Get Back: Let's Do This
FAQ Column Again
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2019 -- Hope you like Steely Dan because it's time to do it again. Prefer very-late-in-the-game Beatles? Let's go to the roof and get back.

I'm obviously not Jack and I don't think anyone has ever called me Jojo (thank heavens), but the point I'm struggling to make is that we must revisit, rethink and otherwise revise my FAQ column from only two weeks ago. That is a commentary on the speed with which business travel now moves--and a tribute to how savvy you readers are.

Given Norwegian Air Shuttle's messy finances and the overall bearish record for low-fare international carriers, I suggested not booking more than 60 days in advance. But Norwegian had a very good week. Its third-quarter earnings came in much stronger than expected and key revenue metrics were solid. It also located a partner--Chinese, of course--to ease the burden of aircraft purchases on its balance sheet. What's it mean? Norwegian now seems stable enough to survive the bleak winter season, traditionally the trough of airline revenue and cash flow. I don't see any reason why Norwegian won't be flying this time next year.

Book with confidence and soak up those sweet, sweet premium fares. I've seen some routes (New York-Amsterdam, for example) where advance-purchase premium cabin prices are below $500 each way. There are equally enticing premium fares from London, Paris and Rome, too. Another perk: Norwegian today announced it will fly seasonally between Austin and Paris/CDG alongside its year-round flights to London/Gatwick.

My column mentioned that my most frequent emergency purchase on the road is strapping and duct tape. As I explained, I once carried rolls of both in my carry-on bag but lately dumped them to make room for other necessities. This revelation bought an immediate E-mail from a JoeSentMe member about RediTape, a brand of flat-pack duct tape.

Intrigued, I went searching for videos of RediTape in action. What did I find? A hack. Because of course there's a tape hack. If you do a little surgery on the cardboard inner core of duct or strapping tape, you can flat-pack an existing roll. Since I have a drawer full of tape purchased everywhere from Hong Kong to Rome, I tried it. Goofy as it seems, it works. A roll of USPS-branded strapping tape compresses down and fits in an internal pocket of the Glaser Designs Transaction Bag, which I've used as my carry-on bag for two decades.

I mentioned in the column that I tested a relatively standard rolling bag (45 linear inches, 22x14x9-inches) and managed to pack a week's worth of clothing. That brought two questions from members: What brand of bag did I use? And what did the packed bag weigh?

The first question is simply answered: I used a Heys ABS plastic bag that I happened to have in my vast inventory of luggage. It's nothing special. In fact, I find plastic rolling bags a commodity purchase. They are all nearly identical and can be dirt cheap, often as low as $55. As for weight, I understand the query: Some international airlines impose skimpy poundage limits on cabin bags and a few actively weigh them. I didn't weigh the packed bag, to be honest, but even the airlines that claim to have a weight limit are flexible, especially if you're traveling in an international premium cabin. (U.S. airlines rarely weigh carry-ons.)

One other note: I always travel with a folding back-up bag tucked in my Glaser carry-on. My model is an ancient green Totes-branded nylon duffel. It looks a little like this thing. This one also looks interesting.

I mentioned that my go-to cards are American Express Gold and Chase Sapphire Preferred for daily spend and the Amex Platinum for travel perks. But wouldn't you know it? Just this week Amex has me thinking because it has completed an intriguing overhaul of the Green Card, its former flagship. The new version carries a reasonable annual fee ($150) and a compelling everyday spend proposition: triple Membership Rewards points on travel and dining. There are also three unique travel perks: a promo for a $100 statement credit on Away Luggage; $100 credit annually for Clear membership; and $100 credit annually for LoungeBuddy airport club admissions. Phil Baker is a fan of the Away luggage line. I don't think Clear offers anything you can't get from TSA PreCheck, but if someone underwrites membership, well ... As for LoungeBuddy, Amex owns it now and it is a decent fallback if you don't need the global club breadth offered by the pricier Amex Platinum card.

I started the column two weeks ago by suggesting Brexit would, finally, happen on October 31 and that I'd be there to cover how it would affect airports and other travel portals. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson went even further. He said he'd "rather be dead in a ditch" than delay Brexit again. Yeah, well, it's delayed again. Brexit ain't happening October 31. We may know more this weekend about what's next in this wacky process. (Or, you know, not.) But I promise: When Brexit finally happens, I will be there. I'll also check ditches for Boris Johnson's body.