Richard Kerr: So Lufthansa lost their 5-star Skytrax tracks rating a couple days ago.
Howie Rappaport: So the space has changed and it's become more personal, but that's kind of where FlyerTalk has lost out.
Richard Kerr: How many preemptive cancellations are we going to see that morning when the airlines look at the flights that they've scheduled and the staff they actually have like, what are you doing, man? Taking the Amtrak?
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.
Richard Kerr: Hey, guys, welcome back to the Miles To Go podcast. No, this is not Ed Pizzarello sounding sexier and better than ever. Ladies and gentlemen, you are stuck with myself, Richard Kerr, for the week, as Ed and family are in Iceland for 10 days. This is the trip that Ed has referenced every episode for approximately the last two years, thanks to ye old COVID, as he would say, and finally using his Delta SkyMiles or Delta vacations voucher to get over there.
But fear not. I am joined by an OG of points and miles in the modern day. If you don't know his work, I guarantee you've read it, you just may not know his name. And that was not a pun to the website, Reddit, where there's all kinds of weird stuff these days. I'm joined by Mr. Howie Rappaport, and we're going to go through who Howie is, why you should know him, his knowledge over the last 10-plus years, and all kinds of great stuff today. Ed doesn't give me access to the reader inbox question or the voicemail thing, so I have no idea what questions you asked this week so we're not going to do any of those. Howie, man. What's going on?
Howie Rappaport: Oh, man, Richard. Do not, under any circumstance, confirm a hotel room with a queen size bed when you and your wife have been sleeping in a king size bed for 13 years, it's regret. You get up the next morning at 5:45, and you are the first person at the front desk, pleading your case and praying the travel gods are on your side.
Richard Kerr: The bed in the RV is actually a queen bed, so that's why Emily doesn't ever come on RV trips with us. It's too small. Howie and his wife just took a trip to Charleston, where I'm actually headed this Friday. And we're going to talk about that flying experience to come and all kinds of stuff.
But Howie, for the folks who don't know you, and I've known you for, I don't know, probably almost 10 years now, if not exactly something like that... I actually remember when we met, and we'll talk about that too, in person.
Howie Rappaport: Oh, boy.
Richard Kerr: But what do you do? Who are you? Why are you on this show? Why should people listen to anything you have to say? And I ask myself that question every day.
Howie Rappaport: I honestly don't know. I don't think I deserve to be here. I've been in this space for a while, but... It all started with my honeymoon, and before my honeymoon, I was trying to figure out this whole points and miles thing. And I'm a couple of years senior to you, Richard, not as old as Ed, he's-
Richard Kerr: Nobody's as old as Ed, man, so what's the point?
Howie Rappaport: I didn't think that was possible. But it started in, god, 2005, trying to figure out points and miles and how to get my honeymoon for free. Yes, I flew coach, but it all started with a little blog called Frugal Travel Guy.
Richard Kerr: One of the original points and miles blogs.
Howie Rappaport: One of the original ones. And so I helped out Frugal Travel Guy post some pictures on his blog using Blogger, and that's where it all started. Since then, I worked there for a bit, worked for a little company called AwardWallet to keep track of your points and miles. I'm currently a legit travel agent, so any travel you need booked, I can book that. But I also work on a little blog called One Mile at a Time.
Richard Kerr: Little blog.
Howie Rappaport: You don't see me post anything, little blog, little blog. But I've been around for a year or two, but you don't see me do any posting there, I do a lot of the backend side of things, so helping make WordPress work and all those credit card links and figuring out typos and all that stuff, so the sexy side of blogging.
Richard Kerr: So when it comes to people who know the most about this space, both from a credit card, a credit, a technical perspective, you're probably number one. I don't know who knows. You remember all the stuff that I just cannot remember about either an obscure deal or an obscure application role, but you keep track a lot of things as well for a lot of folks.
Howie Rappaport: Yeah, that's part of what I do in my business as kind of a travel agent, I keep track of everything for all my clients. But the deals, everything from dumpster diving for Wendy's cups for free flights to the mint, another great deal, to buying a thousand network cards on Dell's website and reselling them and making about a dollar profit a piece.
So if there was a deal to be had, I partook in it, and I learned a lot about the space from Frugal Travel Guy. Rick got into everything as a hobby and having a background in banking really helped kind of understand credit and how credit has changed over the years.
Richard Kerr: Speaking of Ed, just got a text from him, "Tell Howie, thanks for recording and sorry he has to be saddled with your friendship the rest of his life." I mean, I feel bad for you guys too because there's about four people I text every single day, Howie and Ed are two of those four. Well, and then Emily too, so two other folks. But Howie has a thing he does where if, I'm going to see if you know this, if you really want my attention, what do you do? What do you do if you want my attention?
Howie Rappaport: Just send a text message with your name in all caps and literally nothing else.
Richard Kerr: Yeah, If I get a text from Howie that says, Richard, in all caps, I'm like, "Stop whatever I'm doing, pay attention. He's either found something, or he's got something, or he's about to scold me for something that either Emily told him or that he saw that I did, and he's going to set me straight."
Howie Rappaport: Or all three at once.
Richard Kerr: Yeah, all three at once. Not very many people use my name, which is like Kerr, it's just such a short, last name, like school, high school, sports, Navy I was Kerr. So Emily will use my name maybe once a month and then Howie will do it a couple times. I'm like, inaudible or my mom. It's like, "Who's saying Richard and why? What do they want to know?"
Howie knows all this stuff. So you've gotten into the travel agent stuff just in the last couple of years. I remember when you started taking all those courses to learn how to do this and get all the booking stuff. I think from what I've gathered, you found this actually very interesting work, like a different side of the travel space that you hadn't been in. And now you've got clients who travel over the world. I think you've kind of carved yourself out towards more of a luxury travel agent with clients from your business that you had before. Howie has like 12 businesses at all times. And you now book all the travel for them directly. Tell us a little bit about what that's like and maybe the two most over the top trips that you've booked for your clients?
Howie Rappaport: It is exciting. It is stressful.
Richard Kerr: You were talking to Romania before we got on record this morning.
Howie Rappaport: Yeah, I was talking back and forth with the tour operator in Romania. Last Saturday morning at 4:55, I got a text from a client that was in London, Heathrow, had a two-hour connection and you know she didn't make it. Two-hour connections-
Richard Kerr: Not right now.
Howie Rappaport: ... as of right now are just not sufficient, maybe on a domestic flight, but internationally, anything less than three hours, you are risking it. And if you're on separate tickets, four, six hours minimum. There's just too many variables right now. So in the travel agent world, right now, it is extremely stressful because the only thing consistent is inconsistency.
Clients are constantly changing their flights, tour operators are canceling, things are overbooked, there's not enough capacity, and everybody wants to spend their money because hell or high water they're going on this trip that they've put off for a year or two years and it has to happen this summer. So I'm really looking forward to the summer being over, kids getting back to school, and potentially having some normalcy start to get back into things.
Richard Kerr: We'll talk about ten second. You talked about a few trips you book for your clients. I think you just did a huge safari for somebody.
Howie Rappaport: Yeah.
Richard Kerr: We're not obviously not going to ever dispel any identities here, but give us some dollar figures of these trips that you've booked for people who've had this pent up demand and are ready to go.
Howie Rappaport: Sure. Some of them, I think are a little over the top. Some are when you look at the grand scheme of things, are reasonable, but you're not booking these with points and miles. I had a client of mine just do a safari to Uganda, which was fantastic, great gorillas, chimps, monkeys-
Richard Kerr: You sent me some of those pictures.
Howie Rappaport: ... and some more traditional game drives. And my clients are great, they'll send me pictures the entire time along the trip, and the background on my phone and my laptop are pictures from that. But for two for 8 nights, it was about $26,000, but it's luxury, it's four and a half, five stars. It's an experience that you can't pay for with points and miles, unless you're looking like the Capital One route where you're going to use the statement credits or any card where you can do statement credits.
But for them, it's a once-in-a-lifetime trip. They're workaholics, they have very strict schedules. And so that also cranks up the cost as well. When you don't have flexibility, you've got to pay up for premium dates, and that's exactly what happened with them.
I did another cool one. I had a client that kind of left it into my hands, which is great, he's like, "Just figure it out." And it's all about maximizing everything. So if this guy's going to the other side of the world and he's got to work his way back, he says, "Well, is there anything we can do on the way back? Can I stop here? Can I stop here? Can I add this in? Give me a couple of days here." So they were down in South Africa, spent some time in Cape Town, spent some time in Johannesburg, did safari for five nights at two different locations in Kruger National Park and Sabi Sands, and then decided on the way back to stop in Dubai for three nights. So-
Richard Kerr: Well.
Howie Rappaport: Yeah, exactly. Before Marriott and Starwood merger and Marriott's devaluation after devaluation, Al Maha, outside of Dubai proper, great luxury collection property, they spent a couple of nights there and in booking his flights, I almost demanded that he fly Emirates first instead of Emirates business. And it was maybe about $1,200 more per person to fly from Cape Town to Dubai, with the stopover back to JFK.
And if you've ever flown Emirates business versus Emirates first, especially inaudible. Yeah. 232 versus on a 380, or it's 121, and you've got the suites and you've, you've got your fancy cognac. And of course, taking a shower on a plane, I do think that's a novelty that will never wear off.
Richard Kerr: I have not done it yet. Have you done it yet?
Howie Rappaport: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Did it twice. It's... I mean, ever since Alaska has been-
Richard Kerr: Alaska killed... the devaluation that killed my... I still have 110,000 Alaska miles sitting there that were going to be Emirates first, and now they're sayonara. What is the best way to book Emirates first, now? inaudible for a while, but the fuel surcharges are out of control. Emirates' own programs fuel surcharges are back out of control. Who's left? Alaska is like a gillion miles-
Howie Rappaport: Yeah, I think your best bet is going to be possibly booking directly with Emirates-
Richard Kerr: Just in Europe-
Howie Rappaport: ... using Sky Rewards and then trying something from JFK to Milan. It's rough because it's an overnight, it's a short flight, but you can still hop a shower. Or, if you're okay paying, find a smaller city that Emirates operates out of and fly through Dubai. So you could do something for a couple of thousand dollars one way in first class from a small Asian city back through Dubai, back to New York.
Richard Kerr: I think they fly the A380 from Dubai to Musket, so like the hour and a half flight, first class, "You guys, is the shower working?"
Howie Rappaport: Exactly.
Richard Kerr: All right. Quick hit questions about you and then we're going to get into topics of the week that people who tune into Miles to Go do. Your favorite airline product that you've flown?
Howie Rappaport: My favorite airline product that I've flown, it's probably going to have to be Japan Airlines first class on their triple 7.
Richard Kerr: Lovely. I miss my days in Japan, I think Howie and I talk about it once a week. I say, "I'm moving back to Japan. Taking the family back to Japan. Claiming Thomas' birth right there." Favorite hotel you stayed at?
Howie Rappaport: Favorite hotel, favorite hotel, favorite hotel. Probably the Maria Cristina. There's a luxury collection property in San Sebastian, Spain. If you are a foodie, it is the place to go and place to be. They have the most amount of Michelin stars per capita in the world. It's in the Basque region of Spain, northeast corner, a lot of French influence as well. Just a gorgeous, gorgeous part of the world. Avoid the summer there because it's where all the elite of Europe go to summer. But just a gorgeous place to go if you love food and hotels.
Richard Kerr: How many inaudible points a night now?
Howie Rappaport: Oh, god.
Richard Kerr: All the points.
Howie Rappaport: Yeah. Maybe in the off season, it's 80,000 points a night.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. You were a road warrior in days before points and miles, I mean, Blackberry guy, you have lifetime, what, status? What lifetime status do you have? Just Marriott, or others?
Howie Rappaport: I have the illustrious lifetime Silver Medallion with Delta Airlines. So I will never-
Richard Kerr: What does that actually get you? I haven't looked at silver benefits in a while.
Howie Rappaport: I get to pick an exit row seat at booking, as long as it's not in Comfort+.
Richard Kerr: You get to be number 83 of 1000 on every upgrade list.
Howie Rappaport: Never going to clear an upgrade. I don't even try to clear an upgrade. I get to board before some people, which is nice, right?
Richard Kerr: Before inaudible?
Howie Rappaport: Right. But realistically, the lifetime Titanium Status I have with Marriott, I got in right before the merger finished with Starwood and Marriott, and I got grandfathered into lifetime Titanium with Marriott. And I say this every single time that I go to book something with Marriott, and I look at what Hyatt has available or Hilton or IHG, or literally anyone and say, "I am so glad that I have lifetime Titanium because I never need to stay with Marriott again."
Richard Kerr: Everybody has a feeling these days. I have a 50K cert expiring in three nights, and I tried to use it this weekend and it was like, "You can go to Atlanta and do nothing and pay for parking. Nope. It's just..." C'est la vie, man.
Howie Rappaport: Yeah, I had a discussion with my mother this weekend. She's got two Hilton certificates expiring. And she said, "I hate to waste them. I don't want to waste them." I said, "Mom, you cannot throw good money after bad money. We're not forcing a trip for you to go spend $200 in parking and then try to figure out where you're going to go eat and all this stuff. And you're just going to stay in a Hilton. Maybe you'll get a free hotel breakfast. We're not doing that, right? Let it expire before you throw good money after bad money."
Richard Kerr: The economic principle of sunk cost, ladies and gentlemen. inaudible it's gone. I have to fly to New York tomorrow, I might see if there is somewhere I can use it there just because I've got to stay in a hotel anyways. But then I look at all the Hyatt options and I'm like, "Well, I don't want to stay at the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Times Square. I don't care. I don't want to do that.
Howie Rappaport: Wouldn't do it either.
Richard Kerr: All right, let's go into the state of travel today. I've been asking folks on social media this week. I have to fly twice this week. Tomorrow I've got to fly Atlanta to LaGuardia, doing it on American Airlines, taking not the 6:00 AM flight out because I did that a couple weeks ago, man. 3:30, wake up landing right at the peak of traffic, took me an hour and 15 minutes to get to the office. Not doing it. So I'm taking second flight out at 11:00 AM. It should be fine. Plane's coming down from LaGuardia. Weather looks good in New York, so that flight should be on time. Weather's a little sketch this week. Not too worried about tomorrow. I think it'll be fine.
It's Friday, man. 4th of July weekend. You saw the news yesterday, which I think you have an IV of the news in your arm because you always know everything. The FAA and airlines have started blaming each other about the 4th of July meltdown. Ladies and gentlemen, it's a week till 4th of July, and the airlines and the government are already blaming each other about the 4th of July meltdown.
So, Friday I've got to fly from New York City and meet wife and kids and my parents in Charleston, South Carolina, where we go for every 4th of July for a big family deal. Who're you flying and why? Two airlines, three airlines. So technically, United flies New York to Charleston. I don't have any desire or interest in flying United going to New York, so it leaves me JetBlue and Delta. Both have flights out of JFK and LaGuardia.
What airport are you flying out of and what airline you're flying to get down to Charleston on the Friday 4th of July weekend? How many preventive cancellations are we going to see that morning when the airlines look at the flights that they've scheduled and the staff they actually have like... What are you doing, man? Taking the Amtrak?
Howie Rappaport: So it's funny that you say take the Amtrak. No, you're not taking Amtrak because it's going to take you forever to get there. Fine. You're going to book Delta out of LaGuardia and then you're going to book a Southwest Rapid Rewards redemption for a backup, so you have something.
Richard Kerr: Connecting in either BWI or Nashville.
Howie Rappaport: Yeah. You're you're going to hope that you connect in BWI. And the reason you're going to do LaGuardia instead of Kennedy is because, unless you're going out in the morning, you're going to deal with all of that evening overnight traffic out of Kennedy as well, so you're going to be number 82 in line.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. I'm taking first flight out either way. There's an 8:00 AM at a JFK and then an 8:50 AM out of LaGuardia for Delta.
Howie Rappaport: Take the 8:00 AM. Book the Southwest back up.
Richard Kerr: And hope-
Howie Rappaport: Don't play your game of, "I need to go get 2,500 sky miles by checking a bag." Carry on Richard. Carry on.
Richard Kerr: But you know how many free miles I've gotten this year off that alone, man? I have had so many miles off getting 2,500 miles each way.
Howie Rappaport: I think you've got to play it smart and realize what you are getting into unless you're checking a bag with nothing in it, that's fine. Want to play that game? Go for that.
Richard Kerr: I'm going to check my bowling pin.
Howie Rappaport: Yeah, exactly.
Richard Kerr: No. So JetBlue shows your on time flight statistics pretty good during the booking, and every flight is 60% on time right now and they have... But then you look at Delta and they preemptively canceled almost 10% of their schedule this past weekend. That's not the holiday weekend, man. And it's-
Howie Rappaport: The only reason I'd say Delta is because if you've got nothing out of LaGuardia, you've got potential to go through-
Richard Kerr: Atlanta.
Howie Rappaport: Atlanta. They could reroute you to Detroit. Who knows? Maybe they send you up to Boston. I feel like you've got to try them because it gives you more of a chance. If JetBlue melts down in New York, you're done. You've got nothing. I think that's going to be your best bet to get down there and see everyone. I am not getting on a plane this weekend. No way. It's insane. I'm trying to avoid any air travel on any potential peak travel days at all this year, it's just not worth the inaudible.
Richard Kerr: But it's a big week at Bilt, so by the time folks will listen to this a couple days from recording, we'll be one day out from our next big product announcement, which I'm very excited about. So everybody tune in to the Points and Miles World this week and see what we've got cooking, which is why I have to go to New York City or else no way I would be flying this Friday, but...
Howie Rappaport: Now, I would be remiss because I do regularly listen to this podcast. And if I had like a ding or a bell or something, I would've made the ding noise at your mention of Bilt because I know it is a requirement to mention Bilt at least once. "Big week, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Bilt, Bilt, Bilt."
I'm looking forward to the news. Let's hear it. Let's hear it. As Ed says, "When are we getting a little bit of teaser? When are we getting a little bit of info ahead?"
Richard Kerr: I know the problem is... But anyways, we can't.
Howie Rappaport: It's just us, man.
Richard Kerr: "It's just the two of us. Why worry about it?" We'll see how travel goes this week. I think you and I would have the same advice to everybody listening, it's like, if you don't have to fly anywhere for the 4th of July, don't be like Dick Kerr here, and try to fly out of New York City to a leisure destination. Not desirable.
But what other advice you giving folks right now? Is it just don't travel this summer unless you have to? Or is it... I'm only booking non-stops, man. I'm not even trying to connect. I'm trying to take first flights out in the morning to avoid those summer thunderstorms. What else you got, man?
Howie Rappaport: So absolutely. If you have to fly, listen here, it's pent up demand, people have family they need to see people have trips they need to take. They've got vouchers that are canceling because the expiration on them is hitting. Travel early in the day. Obviously, avoid it if you can. But I think, honestly, the single most important thing is to just keep a positive attitude and keep your expectations to a minimum because when something does happen, a little bit of kindness is going to go really far, the right approach, the right attitude.
If you've got elite status, this is when it's going to really come in. And if you're flying in a premium cabin or if you have the opportunity to fly in a premium cabin, spend a little bit more and get there because the lines are going to be shorter to get any service. And the key thing is if you're booked in a premium cabin and they get you re-booked on another flight and first or business is sold out, but there's a seat in coach, it gets you to your destination, absolutely take it, and worry about getting a refund or credit down the line. The airlines want to keep you whole, but at the same time you've got to make sure like... What's your goal? Getting to your destination. So keep that in mind.
Richard Kerr: And pay for your plane ticket with a card that has premium travel protections so that you get a free hotel or rental car or food if there's a six-hour delay. And then get your pencils out because if you are flying Delta and things do not go well and you need to reach an agent, you need to call 1-855-548-2505 and you will get to an agent much quicker. And Howie, this is an updated number from the previous one that we had. So this one has been working some good magic for me.
We were out there in California a couple of weeks ago, flying Delta back, I quickly got the agents rather than getting the 943 minutes until somebody can respond to your text, or did you say... I think it was Kyle Potter from... I think it was Thrifty Traveler who put out... he just took a screenshot and it said, "943 minutes until an agent could get to you." It's like, at that point, Delta, let's just not even put that up there, that's just going to hurt you more.
Last piece of advice I'll give you, is if you end up the subject of a viral video, ladies and gentlemen, from losing your cool at an airport, a hotel or on an airplane, your employer will find out about that and you will lose many, many things. So just keep your cool, you don't want to be the next person on a video.
All right. Let's do some quick hits. Some interesting news, I found commentary on it. One of these is reminded me of the comment about the Emirates 232. So Lufthansa lost their 5-star Skytrax rating a couple of days ago. Now you and I are familiar with Skytrax and why that's funny, why you immediately started laughing, but give people an overview of why that's funny for those who may not be familiar with what a 5-star Skytrax rating is.
Howie Rappaport: Okay. So Skytrax does reviews and audits.
Richard Kerr: Audits is the keyword there.
Howie Rappaport: Key keyword is audits, of airlines and hotels. And what they also do is they do consulting on how you can improve your rating within Skytrax. So let's be clear, the company that gives you the rating provides a service that you can pay for to help you improve your rating. Oh, and one of the key factors of Skytrax, their rating system, is consistency across product offering.
If you've ever looked at Lufthansa's fleet, you might know that they've got pretty much every plane under the sun as an aircraft in fleet, and every seat configuration you could ever think of. So they offer seats, so there's their consistency.
Richard Kerr: So Skytrax, I read Ben's article over One Mile at a Time, if you want to read more about it, in 2017, they got this rating after probably paying for an audit from Skytrax, maybe overpaying the list price for an audit. But when I saw that I was like, their business class is actually quite awful on the vast majority of their long haul planes. It's 232, the new A350s or 222. So unless you're traveling as a couple, you've got to climb over somebody, if you want a window seat. And then when we saw that 5-star Skytrax rating, it was kind of like, "Okay." But it's now gone. Maybe they didn't re-up their audit contract.
Howie Rappaport: I think four is perfectly fine for a rating for them. And don't get me wrong, I love Lufthansa. If you ever get the opportunity to fly Lufthansa first, especially from Frankfurt or... it's a lovely experience. It is fantastic. Get a pretzel roll, have some gummies, try some of their whiskey if you have access to the first class terminal. Amazing experience but-
Richard Kerr: Business not so much. Also bring your USB fan because it's freaking hot on those planes. There's no air vents.
All right. Next bit of news, I thought this was... the size of this hotel property is what's interesting to me. So the Park Hyatt Johannesburg will be opening at the end of 2023, the property already exists. It's going to be rebranded into a Hyatt and then undergo an extensive renovation. 30 rooms. Is that the smallest Park Hyatt in the world? It's got to be, right?
Howie Rappaport: Oh, I can't think of... I mean, there are small, there are SLH properties affiliated with Hyatt that are bigger than that.
Richard Kerr: Which by the way, I've not had a good experience at an SLH property yet.
Howie Rappaport: I haven't stayed at any yet. I've had some bookings that I've had to cancel. I can't really speak to it, but I wouldn't say I'm surprised. They're all individual properties that are kind of under the SLH umbrella that they're associated with, and Hyatt's got that. But 30 rooms at a Park Hyatt. It'd be interesting to see how many rooms are considered standard there.
Richard Kerr: Yeah, again... so one of the reasons I really like writing One Mile at a Time is Ben covers... yeah, he covers the news that everybody else covers, but he also... does he just have a feeder army of people that feed him these... I don't know how he hears about the stuff that he hears about and then... Because he's an absurd aviation... it's Monday morning.
Howie Rappaport: Get your words together.
Richard Kerr: Enthusiast. He'll cover like the latest African long haul carrier that's got a brand new plane. He's flown all the obscure airlines. It's just really like you're going to see three or four good headlines a day that nobody else has written about or super nerdy stuff. So I'm like, "How do you hear about this thing's going to become a 30-room Park Hyatt at the end of next year?"
Howie Rappaport: I think it's a combination of the comments on the site are extremely engaging. People like to engage. So there's a lot that comes through comments. Ben is also obsessed with travel and obsessed from the perspective of just so excited about what is going on and so interested and fascinated with it. It's been something that he's been at for two decades. And it's just that same raw enthusiasm and same excitement every day. "What's going on? What's happening?"
Plus you've got FlyerTalk the oldest community in points and miles, in frequent travel and all that stuff, and the best trolls and the best information can be had on FlyerTalk, so.
Richard Kerr: We were talking about in pre-show... FlyerTalk is where I got started in 2010, '11, and it's just not what it was. So first of all, I think Internet Brands, the company that is known for buying and destroying great websites, took over. And the endless scroll, man, the endless scroll has just broken the entire experience for me. The only thing I go there for now are if I'm looking for specific hotel property threads, those threads are great. They tell you the latest experience. They tell you what's going on. I've learned so much from those.
So if you're going to be staying at a resort, ladies and gentlemen, you google the resort name and FlyerTalk, it brings you straight to the thread and you can regrade information. But what happened? Why did that website and community seemingly... I mean, it's just not, I hate to say it, but it's largely not relevant to today's points and miles community.
Howie Rappaport: Yeah. I think it's just social media has completely changed the consumption of everything, right. You know a thing or two about Facebook groups, so a little bit-
Richard Kerr: Howie is the one who introduced me to AwardWallet that... Yeah, I sold my first company, thanks to Howie. So that's a whole other story we could tell another day.
Howie Rappaport: So I think that's a big part of it, Facebook has changed it. And the community as a whole has changed, it's become very much more about me getting a deal and less about the community getting a deal. And so problem is FlyerTalk is public. Anybody can access the information there, there aren't private channels and private discussion board where people can share deals.
Plus if we look at the points and miles space has just changed. The way we are able to acquire credit cards and earn points and miles has changed and evolved and the rules have changed as well. So it's not like you're picking up 50,000 bonus points every 30 days with whatever card that you're getting. And so the space has changed and it's become more personal, but that's kind of where FlyerTalk has lost out.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. Instagram and now TikTok have pretty much made FlyerTalk is not going to go there. And then Reddit, it's where the red threads, some points and miles and credit cards are incredibly active compared to FlyerTalk. But fond memories, and then still again, if you're looking for a hotel property, the folks go in there and give great trip reports for that. I learnt a lot about Montana before we went out there, so that's fine.
All right. A couple more rapid fire questions and news, and then we'll get out of here because it's Monday morning, man, we've got a big week ahead. So Virgin Atlantic launching flights to Tampa from London, nonstop. I always forget about Tampa when I'm looking at international gateways, but they've got a British Airways flight as well, and they've got a Eurowings flight that you can book, the Lufthansa subsidiary, so that's launching this winter.
And then one final question for you. Best credit card signup bonus right now, when folks listen to this on Wednesday, that you would recommend? I don't care about 524. Tell me what it is, regardless.
Howie Rappaport: Oh, man. Best credit card. What have I been reading? Frequent Miler posted about it, these Amex business offers where you call up on a phone number and you get 160,000 points or 250,000 points. I mean, any offer of 100,000 points or higher warrants attention. And it's not to say that a 60,000 point or an 80,000 points Sapphire Preferred offer or a Citi Premier offer doesn't make sense to look at, but I think you've got to look at the opportunities of when things like this happen.
If there is a huge deal that's available and you can meet the spend requirements and it fits in your life and you look at the benefits of the cards, absolutely. That's when you've got to jump on it. So I'd say those right now are by far the most interesting. But there's a bunch of 60, 70, 80,000 point flexible point offers that are solid cards to have in your wallet. Citi Premier is a great one. Sapphire Preferred is a great one. I'm in the process of retiring a Sapphire Reserve. I think you did that.
Richard Kerr: Good for you.
Howie Rappaport: How many years ago did you do that?
Richard Kerr: Yeah, it was just last year, I think, yeah.
Howie Rappaport: So I think we'll-
Richard Kerr: No paying an annual fee. Yeah, I think it was 180,000 Amex points for business gold card, if you can meet the spend. And I'll tell you why I was looking at this yesterday, I was out washing and hand waxing the cars, letting all the rival dads know who's still here before I'm gone for a week. Emily comes outside and she's like, "I smell gas by the stove." We have a gas stove. And I was like, "What?" She's like, I keep walking by the stove and catching whiffs of gas.
I went in there and made sure all the burners were off. I didn't smell anything. And it was like, "There's been at least three times this week where I walked by the stove and smelled gas." And I'm like, "And you're just now telling me this?" So the stove's old. Long story short, the gas company came out, they checked everything and there's no leak that they can find. But the guy was like, "Hey, this stove might be original to the house, it's time for a new gas stove, just because like..."
Howie Rappaport: Oh, man.
Richard Kerr: So new gas stove. I was taking the control panel of the dryer apart yesterday. And then Emily was draining and cleaning the washing machine. And I saw, "Oh, I'm going to have to buy all new appliances." And I was like, "Well, it's time to get one of these 180,000 Amex Gold business offers to meet the minimum spend because it looks like new appliances are any moment now for me." As soon as I started getting the electrical tape and the gorilla glue out to make the dryer work yesterday, it was like inaudible.
Howie Rappaport: And as we have discussed, I'm never moving out of my house with my interest rate. You are never moving out of your house, with your interest rates. So we'll just figure it out and make it work.
Richard Kerr: Find new appliances. That's right.
Howie Rappaport: Exactly.
Richard Kerr: I'll check it out. All right, man, I got the meeting starting here in 12 minutes from recording, but you do carry a social media presence, but it's more of... you're not a poster as much as a consumer. But if people want to get in touch with you, check out what shenanigans, where can they find you?
Howie Rappaport: I am known as thehowieee, T-H-E-H-O-W-I-E-E-E.
Richard Kerr: Three Es at the end, if you just want to tag him.
Howie Rappaport: And you'll find me on Instagram and the face page. I think I'm on Twitter too, but... Yeah, I'm on Twitter. I don't actually ever post on Twitter though.
Richard Kerr: Only the bots post. Only me and the bots inaudible on Twitter.
Howie Rappaport: Go, Elon.
Richard Kerr: I guarantee ladies and gentlemen, if you've been in the points ans miles space, you've seen Howie's work, you just probably haven't known it. Long time coordinator of the Chicago seminars. He handed that off after many years just before the pandemic, but it is back this year now underneath Stefan's leadership in October. If you've never been to a points and miles meet up in person, the seminars is where it all started. Highly recommend you check that out, again, on FlyerTalk, if you're looking for that. Besides that, man, you've got any travels coming up? When's the next one? You just got back from Charleston.
Howie Rappaport: Just got back from Charleston. We're going to go Up North for about six, seven weeks, and hang out at my mother's house, yeah. It's nice working remotely.
Richard Kerr: In Worcester. Worcester.
Howie Rappaport: Right outside of Worcester.
Richard Kerr: Worcester.
Howie Rappaport: Worcester, right. Not Worcester, not Worcestershire. Worcester. Worcester inaudible.
Richard Kerr: Is that actually where the sauce came from, or is that the British name?
Howie Rappaport: No, Worcester is from the British name. So go look around the United Kingdom and you'll find all of the towns in Massachusetts that make no sense. There's a great YouTube clip, if you just search for, "Pronounce Massachusetts names," there are some great videos out there, people mispronouncing Massachusetts names.
So Up North for a while, and then we're going to South Africa in the fall, going to do a little safari, a little wine there. And then next March I got in on that United deal where we're booking award tickets for, I think it was 80,000 mileage plus miles one way in business.
Richard Kerr: To New Zealand?
Howie Rappaport: Yeah, down in New Zealand. So we're flying Savannah down to Wellington, round trip. We're going out for Sarah's birthday. Great, great place. Love that country. Love the people there.
Richard Kerr: Cool, man, if you have any big trips coming up, you can always put Howie's mind to the test, if he's taking new clients, or he'll farm you off, if you're not cool enough for him. It is what he'll do. Besides that, man, thanks for everything.
I met Howie in person, I think it was like 2014 and went down to Orlando, got in a rental car. We went to dinner at Disney for something. I don't remember what we were been doing down there, but that was after we'd been chatting like we do in points and miles world, online. The pleasure is all yours, man.
Howie Rappaport: Thanks for having me.
Richard Kerr: I remember you rented that. You were like, "No, I don't put the miles on my car. I found a one-way cheap rental and I drove from Savannah to Orlando and I was like, "This guy is my people."
Howie Rappaport: It's way better.
Richard Kerr: Cool man. All right. To everybody. I hope Ed's having a great time. I know we've seen his pictures on Instagram. He's in love with Iceland. He is not in love with the prices. He had breakfast yesterday morning of a bag of gummy bears and a biscuit, and it was like 75 bucks. So I'm sure we'll get the full low-down when he's back next week. Big travels, like we've talked about, we'll give everybody update on how it went for the holiday weekend or you can call me on social media where I post updates on my escapades @KerrPoints. But until then, we've got miles to go.
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