Amex will no longer let you upgrade with points, luggage tags for jilted Delta flyers and is it the right time to travel to Maui? All that and more in this week’s Saturday Selection, our weekly round-up of interesting tidbits from around the interwebs (links to each article are embedded in the titles).
Filled with exhaustion from frantically trying to maximize your Amex Platinum Coupon Book and hoping to relax with an upgrade and a little tipple on the way home? Not with Membership Rewards, you won’t. On the heels of the (primarily negative) changes to Amex Platinum benefits last month, one observant redditor noticed that American Express also plans to nerf their “Upgrade with Points” program on December 3rd. In truth, this was never a great deal to begin with. Amex started it in 2019, the idea being that Membership Rewards-earning cardholders could “bid” on upgrades using their points instead of cash. On the one hand, I’ve heard that availability was often pretty good because it was effectively a cash upgrade. On the other, the best that you could do in value was 1 cent per point when using one of the many flavors of the Platinum card. At that rate, Amex is doing us a solid by just taking the option away. At least we can relax in the SkyClub beforehand…
Many of us have one (or more) of them in our lives. Alternating between glassy-eyed resignation and red-faced fury are these newly-jilted passengers, formerly known as Delta elites, wondering where the comfort plus has gone. In a series of stone-faced announcements over the last two weeks, Delta let many of its ordinary, red-blooded road warriors know that, really, they were never that into them to begin with. It’s heart-wrenching, but what can we do on behalf of our abandoned friends and family? Subreddit Swag is here to help. In a hilarious announcement earlier this week, they unveiled a new line of Delta-themed luggage tags that give voice to the voiceless. The former Diamond Medallion can now be a “Cardboard Medallion,” because “I don’t have enough money for Delta to care.” Delta Reserve cardholders get a brag tag too, proudly proclaiming, “ask me about my TEN free SkyClub visits.” With the holidays around the corner and basic economy passengers about to belt out Auld Lang Syne in the SkyClub for one last time, these tags are sure to be a hit.
During the pandemic, Hilton made a substantial change to its “complimentary” breakfast benefit for Gold and Diamond members at properties in the US. Under the
guise promise of “flexibility,” it changed the breakfast benefit to a food and beverage credit, with a sliding value that kind of corresponded to the priciness of the property. Astute observers noted that the amount of the credit would rarely buy an adult human an actual breakfast at the respective hotels, while late-sleepers were thrilled to be able to get a free can of Bud Light at the Hilton Garden Inn. To no one’s surprise, this pandemic trial became policy, giving rise to social media threads outing hotels that refuse to honor it correctly and to metaphysical conjecture about when one day’s credits end the next day’s credits begin…what is a “day,” anyway? Usually, folks who like breakfast (like me), don’t like the f&b credit. Those who don’t eat breakfast, or leave too early to partake, enjoy actually getting something that they can use instead. However, Benjy over at Miles to Memories offers up a different reason for loving the credit: it’s fun. He gets “a dopamine rush walking into a Hilton property…What unexpected, interesting stuff can pop up this time?!” I can’t say that I’ve personally enjoyed said dopamine rush, but I did enjoy reading his post.
Most of my wife’s side of the family is from Maui. My first time travelling over the Pacific was when I went to the island to meet the entire crew, spending a week riding shotgun in her grandmother’s LeBaron convertible. One of our early dates was watching a sunset at Kimo’s in Lahaina (back when you could still smoke at the bar) and we ended up getting married a few years later in a small ceremony at a tiny coral church on the North Shore. All of her immediate family lives there now. For them, the horrific fires that decimated Lahaina have been an everyday part of life: helping to care for the friends and neighbors whose homes and workplaces have been destroyed; praying with folks as they waited to hear from loved ones. There’s currently a perception from some mainlanders that it’s best to stay away from Maui, in order to give the island a chance to recover and rebuild. At times, I see those good intentions lapse into shaming those who let slip online that they’re going to the island. Folks who live there, and whose livelihoods often depend directly or indirectly on tourism, have a different (although not unanimous) take. So much so that the state is actually launching a multi-million dollar marketing campaign “to encourage respectful, compassionate and responsible travel to the accessible areas of Maui and the other Hawaiian Islands.” These sorts of things are always a matter of conscience but, for those thinking about travelling somewhere warm this Fall/Winter, it’s worth considering whether or not the best way to help Maui recover might actually be to visit…and bring your dollars with you.