What Delta’s New Boarding Zones Mean

Once again, Delta has announced a change to the way it will board planes and, as usual, the new process will be more complicated than the old one. The meaning is simple. Delta is giving up any pretense that it is trying to find the most efficient way to board a plane. Rather, your boarding spot, like your seat, will ultimately become a function of what you pay.*

The New Boarding Process

delta, boarding zone

The new boarding pattern. Ooh, I hope I’m in “violet transitioning to amethyst!”

Delta’s new boarding scheme moves from six zones to eight and is based on “ticket type and color (Presumably, CNN means the color of the zone and not the passenger).” As they put it:

“Zone boarding, an aviation standard for decades, will soon be a thing of the past for Delta customers as the airline makes a global shift to boarding by branded fare purchased. This is the latest evolution in Delta’s multi-year work to bring consistency, simplicity and clarity to the gate and boarding experience, efforts that have driven all-time high customer experience scores. SkyMiles Medallion Members and eligible Delta SkyMiles American Express Credit Card Members will continue to receive priority boarding.”

The new method prioritizes how much you paid for your ticket. True, Diamond Medallion members (those who have earned 125,000 qualifying miles and spent $15,000 in the previous or current calendar year) will still get to board in the first zone, regardless of what they paid. But Platinum (75,000/$9,000) and Gold (50,000/$6,000) will slip from second to fourth, putting them in the position of possibly having to fight for overhead space.** Instead, they’ll be overtaken by people who booked Comfort+ or Premium Select. After that, the rest of the world boards in the same order as it had before.

So, Why?

No preboarding for you!

So why would an airline make a new, more complicated boarding process? Generally, any time that question is asked in the airline industry, the answer is, “because they can.” Priority boarding is simply another product for them to sell. Loyalty, particularly at the mid-tier levels? Now, it’s a matter of “what have you done for me lately.”

Delta is a privately held, profit seeking entity. It has every right to decide who gets to board when, and how much they should pay for it. I have no argument with the fact that they did so. And despite the way that Delta has been chipping away at elite benefits, I would argue that it still has one of the stronger programs. And clearly, Diamond status is the most valuable top-tier status in the  industry.

Where the problem occurs, however, is when every individual transaction becomes just that: a purchase made in isolation. Knocking off one, or even a few, benefits might not make a difference. And let’s not forget that the reason that boarding has become such a disaster is because airlines decided to start charging to check bags. Again, a “one-off” fee. But take all of these one-offs in isolation and you will eventually create an airline where loyalty only goes as far as your credit card bill, and you might decide that a low-cost carrier suits all your needs. I fly a lot of JetBlue, and they treat their elite members like gold. And like Southwest, you can use your points for any flight at any time. SkyMiles have become increasingly worthless over time. I’d hate for the elite benefits to go away, as well.

A casual dining restaurant executive once told me that the dirty little secret is that whenever they want to take a price increase, they just raise the price of soda. The problem, he said, was that when you raised it too much, you hit a tipping point, where customers just switched to water, and you lose $2 of pure profit. And then, they realize that they’re just fine with water and don’t go back. I don’t think that we’re at that point with the airlines, but it will come eventually. And, as is the case with restaurants, they won’t know until it’s too late.

 


*Boarding as a product is not necessarily a new concept but, in the past, Delta has at least had the good sense to pretend that boarding was supposed to be an efficient process. No longer.

**Beginner’s Hint: If you have a qualifying Delta credit card, you will get a waiver for the ticket spending requirement if you spend $25,000 or more in a calendar year. What Diamond? That’ll run you $250,000 in spending on your card(s) to earn the waiver. It’s also unlikely that Platinum members will have to worry about overhead space, given their immediate upgrades to Comfort+ seats.

 

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Delta To Offer “Pay With Miles” Upgrades

A few years ago, Delta announced its intention to “sell” 75% of the seats in first class. The airline didn’t actually think that it would get cash for those seats, but it wanted to get something, such as a payment in the form of miles. So here we go.

Delta Expands Upgrading with Miles

delta, upgrade

Just because you can upgrade doesn’t mean that it’s cheap to do so.

Delta has just announced that it is expanding its “upgrade with miles” feature, allowing passengers to upgrade their seats with miles or cash after they have booked a ticket. That’s a big step up from the previous  process, which tries to upsell you as you’re booking the ticket, but doesn’t offer you the ability to go back and do so.*

Under the new program, you won’t have to buy the upgrade at the time of booking. Instead, you can upgrade at a later point. The advantage is two-fold. First, it doesn’t set a time restriction around when the purchase has to be made. Second, it makes it easier for corporate travelers who want to upgrade. Many companies force passengers to fly coach and pay for their upgrades themselves. But when booking on a corporate site, there’s rarely a way to pay with a personal credit card for a portion of the fare. The new system will allow passengers to do so through Delta’s site.

Goodbye, Even More Free Upgrades

If the winners are people who want to buy upgrades, the losers are passengers who are used to getting them for free because of their elite status. To be clear, nobody is entitled to a free upgrade. Airlines are private companies who seek to make a profit. The airline needs to be careful, though. SkyMiles is extraordinarily profitable for Delta. If they destroy the value in the program, that money could end up going somewhere else.

 


*There are still mileage upgrade awards.. Based on the fare class of your ticket (which usually correlates to how much the ticket cost and the restrictions), you can upgrade one-way, for between 15,000 and 30,000 miles. That award also requires availability in the upgrade bucket.

 

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Southwest Credit Card: 60,000 Points. But More Importantly, The Calendar…

Southwest Rapid Rewards Card

Southwest Airlines runs frequent promotions for its Rapid Rewards Credit Card, but now may be an optimal time to get it, given that we are at the end of the calendar year (More on that later.). I don’t offer Chase cards, but that link will take you directly to Southwest’s website.

For those who are not familiar with Rapid Rewards, the Southwest Airlines loyalty program, it works a little bit differently from traditional plans. At the major carriers, the price of an award ticket in points depends on where you are flying, when you are flying and the class of service. And then, even if you have enough points, there might not be availability.

Southwest has gotten rid of a lot of those restrictions. Instead, the cost in points is based strictly on how much that ticket would cost you if you were to pay cash. Each point is worth about 1.5 cents. To get a quote, simply search for the ticket you want and select “Points” instead of “Dollars.”

southwest, rapid rewards

Toggle to points to get an award quote

The Southwest Companion Pass

The card offers some pretty good benefits just for having it (although the “bags fly free and no change fee” are somewhat disingenuous, since you get those without the card, as well.). Depending on which of the two cards in the link you apply for, you could get additional benefits that more than pay for the price of the card itself. Note that the card is subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule.*

But the card will also give you a head start to possibly the best perk in the airline industry: The Companion Pass (CP). A companion pass is just what it sounds like: for the duration of your status, which you earn by flying 100 segments or earning 110,000 Rapid Rewards points in a calendar year, you get to bring along your favorite companion, free of charge (Yes, you do have limited opportunities to change your companion if you get a new favorite person.). The 60,000 Rapid Rewards points you get from the sign-up bonus count, as do any that you earn from the credit card. You’ll earn 40,000 points for spending $1,000 in your first three months, as well as another 20,000 for spending in the first year.

Even if you’re not trying to earn the Pass, it is still an excellent sign-up bonus. Your 60,000 points for getting the card are worth approximately $900 in Southwest flights.

Which Card Should I Get

southwest, rapid rewards

Two cards, but one clearly offers more total value

You have two options for cards, and you likely won’t be able to get both. The basic card costs $69 and gives you an anniversary bonus of 3,000 points. If we value points at 1.5 cents each, the points are worth about $45. Your net cost is $24.

The Priority card, though, is the better deal. Yes, it costs more at $149, but it gives you a $75 annual travel credit and 7,500 points each year on your anniversary. Together, those two benefits are worth $187.50 in travel credit. You’ll also receive a number of other benefits, including upgraded boarding passes.

Why Now? 

Southwest offers bonus promotions throughout the year, but now is the optimal time to get it. Why is that?

The Companion Pass is based on a calendar year. By getting the card at the beginning of the year, you’ll be in a position to earn 60,000 points right away toward the 110,000 that you need for the CP. Thus, you will know exactly what you need throughout the year, meaning that you can shift spending onto or off of your Southwest card, depending on your needs. It also means that you’ll have the Pass for the maximum amount of time. If you earn it in December of 2018, you only have it for a month of the year. If you front-load your points and earn it in January, you’ll have it for all of 2018, as well as 2019.

The actual rewards for spending, which are a point per dollar for all purchases except Southwest (which are at two points) are not great, so I wouldn’t make this my primary card. But if you fly a lot of Southwest and have a companion that you like to bring, the card and its sign-up bonus are great to have.

 


*Beginner’s Hint: A few years ago, in order to reduce credit card bonus churners, Chase introduced what has become commonly known as the 5/24 rule. If you have opened five or more personal cards, from any bank, over the previous 24 months, Chase will not approve you for a personal card. There are exceptions, but not a lot of them.

 

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Chunneling One Off The Bucket List

For those who do not know, “the Chunnel” is the nickname for the tunnel that runs under the English Channel, ultimately connecting Paris and London in under 2.5 hours. And while the the experience wasn’t nearly as exciting as I hoped it would be, it’s clear that I’ll never be flying from London to Paris again. Here’s a bit about the experience.

Booking The Ticket

eurostar, chunnel

Fortunately, there’s no Basic Economy

Operated by Eurostar, the train is easily bookable online at their website. You can either print a paper ticket, or simply upload the electronic version to your phone. Or, if you’re neurotic like I am, do both.

As you can see, there are three different classes of service. Being a man of the people, I chose the standard one, which still comes with a seat assignment and two bag allowance. You can also pay up for flexibility, a better seat, priority boarding or meal service. I booked mine a week out and the train was almost entirely full (on a Thursday night), so give yourself some time.

At The Train Station

eurostar, chunnel

Gare Du Nord

The website advised me to be there 45-60 minutes ahead of time. Since no trip ends without my getting lost somewhere along the way, I gave myself the full hour, and then some. Sure enough, the cab driver took me to the wrong station, so we had to correct course to get to Gare Du Nord. I made it with about 35 minutes to go before they could, at least theoretically, tell me I couldn’t board (Plenty of people arrived after me, so I’m guessing that they aren’t always tough about the 30 minutes.

You’ll clear customs and immigration at your origination, so you can head right into the city when you arrive at the destination. There are separate lines for EU and non-EU cardholders, but neither was bad on Thursday night (I had a 10 minute or so wait when I returned on Friday night.). I didn’t want to buy food on the train, but fortunately, there are plenty of restaurants “trainside” and after you clear customs/immigration. The train was waiting for us and boarded on time. That’s the nice thing about not having to wait on the runway.

Onboard The Train

There are several different configurations, with the most common being 2X2, or a table of four. Seats were packed pretty tight, so think Economy, rather than First Class, if you are looking for a flight comparison. There’s plenty of room for luggage, either on a luggage rack at each end of the car or on the overhead.

Entertainment is pretty much “bring your own,” although the Eurostar app will give you access to a bunch of movies or shows. No wi-fi is necessary to use the app, which is a good thing, since there was barely any signal. It also took me the entire length of the ride before I figured out where the outlet was (between and underneath the seats). Two plusses to the lack of wi-fi: I was cut off from the world for 2.5 hours, which rarely happens, and I got to start watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (available on the Eurostar app).

Sadly, riding a train under the English Channel is similar to riding one anywhere else in the world, since you’re left staring at cement walls. It was so dark out that I didn’t even notice when we entered the tunnel.

Arrival

For my outbound, we arrived exactly on time in London (On the return, they apologized profusely after we arrived nine minutes late.). You will arrive at St. Pancras station which, for Harry Potter fans, is right next to King’s Cross Station and Platform 9 3/4. Should you choose to do so, you can wait in line to have your picture taken pushing a cart that is halfway through the wall.

Since you cleared in Paris, you can head right out into the streets at the station and grab a cab. Mischief managed.

Overall

Absolutely no complaints. The calmness of the journey, as well as the ease of getting to and from the stations, absolutely make the Eurostar a better bet than the airports.

 

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Ride Share Rewards Programs

Lyft and Uber are joining the rest of the world with loyalty programs. But one is clearly better.

Lyft And Uber Rewards

Lyft

Pink mustache not guaranteed; Photo Credit: Creative Commons

Following an announcement from Uber last month that it would roll out a frequent-flyer style rewards program, Lyft has also announced one, although without nearly the breadth of its Uber counterpart.

Lyft is starting a business rewards program, giving you credits for taking rides for business. I’m not sure how they will know the purpose of the ride, other than that you need to have a business account to do so. You also need to be invited to the program, which is a bit of a damper.

Overall, the Uber program looks a lot more rewarding and comes with more perks. Depending on how much you use them, you can get everything  from priority support to free Uber Eats deliveries. You can join the waiting list here.

 

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Ultra-Low Cost Airlines: Coming And Going

The only constant in the airline industry, particularly on the international front, is change. New low-cost startup airlines seem to launch every day, although that could be in the face of the one that started last year ending this year. I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but the air transportation is one of the few businesses that’s incredibly easy to enter (on a relative basis, of course) and difficult to exit. There’s always somebody willing to finance a plane for you (often the manufacturers) and, when you get into trouble, there always seems to be somebody around to bail you out. Here are a couple of examples.

French Bee

french bee

French Bee flies to an odd mix of cities

I have to admit that, until a few days ago, I’d never heard of French Bee Airlines, although there’s really no reason that I would have. The airline is alow cost carrier (LCC)* that only flies to a few cities, all from Paris’s Orly Airport. It flies only widebody aircraft on long-haul routes, and tends to follow the same business plan that so many other LCC fail with: Find a pair of cities that major airlines don’t serve well and launch non-stop service between them. Keep your costs low and charge low enough fares that you can fill the plane. Then, charge those people based on the amenities they want. For instance, you can buy a premium seat, but it will cost you significantly more than the prices you see advertised.

The problem with this plan is that it assumes that the major airlines don’t react. That’s not a good assumption. The last thing that the legacy carriers like Air France want is to allow any competition, particularly from low cost carriers. Heaven forbid that a competitor do something horrible like lower prices on a route. What happens if that competitor starts to grow and lowers prices everywhere else? So even though Air France may not have a lot of demand from, say, Paris to Punta Cana, it will match competitors anyway, to keep them from growing. Air France is large enough that it can afford the losses almost indefinitely.

It’s good while it lasts.

Wow Airlines/Icelandair

Several weeks ago, Icelandair announced that it was buying ultra-low cost (ULCC) competitor Wow Airlines, and the investors were happy. Wow’s money-losing experiment would come to an end, and Icelandair would get rid of its main challenger. The latter’s stock jumped, from just under 7 to just over 12. But the government put strict conditions on the merger and, a few days ago, the merger was called off.

Wow still needed money, however, and it found the cash in the form of airline old-timer Bill Franke, whose Indigo Partners stepped in. The owner of Frontier and other carriers, Indigo provided cash to Wow in exchange for a chunk of ownership.

Mr. Franke’s money may have simply delayed the inevitable. Wow’s losses have spiked and there still isn’t a coherent business plan beyond “being cheap.” Mr. Franke does, however, have a long-standing relationship with airplane manufacturer Airbus, so he may try to lever that relationship to extend Wow’s life until they get it right.

Air France to Shut Down Joon

The only thing that is less successful than an independent ULCC is a ULCC that is owned by a traditional carrier. In other words, it’s a high-cost carrier that tries to operate a low-cost model. It just doesn’t work. So nobody will be surprised that Air France is shutting down its low-cost subsidiary Joon.

Joon, which sounds like “jeune,” the French word for “young,” was supposed to appeal to millennials, which means describing itself as a “lifestyle brand,” since 60-year old marketing executives think that the term appeals to 30-year old travelers. I’m closer to the former than the latter, but even I knew that it wasn’t going to work. Last summer, I wrote, “Do you know what millennials hate more than brands? It’s brands that pretend not to be brands to appeal to millennials. Fortunately, I’m guessing that they’re not going to have to deal with Joon for long.” 

I’m surprised that it has even made it a year.

 


*Beginner’s Hint: A low-cost carrier is similar to Southwest or JetBlue. You buy a ticket in one of several fare “buckets.” The total price depends on how many amenities you want. LCC tend to charge fewer fees and have fewer upcharges than their ultra-low cost carrier brethren, such as Spirit or Ryan Air.

 

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Small Luxury Hotels Of The World: Earn/Redeem Hyatt Points

One of the downsides to the Hyatt program is the lack of luxury properties in the system. True, it has Andaz, but that’s had a hard time gaining a presence. Never heard of Andaz? Precisely.

Enter Small Luxury Hotels Of The World

small luxury hotels of the world, slh

Some of the benefits that you will get if you stay at SLH properties via Hyatt

In lieu of its own hotels, Hyatt has partnered with Small Luxury Hotels of the World, an alliance of smaller, specialty hotels that offer a product that the mega-chains can’t offer. It’s a nice way to stay at an independent luxury property using your points.

You can also earn Hyatt points at these properties. You’ll earn the standard five points per dollar spent and receive the additional benefits above.

At this point, only 50 or so properties are participating, and you can see which ones they are through the link found on their offer page. Hopefully, they’ll be expanding the partnership to all of SLH’s properties.

 

 

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And Now, For Something Different: Why Business Travel Isn’t Always All It’s Cracked Up To Be

One of the questions that I see most frequently is “How do I find a job that will get me lots of travel (and frequent flyer miles)?”

I remember my first business trip, which was to New York in 2000. It was great. I got to stay in a nice hotel and order room service. I set my own schedule. When my flight was cancelled due to weather, I didn’t have to wait in line because I could just call our corporate travel agent. When I thought of business travel, before I was actually doing it, that’s how I pictured that it would be all the time.

18 years later, it’s a little more nuanced. I understand the appeal of the question above, but more and more, I’m starting to think it’s the wrong question. I’m increasingly thinking that the correct question is “Do I want a job with a lot of travel?”

I woke up thinking about this question while preparing for a week-long business trip to France*,  and the answer isn’t as easy as it sounds. Business travel is often one of those “treats” that sounds like more fun than it actually is. That goes double if you don’t have control over when and where you travel. You may take a job because of your friends in the city, only to find that you’ll never actually be in that city. Here are several reasons that business travel can be no fun, including how it pertains to the points and miles games.

Where you go

business travel

No, you won’t be traveling here for business. You just won’t.

You may not like where you end up. Sure, you may get that trip in February to Arizona which is more golf than work, but you probably won’t, especially if you are a consultant (one of the top jobs for travel). Rather, you may find yourself at a company’s remote headquarters, staying in a no-name hotel and with only an Applebee’s across the street. Speaking of which, if you’re not in a location with access to a lot of restaurant options, be prepared to eat a lot of salty and/or fatty foods.

Of course, if you end up at a conference in a great location, you’re guaranteed a good time, right? Not necessarily. A conference room in Las Vegas looks the same as any other one around the world.

How you get there

You may not like your choice of airline/hotels. The fact that you want to fly Delta doesn’t mean that your company wants you to fly Delta. Likewise for your preferred hotel program. Most companies have strict rules around travel, putting you either on a preferred carrier/hotel that gives them a discount, or the lowest fare you can find, which may include ultra-low cost carriers like Spirit, which don’t have real frequent flyer programs.

I’m also seeing an increasing number of companies that don’t let employees fly business class on international flights, regardless of their seniority. Want to know how to take the fun out of travel? Try a middle seat in coach on an overnight flight where you have to work the day of arrival. You may not be in much of a mood to function, but your company’s shareholders will be that much happier.

It’s Socially Isolating

 There’s no shortage of studies that indicate that our screens make us less happy. If you’re on the road as a solo traveler, though, you may not have much else. I was laid off in 2010 and out of work for a year, and the worst part of it was not having office mates to talk to or clients/suppliers to interact with during the day. Being on the road four days per week can lead to the same sense of isolation. Whether you’re installing a technology system or listening to speakers at a conference, you’re simply not interacting with people the same way you would at home.

Despite that fact, it is almost impossible to disconnect. Even on international flights, many employees are expected (or feel obligated) to stay connected. And since you’re not in the office, you may have a hard time switching off your phone, in case you miss something important (Hint: You won’t.).

True, many of the people asking about jobs with travel are young and unattached, so there’s a bit more appeal to getting out on the road. But when you have a spouse and kids at home, you’re always leaving somebody behind. There’s no worse feeling than saying goodbye to a child who is saying, “Daddy, don’t go!”

It’s Not Good for Your Health

business travel

Doctor poses!

It can be very difficult to stay healthy on the road. If you’re traveling a long way, particularly for a short period of time, the stress can be worse. The advice is to adapt to your new time zone as quickly as possible, but that’s much easier said than done. You may be eating exclusively at restaurants, which will make it harder to eat healthily (Delivery services may make that fact easier or harder, depending on your will power.). In other words, it can be a tough environment.

Summing up…

 First, I don’t expect any sympathy for my “plight.” As I write this, I’m waiting comfortably at Logan Airport and about to fly business class to France. The fact that the Air France product is lie-flat-at-an-angle, rather than fully horizontal, is clearly a first-world problem. Tomorrow, or the next day, I may end up writing a glowing review of the Air France business class product. But that doesn’t offset the fact that I’ll spend most of the next week jetlagged and missing my family.

I’m lucky. I usually get to choose where I go and when I go, which puts me in the minority of business travelers. And when I realized that this would likely be the last business trip that I would have to take until February, I felt relief, something that might not have been the case 15 years ago.

Overall, the opportunity to travel has made me enjoy my jobs more and probably made me a more open-minded person overall. And it has certainly enhanced my personal travel, as miles and points earned for business trips have facilitated vacations.

In other words, if you are looking for a job that offers a lot of travel, they’re certainly out there. But don’t forget that the downside to a job with a lot of travel can be…a lot of travel.

 


*People travel to France. No one ever says that they are traveling to Paris, since it sounds like bragging, or at least that it’s simply a trip for fun. It’s kind of the same way that nobody ever says that they went to Harvard (even when asked), knowing that as soon as they use the H-word, somebody will say, “Oooh, Harrr-vard,” in a mocking tone and pretend to genuflect, even if they were the one that asked the question. For what it’s worth, I didn’t go to Harvard.

 

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CVS Black Friday: $17.29 In Goods For $.23

My favorite Thanksgiving tradition has returned!

CVS offers a loyalty program awards called “ExtraBucks (EB).” If you make purchases of certain products, they will give you a rebate in the form of a coupon.

Every year, CVS runs a Black Friday promotion in which it offers a certain number of products for free*. Buy the product and they will give you back EB equaling exactly what you spent for the item, i.e., if you buy the promoted item for $1, they’ll give you a dollar back in CVS currency. Then, you use that coupon to buy another “free” product for $1, etc. So part of my holiday “fun” is to see how many items you can get for as little money out of pocket (OOP) as possible. Sure, there are a number of items that are “almost free,” but what’s the challenge in that?

This year’s special is the worst that I have ever seen, but it still has some useful items that you can get for free. Remember, if you don’t want it, you probably have a friend or charity that does.

2018 Freebies (ExtraBucks)

cvs, black friday

Check your CVS circular for a page that looks like this.

I’ve seen better. Haven’t seen much worse. The trick to getting as much loot as possible for as little money is possible is to have a total value of goods that is an easily divisible number. This year’s total is $13.79, which means that there is going to be some dead money somewhere.* Fear not, you’re still getting a good deal.

There are a number of ways to break down the deals, but I’m going to use a target price of $4.08, which means that I want to look for deals that are as close in price to that number without going over. I do it based on whatever the first combination is. Here’s how to order your purchases:

  1. Buy the Ibuprofen ($3.19) and Just The Basics Bathroom Tissue ($.89). Total=4.08
  2. Buy the pantiliners ($.99), baby wipes ($.99) and razors (1.99). Total=$3.96. The dead money is $.12 ($4.08-3.96).
  3. Buy the Orbit/Wrigley’s gum ($.99), Green Giant ($1.89) and Just The Basics paper towels ($.99). Total=$3.87. The dead money is $.09 ($3.96-$3.87).
  4. Use the $1.89 EB coupon from the Green Giant to buy the Charcoal facial masks. Total=$1.87. The dead money is $.02 ($1.89-$1.87).

You should now have three EB coupons left. Two are for $.99 each (the gum and the paper towels) and one for $1.87 (the facial masks), meaning that you have $3.85 to use in the future at CVS. Your total out of pocket expense (the dead money) is $.23.

There’s Still One Left!

Now, go back to the cover page. If your circular is similar to mine, there is an offer for Colgate toothpaste in the top left hand corner. It normally costs $3.50 but, if you scan your CVS card, they’ll give you a $3.00 instant coupon to combine with a $.50 manufacturer’s coupon in the app. That’s another $3.50 for free, giving you a grand total of $17.29.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

 


*”Dead Money” is the amount you lose when the product you are buying is less than the coupon value. For example, if you have a $1 coupon and use it to buy an item for $.99, the EB  rebate will be a coupon for only $.99. Your dead money is $.01.

 

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And finally, you can apply for credit cards through the Credit Cards for Charity link above. All card proceeds are donated to charity, so please do well by doing good!

Thanksgiving (Travel) Is Back!

Well, it’s back. Thanksgiving traffic. Last night, I spent about 30 minutes in triple-parked traffic at the arrivals area at Boston’s Logan Airport, and it served as a reminder of what is to come. This year is going to be one of the busiest travel periods in Thanksgiving history and the northeast is awash in weather, so I’ve pulled some hints to help you be prepared.

I don’t have to tell anyone here that Thanksgiving is among the worst times for air travel. Flights are packed, cost a fortune and lines are interminable. Here are a few hints that might help to speed you on your way:

  • Do Anything You Can At Home: The less you have to do at the airport, the better. This means printing your boarding passes at home (or checking in by mobile) and deciding what you are going to do with your luggage. If you are checking bags, have everything tagged and ready to go for your airline’s designated “baggage drop” area. If you have Pre-Check, make sure your boarding pass indicates as such.

 

  • Have Your Kids Prepared: Traveling with little people? Assume that you will have delays and pack snacks appropriately. Here’s how to determine what you need for snacks: Determine the amount of snacks that you think you will need for the entire flight. Then double it. Then triple it. Then double it again. That amount will last you about an hour. And make sure that the iPads are charged to 100%. No guarantee of power ports on the plane. Don’t forget the books. Etc.

 

  • Know Your Airport: Remember, you don’t have to sit right next to your gate. Get to your airport early. If you have lounge access, take advantage of it. Secluded area? Good, sit and enjoy lunch.

 

  • Know Flight Alternatives: Chances are, every flight is packed but, just in case, know a few alternatives to your destination in case your flight is cancelled. Also, check with your credit card company to find out what kind of travel insurance you have. Last-minute tickets cost a fortune.

 

  • And Finally (And Probably Most Important): Don’t be “that guy.”  Something will go wrong and it’s likely not the fault of the gate agent or, for that matter, anyone else at the airport. This is definitely a situation where honey>vinegar when it comes to catching flies. As the person in my family most likely to turn into “that guy” when I get frustrated, I read this point a couple of times.

 

Good luck out there! Go in prepared and expecting the worst and you’ll have a great trip.

 

Want to subscribe? Just enter your email in the box above (and to the right) and click on the confirmation. GMailers, check your Social or Promotions boxes!

Follow me on Twitter @FFMiles101 or share with the Facebook button below.

And finally, you can apply for credit cards through the Credit Cards for Charity link above. All card proceeds are donated to charity, so please do well by doing good!