Middle Age Miles

Thoughts from Middle Age Miles

thoughts from middle age miles
We’re longing for the days when we could travel and
gaze upon spectacular sites like the Matterhorn

We’ve been very quiet at Middle Age Miles over the past few days, as the evil coronavirus continues to spread and the world does its best to cope.

Frankly, it’s been hard to find joy in writing articles for Middle Age Miles in light of the current situation. The world has been changing too fast for us to publish every development, and things we considered writing were already outdated by the time we could publish. And being excited about travel deals and credit card points has seemed tone-deaf in light of all the more serious things happening in the world.

On a personal level, Philly and I have also been quite busy. We’re in the process of doing some middle-aged downsizing, moving from a larger house into a smaller townhouse that better suits our empty-nest lifestyle. As you can imagine, dealing with a purchase/remodel/sale/downsize/move is taking a lot of attention.

In any event, we’ll soldier on with life and with Middle Age Miles, albeit potentially at a slower pace on the blog for a while. We have a few non-urgent things to report, and we’ll plan to publish articles on those topics as we can.

In the meantime, we wanted to share a collection of mostly unrelated thoughts:

  • Our hearts ache for all of the people impacted by the virus-related closures and shutdowns – people in the travel and hospitality fields, restaurant workers, everyone. At some point, it’s hard to tell which is worse, the virus or the counter-measures. On a personal level, Middle Age Miles daughter KB is the hardest-hit. She works at a nice restaurant to support herself while she’s finishing her degree. The restaurant is now shut down for at least 30 days, but her expenses continue. And her degree that she’s worked so hard to get will be in Hospitality/Hotel Management.
  • We have several trips planned for the relatively near future that are highly likely to cancel. We think in each case that it makes sense to wait as long as possible before canceling – not so much because we think we might actually go, but because we hope the situation will continue to evolve in a way that helps us. For example, right now the airlines generally have instituted “no change fee” policies where we can cancel flights and receive airline credit. We suspect, though, that many flights will be canceled such that we’d be able to get a full refund instead of just airline credit. We think it makes sense to wait out these things as long as possible.
  • A couple of examples of flights: One, we’re scheduled to go to Las Vegas in mid-April. As of last night, the Vegas casinos and their hotels are now closed through the date of our outbound flight. It seems like there’s a good chance that our outbound flight won’t operate, in which case we should be able to get a full refund instead of just airline credit. And two, we’re scheduled to go to Paris in mid-May. The route has already been canceled through May 6; it seems likely that the cancellation will be extended through our travel dates. These are expensive tickets, and we would really, really prefer to get our money refunded (technically, our credit card points refunded) rather than be sitting on that large amount of airline credit with a relatively short time to use it.
We’ve really been looking forward to returning to the lovely Palace of Versailles
grounds in May, but that trip is looking highly unlikely at this point
  • My AA shutdown situation now seems trivial compared to everything else that’s happening in the world. I’ll still continue to methodically pursue reinstatement or recovery from AA through all appropriate means. And it’s important to me personally. But that said, certainly seems less impactful to write about it, amongst everything else that’s going on in the world.
  • We appreciate the moves we’ve already seen from hotel loyalty programs to help out in light of the coronavirus crisis, such as:
    • Hyatt postponing the introduction of Peak/Standard/Off-Peak award pricing and almost all hotel award category changes until 2021 (although some of the category changes involved hotels going down a category, which would have been helpful)
    • Hilton extending the expiration date on Free Weekend Night Rewards through August 31, 2021 (for all unexpired Rewards as of 3/11/2020 and all new ones issued until 8/30/2020)
    • Marriott extending all Free Night Awards expiring in 2020 through January 31, 2021, and extending the expiration of Suite Night Awards from 12/31/2020 to 12/31/2021
    • Many hotel chains allowing flexibility on advance-purchase reservations
  • Although the hotel loyalty programs generally have not made commitments about earning status for 2021, at this point it seems highly likely to us that the loyalty programs will automatically extend 2020 elite status for an additional year through 2021. Our best guess would be that airline loyalty programs will eventually do the same.
  • On our minds constantly: How will we know when things are “safe” and restrictions can be eased? Will it be gradual, or will it be a sudden removal of most or all restrictions? If it’s gradual, how will the easing of restrictions be staged? If we’re waiting for the last case of coronavirus to pass, we’re going to be locked down for a very long time indeed.
  • We’re interested in your thoughts regarding content during the time of coronavirus lockdowns. Would you like to read more information on our 2019 travels to places like Switzerland, Cyprus and Jordan, or is that too tone-deaf for the times? Credit card strategies? Manufactured spending? Continued updates on my AA shutdown, or not? We’d love to hear what you think, so please let us know in the Comments.

And finally, thank you for continuing to read Middle Age Miles during these challenging times. We wish all of our readers the best of health and fortune.


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26 thoughts on “Thoughts from Middle Age Miles

  1. Sue

    Personally, I’m ok with reading about it all. Lots of people have more downtime right now and now is the time to get prepared for the travel that awaits us. Prayers to all.

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Thanks, Sue! I’ll have to say, I’ve enjoyed reading good articles from other bloggers too. Fingers crossed for a lot of great travel awaiting us in the future! ~Craig

  2. Kyle

    I’d like to see continued updates on your AA shutdown situation. Now that the FlyerTalk thread is locked, and the reddit group was locked long ago, I have no resource for this topic. Are reports of shutdowns still coming in?

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi Kyle – Thanks for the comment. I really appreciate the feedback. I expect to continue to write about my AA shutdown and my attempts to set things right, perhaps just with a more subdued tone.

      The AA shutdowns seem to have stopped at this point. No new shutdown reports in at least a week and a half, to my knowledge. ~Craig

  3. Rob

    As I also have trips on the calendar that I’m wrestling with what to do, any content on your experiences would be great. Things like cancellation policies you’re running into, hold times, if anyone is offering extra if you take store credit vs. refund (ie. I heard Disney cruise offered some people 125% if you took 18 month credit vs. refund), what travel insurance on various cards might or might not cover (what if destination won’t allow foreigners entry, would that qualify for travel insurance?) I’ve also noticed while the U.S. airlines seem to be good about policies, some of the international carriers are less clear/accommodating. Just a few of the things I’m wrestling with.

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi Rob – Thanks for the comment. Those are all great ideas. I will definitely keep these thoughts in mind as I consider what to publish, especially if I encounter any of them personally such that I gain some real expertise. ~Craig

  4. Grant

    Hi Craig, I share similar feelings with you. Hard to know what to write about and what readers want to read. I personally will read anything you post, since I enjoy your writing style, so whatever comes to mind is fine by me. I’m planning on writing a post about my WFH life/routine and upcoming trips that I am cautiously optimistic about, but prepared to cancel at a moment notice.

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Thanks, Grant. On a different note, I was really hoping you would be able to go to Kauai. I thought it was a brilliant save after you had to cut bait on the Ireland trip you had worked so hard to plan. I hope you were able to get your reservations for June to fall into place as nicely as you were during your last-minute planning for March! Scoring those rooms at the Wyndham resorts was absolutely brilliant. ~Craig

      1. Grant

        Hi Craig, yes, I was really looking forward to the Kauai trip but I got a lot of negative comments regarding the trip and heard that the virus made its way to Hawaii, so we decided to reschedule for June. I wasn’t able to get the Wyndham properties rebooked for June, but I will try calling them in a few weeks to see if availability is available then. As of today, I am still stuck with the 75K Wyndham Rewards Points.

        1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

          Yeah, I saw the comments in response to your article. I can see both sides. The situation was evolving by the hour (and continues to do so), and what seemed fine one morning may have been prohibited (or at least a bad idea) by that same afternoon.

          Maybe your preferred Wyndham property will open up at some point. That would be a spectacular use of your 75k points!

          We booked a week in October at the Westin Maui earlier this month before the Marriott devaluation, using a combination of points and FNCs. Haven’t booked the flights yet, though. One reason we’re waiting to book the flights is to see how much airline credit we’re going to have after various fight cancellations, so we can use that up if need be.

          1. Grant

            Yes, the ever evolving news made it tricky to book trips and know if it was safe to travel. Luckily, the Kauai flights were booked with SWA points, so changing the flights was easy and free. But my BA Avios award to Dublin resulted in a $55 cancellation fee/person, but then I got the remaining taxes/fees back and all the Avios back, so I guess I would rather pay the $110 penalty vs having $2K+ in BA / Aer Lingus travel credit.

            Are you sitting on a large pile of travel credit?

            My next trip is in May for Mother’s Day weekend on Alaska Airlines, so we will see what happens with that trip.

          2. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

            I really want for you guys to be able to make it over to Ireland at some point soon. I was really disappointed that you guys had to cancel that awesome trip.

            We’re sitting on a manageable pile of airline credit at the moment. But I’m sitting on a very large pile of flights booked to & from Europe from mid-May through early Sept. They were all booked with MR or UR points through the Amex & Chase portals. If the flights outright cancel, I should be able to get refunds (and hopefully, the MR/UR points re-deposited into my Amex/Chase accounts). But if I can only change/cancel the flights myself, we’ll end up with a huge pile of airline credit that will be extremely difficult to use during the required 1-year time frame.

  5. Susan

    Hi- love your blog. I don’t think it’s time deaf to write about travel now – that’s what you write about, and that’s why we all subscribe. Go for it!

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Thanks so much, Susan! I really appreciate the kind words and encouragement 🙂 ~Craig

  6. Ronna Spiegel

    I echo other comments. I love your blog and your writing style. I would love to hear about your thoughts on future travel, how you plan a good itinerary and how the current situation will impact points and miles travel in future. Thanks and stay healthy and safe!

  7. Grant

    If the flights are officially canceled by the airline, you should get a refund in the form of UR / MR points. You may need to contact Chase and AMEX to get the points redeposited into your account, if the process is not automatic.

    It may even be worth paying a cancellation fee to Chase / AMEX travel department to cancel the trip and have the points refunded back to your account.

    Otherwise, would you have a lot of travel credit on several different European airlines (LH, BA, AF, KL, etc.) or just a single airline?

  8. Elery

    We’re all on the boat and waiting as long as possible before canceling. LAX to NYC on Easter week with AA and an Alaskan Cruise late June. It would benefit us more to receive a full refund than earning credits towards a future trip. Enjoy the blogs. Stay safe and healthy.

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Thanks Elery. I appreciate your comment and hope you and your family stay safe and healthy too! ~Craig

  9. Bob

    I agree with Robb. Case in point: United’s policy on only allowing changes w/o fee for flights (booked prior to March 2nd) that are rescheduled by Dec 31st or 1 year from the date of original booking, whichever is sooner, makes no sense from the customer’s standpoint. It unduly penalizes customers who booked their flights early. Makes more sense to simply say must rebook such flights prior to December 31st. I’m running into situations like this as I look at what to do with 5 trips between now and 1 June that I need to look into re-booking/canceling.

  10. Denny

    Your blog is a breath of fresh air. Please continue to write about what you care about.

    Thank you for your ongoing coverage of the shameful and dishonest AA shutdowns. Please keep us all posted on further developments; I know many people are keenly following your writings on this.

    It’s worth noting that the AA shutdowns appear to have stopped about 10-14 days ago (based on everything I’ve seen elsewhere). Not sure if that’s because they’re now too busy trying to keep the company from collapsing completely, or if they’ve finished going through their list of victims, if they just decided they had abused enough customers, or if someone with half a brain has finally seen what damage this action has done and pulled the plug on the anti-customer activities.

    Given all that is now transpiring, and the looming, gigantic airline bailout requests, I would hope that some sort of organized resistance can form, letting those in government who might develop a bailout plan for this company know how anti-consumer they are. No company that treats its customers this way should be eligible for a bailout – that just sends the wrong message to all corporations. AA should be allowed to fail, make an example of it, liquidate its assets, and send its executives packing, with no golden parachutes.

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi Denny – Many thanks for the comment and very kind words. I really appreciate it.

      Yes, AA shutdowns seem to have stopped as you noted. Thank goodness. It’s not entirely clear to me if there are still people whose accounts are locked but not shut down, though. I sure hope not. I’ll keep posting as my situation develops.

      Otherwise, yeah, agree with you about AA! ~Craig

  11. Andrew C

    Keep up with the posting on everything to the extent that you’re able. Definitely interested in continued coverage of the dispute with AA, past travels, ongoing deals, etc. Certainly nice to have something to read regularly that’s not virus-related!

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Many thanks for the comment, Andrew C! I apologize for being so very slow in posting over the past few days as our house transition and some professional obligations have been all-consuming. ~Craig

  12. Brett

    Craig,
    I have not had a chance to read this article yet. I tend to bing read them. I look forward to catching up! I have an off topic question for you though. Did Bravo 1099 you at the end of 2019?
    Thanks,
    Brett

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