10 Things I’ve Learned From Dating A Miles & Points Geek

My boyfriend Ford recently wrote a blog post about his first time in Emirates A380 first class. Before we met he didn’t know the first thing about miles & points (like, he thought redeeming transferrable points currencies for cash towards a statement credit was a good deal, which is a cardinal sin around here). And in fairness, before we met I didn’t know the first thing about anything other than miles & points/Real Housewives, so the learning here is mutual!

Suffice to say his perspective on points has changed quite a bit. In this installment he’s back to share 1o things he has learned about miles & points/our little obsession.

For more from Ford, you can follow him on Instagram.


The A380 rules all

Prior to meeting Ben I didn’t know what an A380 was. Having now flown one, I can say that it offers by far the most luxurious cabin configuration when it comes to business and first class – from suites to showers to fully flat and wide beds. It’s remarkably quiet as well.

That isn’t to say there aren’t fantastic cabins out there beyond the A380. I recently flew the A321 in first class on American between Los Angeles and New York. I almost forgot I was on a domestic flight!

Not all first class products are created equal

While I did know there were significant distinctions amongst the numerous first class products offered worldwide, I wasn’t aware that some cabins made calling others “first class” tantamount to an insult!

For example, this summer I took a weekend trip to rendezvous with friends in Cabo and flew from Los Angeles to Cabo on American. I upgraded to first class and found myself disillusioned by the lack of even an outlet! So I leeched power from my laptop to charge my iPhone. I needed a full battery to get in touch with my hosts upon arrival. Furthermore, I awoke from a nap and found myself wondering, still dazed at this point, if someone was about to light a cigarette in this 1980s (dare I say 70s?) cabin. And, yes, I was born in the early 90s, for those of you already snickering at a reference that is before my time. I was a good history student, though.

Aviation geeks are frequently more excited about the flight itself than the destination

Need I say more? A lot of readers probably can relate to this point.

People collect airplane knick knacks

I admittedly dislike kitsch, so I’m not quick to understand this obsession…

Ben has nearly 50 Lufthansa First Class rubber ducks at his parents’ home in Florida, and I now (trying to embrace the trend, give me some props) have 3 in my shower alone.

Lufthansa-Ducks

Ben also loves the travel and amenity kits as well as the PJs. The current collection in my closet includes several from American, Lufthansa, and Emirates. I rather like the American Airlines kits that harken back to the days of airlines like Reno Air. That kit, in particular, reminds me of Gwenyth Paltrow’s first gig as she ascended the airhostess ladder in the film View from the Top.

American-Airlines-Amenity-Kit-1

I indulged his love for all things Emirates and let him buy me two Emirates baseball caps whilst shopping at the Dubai Mall. 😉

Ford-Emirates-Hats

Credit cards matter

Ben asked to see my credit cards on our first date and was pleased to learn that I use a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, among others. I think it was love at first sight for him! To be honest, it was just a fluke that I happened to be using a card he deems to be great. I really had no idea what I was doing…

Since then, I’ve added a few more to my wallet thanks to Ben’s suggestions, including the:

  • Citi ThankYou Premier Card (earns bonus points on dining and travel)
  • Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Card (because we love Starwood properties and SPG)
  • Alaska Airlines Visa Card (need miles for our Emirates journeys)

You can earn Starpoints with Uber

So in addition to the miles (and bonus miles earned from transportation if you have the right card), you can also earn bonus Starpoints!

In summary, a lot of points to be earned here, even for those who aren’t frequent travelers. If you didn’t know, you do now!

You can buy miles?!

Yeah, this one is kind of cool. I knew miles were a rewards currency, but had no clue you could actually buy them outright.

Airlines and hotels are basically selling miles at deeply discounted rates if you’re ready to buy them ahead of time during a sale, and then you can use them at your discretion. Most of you already know this, but it’s something I didn’t have any knowledge of before.

The fascination extends far beyond points and planes

It encompasses a general interest in the business, marketing, employees, news, and politics.

Case in point: On Saturday we were at The Grove in LA, and Qatar Airways had a display there, with more than a handful of flight attendants manning the display (they are starting flights to Los Angeles next year). We were in a rush, but Ben was like a kid in a candy store, and had to be dragged away.

Qatar-Airways-The-Grove

Later this was followed by Ben chasing me across the kitchen with his laptop playing a video interview of His Excellency, Mr. Akbar Al Baker of Qatar Airways, with Richard Quest. He might just be a bit obsessed!

Crew culture is alive and well

I didn’t realize that airline crews could total as many as 30,000+ individuals and that entire subcultures exist for each airline.

Take a gander online at the memes for airlines like Emirates, some of which are easier to interpret than others. I would post the funniest ones here directly, but I think some of them are in poor taste, humorous as they are.

Rivalries and adoration exist between airlines! At a dinner in Dubai, one Emirates crewmember mocked Etihad, while another marveled at Etihad’s standard uniform.

I may or may become an aviation geek myself

I say “become” rather than “be” because I’m not sure I’m there quite yet, but there are a few telltale signs emerging…

When asked what the highlight of our trip to the Middle East has been, I immediately recall the flight from Dallas to Dubai with Ben, but I seldom say this, since most people, especially those who aren’t enthusiasts, wouldn’t understand. Instead, I reference something more pedestrian, like watching the sunrise at Zighy Bay in Oman. I guess that isn’t pedestrian, though. Hopefully you catch my drift!

Processed with VSCOcam with c3 preset

Bottom line

While I’ve always enjoyed luxury travel, I never thought getting to the destination would actually be part of the fun. Recently when we were planning our trip to London, Ben said we could fly nonstop on British Airways from Los Angeles to London, knowing that’s usually my preference.

I asked if there was anything available through Abu Dhabi. After all, having recently flown the Emirates A380, I’m now ready to try the Etihad A380 as well. 😉

Comments

  1. For uber…. Would you use the Citi Premier for 3x or Amex SPG (1x on spend & 1x from Starwood) as a basic SPG Preferred member

  2. Great post Ford, Im glad you and Ben met, you seem like really nice guys.You can tell Ben because of him and his blog which I have passed on to my son he will now be able to travel more with his wife. I told him about Ben’s blog and what the possibilities are for someone like he and his wife. So he is a convert and like you before Ben I knew you could get miles etc for shopping but I had no idea how extensive it was.I enjoy reading Ben’s and your stories, it gives me a window on international travel. As to Ben’s obsession with all things travel thats what makes us different and interesting as people. Have fun waiting on next trip report!

  3. Great post from a non-av geek! Thanks for the reminder on the Uber/SPG link. I’ve been postponing linking my accounts since forever and now thanks to you, I finally got it done.

    While there may be few like Ben, there are many of us #avgeeks out there in different flavors. I’m probably more like Cranky where I learned geography from airline timetables as a kid.

    I’ve also done the mileage card makeovers to family and friends. I’ve even once got my barber to accept JCB Cards just so I could earn more miles, so know that you’re in good company.

  4. Ford I am beginning to love you as much as Ben for information. Your descriptions are fantastic of the cabin, amenities, and knowing your Boyfriends likes is great. That’s true testimony of how much your relationship means to each of you. I wish you both years of happiness.

  5. I’m pretty sure Ford made Ben his sugar daddy…routing through Abu Dhabi to get to London is 130K miles PP instead of a direct 62.5K miles…..I guess #Top comes at a price 😉

  6. @tony I use the amex everyday.. all amex get 2x reward points + the 50% bonus for a 3 MR point redemption + the starwood points … Ben wrote a post about this a while back he gives great advice.

  7. Hi Lucky and Ford! I have a few questions, as someone that have never flew on a gulf carrier or any carrier based in an Arab/Muslim country. Are they OK with a same-sex couple? Do they say or act in some way if there is some sort of public display of affection between a person and their same-sex partner? I know that many employees are from other countries, but most (if not all) of these companies are owned and funded by countries that do not allow same-sex relationships. Do you think that there are any company policies regarding that?
    I don’t mean to sound inappropriate or anything – I’m asking purely out of interest of knowing how comfortable it actually is for a same-sex couple or a homosexual passenger to take a flight with such a carrier, beyond those awesome perks and F/A service. I wish we lived in a world where this wouldn’t even be a thought in someone’s mind!

  8. Ben and Ford! You two remind me of me and my man — always enjoying the finer things in life, and looking fabulous at the same time. Y’all are a smokin’ hot couple and know how to travel right. My only question–how was the soaps and other amenities you experienced on your trip? You know how I love to lather myself in luxurious soaps and what not (is there anything better?).

    As a woman of refined taste, I can certainly say you two are a much more fabulous couple than any of the other mile secret bloggers out there. XOXO <3 S.

  9. “When asked what the highlight of our trip to the Middle East has been, I immediately recall the flight”

    That’s because most of the Middle East (at least the glitzy parts) is pretty boring. If you went to Jerusalem or Istanbul instead of Dubai, your first thought probably would’ve been more destination centric… That’s not to say Dubai isn’t worth visiting, but it’s not a place I’d go for unforgettable enrichment.

  10. Seriously? Ben asked you for your credit cards on your first date and you still got together? That’s amazing! 🙂 If any girl would ask me the same, I don’t think it would get to a second date ;).

    Good post, Ford! Nice to see someone that is as amazed by Ben and his addiction to points as I am. Although I’m kinda jealous how he manages to get such great value out of his points, I would honestly go crazy to check all these details every time. So, I just sit behind my computer with a Diet Coke in my hand, while you guys are flying the world. Enjoy and I wish you both all the best in your relationship!

  11. @maxi

    You do realize that based upon the culture you are visiting whether you are homsexual or heterosexual the right thing to do is change the way you behave sometimes.

    My wife is Japanese and we live in America. The way we act in public in America is different than how we act in public in Japan.

    The same thing happens when we travel in India. Public displays of affection are frowned upon by members of the opposite sex so we limit them.

  12. @Tony Kwok: What I do, and I believe what Ben does as well, is use the Amex Everyday Preferred. You get 1.5x MR per dollar on everyday spending as well as 2x MR per dollar for Uber.

  13. “I almost forgot I was on a domestic flight!” Tells the sorry state of US carriers. Ford? That’s a car’s name, lol.

  14. Ford, do you have a brother? 😉

    I was in the desert over the weekend and only managed to see the Qatar thing last night. By the time I got there, it was kind of a mess. And loud! I’m not totally sure what they were trying to accomplish out there, but they definitely got a lot of people talking.

    PS the credit card thing reminded me of my cousin’s husband, who has always reminded me never to date a guy who pulls out his Discover card to pay the check!

  15. Congratulations and thanks for the post. The ‘discovery phase’ of a relationship is always exciting. Not only do you get to learn what interests your partner, but you get to immerse yourself in it and learn about it and your partner through it. How exciting. Enjoy!

  16. It’s great to hear the experiences from someone that’s never had the opportunity to travel international first class….especially on an Emirates A380.

    I for one appreciate the article in its diversion from the typical credit card blog entry. This country has grown tremendously, and it’s about time that an article about Ben and Ford’s travel becomes as normal as any other article. Congrats guys. I hope the trip was as memorable as it sounds, and you continue to explore this world of ours.

  17. Great post Ford!
    Ben, really enjoying the blog as of late. Been following you for years( 2009? 2008?) and the writing got wonky about 6 months ago.. I feel that you are back to your “core” topics, as well as some fun stuff…
    Tiffany is amazing as well-so sweet!!!
    Best.

    RR

  18. @Mark, who says it will?
    Heres wishing the best to Benjamin and Ford!
    Totally agreed with @Danny

    Ford, you sound like a cool guy.
    Welcome to the madhouse!
    Hope you two are happy together 😉

  19. Ford, I enjoyed reading your post — especially the View from the Top reference! When I met Ben back at FTU back in the day, he told me he had never seen that movie before. If he still hasn’t seen it, I think watching it would be a cute date for both of you!
    i agree with you that the A380 is really something else. I hope you guys get to try the etihad a380 together someday — perhaps the Residence?!? 😉

  20. This really reads more like a gay lifestyle advert. The blog’s getting gayer which isn’t relevant or attractive to readers like me.

  21. @Jack

    I re-read the post just to make sure, and there is no reference to being gay whatsoever. It could just as well have been written by a woman and I wouldn’t know the difference, but perhaps I’m missing something. If that is the case, I’m interested to hear what it is.

  22. I like Ford’s writing style and humor. Obviously Ben got a guy with more than just handsome looks. Please indulge us with future updates. 😉

  23. @Rob.

    Fair point. From a woman I also wouldn’t be that interested in all the personal detail about the relationship either, actually.

  24. @Jack.Yes I can see your point.This blog should only apply directly to your straight “lifestyle”.Thanks for sharing.Now get back to 1958 where you belong .P.S. Your post in neither “relevant ” nor “attractive ” to moi.

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