Travel and Credit Card Pain
I was like every other boy in College. I wanted a job that allowed me to travel. I could not envision a life more grand than jet travel to America’s great cities, luxury hotels, and dining at the best restaurants. I do that now, and as nice as it is, there is a dark side that really sucks. That’s the thing about dreams, you only see the soft, glowing edges of the good stuff.
The reality is that air travel is painful. And, somewhere along the way, travel and credit cards fell into the same business category. I am not certain if banks are in the airline business or airlines are in the credit card business - but the two go hand in hand now.
You must show up to the airport about an hour before your departure at the latest. When you travel a lot, you begin to gain sensitivities like how long the security line will be at certain airports. You also learn about rush hour traffic to certain airports. Sometimes you have traveled three hours before you ever board your plane. You take an hour taxi ride, an hour in line through security, followed by an hour waiting time to board your flight. All of that is simply the set up for your 5 ½ hour flight, followed by a one hour layover, followed by another 1 hour flight. It makes for long days even when things go well. Little things like preferred lines at checkin, preferred lines at security, boarding in Zone 1 or 2, or a moment of refreshment and a battery charge in a club lounge make it somehow more bearable.
Even when things go well……those are great days. But things don’t go well. Travel without something going wrong seems to be about a 50% occurrence. Sometimes, even subtle things crush your expectations – like a flight that you expect to have Go-Go Wireless that gets switched out for a plane without it – so the work you expected to do on the plane does not get done – and you get where you are going and stay up late prepping the work that you had expected to get done on the plane. So instead of that nice meal you expected to have at Nobu when you roll into Manhattan ends up being unexpected room service.
Having the right credit card used to work miracles to help with the little things. The American Express Platinum card used to get you into all of the airline clubs for free. Moreover, the Chase Mileage Plus card used to get you free bags, double points, etc. That all changed recently. The airlines dumped their partnership with American Express. I did not think I had a problem because I had a Chase Mileage Plus card….That is until I learned that I needed to get the new Chase Mileage Plus Club card. Of course, it would have been nice if I could have called Chase and told them to simply switch my account over. I would have even been happy to pay a service fee. Nope! Had to cancel one card, order another card. Set up a new online account. Set up another set of credentials. Set up auto-pay with my bank. Set up a new account with Online Sync with Quickbooks. I made the switch, and it was a pain. But hopefully it will ease up some of my travel woes. It seems like the airlines care more about the credit card you are using than the miles you have racked up on your travel account.
I am pretty sure that I resolved to dump the American Express Platinum card. I really liked the perks and was hopeful to reach the Black level. But it did not happen, and probably never will. Our 29 year old relationship will come to an end. If you are going to travel - it helps to stick to one airline and use their mileage rewards credit card.
Regardless, the biggest pain with travel is the time away from your family and friends. You miss a lot. You also eat poorly and do not get enough exercise. It is fun when you hook up with old schoolmates or you happen to work with great people in your industry. I like that part. But the rest of it is pretty rough.