Dig my zombie points blog talking about new Chase card changes

Hey everyone! Are you digging your global pandemic life? Me neither. And I don’t really want COVID-19, so I’m not getting on a plane for leisure. I realize your risk calculus may be different. But I also have kinda relocated to Cali, and I am gonna need a fuckton of points and miles at some point in the future for the back and forthing to NYC if and when we’re on the other side of this shit.

So, I have not been paying attention to credit cards much as of late, but I recently have gotten back on the horse. Here’s what I got for ya: Continue reading

I’m going to write about United PQP, now that it’s totally irrelevant

Hello, I know, I never call, I never write. Well, hi again. First off, I’ve had the odd post here and there but my mail notification thingamajig stopped working so scroll back and maybe you’ll find some outdated nugget of wisdom. Or stupidity. Probably stupidity.

Ok, so, this post is about United’s new loyalty scheme, in which PQD and PQM are replaced with PQP. Who gives a fuck, you ask? Since we’re never going to fly again? Since we’ll all be dead from Covid-19? Where’s your sense of whimsy, brother? Or sister. Either.

Here’s the story: United decided they don’t really care how far you fly. They only care about how much you spend. They like your money, they want you to travel last minute short hops all the time for business, back when there was business. They don’t give a fuck that you found a cheap fare to fuck knows where on the other side of the world. I can sort of not blame them, though I can still hate them, because I’ll be lucky to make Silver ever again, much less Gold. Fuck you, United. Though I still love you. Though I can’t say why. I guess this is what abusive relationships are all about. Continue reading

Well shit, stupid coronavirus is making me cancel a Polaris seat

I’m in Cali visiting family right now. I was gonna go back to NYC tonight to work, but no one wants me in their homes, and I don’t blame them. And it’s zombie apocalypse over there. Plus, trying to flatten the curve and all that. So, I guess I’m just gonna stay here forever. Could be worse. Fuck it.

Anyhoo, I thought I’d share what happened with my cancellation with United.

First off, I noticed something sneaky with their “change fees waived if you book now” policy:

  • Change fees will be waived, but you’ll need to pay the difference if the new fare is higher.
  • If the new fare is lower, you will not receive a voucher for the difference if the fare is lower. I’ve never seen this before, and think it’s really obnoxious.
  • The new travel date has to be within a year of the original ticket issue date. (SOP, but also obnoxious.)
  • Because you’re changing a ticket in your name, even if you cancel it first, the value of the ticket is not transferable to someone else.

Now, for a ticket I bought in January for travel today, it’s a little better, apart from the hour I had to wait on hold for the Premier Desk:

  • I was able to cancel the ticket without having to book a future date now.
  • The value of the ticket remains associated with the confirmation number, and is not transferable to someone else.
  • When I’m ready to use the value of the ticket, I would look it up by confirmation number on the web site, or call them, and then change it to wherever I want to go. (Normally, there would be a $200 change fee for this, but it will be waived.)
  • I have to change the ticket by Dec 31 2020, and the travel date must be within one year of the original ticket issue date (which in my case would mean I’d have to travel by Jan 5, 2021, since I purchased the ticket on Jan 6 of this year).
  • If the newer fare is higher, I pay the difference. If it’s lower, I am issued an electronic travel certificate (i.e. voucher) for the balance, which is valid for one year from the date it is issued. It is also transferable — you could buy someone else’s ticket with it.
  • The agent said that if towards the end of the year I have been unable to use the value of the canceled ticket, I could submit a request to the Refunds department and they would consider it.

So, it seems to me that, refund possibilities aside, the useful life of the ticket value could be extended by a year, if needed, by finding the cheapest ticket I can, to anywhere, and changing the ticket to that. Then I’d get an electronic travel certificate for the difference. Or, I could do it right now if I want to use the value of the ticket for Ms. X, plus I could then probably cancel the cheap ticket i just bought and retain its value.

In fact, I’m sort of wondering whether I should just cancel *all* of my future UA bookings, as long as they can be rebooked now at similar or better prices, so I have change flexibility on those flights I wouldn’t otherwise have. If I just leave them in place eventually they’ll rescind the change fee waiver now in place.

Oh, and finally: fuck coronavirus. I mean, seriously.

Slumming it: I’m flying Spirit! Yeaaaahhhhhh (and it turns out you can book with Chase points)

Well, shit, I am going to Houston this weekend to go swelter in 100 degree weather and 100% humidity. But I’m meeting up with other travel peeps, so that should be fun.

Anyway, the last minute prices are vomitricious. Getting back wasn’t bad — I got a United Saver award for 12.5K miles — but outbound, everything is $329, and there ain’t no saver nothing. I mean, $329 is only 21,900 Ultimate Rewards points or so, and I can afford that, but, still, sheesh. Principle of the thing and all that. So I put a Google Flights price tracker on it, and two days later that showed me a price drop to $187!

On Spirit. Continue reading

AA Basic Economy might force you to check in at the airport, for no reason, because AA are a bunch of cretinous cocks

Ok, so I wrote this post in a fit of rage a week ago but never posted it. Plus ça change.

Here’s the real fuckery behind Basic Economy on American Airlines.

We needed to fly from Phoenix to Santa Barbara. PHX is one of my very least favorite airports, due to its being a) ugly, though, to be fair, so is the city as a whole, and b) it being roughly 30,000 miles from anywhere to anywhere else within the airport.

Anyway, only American has a dinker (a CRJ 200, I think) that connects those two cities nonstop. Fine. And since the flight is only like an hour or something, Ms. X and I were like, fuck it, why do we need seat assignments? We see enough of each other as it is. So we cheaped out and bought Basic Economy seats.

(Burned up some FuckYou ThankYou points for them, since Shitti doesn’t let you transfer to airlines points that you earn on bank accounts, as opposed to credit cards, for some reason.)

The deal with Basic Economy, on whatever airline, is that you get assigned some arbitrary seat during checkin, or, if not possible, at the gate. As long as I have a seat, who cares? The plane is 2×2, so we can’t get stuck in middles. Maybe we end up not sitting next to each other, but absence makes the heart grow fonder, so I hear, as long as there’s not there’s someone friendly and attractive sitting next to you. Nature abhors a vacuum.

There are also other attendant miseries with Basic Economy, like earning half the qualifying miles, and no changes or cancellations at all, and no upgrades, and boarding in the last group (on AA, that’s group fucking nine). But, again, those didn’t seem to matter for this particular trip.

Here’s where the shit starts to stink, at least on Assface Airlines: checking in. I tried using the web site, and the app. During that process, they offered to sell us, for $11 apiece, two seats in the second to last row. I passed. Who cares?

So AA punished me!

Here’s what the the app told me if I didn’t want to purchase a better seat: eat shit, motherfucker! You’re checked in, but we’re not going to give you anything to show for it! You still have to go to a kiosk at the airport and get a seatless security clearance pass, and then get a seat at the gate! Seriously, that’s what the app told me. (The web site just gave a vague statement about needing to check in at the airport.)

Ok, whatever, inconvenient. And then we got to the fucking airport. And the line just for the privilege of touching an American Airlines kiosk was around the fucking escalator.

Do you see what I’m saying here? Amidst the many deterrent warnings I received when buying my ticket, one of them was not that I might not be able to receive a mobile flight document. There was nothing that said, “Oh, if we think we can still sell assigned seats, we will NOT give you an electronic anything that will prevent you from having to get in a check-in line at the airport.”

The only saving grace about this whole sordid affair was that in a moment of mostly awful judgment, at the end of last year, AA offered me the option of giving them cash money to retain my Gold (equivalent to United or Delta Silver) status for another year. There’s no way that what I paid for it was worth it, but boy howdy, was I fucking happy I had it today, because we were able to use the empty Elite line, at the end of which was a…kiosk. A kiosk! All this JUST TO BE ABLE TO GET THROUGH FUCKING SECURITY. For fuck’s sake.

So then the stupid kiosk spat out its non-boarding-passes without a seat assignment, and I went to wait at an ugly gate in an ugly airport for someone to just give me a seat on a plane just because I didn’t think it was worth extra money to have assigned seats. What a bunch of scum.

AA could have, in order of preference:

  • Assigned us the very-much-not-premium seats they were trying to sell me during check-in.
  • Provided us with seatless security clearance passes on our phones, rather than making us go to a kiosk.
  • Warned me before purchase that I might have to use an airport kiosk.

What is the moral of my story? It’s that on American, and who knows, maybe others, if you buy Basic Economy, you might not be able to fully check in electronically and get a mobile document. If you don’t have status, you might have to wait in a long fucking line at the airport. I don’t know that the answer is here: it feels like robbery to pay for regular Economy if you don’t want it just because they make you do this. If I ever find myself in this profoundly regrettable situation again, and without status, I’m just gonna buy a fully refundable ticket to get through security, and then refund it, because, seriously, fuck these people. (United must be so happy AA is out there to make them look good by comparison.)

Oh, and here’s a fun followup: I wrote a complaint to customer care, and I got back an utterly useless boilerplate letter explaning to me what Basic Economy is, like I’m a slightly slow fourth grader. And it contained the following lie: “Seat assignments for Basic Economy are made automatically and only when customers check in.” So I wrote back asking they actually read and respond to the issue in my original letter, and it’s been crickets for a week. Way to treat your elites, guys! So I submitted a new complaint yesterday, and we will fucking see where the hell it ends up. Because I included the original Ref#, it’ll probably land in the hands of the same incompetent who got it wrong the first time and ignored me the second time, so I don’t know why I bother to get my hopes up.

On the plus side, though we sat in the back row, the flight attendant also sat back there in his jumpseat, and he was a nice fucking guy and gave me free booze. That certainly took the edge off.