It’s hard not to get a bit nostalgic about the good old days of airline travel. Remember when it wasn’t such a hassle to fly; when people actually dressed up for a flight; when it was always service with a smile; and when frequent flyer programs weren’t laden with a plethora of stipulations.
Those days are gone, but I’ve found a way to again make flying an enjoyable experience. I’ve become an American Express Platinum card holder.
I recently booked a trip to visit family in Wilmington, North Carolina using American Express travel services.
I simply logged on to its easy to navigate website and started the process of searching flights. Changing search dates, times and airports was simple. Scores of options were offered and prices were competitive.
I found the flight I wanted (I booked a one-way ticket since I wasn’t sure of my return date) and proceeded to finish the transaction, opting to pay with my American Express points. The total cost was $186, or 18,600 reward points. After the purchase was completed, an email confirmation quickly followed.
When it was time to confirm my reservation, I used a unique Platinum card perk. All Platinum card members receive $200 in statement credits annually for airline incidental fees (for a chosen airline) such as baggage fees, flight-change fees, in-flight food, beverage purchases and priority seating. I checked my bag ($25) and moved my assigned seat to an upfront aisle ($25) using the platinum card. Within a week both charges are credited back to my account. What’s more, I earned 1,860 frequent flier miles for the flight.
At the airport, with time to spare, I used the Platinum card to access one of several Presidents Clubs. I enjoyed a cup of coffee, read the USA Today and Wall Street Journal, used the internet, freshened up in a spotless restroom and took an apple for the road before heading to my departure gate. There, I boarded early and easily stored my carry-on bag in the overhead compartment.
While I didn’t need a rental car or hotel room, I could have effortlessly secured both using my rewards and benefits. A bevy of bonuses include early check-in, late check-out, upgrades, reasonable rates and spa credits at some 750 featured global hotels. Plus, customer assistance is available 24/7.
I’ve found from other frequent flyer programs that the easier miles are to obtain, the harder they are to use. Racking up miles in the hopes of a free ticket continues to be out of reach on myriad airlines, and award tickets have become increasingly more difficult to get hold of. Furthermore, it’s nearly impossible to use rewards around holiday dates. In addition, options are often limited to the airlines that fly to and from a desired destination. Moreover, getting a customer service representative on the phone is next to impossible.
An old Chinese proverb says, “A good traveler leaves no tracks.” A good frequent flyer program sees to that.