Back after a period of inactivity, and a few random thoughts
I’ve spent a fair amount of time cruising offshore and PT-related sites for reading material and discussion, and frankly am coming up short. I miss the forum discussions we often had at the old SMC site, and so I thought I’d come back to this site and spend a little more time on this site to see if I can coax some of the silent lurkers into coming online and participating.
After a period of travel inactivity for about six months, owing to business I needed to attend close to home, I’m happy to report that the second half of the year is slated to involve at least three–and possibly four–trips overseas: one to Panama, and at least two going to Europe.
In the United States, for the first time in recent history, leftists have warmed up to the idea of states’ rights; is it too much to hope that they’ll retain their ardor when one of their own obtains the White House or will they again want to force the country into their own left-wing set of rules?
I still follow citizenship by investment news, and what doesn’t often get published in the “international” press is that in some countries, opposition parties are taking pot-shots at the citizenship by investment schemes and even threatening to revoke some of the citizenships granted. St. Lucia currently appears to stand as one of the best values, when put on a scale of cost ($100,000 plus fees) versus number of visa-free countries accessed, but of all of the countries with programs, it seems to have the most political heat from the opposition party.
Perhaps we can see a price competition in citizenship by investment as other countries get involved.
Travel, if it’s possible, has gotten more difficult and costly, with threatened bans on laptops on flights. I can’t speak for all airlines, but on American, it has revised its rewards program so that miles are now almost useless for the travel I want to do. Three years ago, I was able to book (albeit 11 months in advance) a business-class round trip ticket to Hong Kong using 110,000 miles. American has two forms of miles: “Milesaver” flight miles, which often require you to be more flexible, and then “fly anytime” miles, which usually require about twice as many miles to use, but essentially have no restrictions on use (hence the name).
I have a friend who has still been able to use milesaver points to fly economy for free with relatively the same ease as if he’d paid for it. But milesaver points are almost useless now to try and fly first or business in many instances. As an example, I plugged in some dates for a few cities in Europe months ahead. Paying full price, I could fly directly from a nearby city to London in eight hours with my choice of classes. If I wanted to use milesaver, I’d pay anywhere between 110,000-130,000 miles to get a business seat. But instead of flying straight from my city to London, I’d have to first fly to a connecting city in the U.S.–economy class–have a long layover, and then fly on to London. Many of the choices in fact had me flying in to one airport in New York City and then flying out of another one. And while, if I paid full price, I could leave London in the morning and return home on a direct flight arriving early afternoon, for using milesaver points, I’d fly from London to a connecting city in the U.S., spend the night, and leave the next morning.
Now for some, the benefit of a free ticket outweighs the hassle involved, and I can appreciate that. But I want to fly business or first primarily for the comfort and ease of use. A free” ticket using miles that causes me to add an extra leg to the trip, in economy, and have to spend an overnight in an airport on the extra leg on the way back, pretty much defeats the “comfort” benefit.
To get the full benefit of a full-priced ticket, you have to use the more expensive “fly anytime” option. When I looked at that option, I believe it cost at least 240,000 miles.
On another forum, I was given a great piece of advice about using flight brokers for business flights. For most of us, it sounds a little outdated to use a travel agent, but sure enough, it worked. I was able to book a trip to Europe for a third less than the “rack rate” on American flights. And unlike travel discount sites, I was able to do so using my frequent flier number and get credit (to the extent that matters) for the miles. For anyone interested, I recommend it.
One upside of the general uptick in the American economy is for those folks looking to diversify internationally but needing to sell assets in the United States, now is as good a time to sell as there has been in ten years.
So, fellow member, what’s new with you?