Ed Pizza: And your spidey sense goes off. Like there's just a tingle.
Richard Kerr: There's something new going on in Vegas? It doesn't seem like it to me.
Ed Pizza: But neither ticket it canceled? I just like, huh?
Richard Kerr: You know what? Your phone's not working anymore for the next three hours.
Ed Pizza: I'm going to guess 35 minutes.
Richard Kerr: It was eight hours.
Ed Pizza: Disney customer service.
Richard Kerr: What a dumpster fire.
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. It has been one heck of a week for me from a travel standpoint. I am finally back home and Richard is, you are in a random campground somewhere in Georgia, right?
Richard Kerr: I'm in Franklin Delano Roosevelt State Park here in Georgia after spending the entire week in New York city. And after going to a family wedding up North of Atlanta. So I've been all over the place man, but not as much as you, it sounds like.
Ed Pizza: I've covered a lot of miles in more ways than one and it hasn't been pretty. Just a quick number of folks at the top before we dig into stuff. We also got a couple listener questions we're going to talk about hotel brands, best brands for certain things and how to book a European vacation. But if you have questions or comments for Mr. Kerr or I, you can email the show @edpizzainmotion.com. You can find him on social media. He is @kerrpoints. I am @pizzainmotion in all those social media places. We do love answering questions, and hopefully we're going to get to a couple of them today. I think that depends on how far a field we get on some of the crazy stuff that's happened to me and him this week, including some stuff that I still haven't quite figured out. Some head scratchers. But you can also leave us a voicemail or text us 571-293-6659.
All right, man. So I said at the beginning of the summer, I had 10 flights for summer travel with the family and that there was no way we were going to make all 10 the way that they needed to happen. We had two delays in the first eight, one of those delays I'd call serious, was probably like a two hour delay, the other one was your garden variety. Anything 30 minutes late right now, I just consider on time given how bad it is. But we finally hit the jackpot flight number nine to Orlando on United. And they canceled our flight about four hours prior to departure. And the tough part about this one was it wasn't like clear cut, there was a weather delay at first and then they canceled it. But the plane that was supposed to service was still flying. And I verified that through a third party app and through United's own website, it just kept completing flight throughout the day. So I'm guessing it may have been a crew issue that ultimately canceled our segment of it.
Richard Kerr: But they're not going to tell you that, right?
Ed Pizza: Right. Exactly.
Richard Kerr: Weather ultimately.
Ed Pizza: But the problem was, is with everything, there's not a lot of stuff out there. And so my wife was booked on a separate ticket, I was using up an old voucher and the kids were using up, I was using Miles for wife and kids. Got a supervisor on the phone, the first level agent wouldn't move us because she said it was weather. The second level agent was fine moving us but there just wasn't anything. It was like, "Well, I can get two of you to Tampa today and two of you to Tampa on Sunday." And I said, "Well, hey, there's an American flight and I see seats available on it. Can you just put us on this American flight from Reagan instead of going out through Dallas." He's like, "Oh, well you're on award tickets. American won't accept an award ticket via Interline from us." And I got this pit in my stomach. I was like-
Richard Kerr: Absolutely.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. Right. Now I have to convince this guy that he doesn't understand the rules. And I tried really gently because I didn't have a lot of time. At this point we were four hours prior to departure and we're not at the airport yet. We're literally almost ready to walk out the door.
Richard Kerr: And you live close to Dallas not Reagan, so you got to make appropriate preparations.
Ed Pizza: Right. Yeah. You've driven it. You've literally driven my house to Reagan. So there's an extra hour in there. And so I'm scrambling and I'm doing everything I can to try and convince him and he just won't do it. And I since call back and confirm with another agent that I wasn't losing my mind, that they can Interline award tickets. The ticket stock doesn't matter. It's just their choice as to whether they want to move me or not.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. They got to pay either way and they don't want to pay.
Ed Pizza: Exactly. Right. And I get it. If he just said like, "Sorry, I'm not moving you it's weather." There's really nothing I can say, even though I don't think it's really a weather delay, I'm stuck. They can say weather and what am I going to say? Like, "Oh no, there wasn't a storm some other random place in the country?" It just is what it is.
Richard Kerr: So how did you guys end up getting down there? What had happened?
Ed Pizza: We got about as lucky as you can imagine being. And this is where we talk in this hobby, the vast majority of bloggers preach earn and burn. And I don't disagree with the general philosophy, but I've always been one to hoard pretty much everything. But I also hoard points in Miles and I keep a pretty decent stash in all the major programs. So it was unbelievably weird. There were four saver award seats available on DCA, MCO, four hours prior to departure in coach. What are the chances that's ever going to happen?
Richard Kerr: American is the only program left domestically where you can catch last minute good deals. Because I see it from time to time coming out of Atlanta. So that's a reason everybody to keep a stockpile of American Miles in your back pocket.
Ed Pizza: Like I said, I just wasn't expecting to find it. But at that point up against it, I canceled my United flights and then I booked the American ones using American miles and I need to go back to United and figure things out there because clearly they were willing to move me to another flight, but they wouldn't move me to another airline. I got stone cold lucky and if I didn't, I'm not sure we make it down there for what was supposed to be a pretty incredible week where we're going to take our son on house on Starcruiser.
Richard Kerr: What was supposed to be. And this whole time, like this was on Sunday, you were finding I was trying to get to New York city, which I got to and just had a long work week, just an unbelievable work week, just for a lot of reasons in New York city. So the attention I would've usually been given to Ed and ribbing them, was just completely taken up. But I just kept seeing things go downhill as I casually scanned our group text messages.
Ed Pizza: Yeah, they did go downhill. Yeah, so we flew down Saturday. On Sunday morning, our daughter woke up feeling miserable and shortly thereafter tested positive for COVID.
Richard Kerr: Oh man. So how do you start to work your way out of that with Disney? And I imagine Disney customer service was better than United's. If I'm just taking a wild guess here.
Ed Pizza: Disney customer service was better than any expectation I could possibly have. I will say they gave me a little bit of trouble postponing Starcruiser. Dates are firm, all that stuff and I get it. They're likely not going to resell this 24 hours at a time. And this, for folks who don't know, is incredibly expensive, $6,000 for a family of four for a weekend, for two days. And we had saved up a bunch of Capital One Venture Miles to pay for it. So they offered to charge me a fairly nominal fee in the grand scheme of things. They charged me $350 to move it to a different date, which I'll call a win, under that situation.
And then the weird thing was, I wish I'd taken more clear notes. But I went to the front desk, because at that point it's like, all right, well we need to keep our daughter quarantined because she's the only one that's sick. Our son wasn't sick, Michelle and I didn't have any symptoms. And so I went to the front desk I'm like, "Hey here's what's happened. Are you guys sold out tomorrow?" And they were sold out. And so-
Richard Kerr: This is it. Old Key West, right? Not in the Starcruiser.
Ed Pizza: It was an Old Key West. Exactly. Yeah. This is a weird vacation because Starcruiser, we actually had three hotel reservations. We're starting at Old Key West. Then we were moving to Starcruiser and then we were going to stay for a few days afterwards at Disney's art of animation. So now I'm trying to figure out how to bridge all these myriads days. And I've got no hotel room in the middle when we were supposed to be on Starcruiser, because we're not getting on Starcruiser. They were sold out at Old Key West. By the time I got back to the room, the phone was ringing in the room. And I would say 30, 40% of the time I unplug the hotel room phone. I don't want anybody... It rings at three o'clock in the morning, the hotel room phone has no value to me whatsoever.
It was somebody from a special team at Disney who handles the COVID stuff. And she's like, "Look we need to get the important stuff out of the way first. If your daughter tested positive, we're going to block her pass out for five days. She's not allowed in the parks. Okay?" Got it. Makes sense. Like, "All right, now tell us what we can do to help you." And essentially she put everything on the table, including we'll cancel everything and you can go home and we'll get you a credit that you can use for a future trip or we'll work with the travel agency to get you your money back. We'll move you to a different property. I mean, the stuff that they were willing to do was unbelievable to the point of, we figured out a way to move hotels the first time of many. And it was like, all right, I don't want this to be a total loss for my son. Because when we told him he couldn't go on Starcruiser, he's 11, like just broke down in tears.
Richard Kerr: Yeah, sure. Understandable.
Ed Pizza: He was bawling. He'd been looking forward to this for months. And of course now my daughter is crying because she thinks it's her fault. And it's like, it's not your fault. It's-
Richard Kerr: On top of feeling-
Ed Pizza: ... the pandemic. Yeah, exactly. Right. So he's bawling and I want to rescue some of this trip. We're down here, we're not going to turn around and go back right away. We decided we could have, we went through a bunch of different permutations, including going and grabbing an Airbnb somewhere with a beach or a pool nearby for five days and just sweating it out. But we found a place, but it was like, all right now I don't have park pass reservations, which are required now for these days where we were supposed to be in Starcruiser. And I wanted to be able to do some park stuff except I have an annual pass, he has an annual pass, my wife does not. So I don't have a park pass reservation for it. They're helping me out with room stuff I'm like, "Look, I don't know if this is possible, but is there any way you could put me in touch with someone that could help get my wife a park pass reservation so she can take my son to the parks tomorrow, while I move our daughter somewhere else?"
We were going to move to the Treehouse Villas. Dude, I got to tell you, I mean, not only did they make a park pass reservation appear out of vapor for Magic Kingdom, which was sold out, they gave her a free ticket for the day. A hundred and-
Richard Kerr: 159 bucks plus tax, yeah.
Ed Pizza: Exactly. Yeah. And I never asked for it, they just like here take it I dropped them off at the Magic Kingdom in the morning. I managed their Disney Genie+ from my phone because my wife has never managed Genie+ on her own. And I moved my daughter and I to Treehouse Villas, which for folks who don't know, it's a subset of rooms outside of Saratoga Springs Resort at Disney. And they're actually tree houses up on still surrounded by trees. They're super awesome and perfect to quarantine in because they have three bedrooms.
Richard Kerr: What a score, man? I mean score relatively speaking. Other hotels or travel agencies would've been like, "Well here, your cancellation policy was two weeks out or we going to lose 50% of it." Something like that. So the fact you paid a nominal you to change it and then Disney is like here, let's try and make the best out of this. Did they give her special fast passes or anything? Did I read that text wrong or? You were like something popped up in her account or they did something else to make it better?
Ed Pizza: So they did a lot of things, but probably the two other meaningful things were, they kept our fast passes in place for Millennium Falcon and for Rise of the Resistance, which are my son's favorite rides. And so my wife, who's also a Star Wars nut, was able to take Charlie one of the later days in the week on Tuesday to Hollywood studios and do some of the things we would've done when we were on Starcruiser. It wasn't obviously the same, but it was like he could still do some Star Wars stuff, which was a ton of fun. And we also got to see our friends who were supposed to be on the ship, Glitter Mike and Hosway and Marty hung out with us for a bit, shared some blue milk, all that stuff.
We tried to make the best of it for a short period of time and Disney was great there. The other thing that was super awesome, which they did more than once for us was they pre blocked our next room and then it was like, "Hey, room is pre blocked. You're checking in tomorrow. If you want to check in tonight, you want to check in tomorrow morning, we don't care room is blocked, take it it's yours. Move whenever you want." Then it was like, all right, well now I don't have to figure out how to quarantine my daughter for four hours without a hotel room in between checkout and check in. All the stuff that just would've made it a nightmare.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. Disney doesn't really do late checkouts or early check in ladies and gentlemen. So when they say check in is at 4:00, you're doing good to be in the room 4:30.
Ed Pizza: Yes. Yes.
Richard Kerr: That's huge.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. They moved a bunch of stuff around in the background to do all this stuff and they kept giving me other options. Our son really wanted to stay at Art of Animation, he wanted to stay in the lion Kings room, but they gave us other options like, here's this room at Coronado, here's a car's room. They kept listing things off that they could help us with. Offered to send food to the room, I mean I couldn't even imagine some of the things that they suggested and helped out with. And I mean, they don't know who I am. I'm nobody special to them. I'm just a guest. And so I was really, really impressed with how well they handled that. Really impressed.
Richard Kerr: And because of this, you will continue to give the mouse a lot of your money. Whereas other travel providers be it an airline, hotel or whoever, would've handled this very poorly. I just feel like everybody has a very short, narrow view of things. And would not get any future dollars or cents off of you. So good job of Disney there. But the story doesn't end. So it's coming time to go home. You got these lovely flights home, hopefully it's not going to be delayed. And for some reason you were in a car for two days driving home.
Ed Pizza: And there's part of it that I didn't tell you yet, which probably won't come as a surprise to you. But so on Saturday our son woke up, it was our last day in the park, we were flying on Sunday. On Saturday our son woke up and just started coughing. And then he rebounded like 15 minutes later and we're like, "Okay, this is kind of weird." And we had exhausted our stock of tests at this point. He didn't have a fever, he just like woke up and coughed and was like, all right. And then seemed like he was okay. Anytime anybody coughed now I get like, "All right, is it starting again?" So we took him to Epcot and about midway through the day, he just lays down on my wife's lap on the ground. And clearly something was wrong. It's like, all right, so I went and got tests and took him back to the room and he tested positive.
And I got to tell you, for what it's worth, and I really debated going back and forth on whether I would say this on the pod, but I'm just going to say it because as you well know me, I generally don't hold back. I just wonder how many people would've said, "All right, maybe our kid is a little bit off, but we got a flight tomorrow." Suck it up buttercup, get on the plane and never even bother testing their kids. I have to imagine there's probably at least a dozen or two dozen people on our flight, if we had taken it, that would've tested positive, who just don't give a rats about COVID right now. I can't say I blame them, but I felt a little bit like a champ when I first went to test him, because like I said, it didn't seem horrible. But in the end I just couldn't bring myself to ignore the cough and just put them on the plane with a mask and hope we didn't get somebody sick.
Richard Kerr: Dude it's everywhere. Whatever is going around, everybody has COVID, nobody is testing for it. There's no precautions, is absolutely everywhere and it's here to stay.
Ed Pizza: Yeah, exactly. Right.
Richard Kerr: Onto the next thing in life. This battle has been lost by humanity today, it's now everywhere. I don't know what else to say besides you're going to get it if you go out. If you haven't had it recently and you go out to anywhere, the grocery store, Walmart, sporting event, concert, bar, flight, hotel, you're going to get it, the end. I hope you have got vaccinated boosters so that is as mild as possible. But that's what it is. That's what it is.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. And for what it's worth, for folks who are potentially interested in this stuff, we're not going to go deep down the COVID route. We don't need more people telling us that we're whatever we are this week. But if you're interested in reading about some of the nuts and bolts behind this stuff, there's a book by Michael Lewis called the Premonition that I just finished, that I think is worth people reading. If you want to hear some of the things that we probably could have done early on to avoid the situation we're in. Anyway, we pulled ourselves off the flight and I got to ask you, you've been doing this a long time and I have to imagine you've been in this situation before where you're on the phone with an agent and your spidey sense goes off, there's just a tingle. You know what I'm talking about? Where like something just-
Richard Kerr: The agent is not going to help you.
Ed Pizza: Something just doesn't feel right about the way things are going.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. I mean, sure. Pick one of a dozen times.
Ed Pizza: Right, exactly. And so I call to cancel the flights and I just start getting... And this is the one K desk, this is supposed to be the folks who know what they're doing. And I just start getting the tingle on the call, but I'm driving at this point. We're on our way home. She puts me on hold for a little bit and there's like some trouble canceling the ticket and then she's, "Okay. I got both reservations canceled. Everything's all good. You're all set." But there was just something about it that just didn't feel right.
Richard Kerr: Dude, I think I've referred many times where I hang up without doing the confirmation work that I should have done because I trust the agent and it does not work out in my favor.
Ed Pizza: Right, right.
Richard Kerr: Because they haven't done what they said.
Ed Pizza: And with the cancellation, it's a little tough because sometimes the Miles don't come right back into your account. And you're not going to see the voucher for a paid ticket, because it's just going to go back as a pass credit. And oh, by the way I'm driving and it's rush hour in Orlando and it's a mess and stuff. And I'm like, five or 10 minutes goes by and it's just again, the spidey sense is still tingling. So I pull over, I was like, what are you doing? And I pull over and I check, I have no cancellation emails, the Miles aren't back on my account. Nothing.
You're not a big United flyer, but I still have the checked in button on my front screen, on my app. And I'm like, okay. So I call again and it's been wait times. They're not horrible wait times 10, 15 minutes, something like that. Get an agent on the phone and she's like, "Okay, so what about these flights? Did you need some information about them?" I'm like, "Well, yeah for starters do they still exist?' And she said, "Yeah. No, everything's fine. Yeah, you're all set to fly tomorrow." And like, we'll play.
Richard Kerr: I wonder what goes, I have no idea the inner workings of what keystrokes you got to hit to confirm cancellation. I imagine there's a redundant check so that you can't just be like, "Whoops, hit cursor in and just canceled your flight." But what goes wrong in those situations? Those I've definitely had that where I'm like, "Did that agent really just cancel that or book that?" And like, you can't find the confirmation or anything. You call back and they're like, "What are you talking about?" I'm like, "Oh my God." What goes wrong in that minute where it's actually not canceled?
Ed Pizza: And both flights, she didn't cancel either one. Certainly you and I know that there are things that happen that are out of the realm of normal. So my tickets are revenue ticket, there's no change fees, just cancel and give me credit back. That one probably happens pretty easily. But then there's my wife's ticket and it's Miles and she doesn't have status. And so maybe there's a couple extra buttons to click or there's an approval or something, but neither ticket canceled? Like, huh?
Richard Kerr: What happens there to make it go like... So you guys drive from Orlando back to DC, how long did that take?
Ed Pizza: It took a total of 16 hours. So we probably should take 14. We stopped for gas. And have you ever been to a Buc-ee's?
Richard Kerr: Oh yeah, man. Tear it up. Love me some Buc-ee's.
Ed Pizza: Well, they opened one in Florence, South Carolina and we even stopped for gas there. I walked in and I'm like, "Holy, hell."
Richard Kerr: That was your first Buc-ee's experience?
Ed Pizza: First.
Richard Kerr: Oh yeah. Well then like you're there for an hour and a half.
Ed Pizza: Well, I couldn't be because look I got a COVID positive kid in the car. So I still don't know a lot about Buc-ee's but I go to the bathroom, I grab coffee because we stayed at a hotel that didn't have coffee makers in the room and the coffee downstairs was like super strong and I'm a complete wimp for coffee. So I get a cup of coffee, fill the gas tank up and I go to the front to pay for the coffee and it's legit opening weekend, there's a line to get in from the highway, both coming north and south. For folks who haven't been, Buc-ee's are massive. There's two rows of gas pumps. There must be 80 gas pumps, I mean it's massive.
Richard Kerr: Yes. It's a gas station that has a Walmart that has everything in this universe you could ever want to try or eat from like a unique standpoint. It's awesome.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. I saw a barbecue stand brisket, turkey, pork. I mean, unbelievable. And so like I go up to her, I go, "Hi, this must be opening weekend, super busy." She goes, "Oh no, we've been open since May." What? She says it's this way 24 hours a day. Oh my God.
Richard Kerr: Two have opened in Georgia now on 75, which is not where we live or drive very often. But there's people that just drive an hour and a half, two hours just to go to the Buc-ee's to check it out. And then anytime we do stop, Emily gets these salting crackers that have been soaked, they're like salt and vinegar salting crackers that are soaked in butter. It's like 180 calories of salting cracker. It's like her guilty pleasure.
Ed Pizza: Good Lord.
Richard Kerr: Oh man. And then they have massive olive gummies that is just like, oh heaven on earth. You can just try indie kind of gummy in the world and oh yeah, everybody go to Buc-ee's. And they're spreading like wildfire now. They're opening up everywhere.
Ed Pizza: They have a beef jerky bar. They have a bar. They have a spar spread bigger than any deli I've ever been to with like 25 different types of beef jerky. I need two hours in one of these places just to really absorb them.
Richard Kerr: And then the ladies can go by Buc-ee thing bikinis, because they're usually now near the beach in Texas and on the Gulf coast as well. So then you see the ladies out on the beach.
Ed Pizza: Oh, you didn't tell me that. I could ask my wife to get out of the car and try one on.
Richard Kerr: Buc-ee's bikini.
Ed Pizza: Oh my God, that would've gone over well.
Richard Kerr: So you guys make it home after, what an adventure man. Oh, that sounds... I mean you accomplished a lot at least, but obviously not what we hope for. But it speaks to how difficult any travel is right now and how pervasive, I just feel like if you haven't gotten recently to go anywhere, like you're going to get it and that's it.
Ed Pizza: Well, not just that. I think travel is like... I continue to hear reports of folks. And you've got the Hawaii situation with your family members, it's an absolute mess. And because things are so full, the accommodations are like, "Hey, we can get you somewhere in three days, four days, six days." It's nuts. It's insane.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. So that's doing the seamless transition here, going over to, we had a family wedding in North of Atlanta, my cousins who are stationed to Pearl Harbor in the Navy submariner, they were in Charleston visiting for a while and everybody drove over and they were going to fly home from Hawaii. Or from Atlanta back to Hawaii because their kids start school this week that you're listening to it. So yesterday, Sunday, my cousin text me and she's like, "Hey, we flew Atlanta to LA. We just got to LA. They say our American flight LA to Honolulu is canceled because there's not a pilot." She's like, "What do I do?" And she's a very savvy traveler, but she's got the whole family with her. Everybody's already tired after a transcon. And I was like, "Well, if they admitted because of a pilot, at the very least you get free hotel and meal voucher and they get you on a flight tomorrow. Or you could go and request to be interlined onto United Alaska."
Southwest doesn't do inter line, right? Or Delta or Hawaiian, four different options of mainline carriers to get inter line onto. She says, "Okay, they're telling me, there's no flights available. So we're just going to go hotel, we're tired at this point. We're done, we're going to try again tomorrow. They say they can get us on a flight tomorrow." She takes me like three hours ago and she's like, "Hey, our American flight, the same one is canceled again. Second nine in a row because of crew." And she's like, "They won't Interline me." And I'm like, "You can't get from LA to Hawaii in 48 hours?" What? Is this what-
Ed Pizza: I don't mean to laugh, but yeah, yeah.
Richard Kerr: No, but it's so bad. And I pull up Google flights and sure enough, almost all the flights are sold out, but there are seats on the United in Hawaiian flight from LAX to Honolulu tonight. So she was like, "They keep telling me there's no flights." I was like, "Will you pull up Google flights, go to the airline's own booking website where it lets you get to the confirmation page and show the agent like, hey, these seats exist." She was like, "Okay. Yeah. I'm at the hotel. We kind of almost gave up again. But I'm about to go back to the desk at LAX to try again while my husband watches the kids." And then she finally texts me like, "Hey, they magically found a flight, but we have to go through Maui now." So they're flying LAX to Maui tonight and then fly Maui to Honolulu.
And I'm like, "Oh my God. Are you serious American? You cannot get four ticket revenue ticketed passengers from LAX to Honolulu in 72 hours? They would literally be in there for 72 hours, if they get out tomorrow. Who knows man. But what a dumpster fire and those stories are just going around everywhere right now. And then once the weather is kicking in these afternoon thunderstorms, everybody I've seen in the Facebook groups is like, "They're telling me they can rebook me in three days to get to my trip in Turks and Caicos or Dominican Republic at which point I miss half my hotel reservation." It's just like, is it really worth it right now? So you know what I did for my birthday?
Ed Pizza: You can't. You did a heck of a parking job, I got to say.
Richard Kerr: Oh thank you. Yes. I drove the RV here to the State Park where we don't have to mess with any of that.
Ed Pizza: I was impressed because like the... And folks won't understand how impressive this is, but the parking spot that Richard has for the trailer this week, if you look on Twitter, you'll see the pictures. It's a fairly narrow spot and it has four by four beams in the ground sort of containing the gravel that makes up the slot, which makes it even harder to get in because now you can't really be overly crooked or anything like that. And as a guy who doesn't camp anymore and doesn't want to own a trailer ever again, again mad props. The stairs even come down on the darn four by four edging man. That was pretty badass.
Richard Kerr: It's the old school State Park. So the sites are a little bit smaller, but while the physical site is smaller, the space between the sites is amazing. We have two acres around us before the next, that much. But it's awesome. Emily was like, "What are you going to do? What are you going to do? We had this thing in Atlanta." I was like, "We can just go to the airport the next morning and hop somewhere for a few days. And I was like, "It's just not going to work out. So let's just go camping." And it's been awesome. The kids have our cousin down here tonight. I took the day off work. I'm doing absolutely nothing. We went to do some history stuff, if you guys haven't followed me on Twitter, you're missing US history lesson.
Growing up around here, you know president Franklin Roosevelt, world war II Roosevelt had very deep ties here to 30 minutes from where I grew up, so much that he built a cottage that became the little white house when he was president. So we sent the kids there this morning explained to him who is president Roosevelt? Why was he important? What kind of guy was he? This is where he lives. And I had completely forgotten the history of him dying here in Warm Springs, Georgia. To have the chair still in its exact spot where he had the hemorrhage during the afternoon and his bed and the room next door where they carried him when he passed away. And the museum it's like a really hidden gem. If you guys like Americana stuff, you're passing through Georgia, check out Warm Springs in the little white house. It was really cool. And the kids were very interested. So good day, man. A lot of fun stuff that didn't have anything to do with going to an airport.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. And I think to your point, if you don't have to travel right now, I wouldn't. If you've got something booked, so be it, I get it. I don't know when I'm going to feel differently on this because clearly everybody wants to, not everybody, but the people listening obviously want to travel. I just I don't know when it's going to be normal again, man or even tolerable. It's just so hard to do much anything. And I'm on theory, a travel expert, if I didn't go outside the box and book my own new flight we probably never even make it to Disney, to be honest, because if they weren't going to give us an option, get all four of us out Saturday night. So if we don't get down there, then my daughter tests positive the next morning when she wakes up feeling like crap and then my son doesn't get Disney at all.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. So it is fun to think about all the time, the non experts for the families who, my cousin's case, don't have a... Again, being a military family, she's very well traveled, but all the other people on her flight who are like dream trip to Hawaii and they were like 72 hours in and not knowing what to do, that's heart wrenching, man. That's awful.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. Yeah.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. I'll tell you my trip last week to New York, I literally watched the weather forecast two days in advance to see when the thunderstorms are likely to pop up and we'll book my flights around that. Both my outbound and inbound flight back home, I booked 48 hours out were like first of all, where my work schedule solidified a little bit, but also very dependent on afternoon thunderstorms. Because I'm just not going to play that game, man. I'm not going to sit there in LaGuardia and have flight after flight canceled and delayed. I'm just going to go first thing.
First thing in the morning, get out, not sit on the tarmac and LaGuardia for two hours before you leave. I'm just not doing that stuff anymore, man. So the airfares are actually more reasonable now and I paid 212 bucks a night for the Centric Wall Street. And I've never seen that place below 300 since COVID came back. Or since I came back after COVID, and loved that hotel by the way. One of the two hotels I hadn't stayed at, so loved my stay at the Centric Wall Street for everybody, but 212 a night for that place. And then the flights even booking last minute were less than 250 each way. Like I'll take it man and no delays, no nothing. And it was a solid travel. Travel wise for me, solid week last week.
Ed Pizza: And I hear what you're saying about pricing. I'm still not seeing it. I just booked my next ticket for later in August. Clearly I'm not booking September, October travel yet, but I'm still seeing Vegas flights. I can't even touch a cheap first class fair, nothing under a thousand dollars one way in first class. But coach tickets around trip, a lot of them are over a thousand bucks for middle seats. It's still-
Richard Kerr: Something's going on in Vegas.
Ed Pizza: And who the hell wants to be in Vegas in August?
Richard Kerr: I just want to know who's paying it? Is it still these people that have been, the trips they said they were always going to take before COVID and they just are finally getting to it? Or there's something new going on in Vegas? It doesn't seem like it to me. And by no means a Vegas expert, but I listened to a few of all the guys over Miles to memories and a few folks on Twitter that are Vegas people, nothing seems like out of the ordinary there. I mean, is there?
Ed Pizza: No, it's not just Vegas. I'm seeing flights, I need to go to LA and I was trying to figure out do I go to San Diego instead, drive like LA San Diego, all that stuff. Pricing brutal there too.
Richard Kerr: All right, man. I got-
Ed Pizza: So we'll see,
Richard Kerr: Get one more negative Nancy thing and then we'll figure out something positive to talk about. So recording here on August 1st and in the hub of that was last week, one of the things that slipped up on me until my calendar reminder showed up was that my American systemwide upgrades were expiring yesterday, July 31st. And that means book by, you don't have to fly by, you have book by with systemwide upgrade. And I was like, oh crap. So found some time yesterday, once we got to the campsite and was like, oh, okay. Some pretty decent fares over to some places in Europe I've never been to.
Check Expert Flyer for next spring. And look, this shows sea space wonderful, great, this is lovely. And then my brother and sister, my older brother and sister are taking their 15 year anniversary trip down to St. Kits. And there's confirmable sea space there. And I was like, look great. I'll use two to upgrade them on the way out, I'll use two for my round trip flight I found to Barcelona in the spring. How long was the wait yesterday to get somebody at American Airlines? Because you can't book these online, you have to do it over the phone.
Ed Pizza: I'm going to guess 35 minutes.
Richard Kerr: It was eight hours. The executive platinum line yesterday because there was probably a lot of me, was eight hours. So I gave up, I didn't get the phone call back. I tried every number I had and I went to sleep so I wouldn't be tired all today, doing all the birthday stuff at 11:00. I was like, I guess I'm screwed. I'll drop in an email that says, I'm trying to use these right now on these flights, in these dates, but I can't get through to an agent. And I got an email response back this morning and it says because they were extended multiple times, sorry we can't do anything for you. We value as a customer. So I'm thinking, okay, whose fault is this? Here it is says, "Hello, Richard, thank you for reaching out. We know systemwide upgrades are value reward and understand you like to extend the expiration since these upgrades were extended multiple times, they're no longer able to be extended. I'm sorry, bonds couldn't be more positive. We value loyalty and eager to continue the beneficial relationship we have this far. Thanks for understanding."
So two sides here, like okay, dummy, you waited till the last day. You're darn right. Life got super busy last week, it had been on my mind for a while, but I had the calendar set up and I went and did the work and found the space. On the other hand, there's no avenue until, so the agent picks up the phone to book these for me on the day that they are still good. But American makes it difficult to use. So I put the question out on Twitter a little ago and so far the response overwhelmingly is your fault. And I'm like really not seeing one person that's like, you know what, they should make these like... I tried like you want to see my phone records? I tried to use this in the way that American wanted me to try and use them and they're not available. So what do you think man? Is that like my oversight and my fault, even though I tried to use them before they expired and now like I'm-
Ed Pizza: No.
Richard Kerr: That's everybody else's response so far. And I understand it as a logical human being, but then I also think okay, I tried to do what I had to do while they were still good. But now I'm out forces to Mile upgrades.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. Look, especially because as you said these aren't the sort of things you can just book on your own. I'd be surprised if you push back and they don't do, well surprised is probably the wrong word, but I would certainly be very disappointed if they didn't do something. Because this is, you clearly attempted to try and use them within the window where they were usable. I wouldn't put this on you. Remember when we talked about my Iceland trip when Delta Vacations booked the wrong rental car for me, but I didn't check my confirmation. Well, clearly I have some accountability there. Here, you tried to use them and the airline wasn't available. They weren't available.
Richard Kerr: I'll be honest. I expected like a 30, 45 minute wait or was like, "Hey, instead of this, we'll call you back. Even if it was an hour." There's probably a lot of people trying to use it today. When they were like eight hours, I was like, now one person did say like, "Hey, I had no problem using Twitter yesterday to clear systemwide upgrades." My experience with American Twitter lately has been we're not empowered to fix anything, so I didn't even try it again maybe my fault. But the instructions are call to redeem these. And I'm going to push back one more time, but I have to say as a person that has given American Airlines a lot of money this year and even last year, like over the last 12 months I've given them well into five figures, it's disappointing that there was not the ability to use these. But hey, lesson learned, I'll take some responsibility, but I think even some kind of Goodwill gesture of like, "Yeah, we admit our phone lines were overwhelmed we couldn't help you out here."
Some Miles or something rather than we got nothing, man. I'm like, okay. I mean, what are you going to do, man? It's not a two-way street anymore as far as at least the airlines are concerned. In my opinion, is everything is a fight, everything.
Ed Pizza: Everything, battle line firmly drawn. And I think it's just unfortunate that their first answer was a no. I still think you're going to get to a yes. But the tough part is how much time are you going to invest to get to a yes. And oh, by the way, when you get to a yes, is the availability still going to be there? Because they're not going to put the availability back.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. I really don't think I'm going to get to a yes. But I'm going to try one more time and it's not going to be today, because I'm going to go drink a bunch of beer after this and watch some sports on my birthday. It's not going to be doing battle with American Airlines today.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And it is your birthday, so we don't want to hold you forever. So Nicole, we're going to get back to your question for a future episode about hotel brands, because I do think it'd be fun for Richard and I dive into that. We are going to real quick tackle this because I think it's a quick question.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. Yeah. Let's get inaudible of the question.
Ed Pizza: From Cheese Party on Twitter Breebash, which I love the Twitter name. So the question that came in was, listening to your podcast, I have a question. Any suggestions for using points to the book hotels in Europe for a family of four. Limited because the rooms on points usually only for two people, a hundred percent. They have Hyatt, Marriott, IHG and Ultimate Rewards willing to get a new card before our trip to Netherlands next year. Thanks Bree. And to be clear, a lot of rooms in Europe have this problem. Three is sort of like the max you're going to find for capacity for European rooms. And you're not going to find a lot of rooms that to three. But as you would, I know Richard, there are some chains that help out a little bit with this.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. So Hyatt will give you a discounted rate on your second room. It's up to the individual property, but we've seen what, usually 25 to 50% off that second room if you want to book it. Who else does the discount rate on the second?
Ed Pizza: I'm pretty sure Acore has a program as well and they're big in Europe. And then to some degree I've seen Marriott do it, but Acore was the other one when you and I were talking in the pre show before we hit record that I just had blanked on. But Acore is one that I see.
Richard Kerr: And it's like a published benefit?
Ed Pizza: Yeah.
Richard Kerr: Yeah.
Ed Pizza: Yeah.
Richard Kerr: Hilton will guarantee you connecting rooms, but they will also guarantee that you pay full price for both rooms. So whether it's points or cash, so you'll not get a discount, but you can't get connecting rooms. Which can be great if you have the points to spend or find a rate, you like. Look, I saw some interesting Twitter conversations on Europe, recently Dia Adams at Forbes Advisor, I think she just spent more than a month in Europe. Angelina Aucello just spent a month in Italy or more, double duty dad on Twitter, he was just talking about how worthwhile it is for him with his three kids now. Well, shouldn't he be triple duty dad? I've to tell him about that. But he's got a newborn for number three, was looking at the cost effectiveness of an apartment to rent in Europe via Airbnb or Vrbo and just how much of affordable it is compared to trying to use points for two hotel rooms.
And he made a very well thought out argument about why he always goes for vacation rentals. So something to definitely look at, to go find a spot, especially if you're going to the tier two or tier three cities or the cities completely off the map. Like there are deals to be had to get a vacation rental apartment over there in Europe and not even worry about the points game.
Ed Pizza: For sure. It's not a route that I've gone, but as you mentioned, some folks that we know that have done it very successfully. So those are the avenues that I would consider Bree, if you're thinking about it. I also think in her situation, she and I traded some messages a little bit and she did mention that she used explores with, well whatever the mid tier is, I can never remember. Is it explores or discovers it's the mid tier at Hyatt?
Richard Kerr: Discovers.
Ed Pizza: She's mid tier.
Richard Kerr: You've explored and now you've discovered. And then after you discover enough you're global. So that's the way I remember.
Ed Pizza: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I've discovered enough.
Richard Kerr: If that's right. I just said that confidently. I have no idea if that's right.
Ed Pizza: I've discovered enough. And so she does have some status with Hyatt and I mentioned in these situations too, I do think that having status helps in getting to globalist, not just for the ability to have a suite upgrade, but I just think Hyatt specifically really does their best to bend over backwards for their top tier elites.
Richard Kerr: Hundred percent.
Ed Pizza: We'll hold the other listener questions for next week, because we don't want you to miss out on drinking some more inaudible.
Richard Kerr: You're doing nothing.
Ed Pizza: Drinking Coors Light. No, not doing nothing, drinking Coors Light. And I do want to... I'm going to tease this for next week, so we don't forget to talk about it. I really want to talk about this United Club Light thing, because I'm starting to get scared that we're now paying hundreds of dollars a year to have 7-Elevens instead of having a place in the airport to hang out. So I need to get up on my soapbox about that in a future episode.
Richard Kerr: Yeah man, always a soapbox to get on with United, but to be fair Delta and American too. And now Spirit Jet Blue, which we got to talk about. Plenty of issues to talk about on the airline side.
Ed Pizza: Yes. We have to talk about Spirit and Jet Blue. We also need talk about the fact that as I'm sitting here talking, because everything was such a crazy week last week, is it going to shock you at all when I tell you I can't find the miles going back into my account for the flights that I canceled on July? Well, our flight down to Orlando when they canceled our flights, there's no mileage redeposit from that when they did everybody.
Richard Kerr: No, I still don't... Dude, it's time to hire a virtual assistant. I have a hundred things I got to chase down. I still don't have my Miles back from Virgin Atlantic from my canceled flights. I still got some Capital One Travel credits that are being weird. Which by the way, did you know that American will not let you combine a flight voucher and a trip credit into a single ticket? Flight voucher being you cancel it before you take it, a trip credit is you use like half of a flight voucher and they give you the rest back as a trip credit. You cannot combine those into a single booking. Absolute madness. I just learned that this week when I was messing around with some vouchers that it's from stuff I'd booked through Capital One Travel. That's a whole other conversation, man. But well not a good week for me in American airlines, I'll tell you that much, except for my two flights were lovely.
Ed Pizza: Hey, by the way, did you call Singapore and cancel my flight yet then get my Miles back?
Richard Kerr: What, is August now? You're supposed to leave next week. You should start calling now.
Ed Pizza: I know.
Richard Kerr: You should start calling two weeks ago.
Ed Pizza: I really need to do that. Maybe I can get Julian to do that. He's got to cancel his anyway. He's listening I'm sure by now so we can just ask him to do it.
Richard Kerr: He's absolutely not listening. So we should ask him what he's doing.
Ed Pizza: Oh, all right. Well, yeah, to that point, we need to get Julian and Summer back on the pod. I want to yell and scream about United Club Light and we got a whole bunch of listener questions to get through. Where are you traveling next week man? Where are you?
Richard Kerr: No, I am staying home. Actually, I got to go to Dallas for one day this weekend. I'll put that teaser out. There are a lot of creators and people in this space kind of getting together spontaneously in Dallas this weekend. I'm going do a little bit of recon with the new craft of people out there. So a little mystery assignment this weekend in Dallas, but that's just for a day and I'll be back home.
Ed Pizza: Nice. Well, I have travel to book to Vegas, but I have no idea if it's going to happen since kid number two has tested positive with COVID. So we'll see if I end up with another positive COVID test in my future, but if not-
Richard Kerr: Hopefully not man.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. Then we'll talk more about what things are like in Vegas in August and how crazy they are. And like we said before, lots more stuff to get to with listener questions and tracking down Julian and Summer, all that and a whole lot more cancellations and all. Until we upload again, we've got miles to go.
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