Are all my flights paid for by the airlines?

It’s the 21st century, and the simple motto I try to live by is that as long as I can live with my own decisions it’s none of my business what other people think of me. Even though I put quite a bit of my life “out there” for others to read and comment about, I really don’t get offended easily, and I can’t think of a single comment that has been left on this blog in recent memory that has actually offended me. Now, it hasn’t always been that way. Next week marks my five year anniversary of writing this blog (I’m only 22 now), and if I’m going back four or five years I do remember being personally offended/saddened every time that a negative comment was left.

But that’s not the case anymore, because I’ve learned how the internet operates. I tend to think that there are two types of negative comments — those that are constructive (which I can learn from), and those that reflect more poorly on the person leaving them than on me, because they’d never make such a comment in person but are only hiding behind the veil of anonymity.

The reason I mention this is because it often means instead of deleting or responding to ridiculous comments I just ignore them. I by all means open myself up for people to ask me questions either via email or on the “Ask Lucky” page of the blog, and I’ll gladly answer them. But when I see a ridiculous comment I usually decide not to respond, not because the comment hits too close to home and I’m sitting in my mom’s basement in my pajamas crying, but because I’m actually entertained by the assumptions people make.

One such assumption is that I’m a trust fund baby and my family pays for all my travel. I don’t think it’s fair to my family to bring their financial situation into this, but let me simply say that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. While I’m fortunate to have parents that are extremely supportive of my job/hobby, they’ve never been in a situation to fly me around the world in first class, and certainly don’t fund my travels. I’ve been supporting myself since I was 18, was fortunate not to have to pay a dime to attend college (which, in retrospect, is probably what I valued the entire experience at), and do probably spend a disproportionate amount of my income on travel.

Anyway, what prompted this post is a thread started by Astrophsx on FlyerTalk, entitled “Are bloggers getting paid to fly?” The original poster seems to be referring specifically to me and wondering how I’m able to travel so much, and the conversation continues from there. I’m not sure I actually follow his logic, because he’s simultaneously saying I complain too much about the little things and not enough about the big things, which seems to lead him to believe the airlines are paying for my travel.

For that matter, I’m not sure he’s actually interested in the answer, in which case he could have emailed me, Tweeted me, or left a comment on my blog asking the question. I probably get at least an email a day from a reader asking in a non-offensive way how I can afford to travel so much, and I’m happy to answer every single time. But I suspect in this case he was just trying to stir up controversy.

He thinks I’m jaded, saying “he is upset that while on the ground he didn’t get to drink his favorite champagne till he was in the air due to some sort of tax.” I don’t think anyone can tell me with a straight face that my commentary about champagne on the ground made it sound like I was upset:

I ordered Krug, though they only had Dom open on the ground (they have to pay taxes on alcohol served on the ground, so only a portion of the selection is available then). As is usually the case on Singapore, the news was delivered in the same way I imagine a doctor would deliver a horrible diagnosis. “Mr. Lucky, I’m so so sorry, unfortunately we only have Dom Perignon open right now. Would it be okay if I poured you a glass of that, and I promise as soon as we’re airborne I will pour you a glass of Krug first thing? I’m so sorry.”

Well I guess Dom will just have to do… ;)

And as far as his claim that I think I’ve become a food critic goes, well, I think that speaks for itself too. My food description vocabulary is just about limited to “delicious” and “not good,” and I don’t think you’ll ever find me suggesting that the risotto could’ve used more truffle oil. But I’d like to think I know what tastes good and what doesn’t, to the extent of whether or not it’s edible on a plane.

But all of that really isn’t the point.

All of my travel, unless explicitly otherwise stated, is self funded. Yes, I’ve taken some sponsored trips. For example, last year I participated in the “Amex Stars” program, whereby I got access to some awesome events courtesy of Starwood, with corresponding stays at Starwood properties. I clearly disclosed my relationship with Starwood with each post, and I think most would agree my hotel reviews were fair and balanced (I didn’t leave out the empty box of condoms I found in my room at W Union Square or my frustration with the valet at the St. Regis Bal Harbour, for example). And one of the main reasons I took part in the program is because there was something in it for you guys. With each trip I took I could give away enough Starpoints for a similar hotel stay, so I was able to give away around 200,000 Starpoints. I figured that’s a win-win, and frankly I’m not sure I would have participated without that, as I’ve turned down plenty of comp trips when there was nothing in it for you guys and I didn’t think you guys would find the content interesting.

Beyond that, I disclose how my trips were paid for even when they’re self funded. In the introduction post to each trip report I provide an exact breakdown of how many miles each award ticket costs. For example, here’s the introduction post from my most recent report.

So where do I earn all my miles? Much like most savvy mileage nuts, through a combination of credit card churning, flying, strategically purchasing miles, and taking advantage of every promotion out there.

I earn well over a million miles a year, which I don’t think is really unattainable for most. I probably fly about 200,000 miles per year on American, and as an Executive Platinum member I get a 100% bonus on miles, so that’s 400,000 miles right there. I earn another 500,000 or so miles per year (at a minimum) from credit card churning. And then I try to maximize miles on everyday spend, which can add up to another couple of hundred thousand miles per year if done properly. Lastly, I strategically purchase miles when it’s a good value.

Let’s take my current trip as an example. I redeemed 90,000 US Airways miles for a business class ticket from the US to Asia via Europe, as outlined here. I purchased these miles for 1.14 cents each through the 100% bonus on shared miles promotion back in October. That means by trip cost me a bit over $1,000, which I’d say is an amazing value for sampling four longhaul business class products.

But more than anything else I look at these trips as an investment in what I do. The two things I do for a living are blogging and travel consulting. My goal is to review as many products as possible so that I can dish out the most useful/educated advice. I’m incredibly fortunate to have the flexibility to not be limited in the amount of time I can spend traveling, so my hope is that by sampling as many different products as possible, I can help those of you with limited vacation time make the most of your trips. And while many may not like my writing style, I hope the fact that I compare so many airlines is useful to you guys. One of my struggles with online reviews is that you usually don’t know enough about the person making them to know whether they’re credible or not. For example, you can read a review of a Four Seasons that gets five stars because everything was amazing, while the next review gives it one star because they were angry the hotel charged for wifi and parking, and that it should be free at such an expensive hotel. Hopefully the fact that I review dozens of airlines and hotels in a similar fashion makes it easier to actually get something out of my reviews, since you can judge them based on what you value most.

As much as I’d like to think I know about airline products I’ve never flown, there’s no doubt you have a new understanding of a product after experiencing it firsthand. For example, yesterday I flew Brussels Airlines’ new business class for the first time, and I chose one of the “throne” seats, which in retrospect I realize was a big mistake, since the foot “cubby” is so small. I’d rather have a seatmate and sufficient leg room than sit alone and not have room for my feet. I wouldn’t have had that problem if I selected a different seat. Hopefully that advice is useful not just to those of you that read my blog, but I can apply it to those I help booking awards for as well, since up until now I would have booked singled travelers in the “throne” seats.

Unlike others I’m not making a claim that travel is “free” or costs “just pennies,” though I certainly respect that approach. Rather, my hope is that every trip I take is attainable to anyone willing to put in the effort to earn the miles and spend a bit on taxes, cash co-pays, etc. I do spend a disproportionate amount of my income on travel, though that’s because it’s both my passion and my job, and I don’t view it as a waste of money but rather an investment. My living expenses are reasonably low, so a large portion of my income is discretionary. Unfortunately I’m neither loaded nor a trust fund baby, or all of this might be even more fun!

Anyway, hopefully that clears up a few things for those of you that were wondering. And if anyone has any follow up questions, I’m more than happy to answer. Thanks, as always, for reading!

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

More articles by lucky »


  1. “… so my hope is that by sampling as many different products as possible, I can help those of you with limited vacation time make the most of your trips.”

    This a million times.

  2. hey Ben,
    thanks for being so honest en open. I think that if people would read your blog they would see how open you are when it comes to how you fund your travels

  3. Really enjoy reading your blog, one of three I read every day. You write well and discuss meaningful points from a refreshing viewpoint with humor. I’m not a newbie anymore, but certainly not as advanced as many who comment. Ignoring some of the nasty comments ,I’ve seen posted to you, is a very good idea on your part. If you touch that dirt, you just become dirty. Keep on flying…and thank you for taking us along.

  4. Ben- I love your blog and am completely confident in your integrity and ethics. It is a real shame that Astrophsx felt the need to make such comments which then (understandably) put you on the defensive and led to you writing this post. Sadly, there will always be jealous people that covet what others have.

    Please ignore him and other haters. What you’ve achieved over the last 5 years and the dedication you display regarding travel, miles, etc… are impressive. Keep up the great work!


  5. I would like to pursue a career as travel consultant as well. I’ve been always organizing travels for myself and for several friends of mine. In Europe, where I live, isn’t that easy unfortunately so for now it is just my hobby while I have a quite unsatisfactory job.

    My understanding of your experience is that, anyway, it isn’t easy to apply your strategy here in Europe, simply cause the credit card churning isn’t possible and therefore possibilities are enormously limited.

    Carry on with your website, is always a good reading 🙂

  6. Your blog, in my opinion, is the best blog on the net. Don’t let jealous idiots like Astrophsx get to you. Thousands of us trust and appreciate your opinion on travel products.

  7. You’re response to the FT thread is well thought out and very classy. You are one of my favorite bloggers and this is a good example of why.

  8. You don’t have to justify anything to the haters, Lucky. My heart wouldn’t be broken if FT removed threads that seem to only serve to beat up on another member.

  9. And I hope you are deducting all the paid airfare off your taxes! 🙂 I’m impressed you responded although I don’t think you needed to. Keep up the good work.

  10. U don’t need to explain at all, there’s always gonna be haters/trolls out there, just ignore them. Thanx for your last tip on the Singapore airline 1st class ticket, btw, it wasn’t all smooth sailing (flight delayed, and bumped off to business class on one segment), but like you said, a life time experience.

  11. I am always amazed at the restraint you show in not responding to rude and unnecessary comments…but you’re right to do so. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. Your tips have been enormously helpful and have helped me make the most of my limited points/budget and I enjoy your blog immensely. Thank you, Lucky!

  12. I think your blog is just fantastic,and I have become a daily reader in the last half year. I would take the comments from the flyertalk post as an extreme compliment! He (she?) clearly takes the time to read your blog…so….that’s good right?

  13. Keep up the good work Lucky! Love the blog.

    After reading through the FT thread, he seems to backpedal a little bit from “airlines pay him to fly” to “I just want to understand how he does it”. But overall like you said, it doesn’t seem like he’s interested in the answer.

  14. Disregard what many say out there; most are probably jealous for not being able to travel the way you and many of your other colleagues do. Keep up the good work!

  15. Ridiculous that you have to write this article to “defend” yourself. I appreciate that you are always upfront about your trips and how you attained them. You have many posts about how you obtain so many miles and which trips you pay for. The thread on FT was mostly from a bunch of people that don’t read you blog regularly and take a little snippet and find fault with it. Not hard to do when you put yourself out there in personal way.

    Please keep up the good work and continue what you do. I really appreciate it.

  16. Love your blog man! As someone from the Midwest and nowhere close to being able to have an opportunity to have a seat, let alone see these airlines beyond the domestics, this blog allows me “get away”. You’ve done a great job disclosing your travel and how you have paid for it.
    Thanks for doing this. I really do appreciate the work you have done and I always look forward to checking it out everyday. Keep up the good work and thank you!

  17. As a 23-year old newbie-blogger and not-so-new world traveler like yourself, I definitely identify with you on this post. Sometimes, people just can’t believe that it’s possible to travel this much within your means, but it is! Taking advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, that’s the name of the game. Soldier on!

  18. Kudos Ben, for both your transparency and your standards.

    That said, I think many of these comments are the opposite side of the Astrophsx complaint. There are a lot of blogs out there under this Boarding Area header and not all of them apply the same level of standards as Ben or Gary Leff.

    Many points/miles bloggers are cheerleaders, by and large. Some are pointless and self-indulgent. Airlines and credit card companies are big businesses. Constant promotion of their work without scrutiny or criticism is fishy. There is evidence all over the Internet of bloggers being paid to write about something. So people should be skeptical. People who are skeptical aren’t “haters,” and people who think they are, are tools of the marketing culture.

    Kudos, Ben, but let’s be real here. To assume all blogs are independent and conflict-free, even those under this banner, is naive in the extreme.

  19. I wouldn’t let him get you down. I don’t think it’s fair to hold you to a higher standard than any other travel journalist, and while they don’t get paid for affiliate marketing clicks, they take way more free stuff than any travel blogger ever would. Conde Nast writers excepted.

    Just keep on disclosing any freebies and ignore the trolls.

    It’s the undisclosed stuff that’s bad. Say FT forum mods accepting favors from airlines.

  20. We run into similar issues with our friends. Because we fly international F 3-4x a year they start to assume we’re uber-rich. They never seem to believe me when I mention my total cash outlay for 3-4 trips is less than what they spend on *one* vacation.

  21. A very well thought out response to your critic(s). I truly enjoy your blog and even take notes to try to recreate some of your trips in the future regarding airlines, hotels and airports. Your writing style is friendly, honest, and enjoyable to read with your pleasing sense of humor mixed in.

    You will always have critics. You’re wise not to let them get to you. FT can be brutal at times and shows a cross section of how some negative people think in this world (sadly).

    I do wish you would enhance your travel consulting business though. I would gladly pay you a generous monthly/yearly fee for your consulting advice instead of per flight since I usually travel only a couple of times of year which does not seem like enough compensation for your great advice and insight. Please consider this when you do take it to the next level as you get older so many of us can assist you in continuing your great career.

    Keep up the good work. A huge majority of us appreciate what you do and are inspired by you regardless of our age.

  22. I rarely comment on your blog, but have been an avid reader for several years, as you are the only person my age who I see doing the “extreme travel for leisure” game. I followed the flyertalk discussion as it unfolded the other night and it began to unnerve me as I know so much of the “heresay” was false, simply from being a regular reader of your blog.

    Never change!

  23. Really classy, Ben. Says a lot about your character. Keep up the great work. Let them hatin’ motivate and push you further.

  24. NY Times used to be the first thing I read in the day. Now it’s your blog. I found your stuff more informative and interesting than The Frugal Traveler column of The Times. Keep up your good work.

  25. Saw the thread on FT you are referring to and clearly it is just emotional nonsense driven by who knows what…

    I’ve been reading your blog for years and it was your TRs that inspired me to start doing all of this. It took me a lot of time reading FT/blogs to get the hang of it, but it has dramatically improved our quality of life! My wife and I (we are in our 20s, both working) have enjoyed several trips that would not have been possible without miles and points. We spend a lot on travel (thanks Aman!) but no regrets and no trust fund either 🙂

    I keep coming back here for the quality of writing and some genuinely creative ideas for earning and redeeming on a wide variety of programs. Diversification and flexibility are so important.

    Keep up the good work…

  26. Ben, you don’t need to justify anything to anyone. You have made a success out of a very unorthodox career choice and this always tends to rile people up for various reasons. Some are jealous, some are disbelieving and some are just a$$holes. That’s the way the world is.

    As you are aware, I too made a rather unorthodox career choice when I was around your age and faced a number of skeptics, ill-wishers and the like (heck, you were among them in your teenage days IIRC! No hard feelings!). You have the right attitude for dealing with the critics. Take on board the advice that makes you better and ignore what is only intended to drag you down.

    Hang in there. Achieving success is sometimes the easy part. Dealing with it properly is what separates the truly successful from the passing fads. You’ve done well so far and I have no doubt you have the ability to continue doing so.

  27. Classy response, as always! You have a talent, and you use it not only for yourself but to benefit your readership. Critics are a dime a dozen…and they operate largely out of envy.

  28. I haven’t the faintest clue in the world how the economics of a stay at home blogger works but I can tell you I, as well as many others, are insanely jealous that you can make it work! Cheers for letting us follow you on your journeys…

  29. Thanks for the “peek behind the curtain” on how you “do the things you do.” As a regular reader of your blog, though, I’ve found that you’re always up front and disclose the things you mentioned … so no surprises here 🙂 I enjoy your editorial style and find your “aspirationally” themed posts to be the most fun … my favorite was following along with you in “real time” on Twitter, FB, your blog, etc. on your first Emirates First experience! Keep up the good work. Oh and BTW, I don’t think risotto can ever have too much truffle oil 😉

  30. Love your blog and check it many times during the day to see if you have any new article. Keep doing what you love and don’t worry about others say. As you said teh internet is a wild world and not all comments you get are worth wasting time to read. I will for sure use your consulting services once I find that “limited vacation time” you mentioned.

  31. Ignore all the hate posts.

    I love your shower reviews. In fact, you should do more of them and include a shower review in all your hotel reviews too. I missed it in your Conrad review.

    I am also curious on what happened to your sweater which was offered to be bought (was it in Singapore or HongKong?).

  32. You can’t blame people for being jealous of the life you’ve carved out for yourself. It’s too bad that that jealousy so often becomes nasty and destructive but, as you point out, that’s the internet.

    The thing I always wonder about is how many miles you guys manage to accrue each year, and how you do it. You cleared that up pretty well in a single paragraph in this post.

    My only question left is: when you say “500,000 mile from credit card churn” is that all churning bonuses, or is it a combination of bonuses and spend? If a combination, how much of each?

  33. When I saw the thread on FT I was rolling my eyes that I always believe you are very honest on your trip reports, either it’s sponsored or using miles/cash. Keep up the good work! It was so nice to meet you at FTU last December when you answered my questions on how you construct your itinerary to Spain!

  34. Hey Lucky,

    I just wanted to say, I don’t think you have any need to explain or defend yourself. Your blogs are excellent, detailed, and witty, and I love it that people like you enable people like me to make the most out of my travel. Yours is one of my favorite blogs out there!



  35. How do you get 500K miles year after year by churning credit cards? Lets say most credit cards are giving 50K bonus , you will need to churn 10 cards a year.

  36. Thank you for your blog, Ben! And your willingness to answer emails on a variety of subjects. Not only are your blogs informational, but they are a lot of fun to read! You never know what the next interesting/funny saga will happen in Lucky’s life!

  37. “… so my hope is that by sampling as many different products as possible, I can help those of you with limited vacation time make the most of your trips.”

    This exactly what you do for me and my wife. We’ve had amazing luxury travel experiences due to your research and assistance. Keep up the good work Ben!

  38. Interesting everyone thinks the FT guy was a hater or jealous. It’s good people are so passionate, although it’s unfortunate they often ridicule those of opposite views, whether pro blogger or anti blogger, there’s quite a division it seems. I’m not jealous, much prefer my life to a blogger life (tried blogging several times as hobby only, don’t enjoy it). And the FT guy didn’t come across as jealous or a hater to me. I’ve only recently found your blog, and it’s nice of you to explain and you seem well liked here and at FT. But it didn’t seem like a witch hunt – you were just the example imo (although I guess being called rich might offend some people who’ve worked hard).

    I have two thoughts. The FT thread was maybe too much towards you and not just general, but I recently began reading lots of travel blogs and always wonder who’s getting freebies. In this day with everyone snapping cell photos of everything and access to blogging about it, those of us that don’t travel as much need to filter our info. Just as with news channels, unless you understand the perspective you don’t know how to value the info. I found the FT thread interesting and think it’s too bad discussion of you was uncomfortable for you. But if I read something by a blog where anything was free, I immediately disregard comments. I might look at suite pics for comparison, but I ignore all writing if an upgrade was given and I’m not sure it was for status only and not for the PR.

    Second, as a young business owner (not a blog or travel related), I’m very curious as to the business side of things. Lots of commentary lately on affiliates, etc., and from FT and here seems you’re more up front than some others. But understanding the business side of things, that is truly interesting to me. I don’t blog, but like others love to book tickets and would enjoy the consultant part I assume.

    Anyway, enjoy your blog and thanks for clarifying and responding to the topic.

  39. Lucky, thanks for the work that you put into your blog. I read it every day and enjoy your tips, suggestions and reviews. Keep up the good work and don’t get bogged down by the negative things people say that aren’t constructive.

  40. You’re one of the few blogs I still check anymore. I can’t even say I learn that much about deals from you (flyertalk does that), and I can’t even say I aspire to the type of travelling you do (i’m okay with Y/hostels), but you have personality and seem down to earth, despite being in constant luxury in the sky.

    You never did end up posting a year-end (2012) summary of miles earned, hotel night stayed in, etc. Perhaps after posts on FT like this, it might seem too intrusive, but I think it’d be interesting to know how often you mileage//mattress run, etc.

  41. Keep calm and blog on.
    But seriously, keep up the good work. I love reading your blogs as they really give me good ideas (where to go, who to fly, which hotel to stay) for my annual family vacation.

  42. You are only 22!

    This whole time when I was reading your blog, i.e. this past month or so, I kept on thinking you are a retired old man that just flies around enjoying your retirement… >_<

  43. Much respecto Ben. As people have mentioned there will always be haters but I think the amount of people who vicariously live through your experiences greatly out number those “haters”. Thank you for putting in the effort that you do. You and Gary clearly are a cut above.

  44. Thanks for the background. I’m one of the people who thinks this type of information is interesting and worth sharing. The how you can live the life you are living is part of the story. Thanks

  45. What people don’t seem to grasp is that you and the majority of your blogging peers are not actually “travelers” as normal people understand the label. You are flyers and hotel-stayers, you are ‘product’-samplers, you are the extreme tip — and an extreme type — of an iceberg made up of people who like to move their bodies around the globe. Normal people (those of us making up the vast submerged majority of the iceberg) mistakenly attempt to compare our experience to yours and are utterly mystified by the disconnect. But there is no comparison: we have jobs (that put external constraints on us), we have families, we aren’t between 17 and 23, we know much about the world, and we know how much more there is to learn. You have a niche and fill it well. It’s yours, it’s not ours. We are normal. Nothing wrong with that.

  46. I completely understand someone coming across your blog and thinking you’re traveling on someone else’s dime. When I first read your stuff (nearly two years ago) I thought “who the f^#% is this kid and how does he know so much about travel?”
    Nowadays I get it (even before your self exposé) because reading your blog daily has gotten me tens of thousands of dollars worth of “free” travel. Sorry you felt the need to explain yourself, but now you’ll have a post to refer to when the clueless people are looking for an explanation.
    Appropriately I’m writing this from Hong Kong, on a trip that was made possible by your blogging.

  47. Astrophsx is an uninformed idiot. If we wanted to pick on a blogger for lack of standards or jaded judgment, he picked the wrong one. You’ll notice that in the thread he started, 99% of the response was in support of you. This is completely the opposite of what usually happens in the blogger bashing threads at FT, where people love to jump in and pile on the bashing.

    I think the fact that so many supported/defended you speaks volumes about the quality and content of your blog, as well as your character.

    Keep on keepin’ on.

  48. Your blog is great, and you do always talk about how the trip was paid for, which I find always interesting because it shows concrete examples of how one can efficiently use/earn miles. Definitely my favorite blog.

  49. Keep up the good work in this blog! I am actually very impressed that you are on your own financially.
    Your blog is unique in a way that I read it not only for keeping up with things but also for entertainment!!!! Thanks!

  50. You don’t need to justify a single thing. Yours is the most entertaining, yet useful, travel blog on the internet . And I think you are very well qualified to be an airline food critic (you’ve certainly seen and eaten enough of it).

  51. It is pretty simple — presumably, you work very hard and consequently make an enormous amount of money from your business(es). Therefore, you can afford to travel whenever you desire. No further explanation or justification is needed.

  52. @Nic theres tons of ways to earn points, Ben probably takes advantage of all the prepaid tricks. I earn at least 40,000 miles a month without cc churning, I would think Ben would too. If you add in churning, then it is easy to get 1 million miles a year.

  53. Your blog is wonderful and I love your writing style. You may just be 22 but you sound alot more mature and classy. Keep up the good work and fly me in first where I may never fly myself 🙂

  54. A few comments:

    You don’t need to justify anything; it’s a free country and you aren’t charging for your blog

    I have never thought there were undisclosed subsidies.

    However, flying 200,000 miles a year is way, way, way out of reach of most people. Even those whose jobs require a ton of travel max out around 150,000 miles. And, for me, who travels a lot for business, 100,000 miles paid travel is extremely hard.

  55. I enjoy your posts. I for one do not feel that you need to explain how your miles or travel is paid. You clearly have disclaimers in your blogs when you receive something. Sorry you had to justify your spending based on jealous/curious readers.

  56. Love your blog and it is my absolute favorite out of all of the other travel/points blogs being published today. As a former frequent traveler, I have been reading for 4 years and I now live vicariously through your adventures as my travel has been a bit limited given I have a 2 year old (and one of the way). I have learned so much from your posts and frequently used your hotel reviews when deciding where to stay. I think it’s ridiculous folks are questioning how you fund your travel when it’s quite obvious to anyone who takes the time to read your blog. Keep up the great work – it is much appreciated!

  57. Not that it was any of his business, but it was obvious that the OP was not a frequent reader of your blog since you’ve always been transparent about how you make your living and how you are able to fly so much. He was just jealous that he can’t shower in the sky and work from home all day while wearing his BA PJs.

  58. great post, Lucky. I always knew you were young, but i would have never guessed 22- you are obviously quite mature for your age and have experienced a lot in your life. I’m in my mid twenties, and I truly aspire to travel as much as you do one day- basically, you have my dream job, and i am VERY jealous 🙂 I find your blog to be extremely helpful, so its good to know that you are ignoring the the rude ones out there -obviously stems from misguided jealousy. But hey… just look at it as free entertainment!

  59. Haters Gon Hate… and you just gotta brush them off and not worry about it. There are two general reactions to the travel I’m able to do: inspiration and jealousy. You can either be happy for someone or spiteful of their success.

    I have never doubted the genuineness of your posts. Why would you go through the trouble about how you spent hours on the phone with Korean airlines or United or whoever trying to book an award ticket if you were getting it paid for yourself? Why would anyone endure that kind of punishment!

    You are an inspiration man and don’t ever forget that. It’s because of you that I discovered Berchtesgaden. It’s because of you that I discovered a lot of things in the world, actually.

    That person on Flyertalk is just jealous that their life is miserable and yours isn’t. Rise above that garbage.

  60. @Lucky I have been a regular reader of boarding area blogs and I often end up reading each of your posts while skipping out other bloggers. You have been open and helpful to many including me. Following your post on US-EU-Japan trip using US miles, I also booked 3J and 3Y tickets on UA, TK and NH long haul business segments in July. I get to spend 9 days in Europe and 5 days in Japan and now am trying to put together hotel rooms. I am emptying my hotel points to book 2 rooms each night for 14 nights 🙂 Thank you very much for your posts.

    I have seen the title of the FT post but did not read it yet as I often skip those venting posts. Please take the comment below not as skepticism or criticism but rather as throwing out my thoughts and trying to understand the process so we can repeat it within our means/bounds.

    From time to time I do get curious about your statements of “putting 40K spend on Amex Surpass” to get HH Diamond status and “30K (i think) spend on Amex PRG” to get the 15K bonus etc. However “maximizing miles on everyday spend” makes it difficult to concentrate spend on those two cards or other such cards combined with having to meet spend requirements on the cards that you are churning. Put together your yearly card spend has to be somewhere in 6 figures. You have mentioned reimbursable business expenses and by that I assumed you book tickets for your clients using your credit cards and they pay you for it but it did not make sense to me as unless they pay you in cash or wire the money, credit card swipe fees you would have to pay does not make economic sense for you to do as such. On the other hand some carriers ask to see a copy of the credit card used for booking the tickets which means you probably are using their cards to book the tickets for them. I put about 50-60K in reimbursable biz travel spend on cards and I can’t even think of putting 40K on one card to get HH Diamond status or anything else for that matter while trying to maximize miles at the same time. In the end I gave up on figuring out your process 🙂

    If you can put together a post on how all these things come together with out having to share information you dont want to share, it might be a great resource for your readers.

  61. Thanks for this post, content such as this (and your lack of credit card hawking posts) confirms my decision to use your links everytime I cycle through a CC churn. Keep up the great work and don’t change a thing.

  62. The only thing I debate about your blog in general is that you call yourself “lucky”

    As a self made person, you should be calling yourself “Fortunate”

    You have had good fortunes to see the world at a young age, but very little of it is due to luck.

    Luck is rolling the dice and hitting 7’s each time. Fortunate means you put yourself in a position to reap the benefits.

    Either way, keep on going good sir!

  63. Ben, question for you about that thread – isn’t it against FT terms and conditions to have a thread about a person? I should dig up the T&C myself and see, but I am kind of surprised it was allowed in the first place. I didn’t read through it all, but it wasn’t as bashing as the thread about bloggers in general has become (which I am also surprised at what is allowed to be said on there as well). You have had enough time on the board to know off the top of your head. Of course, if the thread was taken down, a whole other can of worms would be opened as the haters would narrow in on that act in of itself.

    Nonetheless, all of us faithful readers know how you do it and love your blog!!

  64. As I mentioned in the FT thread, you have the best sense of humor among the bloggers. Even when sometime there was not any particular information or deal that was useful to me, I still enjoyed reading your blog! Keep it up man!!!

  65. Like everyone else here, there’s a reason why people keep coming back to your blog. There are so many blogs out there but yours is the only one I keep refreshing everyday to see if there is a new post. Keep up the great work buddy!

  66. Your response didn’t really clear up the main question…how can you possibly fly mostly on miles and stay in hotels on points, and still get get status?
    As an example, how is it possible to have AA status while only taking mileage redemption trips? So you probably do a large portion of your travel paid, but the way your bio and posts make it sound is that everything can be achieved through miles alone, which is misleading.

  67. Ben, as far as I am concerned, you are a SUPERSTAR and a national treasure. I see even greater things for you in the future. Keep it up!

  68. @atxtravel Lucky has mentioned in the past that he does paid trips on the SEA-PVG sector (I think he mentioned the fare is $800 or so) to maintain his AA EXP status few times a year among his other paid travel.

  69. Do I get jealous from all the trips you get to take? YES
    Do I love reading your Reviews? YES
    Are they value added? YES
    Are there some re-cycled bits about credit cards/affiliate link every now and then? YES (but far and further between, and less than most others, dare I say even VFTW).
    Keep doing what you are doing? Yes , Yes & YES

    Life’s too short buddy!

  70. Fly above this! I read blogs that are well written first and your the only travel blog that makes me laugh and smile. Those who read your blog on regular basis know your ethics in this regard.

    My paid miles this year 330,750, 321,000 prior soon 380,000 soon, I love Airbus….

  71. Love the post and your blog. But many of your readers never will have the opportunity to fly Business or First Class. Would be helpful if you were to do a comprehensive review of Coach product. For example, some airlines, like LAN, have a superior Coach experience, while others, like AA, trend to the bottom. It is difficult to assess an airline merely from how it caters to the top tier.

  72. Just wanted to let you know I ticketed my first International First Class trip on Asiana, and I have your blog and your help to thank for it. Keep up the great work Lucky, and Thank You!

  73. Keep up the good work! Recently took a trip to Bali/BKK/HKG on CX thanks to all the tips learnt on this site.

  74. I have all but given-up on FlyerTalk. I find visiting BoardingArea much more informative and relavent. Thanks for contributing 🙂

  75. Ben, You are amongst the best at what you do and in the top echelon of travel bloggers. I look forward to reading your blog every day and have learned so much from you. Keep up the great work, enjoy your trip, and don’t let a few bad apples spoil your day. Continued success in the future.

  76. Keep up the great work, Ben! The silly person who posted on the other site clearly is just jealous of the hard work you’ve put in to create the ideal work/travel situation you currently have. 🙂

  77. Threads like the one I read about you on FT are the reason why I generally stopped reading FT and generally come here. You are not pushy on CCs, you are extremely responsive, and entertaining to read. It’s sad that people are wasting so much energy with the negative posts.

  78. 1. How you earned or spend your money is of no import to anyone but you.

    2. IMHO you have always been ethical in how your report your travels. (See above)

    3. Jealosy is an ugly thing, but very prevelant. Keep that in mind when your read comments, there are certainly people out there whe would love to have been smart enough to arrange “your job.”

    4. Writing style; be glad you have one. Most people don´t. Yours is fine BTW.

    Lucky, you may just be posting travel porn for many of us, but you do it dilligently, honestly, and if you will forgive me, with an innocence that is endearing. Enjoy it while circumstances permit. Thanks!


  79. @atxtravel,

    You said he didn’t answer the question. Do you read the blog regularly? I can recall plenty of posts where Ben has mentioned paying for trips to maintain status. If you don’t read the blog, then you have no idea what the hell you are talking about. He shouldn’t have to defend himself because people who don’t read the blog make unfounded assumptions and are too lazy to even check their assumptions by first searching through the posts.

  80. Oh pshaw. Your reviews are among the best travel reviews I ever get to read, and the enthusiasm that comes through just adds to the vicarious pleasure. Who cares what the blow-hards on FT say.

    I forwarded one of your reviews to a friend who was going to stay at the hotel you reviewed. He cracked up at the picture of the toilet. Some people might find a blog populated by pictures of toilets and diet cokes with lime. But those people clearly aren’t as enamored of the travel experience – the *art* of getting from point A to point B in comfort and style, cheaply – as you and your loyal readers. You fill a niche that pretty much no other blogger or columnist does – so please keep it up!

  81. You are living your dream, and I feel you are doing so in a humble manner. The haters can be jealous (easy), or work toward their own dream (harder). Keep up the awesome work, and thanks for all you do to help your readers!

  82. (I meant to write: “Some people might find a blog populated by pictures of toilets and diet cokes with lime irritating. But … ” etc)

  83. Thanks for your blog! I have, perhaps like many others, very limited vacation days, and when I do choose to take a premium product internationally or visit a nice hotel, your reviews are so helpful to make sense of all the choices out there. Keep it up!

  84. Keep doing what you do. Your blogs have been so useful for many of us. Reading your wonderful experience, reviews, seeing photos, etc., have help me in many ways. Thank you very very much.

  85. Bottomline, Ben? You’ve added more value to more people by enriching a pleasure-giving portion of their lives at age 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 than most of us will in our entire lives.

    That’s the Signal. Everything else is just Noise.

  86. Unlike most of the very sweet comments above, I didn’t think you were “defending” yourself at all. It seemed to me you simply took another opportunity to do what you continually do so well: educate us about playing the Travel Game at the highest level possible.

    Yes, as a single person with a job that rewards you for travel, you can take trips the rest of us can only dream about. But thru that you are constantly showing us that we can do so much more than we thought we could. Plus how to make whatever travel we can manage as enjoyable as possible. For which I am very thankful.

    I remember when I first came across this blog, and was despondent about the prospects of continuing AA FC TA awards, which had been unavailable for several months. Your thoughtful response to my comments here reassured me enough to keep playing the game. As a result of which, this summer my wife and I are about to take our 5th AA FC TA trip in 4 years. All without any business travel spend at all. Meanwhile, our US Air and United miles are steadily building. We can’t thank you enough….

  87. Very good and mature reply Ben. Sadly I think Astrophsx just typifies the bitterness that wallows on FlyerTalk these days. You really have to wade through lots of crap these days.

    Actually given this is your blog and not FT I can bitch and moan some more. This poster Astrophsx is actually a bit of a dope. On the Bluebird thread you can see that he/she just does not ‘get it’. So no wonder they wonder how you earn the miles. I don’t do anywhere near as much travel as you but I earn typically around 2m per year. Yes I do a lot of “hard-core” spend manufacturing but hey sherlock it’s not that complex. I have never wondered how you managed all these trips. Personally it’s a little harder for me as I have to take a family of four on most trips, but I still manage it (and frankly my difficulty is more down to finding availability than finding the points)

  88. The only complaint I have is that you always stick to food choices that is best termed (for the lack of a better description) the generic, unadventurous middle-class American palate.

  89. Ben,

    You’re more mature than many 50 year olds. Stick to what you do; you’re gifted for it. And truly lucky.

  90. I didn’t see a true point to Astrophsx post. Maybe he/she is just a troll. By the way, I like your comments on the champagne and other stuff. I like when you are critical, and it is also very informative.

  91. Who cares if you were using your trust fund money anyways? The point isn’t how you can afford the travel, it’s your experiences.

    Some people will always be jealous, just ignore them.

    I had a Porsche and a condo in college that my parents paid for, and there were always those that would kiss my ass in person and talk about me behind your back. The internet just makes it easier for haters to hate. Just tune it out.

  92. One thing about posts like this is that you get to see that you have hundreds (thousands?) of loyal followers who check your blog daily and might not comment as often as naysayers or critics, but they enjoy your content and admire that you have created for yourself what everyone (and every self help book in the world) aspires to: a job that let’s you do what you love and rewards you for hard work. Well done.

    As a side note: if he had read most of your trip reports, he would have seen that you often take large chunks of time in the lounges to work and he would have realized that if he puts in that much work into this hobby, his results might be much more similar to yours.

  93. Ben…… Thanks for a great blog and a great explanation. i didn’t really need the explanation though as I have been an avid follower for a long time. You earned my trust over a long period of time reading the blog and others. Thanks!

  94. Hey Ben, I enjoy reading you !!! thanks so much for your fast answers via email to all my questions, you are great, I really appreciate it !!

  95. Rock on, Ben. Your blog is great, you are upfront each time, glad to read your posts every day, keep it up and dont let doubters get to you.



  96. Wow guys, thanks so much, I feel like it’s my birthday. I set this post up to be published while I was in the air between Vienna and Tokyo and expected at most a dozen comments, half of which were calling me an idiot (with the other half being posted by my mom under a variety of fake German names telling me how awesome I am).

    Seriously, thanks guys. It means the world to me.

  97. @ Rasputin – I sold the guy the sweater thinking I could easily find a similar one at a later date, though have had no luck. Booo! 🙁

    @ LarryInNYC – That’s through bonuses alone. I get about 10 new cards per year, each has an average sign-up bonus of about 50,000 points, so the points I earn for every day spend go beyond that.

    @ Nic – That’s correct, and there’s nothing unrealistic about getting ten new cards per year. I’ll typically do about three churns per year with four cards each, so that’s an easy 12 cards per year right there.

    @ steve – In light of this topic/post, I’ll work on a summary and hopefully post it soon.

    @ Jon – I’d answer if I knew, though I don’t track it quite that closely. It gets tricky to calculate, especially when it comes to buying miles through promotions, or taking advantage of promotions for the purposes of earning miles, where the math falls into a gray area.

    @ ikonos – Totally fair question. Yes, I do put well into the six figures of credit card spend onto my cards. A lot of my clients (mostly older ones that aren’t part of the FlyerTalk crowd) would rather give away their firstborn than give out their credit card information over the phone or via the internet. I end up putting those on my card and they usually mail me a check then. I always encourage people to use their own cards to earn miles, but a majority of the non-FlyerTalk crowd aren’t comfortable with that. Most carriers don’t have a restriction about which credit card can be used. Hope that answers your question.

    @ Jeff – LOL, “Lucky” is actually my dog’s name, which is where it comes from.

    @ Katie, Mile Bucket – Well I think it’s okay to mention me since I’m a blogger (meaning no privacy is violated by discussing me), and as long as there are no personal attacks it should be allowed. Of course the question is at what point commentary becomes personal attacks.

    @ atxtravel – I do 200,000 miles of revenue travel on American annually. I don’t write about much of it since it’s largely “boring” domestic trips, but I do maintain status that way.

  98. No justifications are needed. Your blog is always entertaining and informative. In fact, I often find your perspective on things hilarious! Keep up the great work and ignore those who are jealous! Quality and talent always rises to the top…

  99. Lucky,

    I love your blog and all of your trip reports. They have helped me in my travel planning several times.

    On a side note, I often get asked by my collegues at work how I am able to travel so often (not in your league, but I am Exec Plat on AA). I tell them:

    1. I work an irregular schedule that sometimes means a 20+ hour day, so I shift around my days off to maximize my travel days.
    2. I am always looking at the fares and deals, and take advantage of them whenever I can.
    They are still always skeptical, but it is their problem not mine. Good to see that you are taking on the same attitude towards your “haters”.

  100. Your comment above that you fly 200K on AA made me realize how much has changed over the life of your blog. You used to be a total hardcore UA guy. How does it feel to have left UA (and its people) behind? I’m just curious about the emotional aspect of “loyalty” programs. Is it really just all about the SWUs? (A UA/AA product comparison isn’t that relevant to me as I live in a Star Alliance captive city; from here, oneworld = 2-3 AA E145s a day to ORD and SkyTeam = 2 DL CRJs a day to DTW and that’s it!)

  101. How do you fly 200,000 miles of revenue travel on domestic AA if you are always flying on international business/firts awards? Care to explain how is that possible?

  102. what you do is a public service, so it will come with critics and criticisms, no worries, life goes on. cheers

  103. Lucky,
    I missed this post, you know with work and all that stuff that comes in between reading this blog.
    I thought we were paying for your travel!
    Who are these airline guys?

  104. Lucky,
    I subscribed to your blog only a few months ago but I found you are the most helpful blogger. I asked you questions a few times and you always gave me prompt answers patiently. I sincerely appreciated your frank advice and suggestions. Most of all, I DID find your blog extremely helpful and valuable for frequent travelers like me. Your blog has already helped me earn many hundreds of thousands of miles or hotel points during the past months.

    No matter what you say or do, there are always people who speak positively and negatively. Just keep up your great work. Keep at it! Whether your trips get paid by airline companies is none of my business. My business is to get the most out of your blog, earn the most rewards and save the most money for my and my family’s trips.

    Again, I salute to you for all you have done to many readers like me that have been truly benefited from your frank advice and answers!

  105. I still think this is one of the best mileage blogs out there and I think you have done a great job with being unbiased and disclosing any freebies.

  106. Ben – I enjoy reading what you write and wouldn’t change a thing. Here’s to many more 5 year anniversaries!

  107. Interesting reading your thoughts in comment 135. I’ve advocated “being the banker” as a way to increase spending through credit cards–in other words, booking a group trip and running everyone else’s spending through your card or paying for a group dinner and getting reimbursement from everyone else at the table. We talk about 5X or 10X bonuses on credit card spending but don’t always realize how such social circumstances can turbocharge our spending and bonus earnings. After I turned my youngest sister on to this idea, she started doing her birthday dinners at restaurants that participate in one of her frequent flyer scheme’s dining programs–although we don’t make her pay for her dinner, we give all of the money for her dinner to her so she can run it through a credit card linked into her FF dining program so that she gets an additional birthday present of 1000 miles or so without any cost to her.

    Despite that, in your circumstances, I’d never really thought about how doing this at the next level through your award booking business could exponentially increase your spending and explain how you rack up the number of points you’d have to have to explain a substantial portion of your adventures in the sky.

    And, yes, I know people such as some of your customers. My sister and brother-in-law would never give their credit card numbers on the internet but happily hand their cards to any cashier without thinking that the security concerns are probably no different from entering their card numbers at an internet site. The comfort they would probably receive from having someone else run their expenses through your credit card justifies to them any mileage benefit you may earn in their stead.

    I’m with others who are finding FT increasingly bitter nowadays. Bloggers especially seem the target of anger, and perhaps your youth has engendered some real jealously. I probably wouldn’t want to live your life because I view airplanes as just another method of travel (although one I try to make as comfortable as possible), but I think it’s great that you’ve found something you truly want to do so that you can throw yourself into it with everything you’ve got rather than settling for a 9-5 job that would bore you to tears.

  108. I was asked explicitly by an Air New Zealand check-in staff at Queenstown “Did your parents pay for your ticket?” while checking in for business class flight to Hong Kong via Auckland. I was 28 yet I know I look young.

    To me, a stranger asking how you get the money to pay something is as offending as asking how much is your monthly wages. Questions of such nature serve to seek no answer but merely convey their prejudice “I’m reminding you that if not your parents, you won’t be here”.

  109. @Bedflyer

    I think the fact that Lucky tends to take shorter trips (max 2 weeks)–and then divides them into many posts, which are posted automatically on a schedule completely unrelated to where he is at the time–skews the average perception of how often he’s “away’.

    I’d guess, and please correct me if I’m wrong, that you spend 3-4 months cumulatively on actual trips that you write about?

  110. Funny you mentioned the name. “Lucky” was my first dog’s name too. He was long gone though.

    Going back to the actual topic, at the end, we are all human. Some are happy and some are jealous with your reports and achivements.
    The bottom line, you can NOT make everyone happy.

    I personally learn a lot from reading your blog. Keep up the good work and happy blogging.

  111. Rock on Lucky!!
    I enjoy the oddball crazy stuff you add to your blog along with the reviews.
    It must be from that German sense of humor.


    BTW. Can you share (roughly) how many sets of pajamas you currently own?

  112. Wow – this post has received more comments in the first day than FrequentMiler’s “One Card to Rule Them All”. It just shows how supportive the community is to you and your blog. I think a great deal of the “must be nice” comments are tongue-in-cheek and that your age is a big component. I redeemed air miles for my first international award (in economy) before you were born.
    When we attended the Chicago Seminars, my husband (who is in this game by proxy) had no clue who you were. However, by the end of your presentation, you were the highlight of the speakers for him. I can’t count how many people he told about how blown away he was with your knowledge, presentation, demeanor and friendliness to the participants. His first impression was “What could this kid possibly have to talk about?” Afterwards, he remarked that you were possibly one of the smartest people he’s ever heard in a seminar (and he is a doctor). To this day, whenever I mention something about Ben or Lucky, he will often say, that kid is incredible !

  113. One thing to learn is no matter how great you are there will always be some who will find displeasure with you. It’s there loss. Dwell on the good stuff.
    All the best

  114. @ Bedflyer — I do a couple of trips to China and a couple of trips to Europe each year on American (upgraded to business class using systemwide upgrades). That’s about 70,000 miles right there if planned well. Then I do quite a bit of coast to coast flying as well. Back in the day I’d fly to the west coast quite a bit, while nowadays I’m flying back home to Tampa more often. Miles add up quickly that way!

  115. @ steve — That sounds about right. I’d say I on average do one “big” international trip a month, and am gone maybe a week a month for that at most. And that’s on the high side. Then there’s some domestic travel thrown in beyond that.

  116. @ Goofy Foot — LOL, thanks! How many PJs do I have? Well over a hundred. It’s 90% of my closet, actually.

    @ PatMike — You’re far too kind, thanks. Made my day. 😀

  117. I enjoy One Mile At a Time due the the information and the inspiration provided (especially with the lack of CC affiliate filled posts.)

    Over the years I have realized that it really is possible to get a great value if you have the flexibility with your time and jump through the hoops to accrue and redeem the points and miles… but no matter what you do “haters ‘gonna hate!”

    Keep up the good work.

  118. Ben,

    I read most of your writings even though practical realities of life (one income household, with 2 school age boys) do not afford me the options to travel in a year what you may do in a week! So in many ways I can only dream and imagine through your well written posts. I am optimistic that one day the points/miles I have started to collect will eventually be better used from the knowledge and experiences you share.

    And my take on this discussion: What you have accomplished at a young age is very inspiring to me as a parent. It would be so fulfilling for me, when my boys get passionate about a hobby in their formative years that can also become their “job” eventually. Your parents and family should feel proud. Keep up the great work. Looking forward to meet you some day.

  119. Lucky — start reviewing coach international seats. That’ll show ’em.

    I kid. I kid. Well, sort of. I know it will never happen, but it actually would be helpful, although I suppose the answer would be that y is y and there isn’t much to say. But actually, when you’re in a y seat for a long time, little things matter!

  120. Very rare occurrence to find someone that is able to execute at your age; more unusual to have said ability without being jaded and guarded from the process of maturation – very refreshing, bravo!

    Frustrated and unfulfilled people will always take a small ration of happiness by slinging mud at people that starkly reflect the ineptitude of their own lives. Continue to live strong and relish every bite!

  121. The one thing you didn’t discuss is your blogging income, which I imagine is quite substantial. While the display ads on the blog might earn you less than $1 per click, those links on your Best Credit Cards page probably yield $50 or more per completed application. Considering your traffic volume–which seems quite good, according to Kantar–I imagine you must be getting $10,000 per month at least on these credit card links. Probably a lot more.

    I’d love some insight on your credit card affiliate link income, if you’re willing to provide it.

  122. Thanks again, guys!

    @ Michael — I’m happy to say that a majority of my income from the blog comes from my affilate links and not the ads at the top/side of the blog. I’m not sure if you want me to give you an amount as to what I make or what, but while I’m all for transparency, that’s crossing the line a bit in terms of what I’m comfortable sharing. Thanks for your understanding.

  123. similar to other commenters, i probably check your blog (and Gary’s) once a day. it’s always a welcome break from facebook 😉

  124. thrilled to death that i found your blog. your advise and services have been invaluable, saving me time, money and basically educating me on all-things-points/miles/flight bookings, etc…! always entertaining to read your well-written reports! i’d recommend you continue on with your forward momentum as you provide much to many AND avoid responding to douchers….unfortunately, they are everywhere!

  125. Lucky, you’re living the dream of all your readers by making your living flying around in F and staying at the nicest hotels across the globe. It’s easy to see how people get jealous and why some jerk who is probably upset that it isn’t his life would lash out at you.

    I’m glad the negativity doesn’t bother you too much because I love the blog and hope you keep writing. I’ve got a trip in SN business coming up in May so I’m really looking forward to that report.

  126. Why do people try to steal someone else’s joy? I agree with so many others who have posted comments. You are appreciated daily for sharing tips and ideas with so many folk. I truly look forward to not only the suggestions and reviews but to the humor that shines through in your writing. Thank you, too, for your enthusiasm and unbridled excitement about life and travel!

  127. “while I’m all for transparency, that’s crossing the line a bit in terms of what I’m comfortable sharing. Thanks for your understanding.”

    I’m not too surprised. Mr Money Mustache was making $4k per month on credit card affiliate links from Chase alone (, and his readership is much smaller than yours. I think my estimate was conservative.

    Sure you can keep it private, but some of us know this blog is very, very lucrative.

  128. Ben, continue doing what you are doing and enjoy as much as you can. You and other bloggers  (you, Matthew @Live and lets fly, and Gary @View from the Wing are my favorites) opened the possibilities for me that I had no idea exist. Its a terrible cliché, but life is short, start with dessert , or in your case with Krug:)

  129. While you will get a million comments on this thread, I hope you know how much value I get out of your trip reports and most of the things you write. As someone of a similar age, it is great to see other young people doing what I think is a dream hobby. I am fortunate enough to travel and sample a variety of business class products and I use your reports as a guide of what arilines to fly, how to build the best award ticket, and as a way to get excited about an upcoming flight. Please continue to do what you are doing! I look forward to more posts for years to come.

  130. This is my favorite line ” was fortunate not to have to pay a dime to attend college (which, in retrospect, is probably what I valued the entire experience at)”!

    Thanks for blatantly laying out what people who actually read your blog regularly already knew. Hope you keep some of the readers the “controversy” caused.

  131. Ben, I think your blog is fantastic, and I think you’re awesome at what you do.

    Being just a few years older than you, I do feel like you’re missing out on some awesome domestic sites. When you rave about the mountain air of Berchtesgaden, for example, I can’t help but think about how you’re missing out on California’s Eastern Sierra or the alpine meadows of the Rockies. The National Parks don’t have Park Hyatts, but they’re, by and large, fantastic sites with neat lodges and fantastic camping.

    I understand that you’re into luxury travel, and I respect that, but travel doesn’t have to be luxurious to be spectacular.

  132. Very interesting post.
    Here’s something I’ve been wondering for some time… what do you actually do when you travel? Since you do airline/airport/hotel reviews, I assume you spend some time in your hotel room writing on your computer- but what else? You obviously know your way around airlines, do you know your way around different cities in different countries? (I know you got lost in your own city looking for Starbucks, but that’a different story). Do you go sightseeing? Tours? Do you have friends and most places? Plan ahead, or just go unprepared? Or do you just hang out at the hotel?

    I love traveling, but I’m not very good at actually planning what to do. Since you travel full time, I’d appreciate any tips you might have!


  133. After sampling almost all of them, I follow three blogs every day – Gary’s, Matthew from upgrd and yours. They have a common theme – much of your content is original instead of the regurgitated copy posts so often seen on many boarding area blogs, the writing is humorous and thoughtful, and there isn’t incessant shilling for credit card sign-ups. While yes, you likely make a decent living from all of this, I say kudos, it’s well deserved because of what you bring to the table compared to other bloggers. I learn so much from your blog, it’s genuinely appreciated by me.

    Btw, the “giddy laughing while showering on EK” post was the funniest ever!

  134. I really like your blog (which is why I’m using your PointsPro to arrange my first miles travel).

    However, please let me remind all-y’all long-timers, that for us total newbies?! The blogs with the arrows and circles are important too — I’m working (ever-so-carefully) on getting miles with my two new CCs, using Bluebirds and gift cards and portals. I still need the more … blatant … directions and information of other bloggers, too. I do need repetition of ‘this is the card to get for this kind of flying, and this is the one for this other kind.’ And “here’s how to get cards and bonuses, and here’s how to decide which ones to get first and later.” Without some foundation from various blogs, FlyerTalk the forum is just too busy, too confusing, too MUCH! (I’m barely dipping a toe over here, which is what got me back here for this love-fest.)
    Appreciate the blog and the help, Ben!

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