Welcome To One Mile At A Time!

Boy, it has been an exciting week here at OMAAT, to say the least. I’m still processing everything and will have more thoughts on things in an upcoming post with my overall feelings, but in the meantime, media from all over the world are sending people here… so, welcome!

To long time readers, I apologize for the somewhat lack of “regular” content at the moment, but things will get back to normal shortly. I’ve pinned this post to the top, but you can scroll down to find new content as it’s posted.

In the meantime, I wanted to welcome new readers and give them a good place to start. With that in mind:

Travel isn’t free

If you’ve come here from one of the rather sensationalist headlines, I’m afraid you’re about to be a bit disappointed. I’m actually not sure where the headline came from that I apparently travel constantly for “free.” Travel costs money. Period. And as someone who lives in hotels full time and flies 400,000+ miles per year, I can assure you it actually costs me a lot of money.

However, there are so many opportunities to enjoy truly amazing experiences while spending significantly less than you might think. I’ve reviewed hundreds of flights and hotel stays on this blog, and in the introduction post to each trip report I provide an exact breakdown of how many miles each award ticket costs.

My hope is that by having an example of how relatively few miles are required for this kind of travel that you’ll be inspired to travel more often, and more comfortably. The fact is that there’s tons of value to be had from getting into the miles & points world, even though travel still won’t ever be “free.”

Put another way, I guess my hope is that you can fly this:

Emirates-A380-First-Class-001

Emirates-A380-First-Class-079

For less than the cost of this:

Emirates-Economy

So where do I earn all my miles?

Like most savvy mileage nuts, I earn through a combination of credit card bonuses, 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. All of the techniques I use are within the terms and conditions of the various programs — it’s about knowing the rules, not breaking them.

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. Living in hotels has also given me the opportunity to rack up points on hotel spend, which has made that practice more sustainable.

I pick up 2-3 cards every three months or so, so I’m constantly on the look out for the best sign-up bonuses. I earn upwards of 500,000 points each year from credit card sign-ups alone, so taking advantage of the best offers is key for me.

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. If you’re outside the US or can’t otherwise take advantage of credit card options, buying miles rather than buying tickets is one of the best ways to upgrade your travel. If done properly, you can travel in premium cabins for less than you’d otherwise pay for economy.

Singapore-Suites-1

Getting started in the game

If you’re new to miles and points, you’ll want to check out the Beginner’s Guide. It’s a long read, and you’ll have questions. That’s okay — there’s a lot to learn.

Beyond that, I regularly compile tutorials on how to earn and redeem miles, how to negotiate frequent flyer programs, and more. Make sure to check out the Tips & Tutorials section for an overview.

If you want to see what all these miles and points get you, check out my Trip Report Index to see my reviews of hotels and airlines around the world. If there’s a first class cabin you’ve always wanted to try, or a hotel you’ve always wanted to visit, there may be a way of getting there on points, so browse or linger in the trip reports and start dreaming of your next trip.

Amankila

If you have a travel-related question that you can’t find an answer to otherwise, check out the Ask Lucky page, and between myself, my contributors, and fellow mileage nuts, we’ll do our best to answer!

If you need more help than that, you might want to check out my consulting service, PointsPros.

What you’ll find on OMAAT

The core of what I write about is miles and points. Everything from how to earn them, to how best to use them, to the fluctuations in the travel industry that influence loyalty programs. I’m also a serious aviation geek, so you’ll see announcements of new routes, products, reconfigurations, and so forth.

Essentially, if it’s even remotely related to travel, either myself or one of my contributors will likely cover it here.

My colleagues

Speaking of the other writers on this site, one of the amazing things about this hobby is how many fun people I’ve met along the way, and the friendships I’ve developed over the years. Some of these folks contribute here on the blog as well, and add an interesting contrast to my travel and perspectives. You’ll see regular posts from Nick, Travis, and Tiffany, along with occasional posts from some of my other friends.

I should probably note that I’m not looking to add more contributors at this time — I appreciate the offers, but life is a little weird/crazy right now.

The comments

One of the things I am most proud of is how much knowledge is shared in the comments here on the blog. People are helpful and kind, which is pretty exceptional for the internet, so I’d like to keep that trend going.

To my regular readers

Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you THANK YOU!

I’ve been writing this blog for over seven years, which is incredible to me on so many levels.

For starters, I didn’t know a thing about internet technology, or blogging for that matter. I wasn’t (and still am not) a great writer. But I was crazy passionate about miles, points, and travel, so it seemed worth trying.

I didn’t expect to make it a month.

I certainly didn’t expect it to be something I did well at, much less something I could do full-time.

So thank you, because this absolutely wouldn’t be happening without you. I’m insanely grateful for your readership, and the interactions we have here on the blog each day. Thanks for welcoming the influx of new visitors, and I promise we’ll be back to Hello Kitty planes and geeking out over amenity kits soon. 😉

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 »

Comments

  1. Is there any other way than ” ask Lucky” page to submit question? Is email still possible to get replied or have to ask question and be answered publicly?

  2. Ben, Congrats on ur crazy success. Having met u at FTU a San Diego early this year, I couldn’t think of a more genuine and deserving young man than you. Your parents must be so proud!

  3. Ben, I love your blog and always sing your praises to people I randomly meet on flights. I admire your creativity. You are a great writer. I rarely see a typo or grammar error, which is saying a lot since I can’t type a note on my iPhone without typos. People who say mean things about others usually are unhappy with their own lives. Whatever your future holds, I know you will do it well and with great passion!

  4. Lucky is the truth. Somewhat pissed to share his knowledge with you newbies, but alas I was a newbie only a year ago, and now I’ve flow longhaul First on Cathay (twice), Emirates, and Singapore. All because of Lucky. So welcome, I suppose!

  5. Glad to hear that things are going so well, amazing what a little publicity in a place other than the usual can do. Congratulations to you Ben, as the saying goes “the harder you work, the luckier you get”, pun intended….

  6. Really enjoyed the RS article. The history, the backstory, the friendships, the hard work, the dedication. I wish you continued success and happiness. Not only do I really enjoy reading your blog, it has given me the international travel bug and I am avidly pursuing it. Thanks for your help and advice.

  7. No Lucky, thank you for the effort and time you put into your great advice, aviation news and trip reports.

    All the publicity the blog is getting at the moment is well deserved.

    Keep up the great work 😉

  8. Exciting times ahead.

    Your hard work and dedication to this blog the hobby is paying off in spades.

    Congrats.

  9. love the blog…
    having said that, you should also mention that you get points for credit links (plus whatever ad click rev) because if us commoners get at least 5k for referrals, i can’t imagine you (and other bloggers) not getting any points or preferentials from banks for pushing credit cards (my last two were through your links). this is something that seems unattainable for us commoners 😉

  10. Cheers, enjoyed the article; see you again in Beijing or somewhere more exciting next time. 😉

  11. Lucky, thank you for this blog! Personally I love it and I guess all your readers loves it too! To be honest it makes a bit sad/disappointed/surprised that you plan to travel less in the near-future. I still don’t understand why is that since it seems like you really enjoy this lifestyle that in turns keeps us updated about the latest news, tips and tricks about this “game”.

    Anyway, thanks again and I would be happy if you would answer me that why do you want to travel less 🙂

  12. @Lucky – started reading your blog only this year, and I am hooked on miles and points. My goal – and I love your starting comment and pictures of the Emirates first class v/s cattle class 🙂 – I want to have enough miles to do that kind of travel. not there yet, and hence the burning question that I have for you is – if you travel 200,000 miles per year, how much $$$ do you spend to get those miles, since surely travel is NOT free !
    I did ask the question about getting to 500k miles per year, by credit card churning, but if one does not a registered business then its harder (example the new Citi promo of 50k miles is related to a business application)
    Would love to hear your feedback
    Andrew

  13. Congrats!!! Long time reader here and every day I come to this blog there is something new to learn. Keep up with the great work.

  14. Congrats Lucky! As echoed above, we all really appreciate the dedication you have to your readers. There’s nothing better than being recognized & rewarded for doing something you’re passionate about. Keep up all the great work.

  15. Lucky, just started reading your blog a couple days ago, and I really appreciate that you seem to take the time to answer every readers post. I think that is great! Very informative

    Nick

  16. Congratulations, Ben. You put in a lot of hard work and your passion is a great benefit to others, myself included.

    You deserve all the recognition coming your way and then some.

    Ignore the haters and statists as they try and get you down. Keep it up – and make sure you are looking after #1 (YOURSELF!) at the end of the day. You have already done so much to serve and help others.

  17. @mike, Ben mentions at the beginning of most posts with a referral disclosure “In the interest of full disclosure, One Mile At A Time earns a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the below links.”

    Anyways, congrats on the article Ben. While some of it casted you in a bad light imo, you still rightfully deserve your spot in the limelight! Keep it up!

  18. Congrats Ben! It was a fantastic article. I have been a loyal reader for over three years now. I remember the first time I found your blog, I almost stayed up the entire night reading it. Later that year I stepped on to my first F flight (on LH no less) and am now hooked. Also, can’t wait for the next Tiffany post, she’s truly a fantastic addition to the team.

  19. Congrats, Ben. Was great to learn more about you in the RS article. Your success is well-deserved. Keep it up.

  20. Hey Lucky,
    Now that you have a wider reach and more people read this blog I think you should have a go at the Kickstater Campaign to review the ETIHAD RESIDENCE once again. Please?

  21. I think you do a good job – I especially enjoy your trip reports/reviews. I very much like that you get back to individuals who post comments, I think that is valuable and contributes to your overall success. In some ways the fact that you do bother to get in touch directly with your readership like that, off-sets (for me at least) any comments from others that you are somehow elitist. So keep up the good work and enjoy your success because I think you have earned it – one way or another. X

  22. Hi Lucky, I started reading your blog just 10 months ago. I am addicted to boarding area and OMAAT. You and Gary ,have in my opinion, the best travels blogs anywhere. I can relate to you about AA since I have been working from Platinum to Executive Platinum for the past year. I cannot tell you how much I have learn from your experience. You writing is engaging and I love it. I hope you continue with your rock star story and welcome soon to Los Angeles. I would love to show you around ThaiTown and have the best Thai Food in the country. I would love a contest where we could travel with you

  23. Funny, how I just read the Yahoo article and came here to OMAAT and read “Travel Isnt Free” which is exactly what I was thinking over at Yahoo.
    Long time reader Lucky, Congrats. Keep up the good work.

  24. Congrats, Lucky! I have been following your adventures since your six back-to-back UA SFO/Seoul trips. You are truly an inspiration. Thank you, thank you and thank you.

  25. My absolute favorite was KCI380’s comment on the RS article page – that unknown to them, Ben and Mr. Leff are KCI380’s mentors and that starting after retirement KCI380 has seen and done things “I could only dream of” were it not for them.

    Kudos for having such a positive impact on KCI380’s and so many others’ lives – rock & roll Ben.

  26. @ Jon – i’m not saying he didn’t disclose (which i don’t really care), i want trying to make a point is that there are only so many credit card sign-up bonuses and at 500k+ a year, its unattainable by most of us without the banks giving referral credits (whether cash or points).

    Again, love the blog (and will continue to support by applying through OMAAT)

  27. I want to thank you for this post. I have been fascinated with travel for most of my adult life, but it was only within the last couple of days that I discovered your blog. Life being what it is, I had only been able to do road trips before due to certain constraints as a member of the military. Your blog has provided me with a wealth of resources to look into as I prepare to expand my list of places I’ve seen.

    Thanks again for hosting such a fantastic blog!

  28. Congratulations, Lucky! Your blog has entertained, educated, saved me a lot of money, and helped me plan travel I never would have imagined.

    And kudos on the press, too! I first saw it summarized on the home page of Hacker News and thought, “Hmmm, that sounds an awful lot like that one guy…” Great piece. I’d gladly pay airport newsstand prices to read it again in print 😀

  29. Ben, Congratulations on the article as, hopefully, it will help add enough regular readers to OMAAT, to allow you to take a giant step and become more of a manager than a hands-on blogger, permitting you to adopt a healthier, less frenetic existence, while still enjoying your work. While I certainly salute you for the well deserved recognition and am happy as well from the standpoint of your business, putting this into perspective with your recent health concerns and overall quality of life, both physical and psychological, there are personal aspects of the article that are somewhat reflective of Wagnerian opera, with the good thing being that you are in control of its having a happy ending.

  30. Ben,

    Thanks for letting us into your world for a few flights. We all know that print media needs to sensationalize a few things said during so many hours. All I can tell you is that you have given your readers great advice for many years — so many trips, rewards, hotel stays have come about through your good counsel. I thank you for sharing your experiences and this passion for life. I look forward to many more years of OMAAT.

    – The Dude

  31. Congrats, Ben! As a long time reader of the site, I’m thrilled to see you and your team finally getting the exposure and recognition you deserve. I recently booked a West Coast US to Europe (all business class) trip using only points/miles and was only able to do so with the knowledge I’ve received here.

  32. “I probably fly about 200,000 miles per year on American” – doesn’t that end up costing a lot of money? Thousands of $$$?

  33. Hi Ben,

    As one of your regular readers, I’ve received tons of e-mails and texts from friends and family copying the links to the various articles. They’ve all said to me that I should read the article because there’s this guy that’s obsessed with miles and points like I am. Of course, I told them all that the guy in those articles is the guy that I follow and from whom I get all my inside info. I think my family and friends now understand my obsession after reading those articles. I’m passing on the knowledge and know how to my friends and family thanks to you.

    So, thank you so much for all you do, congrats and continued success!!!

  34. Love how you are in a “spread love” kind of mood last couple of months. It feels good to be around.

  35. Just watched your interview on Australian morning TV! ” You sound just like George Clunny said the presenter”, your face was priceless. Long time reader nice to see you and hear rather than written. Even less chance of awards and upgrades now!

  36. Lucky, I just started reading OMAAT recently and I’m off to a good start. I enjoy reading the blog and thank you for sharing your life, travels, and knowledge with us. The attention you are receiving is well deserved, I hope you enjoy it. Thanks and congratulations!

  37. Hi Ben,
    Can I have your autograph? Seriously, thanks for all you do. From the moment I stumbled across your blog 5 years ago, I was hooked. I’ve travelef around the world multiple times in First Class and Business to places I’ve only dreamed of and others I had never even heard of (Longyearbyen). You are a great writer, both informative and entertaining and I look forward to your blog posts and tweets each day. I’ve had the privilege of meeting you at several FTUs and you have always been gracious and answered my questions.

    Best of luck with your continued success and wishing you all the best . Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  38. Congratulations from a long time reader and admirer of your writing. I second the suggestion to retry your Kickstarter campaign. I bet it’s possible with a hungry new audience ready for more tales of unimaginable luxury. You can count on my donation.

  39. Ben, You consistently write one of the best Hobby blogs around, and you deserve every referral bonus your links generate (ignore the haters – I don’t expect you to work for free!). Thanks for all the useful info.

  40. I really love this blog because of the trip reports Ben writes. Ben writes in a way that even I can experience what ever he sees even while sitting at home. I have been reading for a year and still will continue to read. Being a teen, sometimes I am made fun of being obessed with airplanes( in a good way) so this is where I can learn. I hope to fly first class or business one day. I only fly econ to india and back.

    Thanks for bloggging

  41. Hey im new came from a yahoo headline.. Ive just read like 2 of your post seems interesting but i gotta say im from jamaica, 18 yrs old traveled once in my entire life pretty lame huh? lol Well congrats on your success you deserve it. Im also a new blogger too just learning the tricks and trade of monetizing enough of me Congrats again ♥ My Blog || http://www.2nbeauty.blogspot.com

  42. Been reading this blog for years … nice to see the RS article fill in some of the gaps … like what happened to United!

  43. My favorite travel blog out of them all! I’ve learned so much here that has allowed my wife and I to travel in epic ways.

  44. It would really be interesting if you gave options of credit cards out of the States. Although this bonus may not be as good as the ones in the US, the Bank of Singapore credit card gives 3 miles per dollar on overseas dining and spend+15k signup bonus. Some of your viewers may live in Asia or Europe, so giving some new options may prove interesting.

  45. Ben,

    I love travel. I love your blog. I love this hobby. Your blog helped me getting places, in First Class, so much more fun! Thank you. The negative comments from RS just tell you how clueless are some of their readers. All the better for my chance of getting my awards.

  46. Congrats Ben! Really enjoyed the article. I think this calls for a LH duck and Rimowa kit give-a-way!

  47. Yes, it was very poor form of the media to sensationalise thing out of all proportion with reality (scammer travelling the world for travel for free) and to portray you as some lost inebriated boy (mentioning multiple times of incidents of you sloshing champagne over yourself, or being disconnected to everything not “The Game” – the “secret society” you belong to supposedly).

    That is most assuredly NOT how you come across here at OMAAT. You help people maximise their resources for flights and hotel stay, using the rules (well apart from the gate check thing I guess), by freely giving advice and examples. You provide reports on hotels and airlines so people have an idea of what’s on offer (not to rub people’s noses in it as some media have inferred). You don’t come across as broken or weird or some sort of autistic robot. Neither do you come across as some lightweight playboy or as an extreme JLR clone.

    It’s a shame really, because I think the proper story of who you are and what you do is far more interesting than this paff being reported. You got glimpses of that story, but of course it’s the caricature stuff that’s being hyped by the media the most.

    Don’t let any of this media rubbish stop you from being true to yourself, and continuing your good work here. I really enjoy OMAAT and I’d hate for any of this media duff gen to change this forum.

    I have to agree with another poster here, one of the really good things to come out of this was to discover you have such a nice voice (very pleasant to the ears).

    I’d also be interested to hear more about how you and Tiffany became friends, it was only very briefly referred to by the media, and I’d be interested to hear more.

    P.S. There’s an excellent QF codeshare (EK metal mostly) one way First fare on offer from Rome/Milan to New Zealand (via Dubai and Sydney) available at the moment (has been disclosed on FlyerTalk) that has wide open availability. It’s a great opportunity to give those shower suites a whirl (for those yet to try them) and to enjoy the Emirates First lounge in Dubai, for a super reasonable price.

  48. Hey Ben,

    Congratulations on the publicity. I hope it brings you all that you seek and, in the meantime, keep up the great work.

  49. Thanks Ben for the blog. I also commend you for calling it out at the front, as you’ve always done, that travel is NOT free it costs $. The Stone article I thought was interesting but what I found most alarming were the idiots in the comments section that really don’t have a clue. An So you enjoy flying in airplanes and it’s your passion the “game” of it all seems to be what makes it exciting for you which is 100% your call and great. While some enjoy the end destination (you probably due too) it doesn’t appear to be what you fly for and again why should myself knock that, it’s your prerogative (cue bad 80’s music).

    As someone who has benefited greatly from your blog (and others) as well as witnessed your graciousness in responding to my remedial questions regarding securing tickets to Australia (which we were able to do for 4 people on the same flight) I thank you. Happy travels.

    D

  50. Ben,

    Just want to express my gratitude for all that I have learned from your blog. You are a good writer and are well deserving of your current success.

    cheers,

    Ryan

  51. Awesome that you are so successful with something you love. You are really living the dream of many of us here / in this community. I’m reading now (every day) for maybe 2 years and even though I can’t use a lot of the content because living in Germany, I’m addicted to all the stories about aviation and also yourself. It is a little bit like a tv show, where you want to know what’s happening next…wondering where you are flying/staying next. So, just keep going with what you do, it’s great…and be prepared to take a selfie with me, if I ever meet you on a plane or in a lounge because that’s definitely on my bucket list, beside flying all the major first and business classes classes around 😉
    CU

  52. Getting more and more famous Lucky, here is an article about you on the French news yesterday morning :
    http://www.lefigaro.fr/voyages/2015/07/22/30003-20150722ARTFIG00135-les-techniques-de-ben-schlappig-l-homme-qui-voyage-a-l-oeil.php

    but I’m not sure if what they say is correct and I don’t like the way they describe your work :
    – You get some money from the bank to advertise their bank card.
    – Since 4 years you are forbidden to fly United
    – You have a special algorithme to analyse the data from the FAA to see the evolution of the planes prices…
    – You are vice president of “the hobby”

    Olivier

  53. Hi Ben,
    good to put things in perspective for ‘newcomers’! The sensational headlines are clickbait for sure, but not very realistic and, as you say, travel is *not* free…
    thanks,
    Sieto

  54. Kudos to you Lucky! I’ve learned a lot from you & your fellow readers and am thankful for that. I remember when I first read your blog years ago, I only knew your name as Lucky; I’m not even sure when I first learned your name was Ben. I recently read the RS article and you’re practically a celebrity around the world! For me, it was always entertaining and helpful to read your airline reviews, whether it be one fo the CX F & LH F or one of the more adventurous ones like CZ F. I do wonder after all these online articles whether flight attendants and gate agents will recognize you and thus give you better treatment, perhaps compromising your review. Then again, from reading the article, flight attendants tend to be your ‘rowdiest fans’ so perhaps you are treated better anyway (as long as they recognize you!?!) 😉
    BTW, thanks for explicitly making it clear that travel is not free! There are always tradeoffs in life and within this hobby, the tradeoffs tend to be more time consuming related than financial related.

  55. Lucky,

    Out of all the bloggers, you are by far the most genuine and passionate. This is the reason for your success. Don’t let the success go to your head and sell off your blog like some other have done *cough TPG *cough to disastrous results. Just keep doing what you are doing!

  56. Lucky,

    as a long time reader/visitor of your blog, I’m seeing fewer and fewer posts on airline and lounge reports nowadays that are written by you.
    I love your trip reports on airlines and lounges, and it would be awesome to be able to read more of them!

  57. Good for you!
    But don’t you(and all of you) never think that because of the article; now the airlines, banks and hotels will update their terms and conditions and now will be more restricted. Your “hobby” will be gone in a year or two. Hoping you can still afford to fly paying full price. Also, no one ever mentioned about part of the article calling the industry “idiots”. I don’t that is appropriate to call someone that term(and you are proud of using it).

  58. “The people who run these programs are idiots – and we’ll always be one step ahead,”

    Not the brightest thing to say, now the airlines, banks and hotels will now probably have him on radar.

  59. It’s quite sneaky how you’ve removed all the comments that were ‘negative’. Very untrusting behaviour

  60. Long time reader, first time poster. The RS article makes reference to Lucky being a millionaire. Is this actually correct? Is that a million dollars a year in revenue? Or a million in the bank?

    I’ve been trying to figure out how the numbers add up and I just can’t. I’ve enjoyed a number of CC sign up bonuses and know what they can and what they can’t buy you.

    What’s the breakdown of income from the three sources? I know blogging ad revenue isn’t enough to live on, let alone travel (why most “professional bloggers” work for someone else). CC referrals are certainly something. But do enough people use links from these blogs? I don’t (sorry). I guess the consultancy could be big money? Or speaking engagements? I have no idea what people are paying for what services.

    Also to your point that travel not being free – which I certainly appreciate to be true. I assume this means you take a lot of revenue flights? Even the best cc sign up bonuses would only get you a OW in 1st or business, maybe a RT if you play your cards right. If you’re actually pulling in a million a year in income, how much of that is going back out the door for revenue flights and hotels?

  61. One question and maybe it was already addressed. How do you pay for things? Do you or do you not have a job? What is your job lol. I would love to be able to do this also lol

  62. Congratulations! As a long time reader, I feel like I “know” somebody who has suddenly become a rock star 😉 I’ve enjoyed several great premium cabin trips, thanks to advice from you. And in a month I am taking early retirement and will be flying various places around the world on fabulous products. Not free, but I am calling it my “round the world in first class on $50 a day” trip. Hope to run into you at some first class lounge one day so I can personally say hi and thanks.

  63. @Tom
    As long time reader I agree with you. I hope that OMAAT will not follow the path of TPG’s website… and will stay as it was for years, helpful tool for close-to-average traveller…

  64. Before being a player in the miles game I rarely flew, or flew in premium cabins for that matter. Since then I have flown first class with Cathay, Thai, United, and American. Plus Cathay biz class. I have over 155k Kris Flyer miles and plan on redeeming soon for a seat in Singapore biz or first. Ive also enjoyed a number of free nights at Marriott thanks in part to my Marriott rewards card. Anyone can do it! Thanks Ben!

  65. When someone forwarded the link of the news article, I was like, “Oh, it’s Lucky. OMAAT. My daily.”

    Great article btw.

  66. @Jon @mike – I started reading Ben’s aka Lucky’s blog only 6 months ago, and I can tell you as a normal person, I have got close to 350,000 miles by credit card churning . but we need to remember what Ben has been standing by .
    @N – I did ask Ben the same question as to how much he spends to travel 200,000 miles per year, and never got a response, but here is my 0.2 cents. Travel is NOT free, and what Ben is trying to get us to the level is this simple equation if one spends 20K a year on this hobby, can you truly travel and enjoy $200k of business and first class ,,for FREE ! How much is the tolerance for $$ spend is based on each person’s tolerance and I guess that will drive whether one collects points to travel in economy or business or like Ben in First !!
    Andrew F

  67. @AndrewF

    You are not getting 300,000 miles on credit card churning. If its Chase or AMEX its a ONE time sign up bonus. Churning has been killed by the advent of “bloggers” in the past 3 years.

    Recently the Department of Transport dropped its rules of forcing airlines to honor mistake fares. Why? People like OMAAT publicizing the hell out of deals.

    I hope you did your research on flyertalk and looked for the BEST bonus out there, instead of getting screwed out of lots of miles.

    $200,000 in J or F is debatable. I’ve had worse meals on CX F then a local hong kong street stall.

    This is all for naught, since you can kiss CX F goodbye. They are planning on closing redemptions within the year. The “hobby” is going to die a swift death in 2016.

    I use to be neutral about blogs, until I noticed deals dieing within hours or even minutes. The last $100 mistake fare tfrom CX died in an incredible 30 minutes.

    The top bloggers know the gravy train is coming to an end, that’s why they are fleeing the credit card application word to “promote their brand” and build up their “consulting” business on “redeeming your miles”.

  68. The notion that travel is free is false. There’s a high degree of money that needs spent to meet minimum spend for credit card sign up bonuses as well as maintaining status with the airline(s) if you actually fly other than from miles.

    If you only fly from miles, then the sign up bonus game is all about minimum spend and finding those retention and additional spend or category bonuses.

    If you fly both ways, getting the bonus miles with your status will dramatically increase the amount of redeemable miles available. Those tickets are still not free but combined with credit card spend and sign up bonuses will give you many options to enjoy award tickets.

    My only concern is the airlines may try to tighten up the system. Its easy to say we are one step ahead of them when they can devalue our points at any given time. I appreciate being able to read and learn how to earn miles and enjoy flights/trips that I realistically wouldn’t be able to pay for without miles. The blog also enhances my regular flying for work.

  69. @Jeff: The airlines are already “tightening up the system,” as evidenced by the switch to revenue-based points instead of mileage-based. Keeping ahead of them means finding ways of accumulating points and using them before the next big devaluation. Right now that means focusing on credit cards rather than flying to earn points.

    By the way, kudos to Ben for becoming such a sensation! It’s a bit disappointing how the media seems to have sensationalized the “free travel” aspect (we all know it’s not free), and the idea that “Ben is a mooch.” Reading the comments on sites like Yahoo that have picked up the story, you can see that many readers didn’t get beyond this.

    It’s quite informative: the media very consistently trades accuracy for sensationalism.

  70. @Joe
    I don’t take Ben’s advise on face value , and yes he does get paid commission on it, but he’s not too far off the mark, even if one compares his recommendations to all the ‘experts’ on flyer talk . As for Cathay Pacific, I have not flown them for a long time, , and really do not intent to in the future as there are much better metal products that offer superior service for the same mile redemption (even flyer talk will tell you that)
    Here is my take on credit card churning
    I have the $$ spend requirements due to business/work/home/kids, therefore it made perfect sense to spread the $$ over multiple cards (card churning) where I can get additional new points for ALMOST free. .. because in some cases, I have had to pay an annual fee, in some cases deferred fee for 1 year and in some cases no fee at all. So at time of card renewal next year, I will either downgrade cards that have a fee or change it to a no fee card or cancel them altogether
    So my net gain – 350,000 points
    Money Spend – $900 on fees

    That’s not too shabby a deal.

  71. @AndrewF Churning is the process of getting multiple sign up bonuses over the course of a couple years. That is basic 101 of the mileage game.

    So you make min spend, close the account. Open in 1.5 years and get another sign up bonus.

    Since its now impossible for you to get repeat sign up bonuses on AMEX & Chase there is no churn.

    Now you may be a big spender, but that is completely different from churning. MS is on the way down too. Too many bloggers destroying the target red card. Wind back 5 years, and it would have lasted much longer.

    CX F may have crap food, but service wise its up there. Only “good” food that I’d pay $50 at a restaurant would be QF. For some reason it actually tastes like, well food. The problem is its near damn impossible with the influx of booking services snapping up seats.

    Bloggers are essentially value suckers. They gather all the information from the flyertalk community and then slap some affiliate commission ($100 for every successful application) on top and market it as “value” to newbies.

  72. Congrats Ben! I have to confess I didn’t know about the RS article until I saw the intro post! As someone who has been catching on your travels since two years ago, you have definitely you deserve all the positivity surrounding you right now after working so hard for us readers. ☺️

  73. I was wondering what was going on with all the accolades until I scrolled down into the comments section and found the link to the piece in Le Figaro:
    “Les techniques de l’homme qui a fait 16 fois le tour du monde gratuitement”

    I speak fluent and literally the title says, “The techniques of the man who has gone 16 times around the world for free”.

    Wow! “Le Figaro”! @Lucky, congrats but brace yourself for a huge onslaught of euro-traffic! 🙂

  74. Dude, I think all this publicity you’re generating will lead to mucho dough for you but does no favors to the community as a whole. This kind of massive attention directed at the hobby is not helpful to all of us not living large on click-bait and affiliate commissions. Thanks for nothing.

  75. I wonder if FF award travel will take an even bigger/faster hit (new restrictions/higher redemption cost) as a result of this new massive exposure.
    Also Lucky, did you suggest the people who run FF programs are idiots? As far as Skymiles are concerned, I completely agree but perhaps its best not to rock the cradle.

  76. Congratulations to Ben & Team, of course, and thanks, DCS & Olivier, for the Figaro link.

    A fair bit gets lost on the French, I’m afraid, but here’s my favorite part: “Devenu une petite légende dans le milieu, il raconte ses péripéties sur son blog, One Mile at a Time, où les publicités lui rapporte un peu, mais aussi – et c’est le comble -, les banques le rémunèrent pour qu’il fasse la promotion des avantages de leur cartes bancaires sur son site.” In English, the reporter evidently thinks it “the pinnacle of irony” that these self-same credit card banks that Lucky patronizes so well . . . actually pay him to get others to do the same!

    I hadn’t thought of it that way. Silly me.

  77. Hi Lucky!

    I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of years now (and I still have hundreds of questions that I won’t bother you with…), and I haven’t started mileage running yet since I’m only 14 and my parents are still skeptical about the whole thing. But anyway, if I were to start, would miles flown by the rest of my family count as EQM’s on my account if I put my AAdvantage number in the reservation to qualify for Elite Platinum? For example, you just recently posted about about $550 roundtrip from US-EU on American/US Airways. I figured that including the repositioning flight from our hometown airport, RSW (I know its not a good airport for mileage running), it would only take 2 roundtrips for my family of 4 to in total collect 100,000+ EQM’s. So, if only my AAdvantage number is on the reservation, would I get all of the EQM’s for myself, or no? Thanks!!!! (and sorry I know it’s a bad question…)

  78. Ben:

    Thanks for your thoughts. I’ve seen you over the last couple of days via breakfast television in Australia (you’re the only reason I’ve had to watch Australian breakfast television for the first time in years!), and many of your artilcles come up in a number of the communities I frequent.

    I loved that you were highlighting that for Australians there were more options than Qantas Frequent Flyer and Virgin Australia Velocity Rewards for flyers in Australia, and I commend you for doing this. I’ve had a pile of friends come to me telling me about your appearances as though I hadn’t seen them, and they were genuinely excited.

    However, I was hoping that you would do some qualification on the things that you said, particularly on the second appearance. The difficulty is that your advice is good for the more frequent flyers, and moving to AA particularly is a good idea if you’re flying a lot, but for the more occasional flyers (the people that fly once a month or less on QF domestic, usually on cheapest flight possible), AAdvantage is a disaster. SYD-MEL earns only about 220 EQM as a non-status member, and that’s never going to be enough to earn elite status with American. Also, if they don’t get their 4 flights with US Airways/American, they won’t get elite status.

    AAdvantage is absolutely a much better deal for crediting QF domestic to, but ONLY if you’re an AA elite at the time (preferably PLT or above, although there are the economics still there if you’re AA Gold), because of the QF minimum mileage bonuses that are only there for AA elites. For the more occasional flyer, flying only QF and crediting to AA is bad, even with the better burn rates.

    For crediting to Krisflyer, Australian flyers won’t be used to the hard expiry of points and occasional flyers might be surprised to find their points expiring.

    So whilst I love your advice, and for encouraging others to look further afield, the population that watches Sunrise doesn’t understand the intricacies of the advice and I worry that they’re going to end up disappointed. Is there any way you can qualify this advice in future?

  79. @ Jack — Nope, each person has to have their own frequent flier account. And it’s not a bad question, we get it multiple times a day 🙂

  80. @ Joe — And yet you were one of the ones encouraging people to file DOT complaints, noting “Time to file complaint: Less than 5 minutes.”

  81. @Tiffany Thanks for clarifying your relationship to OMAAT. I had mistakenly thought you were working as a freelancer (e.g. independent contractor) and it’s both good to know and kudos for Ben, that you are actually an employee with all the benefits to which a full time employee is entitled.

  82. @ Stuart Falk — Hah, well miles and points is my full-time gig, not specifically OMAAT. But Ben should get kudos regardless 🙂

  83. @Tiffany Sorry, I misunderstood. Actually, whether you or someone else, was hoping that Ben had found someone who, in addition to somewhat regular posts and responses on “Ask Lucky,” could take over a lot of the administrative work, so as to allow Ben to focus on content and developing short, medium and long range marketing plans.

  84. Lucky, you deserve whatever success comes your way. I read your blog because you’re very good at what you do.

  85. Tiffany;

    I like your style of writing very much. I think you are a great complement to Ben’s style.
    I am very glad Ben chose you to contribute to his “brand”. It has been a positive addition.

  86. @ Lucky, @ Tiffany, @ Nick, and @ Travis – congratulations! Hope you are getting _some_ sleep!

    So glad the comments on here are more positive than on OMaaT’s FT thread (frankly, it’s pretty depressing). RS article could’ve been written better though — it’s weird how some parts are very good reporting while others are over-sensationalized.

  87. @ Tiffany – I second Rami: your style & articles are great. I don’t know if there’s such thing as a fandom for OMaaT contributors but I’d definitely be Team Tiffany 🙂

  88. I get hit at the office all the time about “flying always for free” as well. Of course my answer is you have to buy a lot of tickets to get those free tickets. The technique being – pay for cheap destinations, redeem the miles for International F.

    Of course – no mention of your technique to fly to cheap international F and J destinations then do long routings to get back – namely Cairo and Sri Lanka. And the article did comment on your ban from United. Any chance that can get rescinded?.

  89. Bloggers have certainly helped me, as evidence by my reading here, but as someone who has been doing this since 97 I’d say, on balance, they’ve sucked the life out of this (for their benefit–but hey that’s ok this is america/capitalism) pursuit by shining too much light on it. A clear case of the Tragedy of the Commons. Double edged sword for sure

  90. Big congrats and very much well deserved! Totally enjoyed those personal details you shared on RS.

    Despite some minor healthy debates with you in the comments here and there, by faaaar…..your blog is definitely best miles and points blog.

    GL at VFTW must be like…..waaa waaa.

  91. Hi,
    you’re probably never going to read this, but I wanted to post it anyway. I stumbled across your website after reading the recent article. I really enjoyed reading the article and you inspired me to try to make a bit out of my (few, compared to you) travel miles. Looking forward to read more from you and maybe learn a trick or two.

    An avid new reader from Germany!

  92. Ben – as an “OG” reader back in the day when you were still blogging on TravelSort and starting up OMAAT, I have been hooked by the style, accessibility, and usefulness of everyone of your posts. You legitimately think about what helps us (the readers) really get a sense of your trips, how you fund them, and how we can get similar deals for ourselves. Since I’ve started reading your blog, I’ve been able to travel to the Maldives on Singapore Air business class (remember the computer upgrade availability weekend?) as well as fund countless other trips using the tips in your blog.

    As your newfound fame comes calling, I hope you don’t change a thing about your approach. Keep your readers as your top priority. Write excellent and thoughtful trip reviews. Show us how to use credit card signups strategically for great trips. Give us heads up on “points hacks” that only someone like you who is obsessed about travel could figure out. All of your success is well deserved, and I hope to be reading this blog for a long time!

  93. Lol ben ur the man! Ignore the haters!..On a funny note i felt like i was reading another blog with amazing advice to find out 2 interesting things about you 1) homosexual 2) why u never posted anything about united .. F united who needs em when you got AA pride!. anyways hope you are feeling better ! You have failed to update your med school readers on how you are feeling/ if the doctors have figured out your stomach pains 😉

    Best future doc,
    eric

  94. So, you are flying alot because you have found a way to pay less then you normally would? But you are still paying, even if it`s less. It looks like you travel to places for no other reason then you can travel a little cheaper. So, you are a moron? I dont understand the concept, why would I pay to travel to places I have no interest in going to? Because it`s cheaper then normal? To me it sounds like the airlines tricked you into spending money on them. And the way I see it, the only thing you are doing is running as fast as you can towards that one flight you wish you never got on, the one that goes nose first into the ocean or something while doing 800 miles an hour, and you`re sitting in the back, screaming “oh God why, why did I get on this shit plane?”. But hey, good luck, more air and food for the rest of us.

  95. Have you considered this; if you travel by plane once or twice a year, you will most likely avoid crashing into the ground and being killed. If you travel as often as you can, you are marching fast and steady towards that last nightmare flight, the last flight you`ll ever take. There`s no doubt about it, you will crash into the ground or the ocean or something, it`s just a matter of time. Could be next flight, could be the 6th flight from now. Have you even thought about that, or are you one of these happy-go-lucky-I`m-always-safe idiots I run into way, way too often?

  96. @ThisIsRidiculous

    At least you picked an apt name; everything you wrote certainly was ridiculous. Statistically speaking, air travel is orders of magnitude safer than any other form of transportation. You’re more likely to be hit by lightning or mauled by a dog than you are to die in a plane crash.

    In fact, the inside of a modern jet is statistically one of the safest places you can be anywhere in the world. Take all your ranting to heart the next time you get behind the wheel of your own car.

  97. @ThisIsRidicolous, your comments are embarrassingly incorrect. Fatal air disasters are vanishingly uncommon. Over the past ten years, roughly 1,000 people each year around the world were killed in air crashes. Sounds bad, until you consider how vast the world is. For example, do you know how many people die each and every year in automobile accidents? About 1.2 million. Every single year. That’s only one metric, but broadly speaking, it means planes are over 1,000x safer than cars.

    Even more disappointing is your suggestion that anyone who travels frequently is a “moron” or an “idiot.” Did it ever occur to you that some people enjoy travel, even to little-known destinations? Half the fun is just getting out of your own bubble and experiencing the world.

  98. @Andrew I get hack alerts multiple times a week when visiting OMAAT. The other day I got a tab that popped up with an audio message stating BSOD. It never happens on other websites, not sure why on BA, but I could care less I know there’s nothing being sent maliciously on this website

  99. You provide interesting and useful information.
    What does it take to qualify for a Business card?

  100. @Lucky
    I just stumbled across an article containing parts of an Interview you apparently gave to German Newspaper “Süddeutsche Zeitung”. As most Information given seems to be quite accurate (which I would expect from a daily newspaper widely considered as serious and reliable, in complete contrast to what BILD and other German “media” posted), I’m just curious how this publication emerged.
    Did they meet you in person in the U.S. or via phone or did they just collect (obviously mostly correct) information elsewhere and kind of make up the interview?

  101. @Andrew, @Leon: BoardingArea is probably getting hit with malicious ads (again) similar to the well publicized Yahoo malicious ad issue last night. The problem is random when you bring up the page depending on if the bad ad comes at you. I have also seen this happen a lot when accessing via mobile outside the US. There may be some ad criteria that dishes out the malicious ad more often than others depending on platform and location? This has been happening occasionally over the past couple years. They need to screen the ads better.

  102. Hi Ben,
    I am in Hong Kong right now (from Canada) would you recommend any other places to see?

  103. We live in NC and typically fly out of RDU or CLT

    I want to use my AAdvantage miles to fly Business Class (currently 50K) to Zurich or Milan in May and return in early to mid-June, 2016.

    In checking the AA website, there is availability , but the routing and timing is horrendous and every option at this 50K level seems to require travel through LHR with BA which, of course, imposes a huge “fuel charge.”

    When I select AA alone (no partner airlines), the availability switches to 110K miles or more pp/each way.

    Is there a way that we can get either non-stop or 1 stop itineraries from RDU or CLT for 50K miles level and avoid British Air?

    Thanks for your suggestions.

  104. That’s a great intro to getting some miles under one’s belt! Thanks for all the brilliantly put together info about the processes involved, You’ve gained yet another fan!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pingbacks