Ed Pizza: I am kind of a big deal.
Richard Kerr: How old do you have to be to start saying, "I'm kind of a big deal," and be serious about it? The only thing is I avoided any crazy people making things worse.
Ed Pizza: And we won't tell anybody at Bilt that you had beer for breakfast.
Richard Kerr: Do they make yellow mints? Does anyone?
Ed Pizza: Yeah. You haven't seen them at the bottom of the urinals?
Richard Kerr: Oh.
Speaker 3: Climb aboard. This is the Miles to Go podcast, your source for the latest in travel news, reviews, and strategies you can't afford to miss. And now here's your host, travel expert, and road warrior Ed Pizza.
Ed Pizza: Hey guys. Welcome back to the Miles to Go podcast. Richard and I have run the gauntlet of summer travel and are back in front of our microphones alive, a little worse for the wear to tell a tale. It's pretty crazy out there, isn't it Mr. Kerr?
Richard Kerr: Yeah, man. I am tired and I actually slept a lot more in New York than I usually do, but I'm on the struggle bus right now.
Ed Pizza: Everything is hard right now out there for travel. I mean, just the lines everywhere are... I just haven't seen something like this in quite a while. And maybe it was like this before the pandemic during the summer, but I don't even remember summer travel being this crazy. Just the sort of crowds I see stacked up for restaurants, stacked up for security, it's just... A silly example, typically there's two or three people in the pre-check line at Vegas Terminal 3 that are in the wrong line and the agent has to tell them to turn around. The line was 30 people deep when I got there this week and they must have turned away 20 of those 30 people who just got in the wrong line. Everything is just gummed up right now.
Richard Kerr: I booked a 5:30 PM return flight on American from LaGuardia to Atlanta. And when I booked it I was like, "I don't know why I'm doing this. I know there is no way that this flight will be on time."
Ed Pizza: No.
Richard Kerr: But in my ignorance of just wanting to get home, I was like, "It'll be fine." of course it wasn't. It wasn't fine. Yeah. I had to wait in line to check in for the first time at LaGuardia Centurion in Terminal B and it was a very long day. I took the train and the bus to LaGuardia from Grand Central for the first time because I just wasn't going to pay $87 plus tip for a Lyft. Again, it's Bilt's money but I don't care whose money it is, I'm just not going to pay that much. I'm not going to support that business model. So I paid $2.75 to take the train and the bus, and I got there faster than I would have if I had taken a Lyft. It's just wild out there, man.
Ed Pizza: Yeah, I've actually done a few times where I've taken the train out to Long Island and then hopped an Uber or a Lyft from there, so that's another option for folks as well. Unless I have a really big, heavy suitcase, I don't mind taking the train out to JFK either, though I haven't done that as often. It's a bit of a long ride but it's not the end of the world.
Richard Kerr: Long ride no matter which way you get out of JFK.
Ed Pizza: For sure.
Richard Kerr: That messes up. My flight up there on Sunday was fine. Flight back, I ended up being on the Embraer 175 for four hours for the hour and a half flight. We had an hour and a half ground taxi at LaGuardia.
Ed Pizza: Can you really call it a taxi if you don't move for over an hour?
Richard Kerr: We did. Well, at LaGuardia you can't there's nowhere to sit still so you have to constantly do the circle around so that the ground traffic can keep moving so you get relegated out to the pier way by the water, then you get brought back in, then you hit the circle again by the old Marine Terminal building and go around. And every time you're hoping to hear that second engine kick back on so that you know you're actually about to leave and you don't. You're like, "Around we would go again." Because when my inbound plane landed, it was on the deck for 30 minutes before it could even get to the gate. Because even at the new LaGuardia, once those aisles are blocked, man, there's no going around so.
Summer thunderstorms, it was a wild ride back. We were bouncing and bumping up and down the whole time and dodging and weaving, and it's just like, "Summer's back." The only thing is I avoided any crazy people making things worse. That's literally the only thing I'm worried about. Ain't nothing that air traffic control can do about literally the whole seaboard. Eastern seaboard was covered in thunderstorms. But, the second you're taxing for an hour and 15 minutes and somebody decides they're going to have a bad day and you got to go back to the gate and start it all over again, that's the only thing I was like, "Nobody on this plane... Let's leave the crazy. Just keep it in, people. Let's all hold it together." And luckily we did.
Ed Pizza: I got a question for you on that. I want an opinion question. It's funny that we started with LaGuardia. I had forgotten briefly that you were there. First, for folks who are listening, we've got a couple of listener questions that we're going to cover in a bit. You can hit us up, email@example.com. If you want to email to us, he is @kerrpoints on all of the social media platforms, and I am @pizzainmotion. And you can also leave us a voicemail or text us, 571-293-6659. And Richard tells me every time I do this he really likes it when I throw surprises into the episode.
Richard Kerr: Keep it spicy.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. Keep it spicy. I have a surprise question for you. It's not a big surprise, just I'm curious your opinion. So we have our trip to Iceland coming up and Dulles is sort of the wayward stepchild of pretty much every airline except for Dulles. And so we used to have JetBlue flights, Dulles to JFK, stuff like that. There really aren't a lot of ways to get from here to there anymore effectively. And that makes award pricing complicated so our trip to Iceland is actually JFK to Reykjavik, and Reykjavik back to JFK. And I just resigned myself to the fact that we were going to just drive to New York. It is just shy of a five-hour drive if there's no traffic for me, from the door of the house to JFK.
Richard Kerr: Is there ever a time where there's no traffic?
Ed Pizza: No.
Richard Kerr: Okay. So how long is the drive?
Ed Pizza: You're right. Well yes. Okay so now here comes inaudible. And I really think guys... We're talking about moving to video, and I was hoping to get that done this week, and I really wish we had because I wish you guys could see Kerr's face coming up. Because I have a feeling you're going to have this like, "Oh God, I don't know what choice I would actually make." All right. So I can take the drive or, as you'll recall from one of my recent trips, the government started forcing airlines to actually use all their slots, and so United is still squatting on Dulles, LaGuardia. It's 15,000 miles one way-
Richard Kerr: Per person?
Ed Pizza: To go Dulles, LaGuardia per person. So-
Richard Kerr: On an empty CRJ-550 or whatever.
Ed Pizza: On an empty CRJ-550. So I could spend 120,000 miles round trip plus whatever the taxi is from Dulles to JFK. Actually, from LaGuardia to JFK and back. Or I could drive-
Richard Kerr: Which is another 100 bucks.
Ed Pizza: Or I could drive. I'd be surprised if it's only 100, but yeah. Or I can drive the 10 plus hours round trip.
Richard Kerr: There's no Dulles to JFK flight?
Ed Pizza: I'm going to look again. I don't think a Dulles to JFK exists anymore.
Richard Kerr: Dude, that is horrific.
Ed Pizza: Actually now that I say that, I bet you there's a Delta one. How disgusting do we think the Delta pricing is on that route?
Richard Kerr: For how close in now are you?
Ed Pizza: Well, I think I looked at it originally and it was pretty brutal. We're pretty close in.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. It sounds like they know that it's going to be empty so they just price it ridiculous anyways for people with business accounts. So I bet it's 40,000 miles one way or something crazy.
Ed Pizza: As Kerr would say, "Something egregious."
Richard Kerr: Hey, man, Dulles to JFK. Because you could drive all the way into the city, get on the Amtrak all the way up to Grand Central, and take the train from Grand Central to JFK. That's a lengthy process as well.
Ed Pizza: I thought about that as well. And so the other thing that's a wrinkle here too is, what time do you actually do it? Because as you well know, there's a Mendoza line with DC to New York flights and it's probably 3:00. Once you get past that, what's the reliability of me actually making my connection? I'm now on two separate tickets. All that good stuff.
Richard Kerr: Oh, actually, you take it to Penn. You got to get from Penn out of JFK, not Grand Central. Ugh.
Ed Pizza: And by the way, now I remember why I said no on the Delta. It's 54,000 miles one way.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. There we go. That's how Delta does it.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. So would you spend... Oh, I found something a little bit cheaper. So it looks like I could probably do 250,000 SkyMiles to go Dulles, JFK for the four of us. On times that roughly work.
Richard Kerr: If it's an afternoon flight in the summer I wouldn't do it, because the thunderstorm pops up and you're out of luck if you're-
Ed Pizza: Yeah. Well, an afternoon flight will leave me a lot of cushion. So we got a 10:00 PM departure from JFK. So it's a two part question. Would you spend the money or the miles? And is a four-hour buffer enough? And is the answer to both of those questions, "I really hate these questions."
Richard Kerr: Yeah. Seriously, the answer to all of this is "No." Like ugh. Flying Dulles to Reykjavik, does United do that? They don't do that, do they?
Ed Pizza: United does not do that.
Richard Kerr: It's actually, as surprisingly popular as Iceland is, the U.S. service there is still ... American's not even flying there at all right now.
Ed Pizza: Oh, did they drop all their flights?
Richard Kerr: Yeah. I don't think it restarts until even later. It's really strange about how popular Iceland is and how few flights there are. Plus, they're all the narrow body, super short overnight, you're going to feel awful for two day flights.
Ed Pizza: Icelandair actually does fly Dulles, Reykjavik. Once WOW air went away, the cheap flights on that route just disappeared for us. So I think when I priced it, it was like 13, 1400 bucks a ticket for us round trip on Icelandair and coach.
Richard Kerr: Yikes.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. And so there's no effective way to use points on them. They have partnership with JetBlue if I remember correctly, but I don't... I mean, JetBlue's a revenue-based program so I don't... Nothing comes to mind that would be reasonable to book it that way. So what am I doing, man? Am I driving? Am I-
Richard Kerr: I think you're driving. Because by the time you do all that and leave yourself the cushion, you could have just driven.
Ed Pizza: Well, sure but then I actually have to drive in the summer to... And the Lyft price of gas.
Richard Kerr: I know. Then you actually got to drive. And then when you get off that flight you have to actually drive home too, that's...
Ed Pizza: Yeah. And we're in coach, by the way.
Richard Kerr: I don't see a good answer here, but we'd love for people to write in and tell us what they would do. I don't know, man. I think after going through all that rigamarole, I would just drive up there.
Ed Pizza: And cry a little bit on the way.
Richard Kerr: Yep. And the way home.
Ed Pizza: I mean, yes, I think it'll be better on the way home just because it's not a super long flight and it's not an overnight flight so I don't think it'll be horrible. But we'll also be rode hard and put up wet after 10 days in Iceland.
Richard Kerr: It's true. You guys will have a lot of time in the car.
Ed Pizza: All right. So we got a couple of listener comments and a listener question. And just because I want you to know that I am an incredibly balanced man, I have included some feedback from both sides of the aisle here. Drew writes in... He says that he of Italian heritage. He says, well, Sicilian actually. The family name is Bruno. He was born and raised in Atlanta, there you go. No New Yorkers in my family but he'd never heard the word agida in my life, which came up a couple episodes ago Richard never heard. And Drew says that you should keep up the great work on the podcast. Whereas Erin, who actually works for me, and apparently feels compelled to listen to the show as a condition of her employment, dropped agida into a text chat with me the other day and said her husband was not ready to leave yet. And she had agida that he hadn't left yet. And she said afterwards, "I expect you to send that to Kerr. My mom used that word a lot but it had a Boston accent."
Richard Kerr: I'm still impressed about somebody with a Sicilian name, Bruno raised in Atlanta. You know why?
Ed Pizza: He was the only one. Yeah.
Richard Kerr: We don't talk about Bruno.
Ed Pizza: Oh, God. Is that two weeks in a row with Disney references?
Richard Kerr: I don't know. I always forget it's Disney but I wasn't going to let that go.
Ed Pizza: Well you had the first time in forever last week.
Richard Kerr: Agida is still not a real word.
Ed Pizza: Yeah, whatever. Like I said to you pre-show, neither is y'all but you use that one a whole lot. All right. So we've got a listener question too which is right up your alley. Yeah, so this is from Randy. "Hey, fellas, got a question for Kerr. I'm a non-renter Bilt card holder." Booyah, me too. "As I marched toward platinum status," he's ahead of me. I don't have platinum status yet. How come you didn't gift me platinum status, we're good friends? That's not the question. Anyway. "Does Bilt have any plans to offer anything as one graduates through the many status levels? Since I have a mortgage, these bonuses obtained at various status levels don't offer much of value. Just thought I'd ask. Love the card and love the podcast, Randy."
Richard Kerr: Yeah. I'll be quite candid with everybody that our elite status program we've known has needed some oomph put behind it since we launched almost a year ago. And we do have significant plans to do that as well as more plans that everybody listening to this show is going to like about our loyalty program. It all starts in July. So the answer is yes, Randy, we do. You will like it and everybody else will like all the other great things that we have coming, starting in July. Just hang in there a few more weeks, folks. Oh, cool story, man. Wells Fargo has used the Bilt Rewards card now and we've been sending out a lot of nationwide marketing assets to Wells Fargo to do in their branches and on their website. And I knew that one of the things we had done launched. So yesterday here at Newnan, Georgia, Thomas and I drove to the local Wells Fargo branch and the ATM screen now, if you go to any Wells Fargo is a Bilt card advertisement.
Ed Pizza: Oh, nice.
Richard Kerr: So it's kind of cool, seeing... You'll be able to drive five minutes from my house and seeing a Bilt card thing here at the local Wells Fargo in Newnan, Georgia, for something that did not exist a year ago.
Ed Pizza: Nice.
Richard Kerr: A little startup pride there, folks. Anyway, it was pretty cool to see. Took a little video of the ATM, I never thought I'd do that. There was somebody behind me in line too and I was just standing with my phone taking a video of the ATM. I'm sure they're like, "God, do I call the cops now? What is this guy going to do? Why is he taking video? Is this one of these times where they told me to see something, say something?"
Ed Pizza: See something, say something.
Richard Kerr: "Yes, sir, there's a man here taking a video of the ATM at the Wells Fargo. I just wanted to let you know. I'm not sure what he's doing but he has a minor with him and I'm a little concerned. I'm Karen from Newnan, Georgia."
Ed Pizza: I'm wondering if we're going to be able to squeeze a scoop out of you on these Bilt changes too. And I would say, if we're being candid, I would say, for those of us that have a mortgage and not a lease, the elite program does suck but it's going to get better I hope.
Richard Kerr: It better.
Ed Pizza: I hope, but we still have those transfer partners. And by the way, with Citibank bringing back American Airlines transfers... Oh, wait, they haven't.
Richard Kerr: They have not. That's right.
Ed Pizza: Someday we're going to figure that out. Anyway, we've got a bunch of stories to cover today. I don't know how many we're going to get through. We want to talk about new flights to Brisbane, probably talk a little Frontier, JetBlue, Spirit battle. North Atlantic, Delta doing bizarre things with their clubs again. But I'll start with a basic question because I don't really don't understand this, and you and I usually understand most of this stuff. So Southwest launched a three day sale recently offering 40% off, and this was off of pay tickets and award tickets based on the way their system works. And the way Southwest works as well, it means that you could cancel an existing booking and make that booking again using the 40% off discount.
Richard Kerr: And I took advantage of it actually.
Ed Pizza: I'm glad you did. Why the hell did they do this? I mean, flight prices are crazy out there right now. So somebody could rebook their summer flight and save 40% off of some sky high fair. Why would an airline have a sale like this right now? I just don't understand.
Richard Kerr: It wasn't travel for June and July, right? So here it was travel...
Ed Pizza: No fall. It was fall.
Richard Kerr: Right. I think...
Ed Pizza: Do you think travel drops off that much in the fall?
Richard Kerr: I think we're going to see a cliff dive in the fall. I think right now-
Ed Pizza: 40%.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. I think we're going to see a cliff dive. I think people are getting those pent up, "We haven't been anywhere for two years, we can finally go somewhere. We've saved our money. We don't care. We say, we're going to take a summer vacation, a summer trip. We're going to pay a little bit more than we want to and then that's going to be our trip for the year. And when the summer chills out and everybody's back in school, and everybody's gotten their..." What? I can't remember, someone used a good word for it in our group text a week ago, which she called the delayed trip-
Ed Pizza: Inaudible.
Richard Kerr: No, it was delayed trips, the trips that everybody's put off for two years they're finally taking. And right now people are, "Whatever, I'm going to pay it. I just don't care." And airlines are happy to take that in, but I think they are positioning themselves. And I know their spreadsheet jockeys and data crunchers are looking at what bookings are for this fall. And, dude, I think as far out in advance as people used to book, they're just not doing that anymore. I think everybody-
Ed Pizza: Yeah. A lot of unpredictability right now.
Richard Kerr: Everybody's pulling a curve and booking everything super close in because they're tired of canceling stuff. And I think we're going to see a cliff. So I think this sale is about positioning. Let's see what this does. 40% is huge. We're going to Maui in Oahu in September and I got the Southwest interisland flight for 45 bucks each for that 40 minute hop. But what was interesting is Hawaiian immediately matched the sale price too. So I was like, "Oh, I don't want to fly Hawaiian just to fly Hawaiian again. So not Southwest, or do I just take the Southwest and pay with Chase points and you know what I did.
Ed Pizza: You did whatever was the most affordable. I didn't even say cheap.
Richard Kerr: It's not. It's free. So I think they're looking at the fall, and they're not liking what they're seeing already.
Ed Pizza: Yeah, no, it's certainly possible. I can't believe it's going to be that big of a cliff. I'm hopeful for it because it's just crazy. It's crazy everywhere in travel right now. It's just the lines, the crowds, it's insane. I mean-
Richard Kerr: You know what? The only thing that caught me off guard this week, I stayed at the Hyatt Grand Central for the first time since 2019. I used to stay there all the time.
Ed Pizza: Yeah, me too.
Richard Kerr: It is not what it used to be, but it's not as bad as people were saying. It's just like any other newer hotel, but the Grand Central food hall, the main terminal, the dining concourse, I think they call it. There were two restaurants open down there. Everything else was still closed. Empty, then looks like it had been closed for a while. And there was a Shake Shack and the pizza place was open. And the lines for both of those were just out of control. And I was like-
Ed Pizza: They were out of control when everything was open.
Richard Kerr: But I was like, how have all these other restaurants not come back? It was crazy.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. That is crazy. I mean, yeah. Well, the tip there is they had Zaro's anyway, and just go upstairs and get yourself a bagel and some cream cheese, and a piece of crumb cake. Carve it up, baby. That'd be like your carb for like the week.
Richard Kerr: inaudible so Hyatt Grand Central has no lounge anymore. It has no restaurant, it has no bar. They have the little-
Ed Pizza: They used to have a great lounge. Remember the outdoor lounge?
Richard Kerr: Yeah, I do. I remember it well. I did get a very nice suite upgrade. It was a legit, huge, one-bedroom suite, which I just did not need.
Ed Pizza: Sure.
Richard Kerr: But they only have the kind of to-go, quick-service market thing downstairs. They got a little coffee bar and they got a little oven to heat up sandwiches. If you're globalist, you just charge whatever you want there for breakfast. And the staff had no idea what I could and could not charge so I charged it up, baby. I got all the protein they had there. You said carb it up and that you could have 100% carbs for breakfast every day, which is the last thing I need right now. But the other thing that they do, which is nice, that nobody else that I'm aware of or have experienced so far in the US has done. Everybody else used to have lounges and has closed it, has been like, "Sorry," like it's just closed, there's no nothing. The Hyatt Grand Central says, "Sorry, we don't have a lounge anymore. So we're giving anybody who had lounge access, 15 bucks a day to go into the market on top of breakfast in short, and you can get a couple beers, you can get like a snack or something like that. So that was-"
Ed Pizza: Beer for breakfast?
Richard Kerr: Yeah. No, I wonder if they would sell you a beer for breakfast? I don't know.
Ed Pizza: It's New York, man. Anything goes. We won't tell anybody at Bilt that you had beer for breakfast.
Richard Kerr: I did not. No. But I went and got... They had like a English muffin, turkey bacon, cheese and egg, best protein, and then like a protein shake I got for breakfast. But then when I did walk in from a long day at work, or like we had a couple dinners, you go over there and get like a beer or something, go back to the room, just put your feet up for a second. That was better than nothing. So the room, it's fine. It's not great, it's not bad. It's fine. It's one of the more affordable Hyatts in New York City right now. So a lot of people were asking a lot of questions about the hotel, on Instagram this week.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. I mean, I know that a couple people had rough stays there that we know like Clint from-
Richard Kerr: inaudible The day it opened though.
Ed Pizza: The hotel was never perfect before, but I mean even the regular rooms are pretty sizable by New York standards, which is one of the reasons why I liked it. It was just like, you didn't feel you were staying in a closet. So is it perfect and brand new? No, but I mean-
Richard Kerr: And then also being right on top of Grand Central, man.
Ed Pizza: Oh, such a great location.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. There's a lot going on around there at night. Some places to get dinner and a drink. And then I hop on the six, literally beneath my feet, and I'm in the office in 12 minutes, or then I hopped on the seven out to get to the Gordy thing. So awesome. So yeah, I would recommend it to folks. It was cool. Anyways that was the answer to Southwest. It was the Hyatt Grand Central.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. For what it's worth, where I used to, and then if you end up staying at the Grand Hyatt again, where I used to go for breakfast there is, have you ever been to Pershing Square?
Richard Kerr: Walked through it actually, like two nights ago, three nights ago.
Ed Pizza: So there's a cafe called Pershing Square.
Richard Kerr: Underneath the bridge thing, right?
Ed Pizza: Yeah, exactly. Right. Yeah. So it's a good breakfast place. I'm not going to say it's like great and super awesome, but it's hidden underneath the bridge on the south side of Grand Central. On, is that park I guess? Underneath park? It's a good place to hit. So that's my two cents if you're staying at Grand Central again.
Richard Kerr: Suite, S-U-I-T-E.
Ed Pizza: Hey, Richard spells at 23 minutes into the episode. I like it. All right. So let's see if we can get you fired up, because I know I am fired up, on this Delta lounge thing. So Delta has had this weaving path of trying to control... How to control this out-of-control lounge crowding. And they rolled out this policy that limited access after you landed, and before three hours, and then they rolled some of it back. And now they're testing fast track lanes if you have status. So if you have status and you're a lounge member, and so right now it looks like it's just Diamond and Delta 360. What say, you, Richard?
Richard Kerr: Do I have to wake up at midnight to get my Genie Plus, to get in the Delta club now?
Ed Pizza: That's right, exactly.
Richard Kerr: This is terrible, man. If I have to pay money to get into a line, to get in a overcrowded Sky Club, like you can't find seats in there right now. It's just not for me. And it's literally, I made a TikTok the other day, that's doing very well, where I said, "Why I fly American out of Atlanta." And one of the three reasons was the Admirals Club in Terminal T is lovely. It's always empty. I literally have my exact same table and chair. I sit that every single time. There's never a line to get in and then I go out to my gate and walk past this Sky Club now and see this fast lane to get into the Sky Club. And it's just like, "Oh, give me a break." Great for Diamonds and 360s, but for everybody else that was sold the promise of being able to access a lounge with a credit card annual fee, then I'd be pretty irritated. I don't know how they can sell that without the adequate disclaimers, and not get CFPB complaints.
Ed Pizza: So here I was disappointed that I was just going to be agreeing with you. But you finally said something at the very end, that I could disagree with. The whole, like it's great for, or maybe you said it was good for Delta Diamonds and Delta 360s. And to the point of everything else you said before that, who the hell wants a fast track line to standing elbow-to-elbow in a crowded club, in the middle of a pandemic? Like, what is...
Richard Kerr: Inaudible.
Ed Pizza: Why would I want early access to that? Like, "Oh, good news. I get to squeeze in on a couch, six inches from the person next to me, sooner than the schmucks waiting line outside the club".
Richard Kerr: Sky Clubs are stressful to me now. It's better for me to sit at the gate than it is to go in Delta Sky Club in Atlanta right now. And those things are huge, they want to be on top of B, and the one out in F, they're massive. And to make that stressful is just-
Ed Pizza: Massive, inaudible.
Richard Kerr: Yeah, it's no good. So I'll stick to the Admirals Club, although we're not going to get there early. We're flying out in San Francisco on Delta tomorrow, and I'm not going to get there early enough to get breakfast. So we'll go straight security to the gate.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. The rule says you're not supposed to visit the club in your home airport unless something goes wrong. Just saying.
Richard Kerr: Oh. But even lately, the way Delta has done things, it's probably everybody, but I haven't had to ask an American Club agent for help in a long time. But lately this year so far, when I ask a Delta Club agent for help they go, "Ah, you're going to have to go down to the gate, and talk to the gate agent." And I'm like, "Okay, what can you help me with?"
Ed Pizza: Not much. All right. So let's talk North Atlantic real quick, for those that don't remember or haven't seen the stories, North Atlantic is essentially Norwegian Air, just resurrected. And Norwegian still exists inside of Norway, short hop stuff. But North is starting to expand again even with some of the Norwegian planes. And they're launching New York to London service now, but now they've talked about they're already going to expand on what I consider a couple interesting routes, JFK and Los Angeles to Berlin. And not necessarily that I think Berlin is a super awesome destination. I think it's fine, but you're now much more centralized in Europe to be able to connect somewhere else. And while you don't have Air Berlin and their discount fares as a partner of American, like we used to have back in the day, I still think that's a really good jumping-off spot in Europe as compared to London.
But you said you were listening to Dots, Lines, and Destinations, which I am running behind on and they had some feedback on the fees for North Atlantic bookings.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. I'm trying to pull it up now. So there are some great fares like I'm looking at Gatwick to JFK for 199 bucks. It says it includes one underseat bag fee. I mean one underseat bag and then you basically can't change it. And you're not going to get a refund because of their fees. So it's $199 for the cheapest. You can jump up to the next level which is $289, and you get a carry-on, you get meal service, and then you get a checked bag. So if you're going to be flying Atlantic, probably pretty great. But after that man stepping it up from $199, to get a seat selection, it jumps up to... Looks like $470. $199 to $470, pretty rough. And then a meal looks like it's 35 bucks, checked bag is 80 bucks. So the ancillaries are going to kill you here. And also whatever their website is doing, this is not very easy to use at all. It's not letting me select-
Ed Pizza: Did you ever book a ticket on Norwegian before?
Richard Kerr: I did not.
Ed Pizza: But their website was horrible. So it sounds like they probably took the website from Norwegian as well.
Richard Kerr: Dude, it took me 18 times. So, all right, let's see. A carry-on's 25 bucks, this is Gatwick to JFK. $198.46 for the base fare, carry-on's 25 bucks on top of that. A light checked bag of 33 pounds or less is $60. A standard check bag of 50 pounds-
Ed Pizza: 33 pounds.
Richard Kerr: If your bag is over 50 pounds, it is $170.
Ed Pizza: To check one way?
Richard Kerr: One way.
Ed Pizza: That's even obscene for me, although I don't check bags, but that's obscene.
Richard Kerr: I'm looking at seat selections here. There are no free seats to select. Bulkhead seats are 100 bucks. Seats towards the front of economy that don't have any extra leg room are 60 bucks. Middle seats are $20. And then all the way in the back, window and aisle seats are $28. And then let's see, meal service, one child meal is 30 bucks, all diabetic meal 30 bucks, all the meals are $30. And then your light meal for the second service, before landing is $20. So it's 50 bucks to eat on the flight. Hey, if you can fly hungry with no luggage, you can do it for 199 bucks, but nobody's going to do that.
Ed Pizza: Well, the interesting thing is I rolled it out. I rolled the calendar out to like October, November, and the fares don't really go down that much. I'm looking at $115 for economy light. But the upgrades to the other classes service, seem to be just as aggressive. So it's like $205 for economy classic, and $385 for economy plus. So, yeah, that's ouch.
Richard Kerr: These are Dreamliners. They are the old Norwegian Dreamliners.
Ed Pizza: Yep.
Richard Kerr: And it looks like they are also going to be flying to Los Angeles and Orlando, from Oslo. So I don't know, man, I'm cool flying Spirit and Frontier domestic, but I'm not doing this transatlantic. It's not for me. I don't think.
Ed Pizza: Well, it depends on flight times. I would do it for a day flight. Because it's not that bad from the east coast, but yeah, I'm not really looking forward to my Iceland flight in coach. So I'm trying to avoid that for any other European flights but as you mentioned, low-cost carriers, that's a really good segue to this whole Frontier, JetBlue thing. And I don't think we need to spend a bunch of time on it because there's no final answer. But I thought, my buddy Scott McCartney, who hosted the Freddies this year, wrote an article for TPG recently. And one of the facts that was in there that I really keyed on was that Spirit averages 60 bucks per passenger and ancillary fees?
Richard Kerr: That's wild.
Ed Pizza: I mean, just it's like, holy cow.
Richard Kerr: Absolutely, wild. And I was talking to some industry insiders this week up in New York City.
Ed Pizza: Ooh, industry insiders.
Richard Kerr: Who I'll leave nameless because I can't be spoiling things, but they have a lot of experience in running airlines and doing airlines. And one interesting point they brought up that I had not considered or heard, was that JetBlue wants Spirit because of the pilots.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. Oh yeah. Huge. And Spirit has a lot of pilots because of all the stuff they have in Chicago and Dallas and places like that.
Richard Kerr: But how much of a dire place do you have to be in to say, "The only way we're going to fix our pilot shortages program, is to go and acquire a low-cost carrier, so we could get all their pilots." I was like, "Wow, I guess that's true." I mean, I've seen some other pilot recruitment things, like United is doing a huge pilot push right now. Has their own school now, right? I mean...
Ed Pizza: Yeah.
Richard Kerr: I mean JetBlue has their own school as well now. So, yeah.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. And it's one of those things where, I mean, they also have planes which are kind of a problem, as well right now. I mean, it's not a huge problem, but Boeing's obviously still having problems getting MAXs off the ground, and Airbus isn't hitting their numbers though they're producing more planes and getting closer to hitting their numbers. But yeah, I mean, those are things that are compelling to them. They also pick up all the Midwest slots, which is something that JetBlue has struggled with a little bit. The interesting thing is that, so Spirit's a low-cost carrier, right?
Richard Kerr: Mm-hmm.
Ed Pizza: How much money did they make last quarter?
Richard Kerr: I have not looked at their filings.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. They lost money.
Richard Kerr: Wow. Everybody's losing money still, right?
Ed Pizza: Sure. So it's like, I'm still struggling. I understand economies of scale a whole bit, but I still struggle to see why JetBlue wants Spirit so much because it's not like they're killing it. And maybe they will when next year rolls around, something like that. Or maybe they're killing it right now. But I mean like right now, with it as busy as it's been this year, and they're still struggling to make money, I don't know, this one's still a little puzzling to me.
Richard Kerr: I wish I had more knowledge into this, kind of what I've been doing a lot lately, listening to like the Dot, Lines and Destinations, and reading some more B2B loyalty in the airlines. So I feel my knowledge is lacking on the insider business knowledge of these things and how they're done in the airline industry. And the whole thing from slot management, which is just insanely interesting to me how they do lottery systems, for who gets to take off and land at Heathrow. And who gets to take off and land at JFK, and the things that airlines do to maintain their slots like flying 12 times a day from DeLos to LaGuardia with empty planes, because the slots are worth that much in the future. This is all incredibly interesting to me. And unless you know where to go look, it's kind of hard to learn these things. And I wonder if sometimes if that's kind of done on purpose, where they don't want people to understand all of these kinds of deals. And I've been seeing the headlines of, United American and Delta fighting for the Cape Town in South Africa slots.
The filings arguments that make to the department of transportation, and how they manipulate data, and just make the funniest arguments in the world, from high price powered lawyers to try and trick the DOT into giving... It's the politics and the gamesmanship behind running an airline, that's just fascinating to me.
Ed Pizza: Yeah, no it is. And, I mean, just from a business standpoint, it's not necessarily that I think that JetBlue, it would be making mistake to buy Spirit to be clear, but they're paying cash. So, I mean-
Richard Kerr: Where do they get all that cash?
Ed Pizza: Cash is king. And so if they were just swapping out some stock, that's one thing, but they must have a pretty grand vision for how they would want to convert Spirit. And Scott brings up an interesting point, which I don't really know how they'll resolve this. I mean, clearly, JetBlue has sold themselves on being the better economy class experience, and Spirit has clearly not sold themselves on that. And so do they continue to run two separate airlines? Do they change how a plane comes together? Where they squeeze more seats in the back of a JetBlue plane, but leave the even more legroom seats the same? I mean, there's some questions there and if you can't integrate the two airlines into one, then you really lose all the economies of scale of why you bought them in the first place because you can't use those pilots on your planes.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. We've seen companies mess up mergers in the past, where you end up with this hodgepodge of not knowing what you're going to expect, like U.S. Airways and American. You get on 8321, these legacy U.S. Airways that has no in-flight entertainment and no power and you're on a six-hour flight with no plug, and that lasted forever. And it's like, "Oh my God, come on." And-
Ed Pizza: And those were airlines with a much more... A wide business model.
Richard Kerr: Yeah.
Ed Pizza: They still had to integrate red systems and all that stuff, but it wasn't like you were trying to merge in two very different models. So what does a Mint plane look like if JetBlue and Spirit merge? So I want to see all of this and figure it out.
Richard Kerr: Do they make yellow Mints?
Ed Pizza: Yeah. You haven't seen them at the bottom of the urinals?
Richard Kerr: Aww.
Ed Pizza: I really wish we had video of today's episode. The faces you've made throughout it are hilarious. All right. Last quick hit, because there's not a whole lot to talk about just yet. Because I haven't seen this loaded, or at least it wasn't loaded when I looked it up. United is announcing San Francisco, Brisbane service, and maybe Brisbane isn't first on people's lists of places to get. But what this says to me is, just a great opportunity to redeem miles to get to Australia. And so United now has flights to Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, from the West Coast. So just tons and tons of lift. So I'm betting that there's going to be reasonable award availability in 2024 to get to Australia.
Richard Kerr: 2024?
Ed Pizza: Sorry, 2023. Sorry. I can't keep track of the year.
Richard Kerr: This flight launches October 28 of this year.
Ed Pizza: Yeah.
Richard Kerr: It's not loaded in the system, right?
Ed Pizza: It wasn't when I checked, it might be now, but...
Richard Kerr: And the whole part of the deal is that you can now book Virgin Australia flights with United, so you can fly to Brisbane and then hop off to all the places that-
Ed Pizza: 100%.
Richard Kerr: Virgin flies to, which that whole partnership deal... Who else does Virgin Australia partner with now? It's like kind of everybody.
Ed Pizza: I was just going to say, is there anybody they don't partner with?
Richard Kerr: Except Qantas, right?
Ed Pizza: Right. Yeah. Well, yeah, maybe not Qantas anytime soon.
Richard Kerr: Except Qantas, so got the Delta thing going on with Virgin Australia. So, that's kind of weird. And then I think there's some new Virgin Australia Qatar partnership, which is weird because Qatar and Qantas are in the one world, but Qantas has the deal with Emirates. So it's kind of all getting twisted up down there. But yeah, if you want to go somewhere obscure in Australia from San Francisco, it's a great one hop. New one hop way to do it.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. And I have a good friend of mine, Vaughn, who lives in Brisbane. So any of this is great for her, but I think to that point, we always talk about flights to Europe. As like, you look for the long leg, you don't necessarily look... Like if you want to go from Dulles to Greece, you don't necessarily search Dulles to Greece. You search any sort of long-haul cheap route that you can find, between the U.S. and Europe. And so I think where Brisbane comes into play, is exactly that. So a couple things, first off, it's a very short flight to Sydney from there, hour, hour and a half. But also it's midway up the coast towards the Great Barrier Reef. So we flew into Cairns, which is probably 90 minutes from Brisbane, which is a short drive to Port Douglas, which is a great area to hang out. There's an awesome Sheraton in there and you can get out to the Great Barrier Reef and all that.
So you can hit the Gold Coast. If you're flying into Brisbane and Virgin Australia, has plenty of flights up and down the eastern seaboard of Australia, Melbourne, Sydney, Cairns. So I just look at this using the same principles as getting to Europe as, this is another opportunity for people to find cheap, paid, and award flights to a place that... Gosh, I mean, I've been there twice now, and I can't wait to go back. I love Australia.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. Otherwise, you got to connect through Fiji, or Hawaii, or does Air Tahiti Nui, can you connect through?
Ed Pizza: I had an Air Tahiti Nui booked, back at the very beginning of the pandemic, when I went to New Zealand. And they stopped all stopovers for a brief hot minute there.
Richard Kerr: Or you got to go all the way up to Japan and Korea. And who wants to do that if you're trying to get Australia? Because that's long anyway.
Ed Pizza: Yeah.
Richard Kerr: Man, I just completely write off the ability to be able to redeem points for premium cabin class on this flight. It's just going to be so many miles that it doesn't personally excite me.
Ed Pizza: I don't know. Let's see. I mean, let's revisit this when they load the inventory. I'll be interested to see it. They're only flying it three times weekly, I think, if I remember correctly.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.
Ed Pizza: Right. But they're flying on the 789, and so there's 48 business class seats. And for what it's worth, I mean, not that I would choose this, but you're a little bit more frugal than I am. They've also got an actual-
Richard Kerr: You throw that in any chance you get.
Ed Pizza: I do.
Richard Kerr: You created the narrative and you're sticking to it.
Ed Pizza: Oh, I created the narrative?
Richard Kerr: If I say it over and over it'll be true.
Ed Pizza: Yes. Right. Yeah. Yes. Very inaudible. Because nobody else in the world believes that you're cheap. But they have a true premium economy product, on the 789 as well that's actually not horrible. So I'll be interested to see how premium economy prices on this. And then also, with almost 50 business class seats I'm betting that there's going to be availability on this flight if they're flying it three times a day. That's my bet. But we'll see, we'll see. What you got for travel this week, man?
Richard Kerr: We are going out to California to check out-
Ed Pizza: Oh, that's right.
Richard Kerr: Big Sur and Monterey.
Ed Pizza: Do you see those people on Twitter reemphasizing my point that there are only two choices, that you either upgrade the wife or sit in coach with her?
Richard Kerr: Yeah. And I've upgraded both of us now. So speaking of the-
Ed Pizza: You did. How'd you do that?
Richard Kerr: Yeah. See, look, Hey, let's fight this cheap narrative here. It was $686.
Ed Pizza: You paid it? There's no way you paid it. You used miles.
Richard Kerr: Just let me tell the story, Ed. So yes, my regional upgrade certificate we talked about last week cleared 48 hours out before the flight, so yesterday morning.
Ed Pizza: I'm going to interrupt you again. I called that on the episode last week.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. Well the whole first class cabin was still empty for the Saturday morning flight and I was like, "Okay, this needs to clear now." And sure enough, it did. So that leaves me in row 40F, way in the back, and Emily now on 5A. Emily on 5A on 767 life flight. And I mean it is a transcon, you're going to be on the plane for five hours. So it's-
Ed Pizza: You'll be on the plane longer than I will be to Reykjavik?
Richard Kerr: Yeah. It'll be flying against the wind. And you know what, man, I just was not feeling sitting in 40F for five hours. Now, next to a stranger instead of next to my wife. So I looked at it, I looked hard, and I was like, "You know what?" I was talking about people are willing to pay and do more than they have because she and I have not been on a nice trip together since 2019. So what had happened was, is I forgot she had a Ritz-Carlton card still, and the $300 travel credit, which is much more liberal than the Amex platinum credits. And then I did some digging on FlyerTalk in the Delta Amex platinum. $200 credits and people are having success calling in. Even though if you pay for this with the Amex Platinum, it will not trigger the $200 credit, which I think is absurd, and upgrade is an ancillary cost which is a 100% inaudible.
Ed Pizza: Absurd.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. But if you call in and say, "Hey, I have a seat selection fee I need you guys to cover," they'll manually process it. If you don't ever say anything about upgrade, you say seat selection. So I got $300 from Ritz off of it, I got $200 from Amex off of it. So I'm paying 150 bucks for the five hours, in first class life flight. So I burnt a crap ton of credits, but now we're sitting next to each other in first class for the five-hour flight on a life flight.
Ed Pizza: Well done, Richard. Well done.
Richard Kerr: So there you go, Ed, shove your cheap narrative.
Ed Pizza: Well, there you go, Ed. I found 500 bucks. It was free money so I'm not cheap. The way you twist logic is just, it bends, it makes my brain hurt. It really-
Richard Kerr: inaudible 2036.
Ed Pizza: Well, I am blessedly, thankfully home, no travel this week. Big shout out to my buddy Michael Trager, from TravelZork, who was in Vegas this week. Resorts World was sold out and so he asked if I want to try out the Waldorf Astoria, which is in front of ARIA. And boy, I mean, those folks were awesome. I mean, it's a Waldorf so you expect high-level service, but greeted in the lobby, they knew exactly who I was.
Richard Kerr: Google inaudible, some Google action?
Ed Pizza: No, this is Michael, that's Trager doing his work. The rooms manager knew that I was a Resorts World person, and wanted to make sure that they could convince me that Waldorf Astoria was a great place to stay. So they upgraded me to a one-bedroom suite, which was super nice, tons of space, great bathroom. Wish my wife was there. She'd have loved the big soaking tub with the bath salts and all that stuff. Bottle of champagne waiting for me in the room when I got there. The only regret I have is that the hotel does a... From what I've heard, has a pretty good sushi bar. But it only runs Wednesday to Sunday. And so I was there earlier in the week and didn't get to try out the sushi bar. But other than that, really nice property. And at least for me and maybe this doesn't appeal to everybody, really well located in Vegas, but no casino on the property. So nobody running down the hallways naked, screaming in the middle of the night, which happens way too often in other Vegas properties, which is why I-
Richard Kerr: Imagine the stuff like, front desk, guest manager, security, has to deal with at Vegas hotels.
Ed Pizza: Oh, I can only imagine. I can only imagine.
Richard Kerr: Geez, man.
Ed Pizza: Anyway, but yeah. So thanks to Michael, a big shout out there, really appreciated my upgrade. Really, thanks to all the folks at the Waldorf for how wonderful they treated me. As you could imagine, they were all over everything, texted me each day to ask me if I needed anything. Just loved the service of the Waldorf brand. Iceland coming up soon. Be interested to hear how your San Francisco trip is next week when you're back and we might have a filler episode too, as well. Richard and I are probably going to do an episode on premium cards or something that's not overly time-sensitive because I do not want to try to podcast from Iceland while we're gone. Since we're going to be gone for a couple weeks. So stay tuned for all of that.
You need to track down Summer and Julian again too. Have we booked our campsite yet? We're threatening to go to Disney in 2023, to camp together in October at Halloween.
Richard Kerr: Wait for the confirmation from Summer.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. All right. Well, all that and a whole lot more until I see Mr. Kerr and we upload again. We've got Miles to Go.
Speaker 4: The Miles to Go podcast is produced in association with Crooked Path Productions.
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