Is The Mileage “Game” Finally Dying?

Debbie-Downer

At the end of the day frequent flyer programs are lucrative businesses in and of themselves, so the airlines would be dumb to mess with them too much. They literally control every aspect of the currency — they control how many points are issued, how many points it takes to redeem for something, and even the inventory which can be redeemed for.

But if I’m being perfectly honest, I’m feeling less optimistic about this hobby than ever before, and it’s mainly a function of so many negative changes happening at once. Individually I wouldn’t think twice about them, and would just chalk it up to “evolution” in the hobby, but together they’re a bit tougher to swallow.

What am I talking about?

Let me start by explaining how I earn miles. Unlike others, I don’t do “manufactured spending.” I find that for the most part it’s only marginally “profitable,” so it’s not really something I do.

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How To Talk To Airline Phone Agents

Cathay-Pacific-First-Class

Through my award booking service I spend a fair amount of time on the phone with airlines. And by “fair amount of time” I mean roughly half my life.

So I have a decent bit of experience with talking to airline reservations agents, and there are a few things I’ve picked up over the years.

BE POLITE

In general, my approach is always to be nice and try and get the agent to feel like we’re on the same “side” in booking an award.

And I truly think this makes a difference. No one wants to be bad at their job, so calling and demanding certain flights or telling an agent they’re incompetent isn’t going to get you very far, in my experience.

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What Is A “Travel Blogger?”

Victoria-Peak-Hong-Kong

This post isn’t designed to pander to the trolls, but I actually think it’s a rather interesting topic to discuss. What is a “travel blogger?”

People often point out that I often don’t cover what I do at my destinations. And that’s a very accurate statement. Some people say that means I’m not a travel blogger.

That I’d disagree with.

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Upgrade To AwardWallet Plus

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It has been a few months since I last gave out upgrade coupons for AwardWallet Plus, and this seemed like as good a time as any.

As I’ve mentioned before, AwardWallet is one of those websites I don’t put much thought into but it makes my life so much easier.

Back in the day I’d have to refresh all my mileage balances manually, and if you’re as OCD as I am and have as many frequent flyer accounts as I do, that can take hours each week. ;-)

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Collecting Miles As A Beginner?

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Reader Owen left the following comment on the Ask Lucky page a few weeks ago, but I’m just now getting to answering in-depth:

Hi, Ben. I have a friend at work who plans to go from DC (any airport) to BKK via Tokyo (stop-over of 5 days) and asked for my help. She is looking for two first (preferably) or business class tickets. I plan to refer your booking service. She and her husband have almost no credit cards but great credit, which should make it easy to get enough miles and points before May next year, which is when they want to go. Which points and miles should I recommend, and how many? Should I have them contact you now? I’m thinking Chase Ultimate rewards and Amex MRs, in addition to other miles, will provide the most options. ANA, AA, US Airways, Korean, and Singapore are potential airlines. Thanks.

This is a common question, and it’s understandably difficult for people who are new to our hobby to wrap their heads around the mileage requirements for award tickets. So I thought it might be helpful to go through my general approach for recommending a card strategy.

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Amazon Payments Free $1,000 Transfer Ending

sad

One of the easiest ways to generate credit card spend over the years has been using Amazon Payments. Amazon Payments let you send someone else $1,000 per month funded using a credit card. So while you’d pay a fee to use Paypal or another money sending service, the first $1,000 per month was free with Amazon Payments.

Why? Because they were trying to steal market share from Paypal and weren’t a big player in the market before. They figured it was a nice incentive for people to try Amazon Payments over Paypal, and I’m sure it generated a decent volume of transactions. Of course they weren’t exactly profitable, since it was the same people sending $1,000 payments funded by credit cards month after month. ;)

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International Baggage Fees

Moving-Luggage

Even though I live in hotels full time, I’m still traveling with my Tumi Carry-On. I haven’t been planning my travel more than a few days in advance this summer (if that), so it’s hard to justify taking more luggage internationally.

However, I recognize many people prefer to check bags, particularly when traveling internationally, and I get questions every day asking if bags will be checked through, how many bags one can take on a given airline, etc.

So I thought I’d try to answer some of the most frequent questions, and consolidate many of the airline baggage allowances as it’s surprisingly hard to find baggage information on many of the foreign carriers websites.

Can I check my bag all the way through to _____?

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The Happiness Of Pursuit

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Not a day goes by that I don’t receive an email, comment, or Facebook message from someone who is looking for advice on blogging, or on how to find a job that allows them to travel. I’m humbled and flattered that they’re asking me, when there are hundreds if not thousands of people who are better writers, savier business people, or more experienced professionals.

So I’ve given interviews on being self-employed, and written posts with tips for becoming a blogger, and generally tried to give the best advice I can. Some of the most insightful thoughts have actually come from you guys in response to a reader asking which jobs require lots of travel.

Because ultimately, my advice always boils down to one thing:

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How To Pick Up Flight Attendants?

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Maxim has an interesting article (I realize the phrases “Maxim” and “interesting article” don’t usually go in the same sentence) in which they interview Heather Poole about how to seduce a flight attendant. Heather is pretty awesome and kind of the voice of flight attendants worldwide, and I think there’s actually some decent advice in here.

No personal experience, of course (hi, mom!), but based on what I’ve witnessed from others over the years, I think many of these tips are actually quite useful.

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Blog Feedback: Additional Contributors

Priorities

I am, as far as I’m concerned, the luckiest person in the world.

I have the best job in that I get to spend my life doing the things I am most passionate about, and y’all have been incredibly supportive. I couldn’t possibly be more grateful.

Blogging about airlines/hotels is my absolute favorite thing I’ve ever done – I love blogging more than I love flying Lufthansa first class in an otherwise empty cabin. Which is saying something.

The fact that anyone reads what I write is just icing on the cake. I blogged for two years without making a dime from this site (literally not a dime), and enjoyed it just as much back then as I do now.

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Are Targeted Loyalty Program Promotions Unfair?

Hyatt-Bonus-Promotion-2

Yesterday I posted about the targeted promotion I received from Hyatt Gold Passport, offering 50,000 bonus Gold Passport points after 20 stays.

Typically when there are targeted promotions there are several versions of it, and it can take a while for every eligible member to be contacted. After all, with millions of members all emails will rarely go out at exactly the same time. I recommended that people wait before being disappointed that they weren’t targeted.

That didn’t happen. A lot of people were pissed, and even said they would be switching stays to Starwood or another chain, despite the fact that other hotel chains haven’t even announced their fall promotion yet.

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Which Jobs Require Lots Of Travel?

Management-Consultant-What-People-Think-I-Do

Reader Jase asked the following question on the “Ask Lucky” page of the blog:

“Hi Ben! Longtime fan of the blog, I really enjoy reading your articles.

I’m interested in a career that would allow me to travel as much as you do! (or at least more than I currently do). Do you have any advice for readers who are starting out professionally and want to find careers that allow for lots of travel, either for business or are flexible enough to allow for frequent trips?”

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