Whitehouse extending facemask requirement until January 18, 2022

8/17/21 Update:

It looks like the Biden Administration is going to extend the mask requirement until January 18, 2022.

Back in April when the mask requirement was extended to September 13, 2021, a lot of us thought there may be an end to masks on planes by mid September but with the outbreak of the Delta variant this summer I think a lot of us saw the writing on the wall.

Unfortunately, this probably means a lot more unruly passengers as mask usage seems to be a major correlative factor for that type of behavior. In fact, according to the FAA, out of 3,889 unruly passenger reports this year about 74% of them related to violations of airline mask policies.

There has been talk about mandating vaccines for air travel and indeed that is already going to happen in Canada. Indeed, most Americans support mandating vaccine passports for domestic air travel and some major US airlines (United Airlines, Frontier Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines) now require their employees to be vaccinated.

However, based on comments made from airline executives and top government officials it does not seem like vaccines will be mandatory for domestic air travel in the US. It could happen but it doesn’t seem very likely at this point.


TSA is extending the facemask requirement for everyone across all transportation networks throughout the United States, including at airports, onboard commercial aircraft, on over-the-road buses, and on commuter bus and rail systems through September 13.

“The federal mask requirement throughout the transportation system seeks to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation,” said Darby LaJoye, the Senior Official Performing the Duties of the TSA Administrator.

“Right now, about half of all adults have at least one vaccination shot and masks remain an important tool in defeating this pandemic. We will continue to work closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to evaluate the need for these directives and recognize the significant level of compliance thus far.”

TSA notes that “[t]he extension of the face mask requirement is consistent with this most recent CDC guidance.”

This is true but many people including myself are starting to question the guidance from the CDC.

First, there is the long list of reversals that the CDC has made on issues such as mask wearing that make many people skeptical about CDC recommendations in general.

But that aside, early reports are showing that vaccinations are effective not just at preventing infection but also transmission.

In other words, vaccinated individuals likely have a very low risk of spreading the coronavirus to anyone.

This likely means that others would only benefit a very small (perhaps negligible) amount from a vaccinated person wearing a mask. Basically, I suspect that if you do get vaccinated, wearing a mask is simply not needed or at least not worth the burden.

And if you still do need the mask even after getting vaccinated then I guess masks are now a permanent fixture?

Now I am not a medical professional so don’t take any of this advice too seriously but I think a lot of people share this same viewpoint that the CDC cost/benefit analysis is out of whack post-vaccinations.

Vaccines have now been available to virtually everyone in the country for a couple of weeks and so within another couple of weeks virtually everybody will have had a chance to get fully vaccinated.

To me, logic would dictate that mask wearing (for vaccinated adults) would not be needed much sooner than September. By the end of May, full immunity will have kicked in for just about everybody who wanted the vaccine and it would seem that masks for vaccinated people don’t make sense beyond that date.

But I understand that governments like to play things conservatively so it really is no surprise that the extension has been made until September.

Perhaps they feel that if they remove the mask mandate now then a lot of the non-vaccinated individuals will stop wearing them and contribute to the spread of the virus among the non-vaccinated which includes children. New strains of coronavirus might be spreading to more children so there could be legitimate concern there.

At some point we just have to accept that there’s going to be a risk to people who are not vaccinated and just get on with life, though. As of two weeks ago, half the country’s adults had at least one vaccine shot so I think that day should be here pretty soon.

I will give TSA credit for at least establishing a specific date as that shows that they are interested in this all coming to an end at some point.

Still, it’s going to be weird when there is a mask requirement in the middle to late summer when the virus is likely posing virtually no threat in the US.

Worth noting: the existing civil penalty fine structure will also remain in place which starts at $250 and rises to $1,500 for repeat offenders who violate this face mask requirement.

Smithsonian magazine’s free Museum Day is Coming Back!

Last year coronavirus canceled just about everything including Smithsonian magazine’s free Museum Day.

But this year it is coming back so just to make sure that you are ready.

If you are not familiar with this day, it offers free admission to more than 1,000 museums, zoos, and cultural centers located all across the country.

The free museum day will be on September 18 which falls on a Saturday.

How to get a ticket:

To get a ticket you will have to select a museum and download a ticket from the Smithsonian Magazine website.

If you click on that link you can use the filter on the left to filter museums based on states which I think is the easiest way to search.

I searched through Texas and Arizona and found quite a few museums that I had never heard of but that looks pretty cool to visit like the Museum of Southern History in Houston Texas.

Some of the museums look very random but could make for a cool Saturday morning visit, especially since you won’t have to come out of pocket.

Tickets will be available to download beginning at midnight on Wednesday, August 18, 2021.

You are allowed to download one ticket per email address but each ticket allows entry for two people.

If you like museums and like to visit them for free you should also check out the Bank of America Museum on US program.

Tennessee’s $250 airline voucher promotion

Tennessee is giving away $250 airline vouchers for people who book a minimum two night stay at participating hotels within the state.

You can choose from one of the four eligible cities: Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, or Nashville.

If you are one of the first 10,000 people to book a two night stay for longer then you can receive a $250 airline voucher for one of the three participating Airlines:  American, Delta, or Southwest.

Only one airline voucher will be provided per qualified package so this is NOT issued per person.

The minimum two night stay must include at least one night on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday.

The reservations must be booked before September 15, 2021 but chances are supplies will be out by that time so the expiration date could be sooner. Full payment must be made at the time of booking.

The travel dates must be between July 11, 2021 to December 30, 2021. (You may encounter some black out dates.)

Hotels must be booked through TennesseeOnMe.com or the Nashville Reservations Center at 800-657-6910 to be eligible for the $250 airline voucher.

You can find how to book the promo here.

The Tennessee’s Department of Tourist Development allocated $2.5 million for this promotion.

Airlines May Have to Issue Refunds for Delayed Bags

The Biden Administration is set to propose new rules that will require airlines to refund passengers for bags that are significantly delayed and also for other services like Wi-Fi that don’t work.

White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese stated that these new rules are “part of a broader effort that the president will release shortly around driving greater competition in the economy in service of lower prices.”

Currently, under US Transportation Department rules state you are only entitled to a fee refund if your bags are lost but not delayed.

But under the new proposed rules a “significant delay” will entitle you to a refund. A “significant delay” will be one where a passenger does not get their bags for 12 hours on a domestic flight or within 25 hours for an international flight.

The new proposal will also require airlines to act swiftly to issue refunds for other types of services that are not available to paying customers.

These include things like advanced seat selection, Wi-Fi, in-flight entertainment, etc.

A single baggage fee may run you around $35 these days so that’s a pretty nice refund.

The refund will be nice but I would make sure that you prioritize getting baggage delay protection so that you can get reimbursed for essentials you may have to purchase while waiting for your bags to arrive.

If you are utilizing a premium travel credit card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve you can get solid protection for delayed baggage.

For example, if your baggage is delayed by a common carrier for more than six hours, you can get covered for essential expenses for up to $100 for a maximum of five days. 

The changes are expected to go into affect in 2022 based on reports that I saw but there is always the chance that efforts like these could run into opposition that slows everything down or prevents the effort from going forward.

Back in 2018, Congress attempted to get involved with baggage fee regulation by mandating “reasonable and proportional” baggage and change fees but they eventually dropped the effort.

It’s not clear to me yet what kind of resistance this new effort may come up against.


Hilton changing free breakfast benefit for Gold and Diamond members

6/28/21 Update:

We already heard about the change in breakfast policy for Hilton elite members but we just got verification about the new credit amounts. Check out the helpful infographic below to help you keep track of what type of breakfast benefits will be offered to you at the various brands:


Hilton has long been my favorite hotel brand for breakfast.

That is because it offers a complimentary breakfast to both Hilton Gold and Hilton Diamond members and I have enjoyed many free breakfast meals during my Hilton stays.

Getting the free breakfast is convenient and also it has always been a great way to capture clear (non-subjective) savings while traveling.

But it looks like Hilton is about to switch things up and this could end up being a major negative depending on how it shakes out.

Beginning in July 2021 and through the end of 2021, Hilton is going to provide a daily food and beverage credit for Gold and Diamond members.

These credits will be offered at all luxury, full-service, lifestyle, and Hilton Garden Inn properties in the U.S.

These include brands like: Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, LXR Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Canopy by Hilton, Signia by Hilton, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Curio Collection by Hilton, Tapestry Collection by Hilton, DoubleTree by Hilton and Motto by Hilton.

The benefit is that you will be able to utilize these credits at anytime of the day so you are not restricted to only breakfast. That is actually pretty helpful for people who get a really late start or people like me who sometimes venture out before breakfast is even open.

The big question is how much will this credit be?

According to Hilton, the credit will range in value depending on the property you are staying at and the location. That gives me some hope that there will be real value with these credits since the price of breakfast can vary pretty widely.

However, it’s very possible that this credit will not offer the same amount of value that you could receive before with the free breakfast. And if that is the case then Gold and Diamond status will suffer a pretty clear devaluation — at least for US stays.

Once again, we don’t know exactly how this will play out but this is definitely something to watch as the summer comes around. Hopefully things will not be as bad as some are imagining but it’s certainly setting up to be a negative.

5/21 Update: there seems to be a somewhat credible rumor that the breakfast credit will be distributed as follows:

  • $25 credit for luxury properties
  • $12 credit for full service hotels but $15 in high cost markets
  • $12 credit for lifestyle hotels but $15 in high cost markets
  • $10 credit for Garden Inn

New Hyatt Promotion (Q3): Bonus Journeys [2021]

The new Hyatt promotion: Bonus Journeys is back! The deal for Q3 is still pretty sweet and below I will show you how you can earn up to 40% back on Hyatt stays depending on your elite status.

Promo details

  • Register for the promotion between July 7, 2021 and August 20, 2021 to participate.
  • All eligible stays under this promotion must be completed after registering and between July 20, 2021 and September 15, 2021
  • For every stay of two or more qualifying nights after registration, you will receive triple points
  • Only Base Points are tripled, and points awarded under this promotion are Bonus Points. 
  • Maximum 120,000 Bonus Points may be earned under this offer.


As mentioned above, registration is not open until July 7th. (Article will be updated when it goes live.)

Promo Link

How much is the promo worth?

The standard base points for Hyatt is five points per dollar spent, but with this promotion you’ll be earning 15 points per dollar spent.

As many of you know, Hyatt points are some of the most valuable hotel points available. WalletFlo values them at 1.57 cents per point. This means that with this promo you will be earning about 23.5% back.

If you have elite status or the World of Hyatt credit card, you can earn even more back. The World of Hyatt card will earn you 4X at Hyatt plus the extra .5 from Discoverist elite status.

So that would be a total of 19.5X per dollar spent — or 30% back. Not bad.

If you have top level Globalist you’ll receive a 30% bonus on your base points, which amounts to 6.5 points per dollar spent. With the World of Hyatt card, that’s 25.5X per dollar spent — or 40% back!

So this can be a very lucrative promotion if you have the ability to stack your earnings.

Final word

This is a solid promotion for late summer travel.

Amazing Southwest 50% Off Sale

If you have any travel plans for this fall you should take a hard look at the new Southwest Airlines sale. It’s an amazing deal offering 50% off flights of all fares — that includes Wanna Get Away, Anytime, and Business Select.

To take advantage of this promotion you need to book by June 17 and your travel dates need to be between September 15th and November 3, 2021.

When you go to book make sure that you can put the promo code: “SAVE50.” There is a box to input the code directly underneath where are you input your dates on desktop. After you proceed to the search results, you should see the savings reflected in the prices. The promo code works for both points bookings and cash bookings.

(You will know that the discount has been activated if you see the former price crossed out.)

I was just able to book 2 round-trip nonstop tickets between Phoenix and BWI for only $462 in October. Not bad at all. So if you have any travel plans for this fall I’d highly suggest checking out the discounted rates.

United Airlines Orders 15 Supersonic Jets

United Airlines announced today that it has placed an order for 15 supersonic jets with the option to purchase 35 more at some point from the start-up Boom Aviation. The supersonic jet — called “the Overture” — would be able to transport travelers at Mach 1.7 from New York to London in 3.5 hours and San Francisco to Tokyo in just six hours.

“Boom’s vision for the future of commercial aviation, combined with the industry’s most robust network in the world, will give business and leisure travelers access to a stellar flight experience,” United CEO Scott Kirby said.

The flights are not expected to be operational until 2029 at the very earliest. In fact, the first flight of this aircraft likely won’t take place until 2026. However, company plans to make its first flight in 2021 with a demonstrator jet called the “XB-1.”

If you are wondering about price, they estimate that the prices will range from about $5,000 to $7,000 so about what you would expect for a premium cabin ticket. No word on the miles needed yet but I’m sure they will breaking their own barriers.

The planes will be carbon neutral and use sustainable air fuel. The jets should be a lot quieter than the old Concorde (which flew from 1976 until October 2003) but will still fly super high at 60,000 feet. I never got to take the Concorde but apparently you don’t really feel the transition to supersonic speeds like you may think which means you might be able to just sit back and enjoy the amazing views of the curvature of the earth at that altitude.

Interestingly, the founder does not have a background in aerospace. He partnered with engineers from SpaceX and Rolls-Royce, stating “I found that passion and drive trumped knowledge and wisdom.”

You can check out the United ad here.


New Southwest Give Away

Southwest Airlines is celebrating their 50th birthday and are giving you a chance every day for the next couple of weeks to earn prizes.

They will be giving away up to 50 million Rapid Rewards bonus points and entering is very easy so I would recommend taking a few seconds to join this promotion.

To join, simply go to this link and click enter now.

You will need to input some basic information like your name, email, Zoning Improvement Plan code, and Rapid Rewards number. If you don’t want to receive promotional emails be sure to not click the second check box.

Then click enter and play and you will be asked to select some luggage bags and hopefully you will have a prize waiting for you after you open them.

The promotion is set to expire June 18, 2021.

Free United flights contest for vaccinated folks

United Airlines is now allowing vaccinated individuals to enter a contest to win free flights.

There will be two types of winners.

There will be three winners selected randomly in June and they will win a round-trip flight for two people in any class of service anywhere United flies.

There will also be five grand prize winner selected randomly on July 1 who will receive one year of free travel to any of the United club or destinations in any class of service for themselves and one companion.

You will need to be a Mileage Pus member to sign up which only takes a couple of seconds to do if you are not currently member. You can sign up for the contest here.

United States that the “primary way to enter and win the sweepstakes is to upload your official COVID-19 vaccination record.”

However, you can still enter the contest without a vaccination card by mailing in your entry to: MileagePlus Vax Sweepstakes, PO Box 158, Freeburg, IL 62243-0158.

Some things to note:

  • Your vaccine card will be saved to your profile for use with future travel.
  • Tickets are not transferable.
  • The one year of free airfare will be awarded in the form of 26 travel certificates each valid for a round-trip.
  • Tickets cannot be used on partners
  • Any travel won as part of the sweepstakes must be completed between July 15, 2021, and July 14, 2022. 

Final word

If you are okay with getting vaccinated and sharing your status and vaccine card with an airline, then you might as well enter since it’s so easy to do. And even if you did not get the vaccine you can still mail in your form to enter.

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