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The world has been changing too fast for us to publish every development, and things we considered writing were already outdated by the time we could publish.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.
- 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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