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Travelstories Episode 2: JFK International Airport: The International Gateway Everyone Loves to Hate
Editor's Note: Please welcome Travelstories with Tom (@tktweetskim) and Trevor (@tmount) who many of you already know. They'll share episodes here from time to time. Enjoy!
Episode 02: Show Notes.
In today’s episode, Trevor and Tom broach the topic of the International Gateway that everyone loves to hate. We’re referring, of course, to JFK International Airport in New York City. From its unique features and plane-spotting opportunities to the logistical challenges it presents, this episode covers it all. Tune in to hear Trevor and Tom’s review of the airport's various lounges and nearby hotels, find out about the upcoming changes to this international gateway, and discover why everyone keeps finding themselves at JFK, despite its flaws.
Key Points From This Episode:
Today’s topic: JFK International Airport.
The unique features of JFK.
Who each terminal is owned by.
The limited airside connectivity between terminals.
The transport challenges and costs of getting in and out of JFK.
A review of JFK’s lounges.
The Virgin Clubhouses you can access with a platinum American Express card.
Notable upcoming changes for Terminal 7 and Terminal 2.
The hotel choices around JFK.
The plane spotting opportunity at JFK.
Why people find themselves at JFK despite the fact that they love to hate it.
Strategies for positioning, with regards to connecting flights through JFK.
The logistical challenges JFK presents.
The pros of flying to and from JFK.
“[At] JFK there’s very limited, if not non-existent, airside connectivity between terminals.” — Tom Kim [0:03:05]
“The Virgin Clubhouse is probably one of the most notable [lounges] and is definitely one to go visit if you have the opportunity.” — Tom Kim [0:09:21]
“[There are] a lot of flaws in this major New York gateway to the world.” — Tom Kim [0:26:59]
“[JFK] is probably the best plane spotting location on the East Coast.” — Tom Kim [0:27:14]
“One of the reasons people love to hate JFK, yet still find themselves in JFK, is [that] you still find that award space.” — @tmount [0:29:32]
“The incredible connectivity that you have from JFK is really where it shines.”— @tmount [0:34:23]
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
Trevor on Twitter
JFK International Airport
New York JFK Virgin Clubhouse
Travelstories Episode 1: JAL First to Manila
Editor's Note: Today we host a new show on the network. Please welcome Travelstories with Tom (@tktweetskim) and Trevor (@tmount) who many of you already know. They'll share episodes here from time to time. Enjoy!
Welcome to Travelstories, where we get into the details of traveling, flight planning, and collecting miles and points! Flying with Japan Airlines (JAL) is always a treat. And although we didn’t enter Japan, we have flown through it with JAL en route to Manila. In today’s episode, we’ll unpack our trip to Manila, what it was like traveling with JAL, and whether it lived up to our expectations. We take some time to reflect on the challenges we faced in booking our flights and how we decided to optimally spend our points, as well as why we chose JAL for our premium flight experience. Listeners will hear our thoughts on how the airports and lounges we visited have changed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the special insight we got into Japanese culture during our trip. We also share a breakdown of our in-flight experience, the food and beverages we were most impressed by, and why staying at The Grand Hyatt in Manila was undoubtedly the best choice. Our primary goal with this trip was to have a premium flight experience, and while we faced some puzzling challenges along the way, we feel that it was well worth the stress and planning it took to get it done. To hear all the nerdy details of our trip, plus some smart saving tips, be sure to tune in today!
Key Points From This Episode:
The exciting news of Japan opening up on 11 October 2022.
Why we chose to travel to Manila with Japan Airlines (JAL) for a premium flight experience.
The challenges we faced when booking flights and organizing our trip to Manila.
Our experience of the JAL check-in process.
The special insight we got into Japanese culture when we arrived before check-in was officially open.
A breakdown of our in-flight experience.
Learn about JAL’s expansive menu options.
Our thoughts on both the Western and Japanese menus.
An overview of the drinks that were served and the exceptional whiskey we tried.
A rundown of the special juices that are produced by JAL.
How the Haneda JAL first class lounge has changed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The incredible aviation decorations in the Red Room of the JAL lounge.
The economy flight that we took and why we were pleasantly surprised.
How our experience of flying out differed from flying in.
Our exceptional stay at the Grand Hyatt in Manila.
How Manila exceeded our expectations.
The last leg of our trip home and why we chose to rent a car.
“I'm not a seafood fan. So the Japanese menu didn't really do too much for me. I had a couple of different items over the course of the two flights from that Japanese menu, but largely, it really was very heavy on the seafood.” — Trevor [0:15:05]
“The last time I had been to this lounge was well pre-pandemic. They had a nice layout, a little bit of buffet, and a little bit of a la carte that you could order. This time they seemed to have adapted to the pandemic a little bit more.” — Trevor [0:21:57]
“The Red Room is still pretty cool. There are a lot of interesting artifacts there. They had lots of interesting aviation decorations and things like that. It still has a lot of charm.” — Tom [0:23:06]
“I think it was worth it. [Even] with all the stress. That's why we're in this hobby. We love this stuff. We love travel planning. We love all things aviation. And we love all the wonderful things about flying in premium classes of service like JAL.” — Tom [0:37:31]
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
Japan Airlines (JAL)
Grand Hyatt Manila
Episode 62: Japan Reopens for Tourism
We're back today with a discussion about finding award travel to Japan for a family from both the west coast and the east coast of the US, now that Japan is finally set to reopen for tourism.
Info from US Embassy in JapanSet to reopen October 11, 2022Finally! Let the planning begin.JAL award availability patterns far out seem mostly the same with a few notable exceptionsFirst, I don’t see JAL reliably opening 2 in First/2 in Business at schedule open any more (as was the case before the pandemic - see this post). Now only releasing 1 seat in First, and 2 in Business on the JFK-TYO route.Second, fuel surcharges are way up when using partner miles from non-US programs -or- JAL miles head-on. Alaska and AA have no fuel surcharges but their booking window opens far later than foreign carriers.Third, weekend departures/returns seem to have less availability than weekdays. Sweep for trends w/AA calendar search. Fourth, close-in award availability release patterns are not as good than they were before the pandemicFifth, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles have lost their appeal for this redemption even though they do see further out than British Airways. British Airways tends to have higher bank point transfer bonuses.Discuss: “Would you rather” award travel puzzlersHow do you feel about splitting your family up between cabins? First/Business. Business/Premium Economy. Does 2 and 2 make a difference vs 3 and 1?How about splitting flights? 2 go through one city, 2 go through another.Favorable exchange rate (link for 5 year chart) - check cash hotel bookings now to lock in rates, and compare to hotel points
We'll follow up soon with a blog post summarizing changes in award travel trends to Japan, but for now we hope this discussion is helpful.
This week on Episode 173 of the paid show we'll be discussing new Amex opportunities and more. We'd love it if you joined us on Patreon to listen to those shows and gain access to our Slack community.
Episode 61: A Roundup of Current Amex Opportunities, Calling Reconsideration and News
It's been too long since we've released a No Annual Fee epsiode. This week we take stock of the many Amex offers currently available, many of which can earn welcome bonuses even if you've had - or still have - the card. There's some nuance to it through, which we cover in detail. Enjoy!
0:25 Amex Opportunity Roundup
NLL 250,000 Business Platinum (link to check, may still get pop-up)$30,000 in 6 monthsAdditional 10,000 for adding employee at time of application and spending $1,000 on the cardTargeted NLL Bundles150,000 Business Platinum (link to check)100,000 Business Gold (link to check)Additional 10,000 for adding employee at time of application and spending $1,000 on the cardIf card goes to recon, it seems the ability to earn 10,000 for additional employee is lostCall-in offers 855-531-3491 (DoC, FM)250,000 Business Platinum180,000 Business GoldAdditional 10,000 for adding employee at time of application and spending $1,000 on the cardTargeted Upgrade Business Platinum 140,000 (link to check)Online business employee 20,000 for $4,000 up to 5Business Green Business GoldBusiness PlatinumSaid to expire 3/31/2022, seems to still be working
20:25 Amex Reconsideration Calls
Amex has rather lax approval standards compared to other banksThere are many ways to get denied temporarily - for exceeding some limit on the total number of Amex cards you have, how recently you’ve been approved for the same cardWhen this happens you have some time (usually around 90 days) to call Amex and ask them for clarity on why you weren’t approved, and to ask them to reconsider the application if the disqualifying disposition has been resolvedThis can be a very effective technique if a limited time opportunity presents itself, and you’re not eligible to be approved until some time has passedCheck application status onlineCall them at 1-866-314-0237 (Mon-Fri 6am-8pm MST).Tell them your application number in the email they send you with their decision (or they can look it up with SSN, sometimes takes a while for them to find it if you’ve applied for a lot of cards over the years)Ask them why you were denied and if the condition has been resolved to have it put through for reconsiderationIf they agree you’ve resolved the condition you’ll usually get an email with approval within 24 hours
26:40 JetBlue Acquires Spirit
Seems like for real this timeFeels like this is going to be a mess for years to comeTIme to get the BofA Spirit card? (Direct Link)
28:35 Newly Earned Southwest Credits Will No Longer Expire (Direct Link)
32:05 In Memoriam: Rakuten Visa (DoC)
No longer accepting applicationsClosing accounts 9/17/2022Card never made sense: A Visa that provided better MR earning than most Amex cards
Thanks for listening. If you're interested in hearing more content like this, considering subscribing to Milenomics on Patreon. There you'll gain access to fresh content released weekly - we're up to Episode 167. Additionally you'll gain access to a vibrant Slack community where 400+ community members trade ideas real-time to help each other maximize points & miles earning and burning.
Checking In Ep 16: The Bahamas, Italy, and Disney w/Robin from Luxe Recess
Robin Hutson from Luxe Recess comes back to chat with Robert about...
0:45 Travel Trends
Prices on airfare and lodging as travel comes back big timeSeeing this domestically and internationally?
11:05 The Sad State of Amex Platinum Travel (Loyalty Lobby)
19:15 The Bahamas
Hotels mentioned:Laconda RossaPalazzo Margherita
Star Wars Galactic StarcruiserNew Wish Ship
54:15 Luxe Recess Parenting Disney Weekend
Finding Joy Inside & Out
Thanks to Robin for coming on the show!
Uruguay, Argentina and Tahiti w/Lillian: Checking In Episode 14
Milenomics community member Lillian joins me to talk about her trip to Uruguay, Argentina, Tahiti and beyond. I'd recommend taking a look at Google Maps while listening to follow along. Enjoy!
0:30 Premise and Parameters
4:50 AA Business Class
115k pp round tripAUS-MIA-MVDAccessed the Centurion lounge and AA Flagship Admirals Club in MIA
11:00 Montevideo, Uruguay
SORO Montevideo, Curio Collection by Hilton for 18k a nightThe location is perfect for biking on La Rambla and for good dining within walking distance. Rooms were perfectly fine, modern decor. Diamond status recognition: They delivered a delicious tray of sweets. Car rental: Marino Sport, delivered car to hotel. Three hour drive to the beaches.
16:30 Punta del Este, Uruguay
Casa Flor Boutique Hotel in the town of La BarraOriginally booked with Chase 28k a night for 5 nights. Due to covid and rebooking, I ended up paying a cash rate at the hotel with my credit card $250/night.Amazing hotel, please stay here.
23:00 Salta, Argentina
Legado Mitico Salta Boutique Hotel One night booked on Chase portal: $22k points. This is the best hotel in the city. It oozes old world charm and it’s like staying at a European guest house. Location is great, lots to see. Great breakfast. Still dreaming of the mini pear tart I had.Car rental: Hertz/ Salta downtown. We walked to the Hertz from the hotel and got to see the main square, picturesque town. Get a 4-wheel drive because it’s a grueling drive down ruta 40 not for the faint at heart but incredibly scenic.
29:50 Cafayate, Argentina
Patios De Cafayate Wine HotelThree nights for 18k points/night booked on the Chase portal It’s on the grounds of the famous Bodega El Esteco winery. We had a great stay here. I had some misgivings on the mixed reviews because this place was a bit more expensive that the second best hotel in Cafayate but if you dug deep, I felt like the bad reviews were basically misunderstandings which most definitely could occur if you come from the US and expect things to go the way they do in the US. As a guest, you get a free wine tasting at the store which is literally just a taste of three wines without explanations, not the official tasting tour which you need to book.Basic King room is beautiful and gigantic. The view was of the vineyard and the mountains in the background. Informal horseback rides availableVisited Botega Yocochuga, up a crazy dirt road. Get the rose!Piatelli winery: excellent wine tasting, restaurant overlooking the valley, incredible atmosphere and food, gift shop with indigenous art to purchase. Make sure to reserve in advance.
33:45 Buenos Aires, Argentina
Airbnb Palermo district. We rented a two-story loft in the Palermo Soho district. https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/plus/31556390?source_impression_id=p3_1648659139_ughGq4ac3lauBYSv. Excellent location to feel like you are part of the city. It is not for small children as the stairs are very steep.Host fantastic. The neighborhood is very hip, 1-2 coffee shops on every block, microbreweries on every block. Don’t bother researching restaurants. You won’t go to any of them. Just pick some place and go. Fantastic meals, sidewalk cafes…Booked two half-day city tours with Kallpa tours, fantastic guide - ask for Jose Galotti! Scouted the Park Hyatt. It’s in the more posh area of town. Priciest in the city, might be worth the splurge just for the breakfast buffet which spanned like two rooms. Beautiful patio and lobby.
UNESCO town: Colonia de Sacramento, Uruguay
Buquebus ferry $54 one way Ferry leaves twice a day, 45 min. Great breakfast at Charco hotel. Great burger at Archie’s for lunchHired a car service to MVD (2.5 hours)
MVD-MIA-AUSMVD airport is tiny! Priority Pass lounge in MVD. Very nice lounge. Local wines and empanadas, fun little de
Best Mike’s and points content out there
I have been listening to these guys for years, and hands-down, for me, this is the best miles and points content available. They’re rapport is so good, and you can tell that they put a lot of time and effort into the production of the podcast. The sound quality is excellent and the contant is well researched and topical. The podcast is always quite entertaining, and I can’t wait each week for the new episode. Their premium content on Patreon is also well worth the fee. I make more points than I can spend now, and it is becoming increasingly effortless. Thanks so much Sam and Robert and for putting this together, creating an amazing community and sharing their wisdom and experiences.
Sam and Robert are fantastic podcasters. The best miles and points podcast out there. Always leave me wanting more.
Good show for fast/thorough info
Sam and Robert are smart, witty, and entertaining.