Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Chicago Seminars

This past weekend I flew out to Chicago to attend a conference on frequent flying.  Yeah, it sounds crazy.  Most of you know my hobby and interest in transportation, from train travel to air travel.  I however am a young Luke Skywalker to other's Yoda.  Let's look at who else was there.

Steve Belkin, @Beaubo, the guy who hired unemployed and disabled Thai rice farmers to fly back and forth between two cities in Thailand because the fare was only $5, and he collected their miles.  Collected 5,000,000 miles.

Joshua Pickles, @TheMrPickles, a flier who bought over $800,000 in dollar coins from the US Mint with free shipping on a miles-earning credit card.  He then deposited them back in his account.  Which earned him miles for free.  You may have heard the story on NPR about how successful the Mint thought the program was until they realized that almost none of the coins were in circulation. 

And finally, David Phillips, also known as the Pudding Guy.  He bought $3,000 worth of pudding and then turned in the UPCs as part of a promotion for over 1,000,000 American miles.  He also donated the pudding and got a tax deduction.

So yeah.  I'm like an ant fart compared to these guys.  However one of the best things about this group of people is that they're almost all nice and willing to part with any information or tips they have.  As a whole, the group is a little nervous about the world knowing about these deals, only because with airlines cutting capacities everywhere, there are less of them out there.  

So a couple of things from the Seminars that people should be doing. 

  1. Get a credit card that gets you something.  When you're around people who travel a lot, using cash is like saying "Macbeth" in a theater. Its verboten.  Everything needs to go on a card.  And a card that gets points.  My friend just found that a Delta credit card allowed her to get into the plane quicker, meaning she actually found space for her bag in the overhead.  There's a great blogger named Lucky who has a list of all the best cards.
  2. Don't redeem your miles for domestic trips. Ever.  Please.  You make the Baby Jesus cry when you do that.  Unless of course its an emergency, like a funeral you have to get to and the fare is over $1000 for coach.  Then its acceptable.  But seriously.  Never otherwise.  Promise me.  
  3. Follow bloggers.  Most of the "tricks" and "secrets" can easily be found on the Google.  So here's a list of bloggers I enjoy and follow. 
    • View From The Wing: Written by Gary Leff, a legend among the bloggers.  He was the past President of Flyertalk, which is a huge bulletin board for frequent fliers.
    • Mommy Points, Summer started blogging about a year ago and she writes about traveling specifically with a little one. She's super nice.  
    • Frequent Miler, Greg writes about earning gobs of points through gift cards.  Really interesting and easy for those who don't fly.  
    • One Mile At A Time, Ben, or Lucky, as he's known is a nice guy just out of college who has already redeemed 250,000,000 miles in his lifetime.  Yes, you read that right.  a quarter of a billion miles.  
 More to come on travel.  I might be getting a few hours doing some travel assistance work with a concierge service. So that's good stuff, more soon. 

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