Advice

The Best Way To Book American’s A321 Transcon First Class

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American offers a pretty solid product in first & business class on their transcon flights. At least the hard product is great, while the service and food are just okay. American is the only airline still offering three classes of service from New York to both Los Angeles and San Francisco.

These specially configured A321 have 10 reverse herringbone seats in first class. Having direct aisle access from every seat in a cabin on a domestic flight is pretty awesome, though do keep in mind these are the same seats that American uses in business class on their 777-300ERs.

Meanwhile in business class American has fully flat seats in a 2-2 configuration. So the product is more in line with the hard products offered by Delta and United.

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Does The Freedom Or Freedom Unlimited Offer A Better Incremental Return?

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Reader Rohit asked a question in the Ask Lucky forum about whether he should apply for the Chase Freedom® Card or Chase Freedom® Unlimited.

The premise is that he has the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, and wants to apply for one of those no annual fee cards, given that they’re great complements to the Sapphire Preferred. Which is worth more — 5x points in select categories on the Freedom Card, or 1.5x points across the board on the Freedom Unlimited Card?

Ultimately there’s no “one size fits all” answer, as it all depends on your spend pattern. So the best I can do is to provide a general outline by which you can decide.

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Limited Time: Earn Double Plastiq Referral Credits

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I’ve been using Plastiq for quite a while to occasionally pay bills with a credit card that I otherwise could not. I’ve used them to pay our mortgage, insurance, electric bill, and property taxes, all bills that I used to grumble about not being able to earn miles and points for.

There are fees involved, of course, so I don’t always use Plastiq, but there are plenty of times where it can really make sense. Like if you need to meet the minimum spend requirement on a newly acquired credit card, for example. At any rate, you need to make a conscious decision and crunch your own numbers to see if it’s a good deal.

Plastiq also has a nice referral program. And for a limited time, it’s even better. But first, let’s review how it works.

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3500+ Flights Cancelled Due To Winter Storms

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As the projected severity of the winter storm in the Northeast increases, most domestic airlines in the US have either cancelled flights, or issued waivers for travel over the next few days.

A bit of snow (much less a blizzard) can cause systemwide disruptions, so if you’re scheduled to travel in the coming days you’ll want to take precautions.

Delays are starting to pile up, and many airlines have preemptively canceled flights for tomorrow. At the time of this writing there are over 3,000 canceled flights, and many delayed flights between today and tomorrow. A few examples of pre-emptive cancelations for Tuesday:

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Tips For Traveling To Jordan

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Before I get into our flights home, I wanted to take some time to go over travel tips for Jordan. I really loved our trip to Jordan, and it’s a destination I’ve received many questions about.

While it takes some planning, I think Jordan is a pretty approachable country, with warm and welcoming people, so hopefully having extra details are helpful to some of you.

Jordan is a small country, with a rich and varied cultural landscape, that I think sometimes encourages overly-aggressive schedules. We packed as much as we could into our seven-day trip, but having another 3-4 days would have allowed us to break up the driving a bit more, have some down time, or see any of the other dozens of things we missed, like the Desert Castles, Jerash, and the Dead Sea.

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Visiting Petra

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After a quick breakfast at the Marriott we jumped in the car and headed to Wadi Musa. The drive only took ~10 minutes, and we didn’t have any issue finding street parking across from the Movenpick.

To give you a sense of how the town and the historical site are oriented, here’s a picture taken from a hill above Petra, which I’ve added labels to.

It’s about 2 kilometers from the Petra Visitor’s Center to the Treasury, to give you a sense of the distances. The Treasury itself is only about halfway down the main road into Petra — you’ll go another 2 kilometers to the end of the main road where you can see some of the other key sites.

You’re looking at a minimum of 5 miles of walking if you stay on the main road and don’t explore any of the side trails, so keep that in mind when choosing your footwear!

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Best Website For Mapping What Countries You’ve Been To?

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Usually I’d just Tweet a question like this, but I feel like I need more than 140 characters to ask this question.

While I could probably rattle off most of the countries I’ve been to, I’ve never formally tracked those countries. I suppose I could keep an alphabetical spreadsheet, or something, but the last time I had fun with a spreadsheet was… never.

I’m wondering if anyone has a favorite site they use for tracking the countries they’ve visited. Ideally it would be a website with a map that lets you easily see which countries you’ve been to and which you haven’t. For example, countries that you’ve visited would be one color, and countries you haven’t visited would be another color (I recognize countries like San Marino and Monaco wouldn’t have much significance on the map, but…).

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The Sharah Mountains & Little Petra

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This will be a shorter post (“Thank goodness!” I can hear you saying, “We just read 3,000 words about a freezing cave masquerading as a hotel.”), but I wanted to highlight another of the drives we took in Jordan, and the site of “Little Petra,” which is less-visited than the larger complex just a few miles away.

As we were packing up to leave Feynan Ecolodge, one of the hosts asked where we were headed. We explained we were going to Wadi Rum, but hadn’t decided which road to take. His eyes lit up as he insisted “You must go via Wadi Namla! It is the most beautiful road in Jordan.”

That seemed like a great endorsement, so with a few more instructions “Google Maps knows the way” and “ignore the ‘road closed’ sign” we jumped in the car.

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How Do I Stay Productive On The Road?

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Reader Nick asked the following question in the Ask Lucky forum:

“Love the blog! I’m just wondering, do you always need an internet connection to add content to your blog? For instance I remember in one of your posts, you were on the aircraft that didn’t have wifi and then again in the uber (obviously didn’t have wifi there), so how do you get your content out so quickly and efficiently?

Is it just a simple case of writing in pages and then cutting and pasting one you’re in wifi range? What about adding pictures? Same thing?”

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Why You Might Want To Claim Missing Hyatt Welcome Amenity Points Soon

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Under the soon-to-be defunct Gold Passport program, Hyatt Diamond members receive a welcome amenity at the start of their stay. For properties within the United States, this consists of either a food and beverage amenity or bonus points. I’m not much of a drinker, so I pretty much always take the points, either 500 at Hyatt House or Hyatt Place or 1,000 at the full service hotels. Sadly, the welcome amenity will not be a part of World of Hyatt which starts on March 1.

At any rate, these welcome amenity points are supposed to post automatically to your Gold Passport account along with the rest the points from your stay. That said, I find that this doesn’t always happen, especially at the limited service properties. Apparently this is a common problem, as Hyatt even has a policy where you get 50% more bonus points if you have to call.

As much as I like points, calling just for 750 points might not be worth the effort. So my strategy has been to go over my account about once a year, identify all of my stays where the points failed to post, and then call them in at once. It’s the modern day version of balancing your checkbook. I just did so yesterday and I’d recommend you do so as well.

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Driving The King’s Highway In Jordan

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There are three near-parallel highways running North > South in the central part of Jordan. The most-traveled skirts the shore of the Dead Sea, while the Desert Highway runs to the East. Either would take you from Amman to Aqaba (on the Red Sea), in about four hours of easy driving. Between these two highways lies the old “King’s Highway,” an ancient roadway that winds through mountain towns and around tiny villages.

If you have the time, this is the road to take.

We were starting our day in Madaba, not in Amman (and I recommend you do the same, or at least start at the Dead Sea), and would be ending in the Dana Biosphere Reserve. The more direct route along the Dead Sea would have taken about three hours of driving, our more circuitous route took all day, but was full of scenic vistas and ruins.

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Earn Miles (Or Make Money) For Rent & Mortgage Payments

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Plastiq is a good way to pay bills with a credit card that you otherwise couldn’t. This lets you earn miles and points while paying your rent, mortgage, insurance, electric bill, property taxes, or a variety of other bills for which the provider doesn’t accept credit cards.

I’ve been using the Plastiq service on and off for the past year or so and have had a really good experience overall. There are fees involved, of course, so you need to make a conscious decision as to whether to use Plastiq based on your own personal value of the miles and points you’ll be earning.

That said, Plastiq has an offer out now that could make the decision to pay your rent or mortgage a little easier depending on your situation.

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Trump’s New Travel Ban Could Be Implemented Tuesday

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The Wall Street Journal is reporting that a draft of a new Executive Order on travel has been circulating through the State Department and other agencies, and notes that a “replacement order is expected to be issued as soon as Tuesday.”

For those that haven’t been following closely, the Trump Administration chose not to appeal a 9th Circuit Court decision to block enforcement of his original travel ban. Instead, the White House is starting from scratch with a new order entirely.

As opposed to the chaos of the original order, which was poorly implemented without any advance notice, stranding passengers in transit, and generally creating a mess, the revised version appears to be going through the proper channels and procedures.

This means that the order will likely be tighter legally, and somewhat less susceptible to legal challenges.

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My New Favorite Trip Planning Tool

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When it comes to trip planning, there are a variety of planning and organization apps out there. In my experience, most of them have some kind of major deal-breaker, so choosing a tool ends up being a very personal decision.

While I’ve tried an assortment of planning tools over the years, none really fit my needs. Most seem to be either too automated, or require too much manual sorting, so I’d sorta given up. I recently came across a new-to-me tool called Travefy which I really like.

I’ve used Travefy for two big trips now — my New Years trip to Jordan (trip report coming next I think), and a big European trip with my mom for her birthday (trip report coming maybe). It’s not perfect, but I’ve found it to be pretty useful, and think some of y’all might enjoy using it as well.

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