I Could Never Work In The Airline Industry

There’s one reason that I could never, ever work in the airline industry: Because I could never knowingly provide horrible customer service.  Look at the MSNBC / NYT article ‘Airline Fees That Test Travelers’ Limits‘ and just look at some of the ridiculous things that airlines get away with nowadays.

  • Charging for checked luggage
  • Charging for carry-on luggage
  • Outrageous change fees (up to $150 or more for re-scheduling a flight)
  • Charges to ride standby.  That’s right, the plane has room but you’re still going to pay $50 or more to catch that earlier flight if some airlines have anything to say about it.

 These and some of the other practices being put into place are obviously being instituted to raise revenues.  The revenue part makes sense.  Businesses are in it to make money.  But the part I have a problem with is that these things are being blatantly done at the expense of customer satisfaction, customer service, and really, the customer in general.  

Many businesses would certainly love it if they could make more money.  But does McDonalds charge you for refills on their soft drinks?  No, you get free refills. Does Kohls charge you to exchange a piece of clothing for a different size?  Of course not.  Does the guy that comes to clean the windows quote you a price but then add on extra charges like ‘Fee for climbing the ladder’?  Never!

Why are none of these businesses doing these?  Because they know that it would anger their customers and cost them business.

But, really, these are the exact things that the airlines do.  Why?  Because the competition is so limited (and shrinking more with every airline ‘merger’) and because nobody stops them.  Plus, they know that most people aren’t going to walk away from flying and choose a sixteen hour car ride over a three hour car ride.  They have somewhat of a captive audience.

Still, I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t look someone in the eye and tell them that they’re being charged for the things that the airlines charge for.  I couldn’t ignore passengers needs.  I couldn’t ruin vacations and holidays and family get-togethers all while looking people in the eye and saying ‘too bad’.   

Really, now that I think about it, how does anybody in good conscience work in the airline industry?

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Transitioning From Earning Frequent Flyer Miles To Cash Rebates

Mr Credit Card is going to guest post today. He is going to tell us about how he switched from earning frequent flier miles to earning cash rebates on his credit card once he stopped traveling. You can find out what he thinks are the best credit cards and best business credit cards on his site.

Recently, Money Beagle mentioned about switching from earning frequent flier miles to earning cash back when he stopped traveling. I myself had a similar experience. When I first entered the job market 16 years ago, my company provided me with a company business credit card. I racked up lots of frequent flier points. But 10 years later, I found myself traveling less and started questioning if I should still be racking up points for frequent flier miles. I eventually switched to earning cash rebates (though I am now switching back again). In this post, I am going to share how story about using frequent flier miles and how I chose the right card when I transitioned to earning cash rebates.

How I used rewards card – The corporate card that I was issued was the American Express Business Charge Card. As an employee, I was allowed to earn Membership Rewards points for myself when I charged any business expenses to myself. I traveled at least once every quarter internationally so I guess I did rack up quite a few reward points. Plus, I got to fly business class.

To earn even more points, I got myself a personal Amex card! I had to pay a fee (think it was about $10 back then to “connect” my membership reward points from both my personal and corporate card. But with this combination, I sure earned lots of points.

Rewards that I earned – Because Membership Rewards points do not expire, I could actually wait until I racked up quite a bit of points. I usually waited until I could redeem two international business class tickets for myself and Mrs Credit Card. And we did earn enough points to do this a few times through out a 10 year period.

Transition – But eventually, there came a time when my job description changed and I had to travel less. I still had the corporate card. And I still used my personal charge card from Amex. But I was accumulating points at a much lesser rate. Eventually, a new job came up that totally did not require any travel at all. That was when I realized that I had to stop accumulating frequent flier points and simply earn cash rebates.

But that required a total reorientation because for my whole life (until then anyway), I was using points for free airline tickets. But due to the fact that I no longer have business travels and my do not have much business expense anymore, it simply made sense to switch to cash back cards.

How I chose my cash back credit card – The first thing on my mind was what card to get. After much research, I concluded that most cards in the market were not worth getting because all they did not was pay a standard 1% rebate. They better cards paid more than 1% on some items. For example, I found out that some cards paid 5% on gasoline and supermarket expenses.

I also found out about things like spending requirements and tiers. Some cards required you to spend a certain amount every year before you could earn their best rebates. Some cap you on how much rebates you could earn a year. Different credit cards also paid you differently.

Amid the confusion, I did the following things

  • I mapped out and categorized my expenses
  • I worked out which card would earn me the most rebates
  • I also decided to go with just one card rather than get a few card (like some do) and nickel and dime their way to lots of rebates
  • I also set the criteria that I wanted my rebates to be automatically credited into my account since I am a very forgetful person

Ultimately, I ended up choosing the Amex Blue Cash and I’ve earned over 2% rebates every year on average. These days things have evolved and we have things such as credit card shopping portals and rotating categories where spending on certain items during certain periods earn you more rebates.

So that’s my journey – So that’s my journey from earning reward points to cash rebates. I think the lesson here is to get a credit card that suits your lifestyle and spending habits. Very often, folks are either lured into a “prestige card” that is costly and does not serve the purpose for the individual or they carry a card that pays no rewards, which is really leaving money on the table (IMO anyway).

Well, that’s my story and I hope it will inspire you to reexamine your credit card and see if it is the best fit for you.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Confession Time: I Got Charged With The Stupid Tax

So yesterday I wrote about how we’re planning a vacation.  Awesome.  Well, the vacation just got $300 more expensive without a thing to show for it, and it’s completely my fault.

Yes, I made an error and got charged with the stupid tax, and what really sucks is that it’s to the tune of $300.

When planning our trip, we were working along with my in-laws as well as my sister-in-law.  We all had input at various times to things like where we were going to go, where we were going to stay when we got there, how we were going to get there, and most importantly, when we were going to go.

Everybody had to look at their work schedules.  We had to look at the availability of places that we were interested in.  We looked at the costs of flying versus driving.  There was a ton of back and forth.

So, when it came time to the booking of the flight, I went back when I should have gone forth (OK, maybe the other way around when you read on, but that way just sounded better).

Yes, I sat down to book the flight and, for whatever reason, my mind remembered a previous iteration of the week we had decided to go.  So, I happily booked the flight, received the e-mail confirmations, and was happy as a clam.

It took me a week to actually realize that something was wrong when my wife and I were having an innocent conversation about her getting her hair done, which she scheduled to occur before we left on our trip.  She mentioned the date and how it might be hectic since it was the day before we were flying out.  I commented that, no, her hair appointment is a week and a day before we are leaving.

No sooner than the words were out of my mouth and I felt the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach and I knew what had happened.  A dead run up the stairs and a few mouse clicks confirmed my worst fear: I had lodged in my head the exact wrong date(s) for our trip, and had booked with the wrong dates in my mind.  I checked and I even requested the wrong week off at work.

Luckily they’re not going to charge me to move my week!

So, I had previously been very happy to have found our flight and what I thought was a reasonable rate.  I had even commented that, since my in-laws were driving down, that we were avoiding the excessive fees that they’ve been piling on everything.

Yeah, not so much.

When I went to the reservation system, I found that the charge per ticket for changing flights was $150.  That’s $300.  I called Delta in hopes that I could plead my way down.  I first spoke to someone that was about as unsympathetic as could be and even hung up on me when attempting to ‘check into’ things.  Sure.  But, I called back, and spoke to a great customer rep and a great manager, but as great as they were, they couldn’t/wouldn’t help.

So, I grudgingly made the change and ended up paying airline fees that I had bragged about being able to avoid.

That’s the part that kills me is that I was able to avoid them, but with all the confusion, I skipped the step of verification.  I should have never made the booking alone where my wife, as a second pair of eyes, would have caught the mistake.  At the very least, I should have sent her the e-mail confirmations, in which case she might have realized my mistake and could have alerted me to the problem (you do have 24 hours to make a change without the charges).

I guess I thank my stars that we found out when we did, because it could have been a lot worse.  As it was, the correct flights were the same price as the originals.  I’m sure if we had discovered our error closer to the actual time, the prices could have doubled, in which case we would have had to deal with fare increases on top of the $300.

Still, I am very disappointed in myself.  It’s hugely discouraging to see a good chunk of money disappear that could have been avoided.

In short, it sucks getting hit with the stupid tax.

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Planning A Vacation!!!

My wife and I enjoy traveling from time to time.  Since we really didn’t go anywhere last year since Baby Beagle was just a newborn, we were looking at options for something to do this year.  Initially, we had thought about going somewhere in Michigan along a lake, renting a cottage or something along those lines.

However, my in-laws brought up a trip that they were planning, and that changed our plans.  My wife and her family had gone down to the Tampa Bay area (Maderia Beach / John’s Pass) a few times over the years.  They hadn’t gone for a couple of years but mentioned that they were going to plan a trip this year.  My wife got to talking to my in-laws and soon we started looking into doing that.  They know the area and have had wonderful times down there.

We’re going to go in late spring.

There was some back and forth on:

  • Whether to go – Initially, my in-laws weren’t 100% sure that they were going.  We were interested but only when everybody had committed did we finally make the final decision to make that our big trip for 2010
  • Where to say – My in-laws and family had always stayed at a particular hotel along the beach.  We looked into that, but they came up with the idea of splitting the costs of a two bedroom condo.  The place that they found looked nice, is on the water, and is actually cheaper than a hotel would have been.
  • How to get there – We had talked about driving.  My in-laws drive pretty much straight through (it’s an 18 hour or so drive) but we had concerns about sticking Baby Beagle in the backseat for that long.  Even if we drove overnight and he slept through, the waking hours would leave a lot of time for him to be confined in the backseat and we knew the trip would be further extended with more frequent stops to take care of his feeding and changing schedule, and just to give him time to avoid being cooped up.  When we looked at some flights, we found that the extra cost to fly was only about $100 versus what we would have paid in gas costs.  Those are using today’s gas prices, so the difference would probably be negligable by the time it was all said and done.  So, we have decided to fly.

My in-laws are going to take most of our luggage while they drive, so we won’t have to pay the excessive luggage fees that are now the industry standard.  We might have to check Baby Beagle’s car seat, but we’re not sure of that.  We want to take his stroller and car seat.  The website says tha they don’t charge, but it’s vague as to whether that’s just for the first item or if we can take both at no charge.  Even so, one item charge wouldn’t be too horrible considering.  Everything else we’re taking will either go with my in-laws or be put as carry-ons.

So, right now, we have estimated the following costs:

  • Our share of the condo for one week – $400
  • Two round trip airline tickets (Baby Beagle will sit on our laps since he’s under two) – $359
  • Boarding of our two cats (they can’t come) – $144

We’ll have some additional costs for food and activities once we get down there, but right now it’s shaping up to be a pretty reasonable trip for what is hopefully a great week of fun in the sun!

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