Coronavirus / Covid-19

Uponarriving.com – Interview with Daniel Gillaspia

Posted: September 16,2020
by Jestan Mendame
Last updated: September 17,2020

Points Panda has partnered with a variety of financial companies including CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Points Panda and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. For more information please read our full Advertiser Disclosure.

The landscape of the travel industry has drastically changed since the coronavirus pandemic happened. Different airline companies from all over the world have started to cancel flights while some countries have imposed stricter travel policies.

In fact, it’s not just the travel industry that’s going to be affected – IT’S EVERYONE!

An economy will not thrive without travel or movement, and we’ve seen how that turned out for the United States when the virus broke out.

The first known coronavirus case in the U.S. was confirmed in late January this year. After that, everything has been a domino effect because when the cases rose, lockdowns were implemented, businesses closed down, and now, the economy is in decline.

As points hackers, travel hackers, credit card enthusiasts, or whatever you call yourselves, we’ve experienced first-hand the negative effects of this pandemic in our field of expertise.

Now, you’re probably asking yourselves, “Is this the end to travel hacking?” Well, you’re about to find out the answer to that question.

Points Panda CEO, Freddy Lansky, got in touch with one of the dinosaurs of travel hacking, Daniel Gillaspia from Uponarriving.

He had a one-on-one interview with Daniel and asked what his thoughts were regarding travel hacking, coronavirus, and everything in between.

Here’s a summary of what they’ve discussed…


Screenshot of an interview between Daniel Gillaspia from Uponarriving and Freddy Lansky from Points Panda
Here’s Freddy and Daniel having a one-one-one video call.

Freddy

The demand for goods, services, and everything related to travel has declined in the past months. I just wanted to ask about your blog, Uponarriving…how is it doing so far?

Daniel

Well, I’m happy to say that Uponarriving is doing pretty well, however, it’s just me doing all the work. I write the blogs using speech-to-text dication most of the time, and the topics are either summaries of stories or feedbacks.

What I’m trying to say I write it down whatever’s on my stream of consciousness,. I do hope to switch things up pretty soon.

I’m happy to see that even if I didn’t get a crazy amount of traffic, the blog is still doing better than some of my best months in the past.

I’m in the experimental phase trying out new things now that I have a framework to grow.

Freddy

Look’s like you’ve got everything in place! That’s good to hear. Now, What about Walletflo? How’s it doing?

Daniel

A decent number of people are still coming in and there are a lot profiles as of now. However, most of the developments halted before they even got monetized.

Freddy

The coronavirus probably has got a lot to do with it. Speaking of which, what’s your take on this issue? Looks like the travel industry is slowly easing out of the recession with travel restrictions slowly being lifted.

Is travel gradually coming back? 

Daniel

During the Memorial Day weekend, people are slowly coming back and it could be a steady yet slow increase as we approach summer.

But in the fall? Probably a second wave?

It’s best we take precautions by wearing masks, avoiding large crowds, and practicing proper hygiene.

It will dip a little bit in winter of 2021 and relatively recover by 70% in the summer of next year. It will take about two years to fully recover 100%.

Sure, there will be long-lasting economic impacts but I feel like it’s not going to be a global meltdown that some thought it would be. 


Read More: Best Credit Cards For Earning Points During The Coronavirus Pandemic


Freddy

Travel, in general, is definitely going to ease in slowly. However, what do you think travel hacking is gonna look like in 6 months, 12 months, or two years?

Daniel

What’s travel hacking gonna look like? Well, I’ve always felt that for the past couple of years, travel hacking is dying out. It’s been harder to get these massive outsized value redemptions. 

I’ve always booked with points until 2016-2017. Before, I was able to travel around the world using about 2 million points and flew first class or business class.

Nowadays, even though you can quickly get on board and quickly accumulate points, it’s been difficult to get the most value out of your points. Some people can still do it but not even close.

Manufactured spending has been a chapter that’s closed for a couple of years. Crazy outsized value and dynamic award pricing? Just some of the reasons for the gradual decline.

I’m gonna need to look into it more but concierge is gonna be more necessary for outsized value. 50k-60k bonuses became the norm and it was like a bubble that’s going to burst anytime soon. Now, it’s the end.

I don’t have a lot of faith in the next year or two if it’s going to pick up where it left off or continue to go up. It”s not gonna increase every six months although there’s gonna be a place for that. I also think it’s going to be less common for high sign-up bonuses to come out. 

Freddy

Are international first-class flights and lounges still gonna be around after the coronavirus issue subsides? Is it generally still in demand? It’s a hot topic within the travel hacking community for the past few months.

Daniel

Probably. Let me tell you this, Singapore could have the best looking bars and lounges but they didn’t want to do it. Why? Because research shows nobody cares and that people just wanted nice suites.

Now, it go me thinking that maybe there isn’t a real demand?

Freddy

I see. I hope they don’t do away with the first-class services. It’s nice to have luxury lounges where you can mingle, sip on a nice glass of wine, and etc.

But I can see the trend since Etihad is seriously considering on retiring The Residence. They’ve been doing away with high-end things and putting an emphasis on being an “inclusive” brand.

Chauffeur services have been limited while they’re barbershop and dining have been on a downhill slope too.

Daniel

Well, we just have to wait another cycle to see who the trend would look like once the virus reached its peak.

Freddy

Yeah, I feel like flying private is still gonna be around. With the fear of getting the virus, people would want to fly first-class even more? It’s gonna be interesting to see what happens with the evolution of aircraft. 

Daniel

Flying used to look way different in the 60s but things evolved and got shittier. First-class started way before business class. Biz class was just economy but a quieter cabin with some perks.

It’s gonna be difficult to see what the role of points is going to be in the future.


Read More: What Will Travel After Coronavirus Look Like?


Freddy

I feel like a Pandemic Concierge is a great idea that we should focus on right now. Personally speaking, my team and I have developed a Coronavirus Travel Assistance program for people who love to travel but are just scared of doing it because they don’t know what to expect.

If you can make them feel better about it like picking the locations and planning out the activities, they’re gonna want to pursue their plans.

This is what Marriot and Hilton are doing. They’re partnering with NIH and giving their clients more information and what to expect. Providing clients facts gives them a little more faith that it’s okay to travel.

For example, United just recently had one of its flights completely packed. A viral photo was shared online where social distancing was completely ignored. This threw people off because they didn’t expect that.


Thoughts From Points Panda

Is Travel Industry Dead?

The answer is NO. We’re pretty confident that it ill bounce back.

Its hard to predict whether the travel or travel hacking industry is going to return to normal anytime soon. It’s probably going to take two years at most to fully recover and even if it does recover, there will be some changes as to how things work.

However, travel hacking and the travel industry as a whole is going to stay. It’s going to change but it’s going to stay. It’s up to us travel hackers to adapt and come up with creative ways to maximize the value of your points and use them for travel redemptions.

In fact, we’ve proven that in some of our recent articles where Freddy (Points Panda CEO) has taken a United First Class Flight from the U.S. to Mexico and a Delta First Class Flight from Mexico to the U.S.

You can watch or video review here:

United First Class Flight U.S. To Mexico City

Delta First Class Flight From Mexico To U.S.

What about you? What are your thoughts about travel hacking and the coronavirus pandemic?

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Leave a Reply

Leave a comment