6 People Who Should Attend Frequent Traveler University

In case you missed the announcement, the next Frequent Traveler University will be held December 5th-7th in Washington DC.

This will be the largest FTU event yet, which means even more speakers and chances to mingle with other mileage nuts. Tickets go on sale to the general public on Friday, but you can still pre-order tickets this week to secure your spot.

I’ve been getting several messages a day from readers asking for more details, or for my opinion on whether or not they should attend.

So who, in my opinion, is FTU best for?

Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 5.34.12 PM
One of the sessions at FTU Seattle

1 | The Miles & Points Aficionado

Seriously, this is the main reason to attend.

No other events have this concentration of award travel enthusiasts, and it’s ridiculously fun.

Whether you want to swap notes on favorite travel experiences, discuss ways to maximize ANA awards or reminisce on the best deals from the 2010 SkyMall bonuses, you’ll find someone with similar interests and stories to share.

2 | The Newbie

On the one hand, I tend to think all the information is already “out there” for public consumption (that’s why I write a blog).

On the other, I recognize it’s not necessarily digestible for many people. With an endless number of forums and blogs it can be hard to sift through and find what’s relevant, and while I try to consolidate information and strategies here, there are over 7,400 posts on my blog alone.

That’s a lot of words to process, and getting a good “baseline” of key info can be a good way to launch yourself into the hobby.

3 | The Social Learner

Everyone learns differently, and while I’m happy learning by reading websites while in my bathtub, I realize others are more visual learners.

Some people do better when they can ask questions “live” or see visual demonstrations. These events are typically a mixture of slides, dialogue, and Q&A sessions, which combine to accommodate a broader range of learning styles than just blogging alone.

Every time we’ve had one of these events I’ve gotten feedback along the lines of “NOW it all makes sense!” because someone had a lightbulb moment that enabled them to put all the pieces together.

4 | The Manufactured Spender

If you know (or want to know) the secret handshakes for manufactured spending, this is your event.

This isn’t my world at all anymore, but the hardcore MSers definitely have a place here. They seem to gather around tables and cluster in corners with Greg, Stefan, and other people who actually know what’s going on. Their techniques and strategies make my head hurt, so I’m not one of those people, but if this is something interesting to you, you’ll find other people who want to share “war stories” at these events.

5 | The Mileage Hoarder 

Are you good at earning miles, but struggle to redeem them efficiently? Earning and burning are equal parts of this hobby, and it seems like people really struggle more with the latter half.

We always have a few sessions on award bookings, and then Gary and I try to answer lots of redemption questions in our Q&As as well. I also generally bring along at least one of my award booking colleagues, and many of the folks from other booking services are often on hand as well, not to mention the “quiet experts” in this hobby who don’t necessarily post online. If you want to sit in the bar and discuss your travel goals, someone knowledgeable is typically going to be around and happy to walk through your award ideas with you.

6 | The Traveler 

Do you want to learn more about travel beyond miles and points?

Another unique aspect of this particular event is that it will be done in partnership with USA Today. They have great relationships with some of the big names in travel, and are bringing in some additional resources. That means you’ll have even more opportunities to learn, and the chance to connect with some of the big names in travel.

On top of that, people like Matthew and Stefan will be around to talk about some of the horrible places they’ve dragged their wives to destination travel, which otherwise doesn’t get a lot of exposure in our circles.

Bottom line

Overall, I think these events have something for everyone. Heck, I learn things every time, and miles and points occupy 90% of my brain!

If you fit into any of the above categories, I’d definitely look at getting tickets sooner rather than later. You only have a few days left to pre-order tickets before they go on sale to the general public, and these events always sell out.

I hope to see lots of you there!


  1. oh please… it’s a waste of time and money. it’s not like you guys reveal any secrets there that we don’t already know from FT or this blog.

    you actually admitted you prefer to keep the best deals hidden from your readers (Malaysia F, USDM lack of YQ on BA, German boomerang… etc).

    so what exactly is this good for?

  2. Not to rain on the parade, but there are also people who probably should not attend. I went to the Chicago seminar thing a couple of years ago and the FTU that was in Tyson’s Corner last year. Frankly I didn’t feel like I got much out of it. I tend to be a fairly extreme introvert. And the crowd tends to be fairly in-crowd-y. So, if you like meeting people you’re more likely to have a good time than me.

    I didn’t feel like I learned much beyond what you can learn from reading blogs and FlyerTalk.

    The only talk I really enjoyed at FTU was Stefan’s presentation about the off the beaten track places he goes to.

  3. @Adam

    when Malaysia joined oneworld, their F awards could be booked with Avios for coach award price (clearly it was a glitch). Ben was very happy to take advantage of this himself, but only told his readers AFTER the deal was dead.

  4. wow, thanks for the heads up lantean… that sounds hella shady… I’m disappointed in ben… and lose even more trust in or rather lack thereof in the FTU program.

  5. @Lucky, I didn’t know Stefan was an MS king! I thought Miles Professor would know more but from now on I’ll ask Stefan for some advice. hehe. 😉

    @Lantean, you do bring up a good point. I am not sure if the German Boomerang is the same thing as booking LH F on transatlantic flights using Lifemiles but at much cheaper cost (similar to gummy bear) but deals like those are probably why Lifemiles is blocking LH F and made Guam part of the Philippines. In addition, Malaysia Airlines was blocking partner airlines from its First class cabin for a long time last year and perhaps it was due to that BA Avios glitch. I’m no expert though.
    I do side with Lucky’s judgment not explicitly sharing it to the world (i.e. putting the tip as the headline or title of the blog post) but I do hope in the future he would discreetly include tips in a trip report to reward his readers who actually reads the entire report.

    I’ve been to FTU and FTU Advanced & think the cost is definitely worth it. At FTU Advanced the speakers will answer any questions you may have — especially during their unplugged sessions. So if I have one tip for those going to FTU, go to FTU with a list of questions you have for the speakers and make sure to introduce yourself to them during the social activities and/or after their workshop. If you have an award booking that you are having trouble with, make sure to go to the workshop and ask if the presenter can use yours as the example to show everyone.

  6. maybe they could just record the lectures and post them to youtube so we don’t have to pay for the entry fees

  7. Ben,

    Are you all talking at the regular FTU? Looking at yours and others bios on the site, there’s only one instance of you speaking at regular FTU but many for advanced. (see here as an example: http://ftuniversity.wpengine.com/speakers/ben-schlappig/). Also if I went to the last one in DC, do you think there’s much to be gained from attending this one? Don’t want to have repeats of everything.

  8. Hmm… I’m scheduled for the Chicago Seminar in 10 days.. plus FTU Advanced in Washington DC in December… I would hate to show up and have the people be all ‘cliquey’ and not meet anyone.. is there anyone there to welcome new comers?

  9. It strikes me that FTU could also provide a target rich environment for a woman who wants a miles-sugardaddy. (Is this called a milesdigger?)

  10. @ Lantean — I’ve already explained this to you, but I guess you choose not to listen. A friend shared that deal with my IN CONFIDENCE. It was shared with me under the condition that I don’t write about it. C’mon…

  11. @ Jeremy — Yep, I’ll be doing the “regular” one as well, I believe. The agenda isn’t yet out for this one so I’m not sure of the exact topics yet, but I do think it will be different than past ones based on the type of event it is, if nothing else.

  12. I attended the recent FTU Advanced in Chicago. There were definitely deals shared in the public talks that are not posted on the blogs.

  13. @jfhscott Ha! You would think so (I did before the first couple FTU’s I attended) as the gender ratio skews significantly towards men. In reality, not so much. Surprisingly, (to me) not that many single people in attendance.

  14. @jfhscott, you can probably find out who the single ladies are by using the Tinder app during the FTU. Since it is the largest ever, the odds are pretty good for us!

  15. I was at the FTU Seattle pictured in this post. Thanks to US Airways, arrived way too late on Friday night to socialize (around midnight) although people were still mingling. Being by myself was a little bit strange but if you miss Friday social, lunch is a GREAT place to interact with people — at FTU Seattle we had big 6-8 people round tables and it was easy to break the ice with people.

    Also, one thing that was a little bit interesting to me was that there were quite a lot of people new to the hobby. I am nowhere near the expert level of Lucky, Gary, or many other readers but as a regular reader I was able to help some folks out with their questions 🙂

    P.S. In case anyone’s wondering, Lucky is super nice in person and his sessions with Gary were as educational as they were funny 😀

  16. How is FTU going to work with FTU advanced going on at the same time? FTU advanced was $100 more but it sounds like you are going to be spending just as much of your free time talking to the crazy amount of FTU attendees instead.

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