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World traveler Sam Chui is grounded: here are his 5 big takeaways

March 30, 2020
3 min read
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Last week, I had the privilege of interviewing one of my favorite world travelers in an Instagram Live chat over at @thepointsguy. Hopping from flight to flight, Sam Chui seems to spend more time on the road than any of us here at TPG. Like the rest of us, however, he's grounded for the time being — in Sam's case, with his parents in Las Vegas, far from his home in Dubai.

Sam and I covered a variety of topics, including what life is like during his quarantine in the U.S., the speedy (and unexpected) demise of the Queen of the Skies and what we're looking forward to in the future. You can catch our full 30-minute chat here — I'll run through some of the highlights below, too.

Sam covered a variety of topics, including:

1. Why we're still seeing so many planes fly

"The air cargo business is very strong at the moment... they're the heroes behind quietly bringing all the logistics and supplies. They're bringing medical supplies to countries like Italy and the U.S. When China had the coronavirus they brought these to China, now they're bringing masks back from China to Europe and the U.S. Private aviation is also very strong at the moment, because of a lot of charter flights... to bring back stranded people and also to bring lots of cargo supplies."

2. Sam's travels have been impacted in a big way

"In late February things turned bad internationally. I guess the U.S. is the last country to get affected seriously. When I attended the Singapore Air Show, half the show was canceled. Half the participants didn't turn up because it started in Asia first and moved on to Europe. I had the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, that's been canceled. This month, I was also supposed to go to Fiji from LA on the A350. I pulled out last minute - I figured it was a little bit irresponsible."

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-MxXR-pBil/

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3. It isn't possible to return to Dubai

"The country's closed to anyone except their own citizens, and there's no flights going in right now. The country is banning all flights for 14 days. Emirates flights are grounded, Etihad's grounded. I'd love to go back to Dubai in mid-April, if the flights start again."

4. Sam has suggestions for anyone who has to fly

"The most important thing is to do some research and to find out how full your flight is. I'd rather have some distance — have that peace of mind. Given the flight loads these days are not very full, except those stranded citizen rescue flights... if you have a row of three, you might only have two people sitting, with the middle seat blocked."

5. Final flights can be more exciting than inaugurals

"I actually like the last flights more than inaugural flights. When things come to... the last opportunity... go all out to ... enjoy, to savor every memory. I did the very last international United 747 flight, from [Seoul] to San Francisco. And last year I did another one, the El Al last flight... we drew a 747 in the sky over the Mediterranean."

Be sure to follow @thepointsguy, and my page, @zachhonig, on Instagram for more from aviation and travel leaders around the world.

Featured image by Photo courtesy of Sam Chui

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

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10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
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1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

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80,000 bonus points
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

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Recommended Credit

740-850
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Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more