Good morning and welcome to the Daily Drop, the travel companion you can count on. We're like the Bill to your Ted; always ready for a most excellent adventure.
Party on, indeed.
Here's what I have cooking today:
🤔 Travel trivia Tuesday
💺 R.I.P. Centurion lounge access
🏨 Capital One steps up its hotel game
✅ Trivia answer revealed
🤔 Travel Trivia Tuesday
Today's trivia might sound a bit academic, but trust me, the payoff is great. At the risk of putting you to sleep before the newsletter even begins, here it is:
What was the very first battle of World War I, and where did it take place?
The answer will be revealed, but only if you read the whole newsletter (no skipping ahead, I've got my eye on you).
💺 R.I.P. - Centurion Lounge access gets axed
One of the best credit card perks is lounge access. If you've been studying hard (which you better be - the exam is coming up), you'll know that one card in particular takes the cake regarding lounge access.
The reason is that holding this card is the only way to access the much-sought-after Centurion Lounges, widely believed to be the very best of airport lounges (at least those that are accessible by simply holding a credit card).
There are over 40 Centurion lounges around the U.S. and other countries like Brazil, Sweden, India, and more.
For many moons now, cardholders have been allowed to bring in a guest for free when visiting Centurion lounges.
But in just a few days, this policy is going to be adjusted... and it's bad.
Effective February 1st, holders of this card will be charged $50 per additional guest, eliminating the previous free guest policy.
We knew about this change a while back, so it's not like this is happening out of the blue. But now that it's so close, I'm really starting to feel the panic set in.
It's like when you book a 17-hour economy flight eight months in advance and think, "eh, it won't be that bad."
And then, the night before, you scramble to find a better option as the reality of your decisions sets in and you curse your past self.
*Ahem* not that this has happened to me like five times in the last year...
Anywho, while this is pretty devastating, there are three things to keep in mind that might give you some solace.
First, the Centurion Lounges are only a small fraction of the lounge network offered on that card... I love Centurion lounges, but I rarely travel through airports that have them. Priority Pass, on the other hand, I use almost every day.
Seriously, it's difficult to find an airport without a Priority Pass lounge. Since these lounges are also offered on the same credit card, you can rest easy.
Second, this new policy only applies to U.S.-issued cards.
I happen to hold the Canadian-issued version of this card, which will still retain the old guest access policy (at least for now). Many other countries have versions of this card, all of which will keep the old perk.
Finally, there is a way to earn this privilege back; by spending $75,000 per year on the card. Most of you probably just puked a little when you read that...
But small business owners and big spenders probably hit this threshold every year anyway, and will be able to keep bringing their friends, family, and kind strangers into Centurion lounges.
Overall, it's disappointing to see the perks we love most get devalued like this. But don't just look at the headline version of this - keep in mind how many other great perks and lounge alternatives are still there, and hold onto the hope that they remain unchanged for years to come. Amen.
🏨 Capital One steps up its hotel game
One of the best parts about travel hacking is the hotel programs offered by banks like Chase and American Express.
It's a great way to experience the perks of elite status without needing to work your way up to earning it over the course of the year.
For example, theAmerican Express Fine Hotels & Resorts program offers guests a $100 property credit, free breakfast, complimentary room upgrades, and more when booking stays through the Amex travel portal.It’s a great way to get some extra value without needing to have hotel elite status.
That’s whyit’s so exciting that Capital One is jumping into the mix with its new Premier Collection, playing out a Battle Royale-style fight to the death with its competitors, the winner of which will get the most valuable treasure in the land - the time, attention, and money of the travel hacking community.
Okay, it’s not quite that dramatic; I’ve just been watching too muchGame of Throneslately (I just watched Season 4 Episode 8… I’m absolutely devastated).
Anyway, the program has recently had a soft launch, with holders of the right credit card able to book some hotels already.
Here are some of the key benefits of booking through this new program:
Complimentary breakfast (for two)
Early check-in and late checkout
$100 property credit (to be used on food, spa services, parking, or more)
Complimentary room upgrades
These benefits put Capital One on par with the other big-boy programs, which I think is fantastic.
But there’s one thing that makes Capital One stand out from the crowd -the ability to earn loyalty points and elite nights at hotels booked through the portal.
Here’s what I mean:
Typically when you use a travel portal like this, the booking is technically made by a 3rd party (in this case Capital One).
Because of that, you don’t earn points or elite nights at hotel chains like Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, or Marriott,whose terms strictly state you need to book directly with the hotel in order to get these benefits.
Capital One’s portal is different in this regard, which would pretty quickly put them at the head of the pack.
So who has access to this new program?
While any Capital One cardholder can access the travel portal,only holders of specific premium credit cards will be able to use the new Premier Collection benefits.Holders of those cards will also earn 10x points when booking through the portal, which means you’re also getting a hefty return on your spending.
Overall, this is really exciting. I love when big programs compete against each other like this - it usually leads to better outcomes for us travel hackers.
This program specifically has been on the horizon for quite a while, so it's great to see it coming to fruition.
✅ Trivia answer
The correct answer to today's trivia might surprise you.
Despite what you may think, the very first battle of World War I was actually fought right here in Tanzania. Well, technically, it was in Lake Malawi, just south of the Rungwe region I'm currently in.
If you read about The Battle of Lake Malawi, you'll find very little information. But locals here tell a very fun version of the story that has been passed down since the early 1900s.
Prior to World War I, Germany controlled Tanzania (known as German East Africa), and the British controlled Malawi.
Each country had a single boat stationed in lake Malawi, which separated the two countries. As you might imagine, life for these 1-3 people was quite dull. So dull, in fact, that they would frequently pass the time by hanging out on each other's boats and getting drunk.
That's right; the British and the Germans were actually quite friendly down here, being the only Europeans in this strange body of water in the middle of Africa.
Here is a little map:
When the British boat heard about the onset of World War I in early August of 1914, they were told to take down the German ship (A.K.A., their drinking buddies).
So in the middle of the night, they shot at the German boat and brought them on board as prisoners...
... where they proceeded to hang out and get drunk. Only this time, the Germans were technically prisoners of war.
Life carried on normally for them for the duration of the war. They say that although the war lasted only four years, their livers aged a lifetime.
They don't say that, but that's the conclusion I'm drawing from the story.
Anyway, I think it's cool and funny that this "battle" happened weeks before the first large-scale battle in Europe, and I love the image of two enemies hanging out, drinking, and enjoying each other's company.
That's gonna finish off this beautiful Tuesday, folks.
How important is airport lounge access for you? Have you ever heard of the Battle of Lake Malawi? What's one piece of travel trivia you'd like to see in the Daily Drop?Let me know by replying to this email or reaching out on social media.