MCI Kansas City International”?

When it comes to  world travel, I rarely complain about anything.  I take each experience on it’s own and usually relish the quirky.  This applies to Eating, Hotels, Airports whatever.

I arrived at the Kansas City International Airport and am, for lack of a better word, slackjawed.  I realize that KC is a small rural city and that an airport here should match…Seriously!?.    This “international” airport appears to be so poorly designed that when they brought in the security apparatus, most likely after 2001, it was just too much and well, here we are…exhibit A.

I am in Terminal B.  There are very few eateries or shops and it appears that women are not allowed to  use the restroom as each one that we passed was closed.  Picture a long winding large “hallway” that has gates along the way.  Now draw a line down the middle of the hallway running it length, the right side you walk and the left is where security has set up.  The Baggage counter clerks advised us to not enter the security area until you use the restroom (ladies, good luck) and have eaten (also, good luck).

So we enter, I’m sorry sir, we don’t have TSA Precheck  here…Stop it! Seriously? She hands me a blue card and says “hold this” in front of your chest and you can leave your shoes on…I’m easy, so ok…

After security, we entered a smallish very crowded area with lots of people waiting to board the plane (probably to use the restroom), no power plugs anywhere but there were seats.  I hop on the MCI WiFi which kept kicking me off (probably because it didn’t like my writing) and ended up on my Hotspot.

The ONLY plus here was the staff of the Airport, they were all very polite and seemed to apologize a lot no matter what the question was.

It’s time for an update folks, this is embarrassing ( I can say this as a Missouri resident)

As such is my experience at this Airport (MCI).

 

 

Advertisements

Thinking of applying for an Amex, Chase or Citi Card? Definitely read this article provided by Doctor of Credit.

Most issuers have soft-ish guidelines limiting how many cards you can get from them in a period of time, or what on your credit report might disqualify you. This is why you might see an issuer referred to as “inquiry sensitive”. Three issuers, though—American Express, Chase, and Citi—have some pretty hard rules in place. This is [&hellip

Source: In Brief: Time-Related Rules Imposed by American Express, Chase, and Citi – Doctor Of Credit

The Fear and Philosophy of Travel

I have always been amazed at people and the reasons they give for not traveling to places “outside their comfort zone”.  Oh, the excuses.  Now I’m forced to ask this of myself.  I’m staring down the barrel of a trip to Asia and I don’t wanna go,  I’ve looked at this rationally;  Great people, rich in history/culture and stunningly beautiful landscapes.  Still don’t wanna go.  It’s too “something” from here.  All that is left for me then, is to look at this through the eyes of a Philosopher.  Why do we travel, why do we take the risk, the WHY we do anything.  What is a philosopher?  For that, let’s ask Mel Brooks for his definition.

In his movie, History of the World Part I, we see Comicus, the Stand-up Philospher, in the unemployment line waiting to hopefully receive his stipend. I believe it is in the Roman Era.

Clerk:  Occupation?

Comicus:  Stand-up Philosopher

Clerk:  (Clearly surprised) What?

Comicus: Stand-up Philosopher! I coalesce the vapors of human experience into a viable and meaningful comprehension.

Clerk: Oh, a “bullsh!*” artist!

Comicus: (Grumble…)

Clerk:  Did you bullsh!* last week?

Comicus: No…

Clerk:  Did you at least “try” and bulls!* last week?

It goes on from there and ultimately Comicus gets his stipend.  He also provides a decent definition.

So apparently I need to “coalesce the vapors…etc”.

Why do I travel? Because I love it, passionately.  I am not afraid of the world but I am, apparently, afraid of Asia.  I’m not sure why.  I do know that it’s time for me to grow though.

Hunter S. Thompson said “Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow!, What a Ride!”

So to those who are afraid to travel somewhere “exotic”, I get it.  And to those fearless travelers who truly know how to “exist” and inspire, my deepest admiration.

Please Don’t Make Me Pack…

Soon we leave for Vietnam, Cambodia and China.  Two weeks of serious travel.  I’ve checked the inventory, 11 and 1/2 socks, 9 undershorts, 12 undershirts…doesn’t look good for 14 days.  Shoes, 7 pair, that should work, Pants? Three…hmmm.  This picture is not looking good except for the shoes.

Problem:  I hate packing.  I hate packing for a 7 day trip, 14 days!…excruciating! I can’t go for 1 night without at least taking a carry-on suitcase.  I mean, I need my stuff.

Master Plan:  Pack nothing.  I’ll get there and say they lost my luggage.  Yes, that’s it!  Then I can go shopping, which is a lot more fun than packing.  You need my luggage receipt?  Really?  Um, I lost it?  You say you have video of me checking in…No luggage?  I…um…may I use the restroom? Please?  Buh Bye…I’d be on wanted posters, TV, it would be glorious!

In the Martin Lawrence movie, Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, you see them traveling in a small white Jetta with no less than 12 suitcases strapped on top.  It’s hilarious!  Except… that would be me.  I pack everything and I have a checklist just to make sure that I do.  93 degrees in Vietnam?, of course I’m taking my coat, it could get cold at night.  My Pillow, well that’s a no-brainer, yes…check.  For a 14 day trip, I’m going to need one of those big white “Cubes” you see blocking people’s driveway when they’re getting ready to move.  Instead,  I get a 30″ suitcase and a 20″ carry-on suitcase AND a 44 lb and 17 lb weight limit, respectively (thanks a lot Cambodia).  It’s a stare-off, this can’t possibly work, as I’m thinking to myself,  the 30″ case should be able to hold all the shoes, right?

I may need an intervention before this is over…

 

7 Wonders Of The World? These times they are a changin’

The Seven Wonders of the (ancient) World.  In their time, no X-Ray, Bag checks or Passport required, you just walked in…Easy to see and easier to explore.

Let’s see if I can remember what they are, the Lighthouse at Alexandria, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Colossus of Rhodes…and so on.  With the exception of the Great Pyramid of Giza, they are essentially all gone.

In 2000, we took a roadtrip (actually our Honeymoon) to Maine to see whatever Maine has to see.  On the way, we casually stopped in New York, took pictures of the Twin Towers and took a boat ride to see a Statue.  I use the word Casually because that’s what it was, Casual.  The boat dropped us off, we went into the base of the Statue of Liberty, climbed a very steep set of stairs and ended up in the Crown.  I remember thinking, “this is so small”, as the crown holds only about 6-8 people at best.  We’ll come back “next time” and explore, then we left and drove to Maine.

Try that today, nothing Casual about it.  You must have a reservation, pay a fee, get security checks and so on…things we unfortunately consider “normal”.  So much for “next time”.

I’ve been up in the Eiffel Tower, just wandering around.  To St. Marks Square in Venice, the Louvre in Paris, the Vatican in Rome and it’s Museums, just a ‘wanderin…

Now the City of Paris is building a barrier around the Eiffel Tower.  Gone are the days of just walking in and “checking the place out”.  Gone are the days of “Casual”.

Seven Wonders of the (Ancient) World?  No, There are Hundreds!  Hundreds of the Worlds most precious reminders of each country’s history.  Except today, we must change the meaning of the word “Wonder”.   Today it’s, I Wonder if we can actually get in?  I Wonder if it’s safe?  I Wonder if I can actually see it with my very own eyes.  I Wonder…

If you want to see the Wonder’s of our world, don’t wait a day longer. In the span of 17 years we went from “Casual” to “I’ll look it up on the internet, getting in just isn’t worth the headache”.

A Positive ending to a not so positive post, the Eiffel Tower, St. Marks in Venice and the Vatican are all still open.  So get packing…It’s time to Travel

 

Lilly is Right…

Some days you shouldn’t even get out of bed.  This is usually said in retrospect after something later in the day has gone wrong.   I didn’t even get that far and found myself in hot water.  I tried to hide under the covers but trouble arrived anyway.

It came in the form of a statement and a loaded question from a beautiful 5’09 brunette who basically rules my universe named Lilly.

“You’re not helping me at all!  You do the points and miles THING, write a blog and I’M the one in the Travel Business!”  I help you, a lot!  What are you going to do about it?  I’m pulling the sheet over my head now.  It’s Quid Pro Quo time… and rightfully so.

To me, Points and Miles are a semi-complicated hobby that helps to make the core parts of a trip less expensive or free.  It doesn’t plan tours or offer travel packages usually (Marriott’s program with points and miles) and if you don’t have the credit scores, patience or time to invest, it’s probably not for you.  Some just like the simplicity of a Travel Agent.

This is where Lilly comes in.  She is a Travel Agent of sorts with a popular company called World Ventures.  When she started, she bought a membership, which came with a website that was full of trip choices that were fantastic, inexpensive and required very little thinking to plan, you just showed up and enjoyed yourself.  It was explained in a Sam’s Club/Costco sorta-way.  You pay a monthly membership fee and the savings are passed on to you.  Apparently  a lot of companies don’t really make most of their money on product, it’s from the memberships.

Me:  How do I get Hotel points from this?  Lilly: You have a vacation and you relax and don’t worry about it.  Me: But!…  Lilly:  This is not complicated, it’s easy, they’ve done the work, you show up and RELAX!  Me:  I just don’t get it, no points?  Lilly:  Take a valium and go away…

So we go to Florida, three nights at the Gaylord Palms (Marriott on steroids).  We had to fly there, Hah! I used Airmiles.  We arrive and I sneak away from Lilly to check in.  You know I’m here on World Ventures, I say to the front desk clerk, but I’m also Gold with Marriott (I whisper and hand him my Marriott Elite #).  He says I really can’t upgrade you because you’re already there.  World Ventures?  yeah, ok.  Add my number anyways…and how much is our room normally I ask, $550 a night.  LILLY! What did this trip cost?  Don’t worry about it, but it was less than $500 TOTAL, sensing the panic in my eyes, she lists off the extra’s that were included in the price, Passes to Universal Studios,  I mean we are talking Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley and Hogwarts, breakfast(s), transportation to the parks and so on.  OK, I can live with that.  It was an awesome trip.  The hotel, the WHOLE hotel, was IN a dome, Incredible!  We’ve since been on a few more of these “Dream Trips” and the value has been excellent.

Also, I called Marriott when we got home and they gave me points for the hotel stay, by the rules, they probably shouldn’t have, but then they’re Marriott,  Awesome.

Points and Miles are effort, World Ventures is easy.  I’m learning that it’s nice too have both.

Hilton Diamond, Easier To Earn Than You May Think

thumbnail_img_7073thumbnail_img_7074

Earning Hilton’s highest Status is a great milestone for any Points and Miles enthusiast.  The easiest way, if you can’t meet the Hilton Diamond stays/nights requirements (30 stays or 60 nights or 120,000 base points a year, yikes) is by getting a Credit Card that comes with Hilton’s Gold Status (American Express Platinum, American Express Hilton Surpass or Citi’s Hilton Reserve) and Call Hilton Honors to request a Diamond Status Challenge (X number of nights within a 90 day period).  The second way is to get either the Chase Hyatt or IHG credit card(s) as each of these come with Platinum Status, and call Hilton Honors and request a Status Match.  There are a few other ways to obtain Hilton Diamond by meeting certain credit card spending thresholds but these are usually fairly high ($35k+)

This Matters:  BEFORE you start this process, call Hilton Honors (800-548-8690) and make sure each offer is current and being offered at the time.  They are more than willing to help you obtain this goal.

Why 5/24 Matters

In the previous post, Chase’s “5/24” rule was explained quite nicely by DrofCredit.com

But why does it matter?  Is 5/24 even real?

Two very important questions.  The second point first.  It might as well be called the Bigfoot or Loch Ness Rule as Chase (in my experience) doesn’t acknowledge it’s existence.

Regarding the first point, let’s roll back the clock.  My first experience with a Points/Miles Credit Card was in early 2015 with the American Express Delta Skymiles card, then  came the Wyndham Hotels card, followed by the “What’s in your wallet” Quicksilver card by Capital One,  American Express Hilton, wait, I need the Hilton Surpass card instead so cancel the basic Hilton and finally the Chase Sapphire, which was approved on the first try. But I also need Chase Marriott and IHG too, approved.  Early 2016 arrives and with the spring rains came the American Express Platinum and Starwood Hotels cards and hints of some 5/24 rules thing from Chase.

Then came word from on high that Chase was looking at a NEW card, the Sapphire Reserve!  Cue the swans, butterflies and trumpets…I want this card and I want it bad!  With childlike enthusiasm I excitedly await it’s release.  I picture the two of us (Sapphire Reserve and me) taking long walks along the coast in Greece, in Hawaii, we’ll be inseparable, the world is mine!…  Ok, a bit over the top, but I want the damn Card!

Finally, it’s delivery time and we’re having a baby…Hello Chase, why yes please, I’ll take one!  Whatta ya mean no?, NO!.  Seriously?  But my score is 800 and I’ve been good, paid my balance off every month and I’ve been seriously considering a Chase tattoo…no, No, NO!

Reconsideration Line time, plead my case, even tried tears, NO!  It’s that 5/24 thing isn’t it.  The reply, “what 5/24 thing?”, then I was admonished, advising me to not believe everything I read on the internet.  Ok then, why the “NO”?   His reply, because you have opened too many accounts in the last 24 months…So, I asked, crestfallen, how many is too many?  More than 5 “or so”.  Really? REALLY!… Said Bye, called back immediately, different person…same result.  So much for long walks…

This Matters:  I’m an idiot.  In the beginning,  I did little or no research on which cards I “actually” needed to accomplish my goals.  I had no idea of the rules or policies of the  Credit Card companies and just opened cards “willy-nilly”.  I closed cards when I was done with their points/miles, thinking there were no consequences.  That has been corrected and with the passage of time and a large amount of Groveling,  I am the proud parent of a Chase Sapphire Reserve card.  We’re very close.

What we endeavor to do, which is to maximize our advantage in the use of Points and Miles, can be enormously rewarding but definitely requires a plan and an appropriate amount of research.  It’s really not hard and can be quite interesting.  Information is everywhere (like travelinggump.com).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cary Grant ?

This has absolutely nothing to do with Travel but I must tell the story anyway.

Two weeks ago, Lilly and I were out to lunch with our 27 year old son, his girlfriend and her family.  We’re in a booth all facing each other, it’s a nice big circle of joy.  We’re talking movies and I mention that the theater is showing a Cary Grant film.  Lilly nods her head and we agree we should go.  Then, from the other side of the table, “Who is Cary Grant”?  Now picture a record player and somebody drags the needle across it (for those of you who are “old” enough to remember what a record player is)  Who said that!!!  Silence…crickets.  Who is Cary Grant!?  Are you @#$%!! kidding me!!!  More silence.  Lilly and I are speechless.  Where’s the bar…

Now fast forward to last Thursday.  I’m at a business, speaking with an Artist and his apprentice.  The Artist, a movie buff, and I are talking about the Classics and I simply couldn’t resist telling him my Cary Grant story from the prior week.  He shakes his head and groans, and then the apprentice pulls out his phone and asks “what movies did SHE play in”?.  We all stood there in silence.   What do you say to that…apparently I’m just old.