never seen the big Thunder Mountain Railroad line stretch back almost to the steamboat loading area, like way past. I'm just like, why are these people doing this?
Ed Pizza: So this is an interesting phenomenon in that the hotter it gets in the park, the longer the line is for Splash Mountain. And people don't actually realize, you could literally go into the bathroom and run your head under the faucet and get the same effect of Splash Mountain. But the line gets longer the hotter it gets. Which I just have never understood. I do need to clarify one thing. Because if you're going to come on the show and talk Disney and sound like you're educated, you've got to get your facts straight. It's Glitter Mike, not Sparkle Mike.
Richard Kerr: No, no, we talked about it. You weren't there. We talked about it. It's Sparkle Mike.
Ed Pizza: I coined the term, it is Glitter Mike. You don't get to rename him just because I wasn't there.
Richard Kerr: He's Disney Park Pride on Instagram, and I think Coworkaholic, maybe, on Twitter.
Ed Pizza: Yep.
Richard Kerr: But also runs an amazing service, if you want to surprise your loved ones with Disney stuff. Anyways, I'm just spoiled rotten, man. Because anytime I travel with you guys or go with Summer or Sparkle Mike, or Julian and his partner, they're all the top 1% Disney pro's that know everything. I literally just get to follow them around and do what they say, and somehow I never stand in lines. It's like I'm the most spoiled rotten, freeloading friend ever.
Ed Pizza: We had this conversation about Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway the last time we were down. If you think about Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, near the end of the movie, where he's jumping from stone to stone to keep from dying. That's sort of like the line for Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway, in that, like you said, there are a smattering of umbrellas. So you wait for the people in front of you to get past the umbrella before you move out of the umbrella you're under, to try and jump all the way to the next bit of shade for the almost hour that you're going to be outside just baking. As you said ...
Richard Kerr: People are paying to do that.
Ed Pizza: Yeah, yeah. And the concrete, oh man, the painted concrete just reflects the sun in a very special way.
Richard Kerr: You know, I know there's pent up demand, and we knew it was going to be a little bit crowded, Touring Plans kind of said crowd level five, which not that bad, relatively speaking. But if it gets above crowd level five, which it said for the days we were there, and the day we were in the Magic Kingdom doing the VIP thing, rolling from ride to ride to ride with no wait whatsoever, just fantastic. But 70 minutes for It's a Small World, are you kidding me? Ladies and gentlemen, my conclusion, we talked about this after our last day as a group, with no FastPass system, with the heat, the incredible crowding, and the rise of the Delta Variants, there are a lot of unvaccinated people, I'm sure.
All of us were vaccinated that were old enough on this trip. I'm sure there are a lot of people getting sick right now, based on those crowds at Disney. Because there are no more COVID precautions, except the obscure plexiglass shield up in the line that does absolutely nothing anyways. Disney is not on my recommendation list for anybody, until they bring back a FastPass system, because you're just going to be standing in line, and there's nothing you can do about it.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. And Universal's not much better. I haven't been, but a number of people who have gone down, had trips. Universal has a different version of FastPass, it's called Express Passes. Unfortunately with those, they're not capacity controlled, per se. I'm sure there is some kind of upward capacity on how many they'll sell on a given day. But it's not like the Disney FastPass system, where you can only have three to start the day, and you can only get one additional one later in the day. So the Express lines at Universal are usually about half of whatever the regular line is. I'm typically looking in the app, I'm typically seeing waits of an hour or more on the popular rides, and two hours on the most poplar, like the new Jurassic World coaster, and Hagrid's Motorbike Adventure.
You guys sent a couple of pictures to me, one was from Glitter Mike. It was the entrance to Magic Kingdom, at like 9:00 at night. It was just wall to wall people.
Richard Kerr: Yeah, it's rowdy. It was rowdy. The couple times trying to get meals, no chance we have somewhere to sit. I think Summer had to wait over 45 minutes just for a mobile order to be picked up, ready. Yeah, I don't know folks. You know, it was lots of fun. And a lot of people, they're like, "Did you go to Disney without your kids?" And I'm like, "You're darn right I did." Because I'm with the top Disney experts in the US, we're doing a VIP tour, it's food and wine at Epcot, I've never done that before. So you know, we hit a couple rides in Epcot on the first day after doing Animal Kingdom. You're just chilling around walking with buddies and friends, trying different beer, try a different wine, try a different cocktail here, and hop around the land while chugging as much water as possible in between.
You know, adult Disney, when done right, with the experts, it was a lot of fun. Unless I was going to be able to repeat the experience that we did, which I couldn't do financially, I just am not recommending it to folks until they figure out how they're going to be able to avoid these lines.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. I think not to sound like we're panicked. But there are a lot of similarities in Vegas right now to Disney, in that it's just way overcrowded.
Richard Kerr: It's a value proposition for me.
Ed Pizza: Yeah.
Richard Kerr: Vegas or Disney, or anything park, is going to be expensive. It's going to be a financial investment. For me, there's an indirect correlation that's a straight line of crowdedness to my funness. If you're going to be making that kind of financial obligation to one of these trips, and it's just going to be walls of crowd and people, just it's not for me. So unless you're going to be doing the VIP tour with adult Disney, with the experts, that can get you in as many rides as possible, let's get in the line, yeah. You're just going to be sitting there cooking.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. Last time I was in Vegas, I wanted to try out a new restaurant that had opened. Not new in general, but just new for Vegas, Din Tai Fung, which is a dumpling place that I got turned on to a number of years ago when I was in Hong Kong. They're great soup dumplings. I was there for four days, and there was not a single reservation for four days. Some of the other popular restaurants booked up before people even get there for their long weekend. There's an exceptional level of planning based on the number of people going right now. I don't think, just like a lot of first time Disney folks show up, like what do you mean I had to book my meals three months ago?
I think there are a lot of people that are showing up to Vegas and assuming that they're going to be able to get into a club or a restaurant or whatever and finding out that there's just so many people there right now, that unless they planned ahead, they're not doing most of the popular things they wanted to do. And some of the most popular restaurants haven't reopened, not because of COVID, per se, but because of staffing, because there aren't enough employees. So that ends up pushing people, what I would say, call it further downstream. So the people that can't get into those restaurants are now going to the buffets or the food courts. So those are swamped.
I stayed at the new Resorts World casino last week, and it's beautiful. But they only have a few full service restaurants open. They have a really cool food court idea. There's 11 or 12 little stalls, almost like hawker stalls, if you will. They're all different Asian cuisine. There's a couple mixed in that really look completely out of sorts. Because you've got a great dumpling place. You've got Yakitori, you've got Noodle Bar, you've got sushi. Then you've got Texas barbecue. Then you've got a salad place, like an Italian salad place. But anyway, because the full service restaurants are essentially full, that food court was just cramped. I mean, not a single table anywhere, people standing up, eating on ledges, you name it. It's all fine, but everything takes longer because of how big the crowds are.
Richard Kerr: People have said the whole reservation thing about destinations that I would've never thought about. People have gone on national park trips, they've gone to Alaska. Listening to podcasts, and talking to folks and everything, it's like, wherever you're going right now domestically, you probably need to look at reservations in places where you wouldn't think. There was this thing I actually just heard Joe Chung talk about his trip up to Maine. He was like, "Thankfully, the family that we travel with made reservations for four out of five nights, because the one night we didn't have one," he waited an hour and a half to get a pizza. It's just like, I would have never thought, I'm going to Maine, I need to make dinner reservations. Right?
Yeah, the domestic travel is just absolutely incredible right now. I got to get through it again in just a few days, by the time you guys are listening to this, I'll be back in New York City for work and it's just, those airports and planes are just so crowded. Man, it's not a pleasure right now.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. And for what it's worth, what I'll say is, not trying to say that I'm a COVID alarmist, and I'm interested to hear what your thoughts are. I think when you talk about Vegas and Orlando, they're very unique destinations in that the vast majority of people who are there are obviously transient. So the counts aren't too bad in Vegas right now. I haven't looked at Orlando. But the counts are up about 50% week over week in Vegas, but the numbers are obviously a lot lower than they were during the peak. But there's so many people who are coming to Vegas who may or may not be vaccinated, you're not sure. The Delta variant is obviously much more contagious, and then they're all going home and going somewhere else.
So you don't see the big spikes and counts in Vegas, but if you look around the edges, if you will, and talk to folks who know this stuff, Vegas bookings are down, future bookings are down considerably where they were up huge over the summer. Over the last 10 days to 2 weeks, the future bookings have slowed way down, which starts to sound like some people are getting a little bit queasy about traveling.
Richard Kerr: No, I agree. You've always been much more up on the science and the whole COVID deal. We also live in very different places, with kind of country Georgia versus greater DC area. But there's definitely something in the air, I guess pun intended. To the point where after I got back from Disney, I told my wife, "You know, maybe, even though it's pretty rare and everything maybe I should get tested to make sure I don't give our young kids, who are too young to get vaccinated, the COVID deal." So I got tested, and it came back negative. But just chatting with the doc at the testing site yesterday. She was like, "It's been an absolute explosion the last two weeks, there's so many people that are getting positives, it's in the headlines in the news every day."
It feels to me like this fall is going to be rough again, unless Americans can get their act together and get everybody vaccinated. Just, I don't see good things coming, and it kind of feels like it's teetering right now on if folks don't get the vaccination, this fall might be a pretty rocky one. But that's just gut feeling and instincts of what I saw in Orlando and chatting yesterday real quick at the testing site. I don't know, man. It's not giving me a lot of confidence for the fall right now.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. One of the things that I think is sort of out there when you talk about that sort of stuff, that's just a little odd to me, Vegas as a whole has been, I don't want to say anti-mask, per se, but they're pro casino, so they want things to be open. While customers aren't allowed, or customers aren't required to wear masks right now, if they're vaccinated and there's no check, you're on our system, they did just pass an ordinance a couple days ago where masks are now required by all employees again. Starting yesterday, so a few days ago, from when we're recording this, all Vegas casino employees, all restaurant employees, all those folks have to be masked again. And there's new required signage encouraging customers to mask up.
They haven't gone as far as mandating masks indoors in the casinos, because I think they understand that that will drastically impact business. But they are masking up all of the employees, which I thought was an interesting change. I think all of these little nuggets that we see are sort of a precursor to people see things potentially getting worse. Some bookings are slowing down, there's more mask requirement at the employee level. It does make me wonder, amidst all of this, you've got the wrinkle of international travel. If you're traveling in the US, nobody's going to swab you for a COVID test when you're getting on a plane, you're on your honor system. But going overseas, obviously that's different.
There's this question mark of, as rules change, as countries tighten regulations again, does that put a big crimp on international travel again this fall?
Richard Kerr: 100%. I think international travel this fall is going to be done. We woke up this morning, New Zealand and Australia have suspended their travel corridor, right?
Ed Pizza: Yep.
Richard Kerr: We've seen, I think, the Singapore/Hong Kong's been delayed again where they're like "This isn't going to happen." I've got two friends that told me last night and this morning that they canceled international trips coming up. I think it's already done. At least maybe here to the US, where the rest of the world knows, that we have far too much terrible information and people that are reluctant to get vaccinated. I just don't see how it could happen. I was picking at it a few times, later this fall, with some hops to the Caribbean destinations. But especially with the kids who aren't vaccinated, there's just no way that I'm going to risk getting stuck somewhere for 14 days. It's off the calendar now. I don't see good things happening this fall. And that really stinks, because I would love to go do some of that stuff.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. I'm in this quandary right now, I have an aunt who I'm really, really close to. She's almost like a mom to me. We actually share a birthday.
Richard Kerr: You're the same age as your aunt? That's weird, man.
Ed Pizza: I am. Well, I'm not going to be 90, I'm going to be 80. I haven't seen her in two years, and she's going to be 90. You know, her health isn't necessarily great. She's got good physical health, but she's sort of losing what she had of her long-term memory. That's obviously sad, and I want to spend time with her. The borders for Canada have kind of sort of opened up, so I might be able to go see her in August. But as you say, I don't know what's going to happen if we cross the border. I don't know what the testing's going to be like. If we were going to go, it was going to be this lightning quick, drive up ... it's a 20 hour drive. Drive up, see her for her special birthday, and then drive home so that my daughter doesn't miss practice for cross country, started in August, for school.
One of us tests positive, even if it's a false positive, while we're there, and we're stuck somewhere for two weeks? It's definitely disconcerting to me, and I'm going to have to make a difficult decision whether I want to spend that time with a loved one, or I want to reduce the risk that I get stuck somewhere and quarantine for two weeks.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. I think the data showed that if you're vaccinated and you have no other underlying conditions, you could test positive, but you're most likely going to have a mild case.
Ed Pizza: Right.
Richard Kerr: So to me it's not so much that, it's if I've got to tell my wife, "Hey, you're on your own with the kids for the next 10 days because I did this trip and now I'm positive."
Ed Pizza: Yeah, and I'm stuck.
Richard Kerr: And I can't give it to the kids, she is not going to be ... I wouldn't be happy either. It's just not a situation that I'm trying to get myself into right now.
Ed Pizza: Yeah.
Richard Kerr: Maybe if I was a single guy it'd be a different ball game. But that's my biggest hesitation is, if I've got to travel the New York anyways and leave them alone for a week out of every month, then on top of that I say, "Hey, now I've got to go isolate for another 10 days." Well that's half a month I've lost with my family, and that's not something I'm willing to do right now.
Ed Pizza: Yeah, no, I hear you.
Richard Kerr: Let's talk about something that I haven't done since February of 2020 and my experience.
Ed Pizza: Said something intelligent?
Richard Kerr: You're funny, but looks aren't everything. I know, I redeemed Hilton points for the drive down to Disney. I had to work all last week, and I've got to tell you about the check-in experience at the Home2 Suites in Lake City, Florida, which is northern Florida, panhandle, very different from the rest of Florida. I couldn't leave late until Friday. When you're pulling an RV, you've got to go really slow. And you're like, "But you've got an RV, why'd you book a hotel?" Well ladies and gentlemen, Ed and I have probably made it clear to you that setting up and then breaking down an RV for eight hours of sleep is just not a proposition that's worth the time or the headache. So rolling into a parking lot, finding somewhere to drop it, rolling in, sleeping in the hotel, and points, and hitting the road first thing in the morning without having to pack everything up again was my strategy to get down there.
So I drove like five hours, slept for eight. The Home2 Suites, I haven't redeemed Hilton points literally since February of 2020, which is when we went on a cruise and just needed a night before. So I was like, "Sweet, finally I can put this use of Hilton points." Because hotel rates in Lake City, Florida, I assume everybody else is just transient, right off the interstate. It was like 200 bucks for a Hampton Inn. Nothing was "affordable" for a one-night stay. I could not believe the rates I was seeing at Holiday Inn Express, Hampton Inn, Home2 Suites, Tru by Hilton, Fairfield Inn and Suites. Everything, 200 bucks. I was like, "What in the world?" I was like, "Anyways." Got a room, Home2 Suites. It's got a microwave. So I stopped at Walmart and got some groceries and stuff, for the camping trip, so I didn't have to worry about pulling in another restaurant.
Anyways, I walk into the front desk, the lady welcomes me. She's like, "I see you're a Diamond member, congrats on your points today." I was like, "Hey, thanks." She said, "We've got check-in amenity for you, you can have Cheez-Its, a Rice Krispy Treat, or trail mix." I was like, "Okay." I said, "You know what? I'm actually just kind of thirsty, can I get a bottle of water instead of any of that?" She goes, "No, I'm sorry, you can't." I was like, "Okay. I'll have the Home2 Hilton Diamond Amenity Trail Mix." She's like, "Okay, great." Then so she went in the back, and came back and she handed me two bags of Cheez-Its. And I was like, "I don't care." I was like, "What is going ..."
Ed Pizza: You get two bags of Cheez-Its? Wow.
Richard Kerr: Yeah, I was like, this is the weirdest trail mix I've ever seen, it came in the form of two bags of Cheez-Its. I was like, "Okay, thanks a lot." Then she was like, "All right, have a great stay." And pointed me to the elevator. I started walking away and she's like, "Oh let me get your waters for you." And she went over the thing, and she was like, "Here's your two Diamond waters." I was like, "But I just said ... Where am I, right? Can we start over?" What just happened here? That was super weird. I was so confused, as that whole ... Somehow I ended up ... anyways. Yeah, I hadn't stayed at a Home2 Suites before, much like a Hyatt Place kind of deal. It was great, loved saving 200 bucks, and hopping in, and hopping out, and I was on the road quick in the morning, and glad to put some Hilton points to use. I think it was 20,000 points for a $200 room. So a cent a point for Hilton's pretty solid there.
Ed Pizza: That is pretty solid.
Richard Kerr: But I'll always remember my Lake City, Florida trail mix in the form of Cheez-Its, after being denied water, and then given water. I was like, "What?" Then on the way back I redeemed IHG points, which I had actually done earlier this year for Emily on a Grand Canyon trip. But again, I stayed almost an entire day at Disney, and couldn't make it all the way home. So stopped at the Holiday Inn Express in Cordele, Georgia, right off interstate 75 in south Georgia, where there's absolutely nothing, ladies and gentlemen.
Ed Pizza: No, no, no, no, no, there's a Waffle House there.
Richard Kerr: There's a Waffle House directly next door, was definitely the big win there. But you know, my actual biggest hesitation with doing this is finding somewhere to park the RV, you know, man? You've got to basically roll into the Holiday Inn in Cordele and hope that there's enough spaces that you can pull it somewhere, so that was the only thing I was sweating. But we actually got lucky both times at the Hilton, in the Holiday Inn Express, that half the parking lots was empty so I had no problem doing it. But yeah, the Holiday Inn Express in Cordele, I got a room up on the third floor. I'm super tired after a day at Disney in the sun, then driving six hours or whatever I did. I get off the elevator onto the third floor, it is like 92 degrees in the hallway.
Ed Pizza: Nice.
Richard Kerr: It is hot. I was like, "Oh man, their AC is broken on this thing." So I was like, "What's the room going to be like?" I open the first room, the room was cold, but it was so hot and humid in the hallway, that the entire room had a layer of moisture in it. Everything, the condensation across the entire room. Even the sheets were damp, because this room was freezing and the hallway. It was just, I've never seen everything ... You could literally, I took a washcloth and rubbed the counter in the bathroom, and you know you saw the streak of where you just cleaned all the water off. Man, I was like, "I'm going to go get another room on a different floor."
Ed Pizza: That's special.
Richard Kerr: And told the guy, I was like, "Did you know it's like 90 degrees on the third floor?" He's like, "No, I didn't." I was like, "Nobody else has come down here and told you?" It's like, what do you expect from Cordele, Georgia? It's just lovely when travel reality meets your expectations like that. But at the end of the day, two free hotel nights, redeeming points again on the road, that part was nice. But just those little stories you get, it's like, "What in the world?"
Ed Pizza: All right, well let's try to answer a listener question or two before we both run out of time today. I guess first, last week when you decided you didn't want to be on the show and wanted to go hang out at Disney, I did talk briefly about the new partnership that ... well it's not a new partnership. But the temporary partnership that Citibank has with American Airlines, where you can now transfer your thank you points to American Airlines at a one to one ratio, but only until mid-November, as of this moment. I guess first and foremost, what's your opinion of this change?
Richard Kerr: You know, I've been thinking about this, but temporary, it might be indicative of some changes that American Advantage has already hinted at, and actually not even hinted. You know, Rick over, that runs the program, has said, "We're getting rid of the rewards cards." The program will go fully dynamic. So maybe this is a test. Maybe before they make these changes, they wanted to do a test with Citi to say, "Hey, let's see what kind of action we get on this for a three month timeframe." And if it goes well, or meets expectations, or meets certain metrics, and we can make the financials work on both ends, then we'll make this permanent. But you know, it could be a great thing. It obviously acts as true currency, like American, from transferrable currency is great, just like from Bilt Rewards, shout out, self plug there.
But the whole temporary thing, yeah, I'm not really sure. And then, Citi's just always such a wildcard. We don't ever really know what they have going on. The prestige is here, the prestige is gone, this family of thank you points is not the same as this family of thank you points. Just, I've got to just give everybody a big shrug when it comes to what Citi's doing at any given point.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. So we've got a question from one of our listeners about the new partnership. And they were excited about the fact that you can transfer thank you points temporarily to AA, but they asked about transferring thank you points to Turkish. From a high level, first and foremost, I think probably the biggest thing to think about when transferring to Turkish is, it's one of the transfer partners that's not instant. So I have not, gosh, it's been a long time since I've done this. Last I can recall, though, Turkish still did award holds, if I remember correctly. Does that sound right to you?
Richard Kerr: Have you seen the recent developments from just a few days ago? Where the online booking is gone?
Ed Pizza: I heard about that. But I haven't.
Richard Kerr: You can get all the way to the final checkout page, it looks like it did anytime. But the submit button is no longer there? You could do holds before, you could call up, definitely, I did a hold where actually I did Turkish miles to book a flight to Istanbul from Atlanta right before the pandemic started, and was able to put that on hold until my thank you points showed up. So you can do that, it's just always a little bit tricky, with what phone agent you get. You can't email one of the ticketing offices here in North America, but you've got to wait on that. Overall though, the program has a potential to yield tons of value. So we've just got to figure out what's going on with this online booking. It looks like a glitch, but I'm not really sure.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. One of the things I know people have typically used Turkish miles for is to book United, saver inventory. So that's still out there as an option, but you've obviously got to navigate this award hold/transfer gauntlet if you will. And the only downside for folks to remember, which I think is a cautionary tale, is if you don't have a lot of points, and your goal is to redeem them for "the next trip" and not being able to redeem them means that you can't take the trip, just remember with transferrable partners, if you transfer them to Turkish, and then you can't book what you wanted to book because your hold expires or something weird like that, then your points are stuck at Turkish. And while they do have some good partners, and I do love flying Turkish as well, I love their product, that is sort of the tough part about it, a non-instant transfer partner with flexible currency.
Richard Kerr: That's true. Although, they do transfer instantly from Bilt. Again, you keep giving me things I can't pass up.
Ed Pizza: I'm just teeing up. All right, since you've teased it twice, I'm going to give you the softball, because the question came in on Twitter while we were here. Somebody wants to know if they can use Bilt to pay rent in Europe yet?
Richard Kerr: No. We are strictly US market right now.
Ed Pizza: Wah wah wah.
Richard Kerr: Sorry about that folks, but we have plenty of the 109 million renters here in the US that we are trying to service. But we've heard the questions quite a bit about Canada as well. But yeah, US right now.
Ed Pizza: So you can earn points on your rent, but you have to move to the US?
Richard Kerr: You've got to pay rent here in the US, and be eligible for a US credit card.
Ed Pizza: You've got to pay rent, yeah. There you go.
Richard Kerr: Yeah, no. Turkish can be great. My question for Turkish and United is, anytime I look to use United miles, is saver inventory a thing anymore? Because all I see is really high amounts of United miles to fly anywhere.
Ed Pizza: It's disgusting. It really is filthy.
Richard Kerr: So I have no idea what is and is not available to partners anymore. If something is 22,300 miles, is that saver inventory? Like, I don't know.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. My guess is, I don't think so. We should probably do some testing of that. But I will say, the last couple times I've thought about using United miles, the prices have been egregious. That's another thing to point out, too, if you are going to use Turkish for a United booking, you do have to find saver inventory. On popular routes, it's almost nonexistent, especially hub to hub stuff. If you're trying to piece together an itinerary, you're almost certainly going to need a hub to hub flight if you're flying somewhere promising, somewhere popular.
Richard Kerr: I'm sure I've said this on one of your episodes before. But you know, when I started this back in 2010, '11, '12, even up to '15, every awards search I started anywhere in the world, wherever I lived, I went to United.com because it was the best engine, the best pricing, the best routing rules. Easily, you could still transfer from Chase. But I could get to where I wanted to go. Now, I log into my United account maybe twice a year. My sister lives in Houston, so anytime she's flying somewhere, I routinely book flights for her, or where she's going to meet up with us, I don't ever use United miles for her.
Because it's like, just this summer, when she came and did the trip to New York City with us, from Houston to New York City, and then just from Atlanta back to Houston, over 20,000 miles one way in economy for a less than two hour flight from Atlanta to Houston, no matter what day or time. Get out of here. It just makes me sad to think of the days have passed. But at least I just get the 100,000 United Quest Card signup bonus.
Ed Pizza: That might get you a round-trip flight.
Richard Kerr: Those miles will sit there for the next two years until I figure out what to do with them, fuck.
Ed Pizza: You're definitely not getting any premium capital award right now.
Richard Kerr: And now, international travel, I don't know. It's rough.
Ed Pizza: So as you put out on your Instagram feed to text folks, we got a couple of folks who have figured out that I might not like camping. So I've got someone that texted in, "Remember when Ed booked the campsite without sewer hookups and nearly died at the thought of using a poop wagon to dump?" I do remember that. You just tried to sell me on that yesterday, about, let's go camping outside New York City at another campsite that doesn't have sewer hookups.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. Just the seals are leak proof, there's rubber gaskets, it's not going anywhere.
Ed Pizza: Then you know what? You can be my honey wagon.
Richard Kerr: I'll be my own honey wagon, but you can pay the campsite to do yours. I'm looking at a few trips, I've kind of settled into a groove here, at the new gig at Bilt Rewards, I can finally start trying to plan some things. We were texting last night, $166 for a campsite in North Carlina midweek?
Ed Pizza: Plus taxes and fees, right?
Richard Kerr: Like whoa, whoa. I looked at the same days at the Grand Cypress Hyatt Regency down in Orlando, it's like 215. I'm like, "50 more bucks to stay at the Hyatt Regency or 50 less bucks to go rent a parking spot in North Carolina?" Like, wow, man. Did you think the RV market would slow down this summer? I thought it would be a little bit cooler. But geez, Louise.
Ed Pizza: I did, too. I did, too. People have to be starting to get sick, I can't be the only one that's sick of their RV. I've got to imagine that there's more of them out there for sale.
Richard Kerr: In the Disney campsite, every loop I went on this weekend, full. Somebody pulled out, somebody else pulled in, everybody's got new rigs and new toys, just slam packed. That's looking in August, forget about the weekends, I'm just trying to drive somewhere on the weekends so that I can work remotely and not miss a day of work driving it. Because you're not getting a campsite over the weekend.
Ed Pizza: No, no, no. That was the problem I had coming back from Maine on our fourth of July, and trying to find a campsite, and miserably failed.
Richard Kerr: There's a new rule that showed up, I saw three campsite websites last night that said, "No Saturday check in or check outs." Have you seen that?
Ed Pizza: I have seen that. It caused some trouble in booking out Maine trip and I don't understand it.
Richard Kerr: I don't know, man.
Ed Pizza: But whatever, I don't know.
Richard Kerr: To be continued. But yeah, I love camping. There was nothing better than sitting, my buddy Julian stayed with me in the RV a couple of nights after a day in the parks, and then a day hanging out with Summer and her crew over at the fancy, bougie cabin that they had, coming back and sitting in my happy spot, drinking a beer or a gin and tonic, and recapping the day, and telling jokes. Camping's so much fun, man. I don't know why. I know exactly why you don't like it, but proverbially, I don't know why you don't like it.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. I love camping, except for pretty much everything to do with camping. All right, man. Well get out of here. Tell people where they can find you before I kick you out and potentially invite you to come back again.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. Always find me, KerrPoints, K-E-R-R Points across all social media. You will find the most eclectic, hottest, sexiest, coolest content on my Instagram stories, talking about yard work and being a dad, and Disney, and points. It's the most entertaining account on Instagram, really. I'm just being honest with everybody. Of course, you can head over to Bilt Rewards, if you're a renter and you want to earn points for free, you need to be a Bilt Rewards member. How was that?
Ed Pizza: There you have it, folks. Proof that Mr. Kerr is not full-on Georgia, first time, and probably only time, we'll ever hear him use the word eclectic.
Richard Kerr: I surprise people.
Ed Pizza: You do. All right, man. Take it easy. Good seeing you this week.
Richard Kerr: Later.
Ed Pizza: That's a full wrap on this week's episode. You can find links to everything we discussed today in the show notes. A big thanks to all of you for tuning into this week's show. If any of you have questions or suggestions for a future show, you can drop me an email at Ed@Pizzainmotion.com, or hit me up on social media, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, all @Pizzainmotion. And you can find me blogging daily, at Pizzainmotion.com. Until we upload again, we've got miles to go.
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