How’d I Do for 2016 Travel Predictions?

Also see: 

Last year, I tried my hand at predicting… the fyoocha!

Travel Predictions

Go go gadget clairvoyance

So let’s recap and find out what happened in 2016 behind the smoky haze of palo santo and sage.

My 2016 Travel Predictions

1. Citi will add American Airlines as a ThankYou transfer partner


He's looking for Citi's new transfer partner. Good luck, buddy

He’s looking for Citi’s new transfer partner. Good luck, buddy

I don’t it’ll ever happen at this point. My hope is dwindling.

2. American Airlines will “get in bed” with Hilton


No partnership there. You’d think the world’s largest airline and one of the world’s largest hotel chains would introduce reciprocal benefits like Delta/Starwood or United/Marriott, especially since both have cards with Citi. But… noooope.

3. AMEX will step up the Platinum Card’s game, finally add bonus categories


Dang skippy

Dang skippy

We finally got a 5X category on the personal version of the Platinum Card.

4. Citi Prestige will get a little less shiny

CORRECT. A LOT less shiny.

I still luh ya, but not *as* much

I still luh ya, but not *as* much

They axed Admirals Club access, free rounds of golf, and reduced the redemption rate of each point: ouch. The changes don’t kick in until July 23rd, 2017. But I have a feeling they’ll add something to compete with Chase Sapphire Reserve in the meantime.

Still, I saved over $3,000 with Citi Prestige last year, so I’m keeping it for a while longer.

5. Fidelity and Schwab will compete in the cashback arena


Schwab came out with a 1.5% cashback card, but it hardly competes with Fidelity’s 2% cashback card.

6. All 3 legacy airlines will make the exact same positive change


The race to the bottom still rages on. They’re all the same level of shittiness now, so by all means, take your pick!

7. Hilton will step it up a bit


Same ol’ Hilton. Good on them for consistency. I think they’re waiting to see what a combined Marriott/Starwood will look like. Or maybe they don’t care and are fine with the program as-is.

8. Hyatt (and thus Chase Ultimate Rewards) will devalue


World of Hyatt” is a complete pile of poo.

Let's start with that hideous logo

Let’s start with that hideous logo

They haven’t messed with award rates yet, so no hit to Chase Ultimate Rewards. But at least there’s that… for now.

9. Manufactured spend will get crazy difficult to the point of not worth it


The “new” MS is to resell or start a side hustle. I don’t have time to do the gift card –> money order –> bank deposit loop and pray it works at each step because they are ALL so shaky.

10. There will be at least 2 SCREAMING flight deals


There were a LOT of good flight deals, including many good sales to Europe. I think this will continue for a while more.

11. Barclays and BofA will stop sucking so much


The new JetBlue cards were a win for Barclays; so was regaining the AAdvantage cards for new sign-ups.

I didn't get them all on the same day

I didn’t get them all on the same day

And BofA didn’t stop sucking so much as much as the others now suck equally… and you can still get Alaska miles every 45 days, so at least there’s that.

12. Club Carlson will do something to remain relevant


Who? I haven’t thought about them in ages.

13. Southwest will finally add more T&Cs to the Companion Pass


It came a day after 2016 ended, but OW that stings. I was all set to get a Companion Pass this week (using this method which now no longer works).

Lots of peeps recently signed up for Chase Marriott cards Amex Starwood cards to take advantage of this. Others bought Starwood points during a recent sale. And some have just been saving them up for a big redemption.

Southwest, you're a dirty dog

Southwest, you’re a dirty dog

So it sucks Southwest gave absolutely no heads up or last call about this. Changes with no notice are legal, yes, but extremely sleazy and bad for trust in your brand.

There are many ways Southwest could’ve handled this. In the end, they decided to do the most underhanded thing possible.

Do I blame them? No. But they should’ve worked on their approach, as they were obviously waiting until January 1st to drop this. Guess I’ll go for Alaska and fly Southwest when they’re the cheapest/have the best routes. I’m going total free agent this year.

14. British Airways will keep fuel surcharges


And everyone still hates them for it because we know they’re garbage.

15. An international airline loyalty program will gain new prominence


It’s the same ol’ with those programs. The only new one on my radar is Etihad.

16. United Airlines will actually improve


See: #6. Race to the bottom, baby!

Bonus: Alaska Airlines will steal the show


I said:

They’ll add improvements to their planes, credit cards, route network, and loyalty program quietly, behind the scenes. And at the end of 2016, everyone will be Team Alaska.

Or maybe just me.

They merged with Virgin America, upped the bonus on their credit cards to 30,000 miles, and actually improved their award program in several ways.


OMG I should get a Team AS t-shirt?

I’m firmly Team Alaska, at least for now. Let’s see what this year brings.

Bottom line

Of my 17 predictions (including the bonus), I got:

  • 8 WRONG

2017 promises to be a year of massive changes in the travel/loyalty space. I think there will be some huge surprises this year.

What do you think is in store for travel, credit cards, and loyalty programs in 2017? More of the same, or huge shake-ups? 

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Memphis, traveling, and working toward financial independence.

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