Hotels are dropping mask requirements

If you ask me, wearing a mask during a hotel stay is even more annoying than a plane ride.

On a (domestic) plane ride, I more or less forget I’m even wearing a mask as I remain stationary listening to music or an audiobook.

When staying at hotels, I constantly found myself forgetting to grab my mask as I ran in and out of my hotel rooms (arms often full) and struggled to communicate with staff members between the masks and plexiglass installations.

To me it made sense that masks would be more of a necessity in a hotel than a plane but it was still twice as annoying.

Luckily, some hotels have decided to start dropping the mask requirement for fully vaccinated individuals.

The American Hotel & Lodging Association, a trade organization that oversees 27,000 members from hotels like Marriott and Hyatt, is suggesting that guests who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear a mask and no longer have to social distance.

“In light of the recent CDC announcement that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in most settings, our Safe Stay guidelines will relax mask requirements for guests who are fully vaccinated,” Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, said.

Unvaccinated guests are still required to wear facemasks and to continue social distancing.

Reportedly, the hotels will not be asking for a verification of vaccination status, a trend which seems to be setting the standard for these new rules.

Here’s a look at what some of the major hotels are doing, according to View from the Wing.

Marriott is no longer requiring masks indoors for fully vaccinated guests at US properties except where masks are required by law.

Hyatt also no longer requires vaccinated guests to wear masks indoors at US properties.

Hilton seems like they are being a bit more ambiguous regarding masks as a spokesperson stated:

Hilton Team Members in the United States will continue to wear masks when interacting with guests indoors or in public areas on property.

As guidelines begin to be relaxed around the world, our hotels will ask guests and visitors to practice social distancing and wear face coverings only where it makes sense to do so, including in indoor public areas and in jurisdictions where it remains required.

This is yet another major sign that things are starting to get back to normal for travelers, at least here in the US.

I would expect that there will be a good deal of confusion for many travelers over the next few weeks to months as these rules shake out, though.

At some of these places you’ll still need to make sure you are aware of the local laws and ordinances which may require you to wear a mask indoors. So keep that in mind.

It is still odd to me that masks are still required on planes even though the air is considered to be much more filtered than say, a hotel elevator. But it’s still looking like we may have to wait until September for mask requirements to drop for federal transportation.


Broadway is set to reopen next fall

If you are a fan of Broadway then you will be delighted to know that Broadway shows are set to resume September 14. Tickets for the re-opening are scheduled to go on sale beginning Thursday.

Broadway performances initially were suspended due to coronavirus back on March 12, 2020. So Broadway has been shut it for more than a year which is pretty incredible to think about.

“We are thrilled that Governor Cuomo clearly recognizes the impact of Broadway’s return on the city and state’s economy and the complexity of restarting an entire industry that has been dormant for over a year,” said Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League.

The specific shows and plays that will reopen will be announced in the coming weeks as tickets begin to go on sale.

Since so much time has lapsed since things were open there have been a lot of shake ups in casting and the like. This may complicate re-introducing some shows.

Pricing is expected to be similar to what it was before the pandemic but nobody really knows exactly how it is going to play out. It does seem like cancellation policies will be more liberal than before, however.

It’s not clear if masks will be required for visitors or if performers will do meet and greets. There has also apparently been discussion about allowing the theater industry to put a requirement on for vaccinations.

Regardless of how those things play out, it’s starting to look like September 2021 is going to be the “mostly back to normal” date for a lot of venues and locations.

We’ve already heard that TSA will be extending the mask mandate through September and it just seems like early fall is going to be the time when things start to get back to normal.

I imagine that it will really start to sink in that things are back once football stadiums fill up with crowds again and masks become a thing of the past.

Still, other attractions taking place during this time around the globe may not happen such as Oktoberfest which was recently announced to be canceled for 2021.


FAA proposing huge fines for acting out on planes

The FAA is proposing big fines for three passengers who allegedly disrupted flights recently.

Earlier this year, (the week after the Capitol riot) the Federal Aviation Administration adopted a stricter unruly flyer policy.

They tweeted back in January:

“FAA Administrator Steve Dickson signed an order directing the agency to take strong action against any passenger who disrupts or threatens the safety of a flight, with penalties ranging from fines to jail time. No warnings!”

They reportedly decided to go with stricter penalties after a “disturbing” increase in incidents where passengers have disrupted flights with threats or violent behavior.

“These incidents have stemmed both from passengers’ refusals to wear masks and from recent violence at the U.S. Capitol,” the FAA said.

And now they are proposing some big fines.

On January 4, on a JetBlue flight from Haiti to Boston a man got drunk and began yelling and grabbing flight attendants. The crew moved nearby passengers and arranged for the man to be arrested when the plane landed. The FAA proposed a $31,750 fine against the man.

The FAA is also seeking a $16,750 penalty against another passenger on the same flight. This man was allegedly also drunk and began shouting obscenities and making threatening gestures to a flight attendant.

And there is a third man who was on a flight from Yuma, Arizona to Dallas Fort Worth.

This guy drank multiple mini bottles of his own alcohol and was bothering passengers and at one point made his way toward the front of the plane until two off-duty law enforcement officers wrestled him back into his seat.

I would imagine that some of these outbursts are in part coming from general frustrations regarding the pandemic and also the frustrations related to covid restrictions such as being forced to wear a mask.

People are still just generally more on edge than they were before the pandemic.

These fines are being proposed but passengers have 30 days to respond to the FAA enforcement letters.

I’m not clear on what the process entails but one thing is pretty clear right now: this is not the time to act like a jack ass on a plane.

Also, if you were planning on bringing alcohol on a plane make sure you know the rules and regulations surrounding that.


Europe is opening up to vaccinated Americans this summer

It looks like the European Union is committed to opening back up to Americans this summer — at least to fully vaccinated people.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said she expects all 27 EU member states to open up to travelers who have received vaccines that the EMA (European Medicines Agency) has approved.

This would include: Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer-BioNTech. (These are all of the vaccines available in the US.)

We don’t know exactly when these countries will open up because they did not provide a specific timeline.

Countries like Iceland and Greece have already opened up and we’ve heard from the UK that they will be opening up relatively soon.

This is pretty exciting news if you had plans to get to Europe this summer but there still are some questions that need to be answered.

It’s not clear to me exactly how the verification process will work but it looks like there may be an app that will allow passengers to share test results and vaccination cards with governments.

There still could be tests or restrictions that specific member states require even if you are vaccinated so I’m curious how that will work.

It’s possible that — logistically — traveling to Europe may still be quite the headache.

I’m wondering what will happen to minors who currently are too young to get the vaccine but could potentially still be transporting the virus. Will they have to/be able to take a covid test?

This could make things a lot more difficult for families to get around in Europe this summer.

In addition, I’m wondering when the US will end the mandatory coronavirus test for incoming passengers, especially for those who are already vaccinated.

And finally, what is going to happen with masks?

The risk of a vaccinated individual transferring the virus to others looks like it is extremely minimal and so masks probably are almost certainly not needed for these people.

If vaccinated travelers have proof of vaccination then mask requirements should be dropped for these individuals in my opinion.

It’s looking like this summer will give us the first glimpse at normalcy when it comes to air travel.

But based on how things are slowly opening up and how some countries are still struggling a bit with vaccine roll out I don’t think we will get back to normal until after the summer.

If you are planning to visit Europe in the next few months I would still expect to deal with things like masks, social distancing, and testing at some locations.

Some countries might end up being more lax than others.

Still, this is a encouraging sign and great news for Americans who have been wanting to get back out to tourist hotspots like Italy, Spain, France etc.


Priority Pass members losing access to select Plaza Premium lounges as of July

The Priority Pass airport lounge network has over 1,300 lounges located in over 140 countries. It’s one of the most popular programs for obtaining airport lounge access because it is offered by so many premium credit cards such as the Platinum Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve, and many others.

Plaza Premium Lounges are lounges that are part of the Plaza Premium Group lounge network and they are located all over the world (44 international airports).

Based on my personal experience, these are “above average” contract lounges. (They have not blown me away but are still lounges I can look forward to visiting.)

You will find a lot of these lounges in Australia, Asia, and the Middle East, though you can also find some in Europe and the Americas (DFW). You can read my guide on Plaza Premium Lounge (full list of lounges) .

Plaza Premium Lounges have been a part of the Priority Pass lounge network for a while now but that is soon going to change. Beginning in July, Priority Pass members will lose access to select Plaza Premium Lounges

Reportedly, only Certain Plaza Premium lounges will be removed from the Priority Pass Program. I’ve seen different reports but it sounds like the majority, perhaps even the vast majority, of Plaza Premium lounges will be dropped from the Network.

We likely won’t know the exact details until the change date gets closer in the summer.

This definitely is a hit for Priority Pass but there is some good news.

First, according to reports Priority Pass already has alternative lounges operating in many of the locations where they will be losing Plaza Premium lounges. In addition, they are seeking out new partners in other locations where they may not have alternatives.

It’s unclear if these alternative lounges will be on par with Plaza Premium lounges in terms of quality. However, the addition of some new lounges could potentially mitigate the damage done from dropping Plaza Premium lounges.

The second reason why this is not all bad news is that if you have the Amex Platinum Card you can still get access to Plaza Premium lounges. That is because the Platinum Card offers airport lounge access far beyond just Centurion Lounge access.

In fact, here are a lot of the different types of lounges you can get access to:

  • Centurion Lounges
  • International American Express Lounges
  • Priority Pass Select Lounges
  • Delta Sky Clubs
  • Airspace Lounges
  • Escape Lounges
  • Plaza Premium Lounges
  • Lufthansa Lounges

Amex Platinum cardmembers may bring up to 1 companion into Plaza Premium Lounges as complimentary guests (compared to the two guests allowed with Priority Pass). However, at some airports Platinum members were known to receive better access to Plaza Premium lounges (e.g., more hours, more food or drink, etc.).

Related: Plaza Premium Lounge TPE Terminal 1 Review

Final word

Overall, it’s definitely a negative to see lounges dropped from the program. However, it is encouraging to hear Priority Pass state that they can provide alternative lounges in many locations.This news also is not entirely bad for Platinum members since they will still have Plaza Premium access and in many cases that access goes beyond what Priority Pass offered.

1,000 AAdvantage bonus miles per night w/Hyatt [Targeted]

There is a new targeted offer going out allowing Hyatt members to earn 1,000 AAdvantage bonus miles per night.

If you are targeted you will likely receive an offer from Hyatt but you can also check to see if you are targeted using the link below.

Related: New Hyatt promo (2,000 points!)

Key terms

  • Register by June 30, 2021
  • Book and complete stays between April 15, 2021 and July 31, 2021.
  • A maximum of 30,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles may be earned under this Offer.

Valid at participating Hyatt hotels and resorts worldwide and participating M life Rewards destinations, Small Luxury Hotels of the World properties, and Lindblad Expeditions.

Only the room occupied by the Member will count toward this Offer, regardless of the number of rooms paid under the same account number.

Member must choose either World of Hyatt Base Points or AAdvantage® miles as their base earning.

If a member selects to earn World of Hyatt Base Points at check-in, member will receive 1,000 bonus AAdvantage® miles per night in addition to World of Hyatt Base Points earned.

If member chooses to earn AAdvantage® miles at check-in, they will receive the ongoing benefit of 500 AAdvantage® miles per stay in addition to the 1,000 bonus AAdvantage® miles per night as part of the Offer during the Offer Period.

You can check to see if you are targeted here.

If for some reason you have not linked your Hyatt account with your American Airlines AAdvantage account you can do that here.

This will allow elite members to earn 1 World of Hyatt Bonus Point for every eligible $1 USD spent on qualifying American Airlines flights. 

If you are also an elite member of American Airlines you can earn 1 AAdvantage® Bonus Mile for every eligible $1 USD spent on qualifying Hyatt stays and experiences.

Final word

This is a great promotion if you are targeted as 1,000 miles per night can add up pretty quickly. I believe it should stack with the promo link at the top of this article as well, so this is a potential triple or even quadruple stack promo.

Marriott award chart changes happening on March 3

When it comes to award travel, it’s always important to stay on top of the ever-evolving changes in award prices.

Hotels are known to make adjustments on a yearly basis and Marriott is set to make annual hotel category changes on March 3, 2021.

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

The changes

You can find the full list of category changes here.

As a reminder, these changes are not always negative as some properties will actually bump down to a lower category.

In fact, there are two category sevens bumping down to a category six: Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic, Autograph Collection and JW Marriott Parq Vancouver.

For a lot of people, the key changes to look for are properties changing in and out of category five and category six.

This is because with the select Marriott cards like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card, you can receive a free night at properties costing up to 35,000 points per night, which is the standard rate for a category five property.

Off-peak for a category five goes down to 30,000 points and peak prices go up to 40,000 points. You can read more about these properties here.

Also, if you have the Marriott Brilliant from American Express you can get a free night for properties costing up to 50,000 points per night, which is the standard rate for a category six.

Off-peak for a category six goes down to 40,000 points and peak prices go up to 60,000 points.

A few interesting properties dropping from category six to category five include:

So be sure to take a look at the category changes and book your best available rate based on the changes happening.

New Hyatt promo becomes active today! (2,000 points!)

Today is the first day that you can take advantage of the new Hyatt promotion: Bonus Journeys.

Promo details

  • Earn 2,000 bonus points every two qualify nights
  • World of Hyatt Credit Cardmembers earn 2,500 Bonus Points every two qualifying nights
  • All members earn a Free Night Award (Category 1-4) after your first ten qualifying nights
  • Registration open through May 15, 2021
  • Valid March 1 through June 15, 2021

Additional terms to note:

  • Your nights do not have to be consecutive.
  • The Category 1-4 Free Night Award is valid for 180 days from date of issuance. 


You need to register for this promotion and you can register here.

How much is the promo worth?

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 for every two qualifying nights, you will earn approximately $31.40 in value in bonus points.

If you have the World of Hyatt credit card, your 2,500 bonus points every two qualifying nights comes out to $39.25.

Since the bonus points are not tied to the amount you are spending, this promo is more rewarding for cheaper stays.

If you have the World of Hyatt credit card and were to make two stays at $150 each, then this promo would offer you a rebate of approximately 13% percent on a two night stay. That would be on top of the points you’d be earning with the credit card and your elite status which would be at least Discoverist.

In the case of having Discoverist and staying two nights at $150 each, your total earnings for this promotion could be:

  • 2,500 points (Promo)
  • 1,200 points (Credit card spend at 4X)
  • 1,650 points (base points + Discoverist)

That would be a total of 5,350 points. On $300 worth of spend, that comes out to $84 in points, which comes out to 28% back. That is a great return and obviously the return is even better if your nights are under $150 per night.

Remember that Hyatt also reduced elite status requirements by 50% for the 2021 qualification year.

Final word

If you are thinking about chasing elite status this year on cheaper stays, this promo could make things a lot more lucrative for you, especially if you have the World of Hyatt credit card.

Could stimulus checks be included in a smaller stimulus package?

As November comes to a close, it’s now clear that the month will end without a stimulus deal in sight.

Lawmakers have continued to speak in general terms about their support for a stimulus bill and have continued to fire shots across the aisle and place blame on the other side for why nothing has been done.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who is the lead stimulus negotiator for Democrats, stated:

“Over six months ago when we passed the Heroes Act, Leader McConnell said we need a pause. We need a pause. Well, I would hope that for him, the pause can come to an end. Nearly 200,000 people have died during that pause, so we’re asking him to come back to the table.”

The two sides, Democrats and Republicans, are currently at a standstill because of their drastically different views on the size and scope of the next stimulus package.

Republicans still seem to favor a package around $500 billion while Democrats are interested in a bill totaling $2 trillion or more.

What’s interesting is that there are reports that the Biden team is pushing Democrats to give in to a “smaller package” in order to get relief out quickly.

I think the strategy there is to ultimately pass a larger bill once the regime change is settled.

But they would prefer for some form of relief to get out before inauguration day to mitigate the damage done to the economy.

It’s actually a pretty smart play.

Democrats know that Republicans will be on board with passing something smaller — perhaps in the range of five hundred billion dollars to one trillion dollars.

That would help ensure that when Biden takes office in January (which seems to be very likely) the economic situation is not quite as bad as it would be without aid.

Then, if Democrats do end up sweeping the Georgia run-off election they could focus on passing the large bill that they have always been interested in.

If Democrats do not sweep the runoff election, which seems like the likely outcome, then they will face a much tougher uphill battle to get a large package passed.

But at least that battle could stretch out as far as needed if some form of relief has already gone out.

I think the big question is whether or not stimulus checks would be included in a smaller Democrat bill?

We already know that Republicans have excluded stimulus checks from their smaller proposals.

However, Republicans have shown support for stimulus checks on various occasions.

So it will be very interesting to see if stimulus checks will be included if and when Democrats choose to pass a smaller bill.

While the Biden administration has stated that their number one priority is economic recovery, they do not have a direct mention of stimulus checks on their economic recovery plan that they outlined on their website.

So the big thing to watch in the near future is what type of terms might Democrats discuss when it comes to a smaller package.

I’ve got a feeling that stimulus checks would be a necessity for Democrats and I think they would have a good chance of getting them passed since Republicans have been on board with them to a large extent.


Does no stimulus deal help or hurt Democrats more or Republicans?

The #1 reason we won’t see a stimulus package before 2021?

Stimulus talks might get somewhere with fresh face in the mix

Mandatory vaccine passports might be coming

Last spring, there was a lot of talk about so-called “immunity passports.”

These were supposed to be passports that people would possess after they had tested positive for coronavirus antibodies.

The idea was that these people would be less of a risk or perhaps at no risk of contracting the virus again and so it would be safe for them to enter back into society.

These passports never really gained traction.

Perhaps it was the mixed scientific opinions on immunity or just because it just wasn’t a very useful idea.

But now there is a new concept of a “vaccination passport” that is being seriously considered.

Certain countries around the world and places like Asia and the Pacific are considering the possibility of requiring vaccination passports for international travelers.

In Australia, Qantas is considering requiring all passengers to have a vaccination passport before they can travel abroad or even land in Australia.

Qantas has also reportedly been talking to other airlines around the world about enforcing such a requirement.

“We are looking at changing our terms and conditions to say for international travelers, that we will ask people to have the vaccination before they get on the aircraft,” Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce told Australia’s Network Nine television.

Asking about vaccinations is nothing new for immigration.

If you travel to certain locations such as the Maldives you’ve probably had to fill out a passport card that required you to tick off a box as proof of vaccination.

But they are actually talking about taking further steps by trying to figure out a way to electronically verify that people have received the vaccine.

Tracing vaccination records across countries seems like an extremely daunting task.

I understand some countries are very serious about wanting to avoid letting loose a highly contagious virus in their country if they have been successful so far in keeping their cases down.

However, the idea of tracing these records electronically just does not seem that promising.

Still, there is talk about from other airlines like Korean Air who are being vocal about the possibilities of requiring vaccinations.

If you can’t prove your prior vaccination, most likely you will have to quarantine when you arrive in the new country, so you still can probably arrive at some of these places.

I think the biggest issue that many people will have is that this type of regulation likely will only be enforced with airlines and foreign governments working in tandem.

Allowing governments to control which people with a valid passport can enter or exit the country based on vaccination status sounds like a bad plan to many people.

There’s a lot that could go wrong in that scenario whether it be abuse of the system or just negligent application.

If you’ve ever been held up in an immigration line for no apparent reason then you could forsee many more issues happening in the future because of this.

“Ultimately, it’s up to governments to determine when and how it is safe to reopen borders and we continue to work closely with authorities on this,” Air New Zealand said in a statement.

All of these countries like Australia and New Zealand have had pretty strict border restrictions ever since the breakout of the pandemic so it’s not a surprise that they would be leading this type of charge.

And while I think it is admirable for countries like that to want to take proactive measures to prevent the spread from breaking out in their countries, trying to enforce a mandatory vaccine requirement that is traceable electronically or via an app just doesn’t quite feel like the right move.


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