Benji Stawski, Strategic Travel Reporter: My 10 favorite TPG stories of 2021
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2021 was a big year for country reopenings, credit card launches, loyalty program updates, new hotel openings and more. As we get ready to usher in the new year, the TPG team is taking a look back on our favorite stories of the last 12 months.
Today, Benji Stawski shares his 10 favorite posts of the year. Benji is a reporter for the site, covering everything from loyalty programs and credit cards to hotels, private aviation and more. Regardless of the topic he’s covering, he always has one goal in mind: helping readers make more strategic decisions about their travels and spending.
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The golden age of travel isn’t over — it’s evolving
In this story, I explain why I’m a firm believer that we’re still living in the golden age of travel. Private and private-like travel experiences have become more accessible than ever, it’s gotten easier to redeem points and miles, pesky change fees are gone and travel credit cards are offering best-ever sign-up bonuses.
As close to private as it gets: Flying JSX’s new route to LAX
Speaking of private-like experiences, earlier this year, I finally had the chance to fly on JSX. It operates as a hybrid between a commercial airline and a private jet charter service, offering flights on 30-seat regional jets out of private jet terminals. The entire experience was remarkably hassle-free.
The Aero experience: What it’s like flying on a semiprivate jet for under $1,000
I also tried out Aero’s semiprivate jet service on its inaugural flight from Las Vegas to L.A. Between the more exclusive cabin configuration and more personalized service, the experience felt as close to flying private as it could get. This was definitely my most memorable flight this year.
I booked New York’s newest $1,000 suite for the cost of a standard room, and you can too
Here’s one of my most valuable hotel redemptions of 2021: I took advantage of World of Hyatt’s upgrades on paid nights feature to book an over-$1,000-per-night suite at the new Hyatt Regency JFK Airport at Resorts World New York for just $89 and 6,000 points.
‘This is one of the best all-inclusives’: Jamaica’s Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall
In the spring, I traveled to Jamaica to compare three all-inclusive resorts. Among them was the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall. This was my first time staying at one of Hyatt’s all-inclusive properties and it was one of my best all-inclusive experiences yet. Amenities were plentiful and the food and beverage offerings were top-notch.
This TPG reader has 30 million points and miles — we’re showing him how to use them
This year, the points and miles team launched a new “1 million miles” series where we share how we’d each spend a million miles with various loyalty programs. However, for this story, we had to think even bigger, as we helped a TPG reader burn 32,194,000 points and miles on an epic adventure around the world.
Sweet Spot Sunday: Fly lie-flat domestic business class for the price of coach
This year, one of my most-flown routes was New York-JFK to Miami (MIA), and I usually flew up front on American’s 777-300 with Flagship First seats. However, I didn’t break the bank in doing so. This guide shows how I did it and how you can, too. This is definitely one of my favorite domestic award chart sweet spots.
How I’m using Amex’s transfer bonuses to book 3 premium trips
In September, American Express Membership Rewards offered a record number of transfer bonuses. Specifically, you were able to get up to a 40% bonus when transferring points to a whopping 12 partners, which was unheard of. While we usually discourage speculative transfers, I made some anyway and was able to book some terrific awards.
How I Swipe: Strategic Travel Reporter Benji Stawski
How did I earn all those credit card points and miles? Glad you asked. Earlier this year, a coworker interviewed me on my credit card strategy, covering everything from the first card I opened to my go-to card for everyday spend and what cards are in my wallet when I hit the road.
Not your average 737: This $80 million VIP jet has just 13 seats
In October, I attended my first National Business Aviation Association Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition in Las Vegas. I got to tour a ton of incredible private jets, but the most special had to be the Boeing Business Jets 737 demonstrator. I’ve been on plenty of 737s before, but this one was like no other, complete with multiple bedrooms, onboard showers, a bar and more.
Featured photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy.
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