My 30-Year Love Affair with Frequent Flyer Miles

My 30-Year Love Affair with Frequent Flyer Miles

30 Years, 30 Things
*Okay, there were one or two rough years

Bonus pre-registration.
I kind of liked the days when I earned bonus miles and points without ever knowing why. But now that I have to stay on top of things to make sure I’m enrolled in all the right bonus offers, I’m glad to see plenty of places that will help me do that–so we’re all good.

Mileage expiration.
I never changed programs because of expiring miles, nor did I ever consider mileage expiration when choosing a program. I became a bit unhappy when some of my miles expired, but I got over it.

People’s Express.
Who would have ever thought that as a backpacker and budget traveler I would ever have a chance to earn free travel? I guess it’s not all just for the travelers in the suits. The year 1986 was very good for me … sorry, got to run, meeting some friends at the hostel.

No.
When I saw the comedian David Spade in the Capitol One credit card miles commercials saying “no” to the requests from customers trying to redeem their frequent flyer miles for awards, I laughed … and then I left … my current frequent flyer credit card.

First to leave the light on.
Man does not live by miles alone. I loved it when travel became a two-step program–thanks, Holiday Inn, for convincing me to choose you for points in 1983.

I have heroes.
I want to grow up to be like Pudding Guy. I want to spend like mrpickles. I want to think like beaubo. I am George Clooney. I am up in the air.

No safety net.
The world is not always fair to me. I lost some of my miles for the first time in 1983 when Braniff’s Metroplex program failed along with the airline. I’ve since lost miles and points with Aloha, Ansett and ATA–and I’m still in the A’s …

One word: plastics.
It was October 1985 when one of my business friends told me that his unique credit card just got more unique. His card? Diners Club. The uniqueness? Something about frequent flyer miles.

FlightFUND.
I’m not sure I’m getting why this airline wants to be different. Earn miles based on how much I pay for my ticket vs. how far I fly? It’s 1987, so maybe that has something to do with it. But a few of my traveling friends don’t seem to mind it so maybe it isn’t all bad. Habits are hard to break–we’ll see.

FlyerTalk.
Here’s everything and more that the airlines never taught me about earning miles. I never realized there were so many other people who loved frequent flyer miles the way I do. I will never sit in coach again.

Fly three, fly free.
I love it when airlines and hotels give me reasons to travel. Sure, I have my normal have-to-travel trips, but when there is a carrot … I’m hungry to nibble on it.

Triple miles.
I remember 1988 well. I flew for no reason at all other than to earn more miles. Imagine, triple miles for all flights flown. Weekends spent shuttling between Dallas-Houston. Now, they call it a mileage run.

HR 2257.
While I don’t follow legislation too much, I was always intrigued by the possibility of the IRS wanting to tax my frequent flyer miles. Nice to see that even our representatives are greedy and protective about their own miles.

Passages.
I never understood why an airline woul choose to develop a frequent flyer program designed strictly for their premium class passengers. Think I’d change airlines to pay more? I’m a businssman too.

Vs. Wolens.
It’s pretty cool when even the highest court in the land (the Supreme Court) says that frequent flyers have rights against program changes without notice–albeit at the state court level.

Member since.
While credit may have its limits, it also has its choices. When the Centurion on one of my American Express cards decided to award me miles and a choice of various airlines and hotels to convert my miles into, I listened.

AAim higher.
When all of a sudden I could earn miles for mortgages and dining and any number of things that didn’t seem relative to my travel, it literally changed me into a more connected member–although a more confused one at that.

Freddie Awards.
I’m a consumer. I love it when I get a chance to tell others where I find real value. I have a voice–listen to me and my crowd.

Brand.
I can’t remember when it was, it all happened so casually. Sure, in the early days I called it the American Airlines AAdvantage program, but for the longest time, it’s just been AAdvantage to me.

Shareholder value.
They can say all they want about Wall Street, but when it comes to shareholder value–I still think I’m the shareholder–though my name is not on the stock certificate.

Star Alliance.
I’m just saying–it was the Star Alliance that really introduced me to the world–as in around the world. Really, SAS isn’t a software company? Best thing ever since an extra-large wallet for program member cards.

Save SkyMiles.
I don’t like it when programs change things, especially when they don’t do a good job explaining the changes to me. I saw the movie Network and loved the line, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore”. We shouted from our windows … and SkyMiles listened.

More money, more miles.
Okay, I admit it, I didn’t have enough miles. And my next trip wasn’t for months so I guess your frequent flyer program is of no use for me. What? I can buy miles without flying to top off my account? Sign me up. Seems expensive, but what do I know? What’s my limit? What’s the point(s).com?

In need. In deed.
I put money in the red kettle every Christmas. I have given to the Red Cross. Every dollar helps worthy causes. And in 1990, every mile started to help these and other causes. Charity begins in my frequent flyer account and it does make me feel better.

Red for no, green for yes.
Has there ever been any way other than redeeming my miles online? If there was, I can’t remember it. I love self-service–I seem to get better results.

e.
My how times have changed. I used to read all the newsletters that programs so diligently printed and mailed to me. Today, that same information fights for attention in my overfull inbox. Google is my friend when I need to find something out about my program. Sorry.

Saver this.
Boy was 1988 a year to remember. Along with capacity controls and blackout dates, United Mileage Plus introduced a “saver” award for only 20,000 miles–later changed to 25,000. All I know is that it remains my most popular award choice. Getting more for less.

Want ads.
Years ago I noticed dozens if not hundreds of ads in newspapers seeking to buy my frequent flyer miles. Today, my miles are listed on craigslist next to the used washer and dryer or on eBay wrapped in a white envelope.

Status match.
For many years I did not know that I could leave you and take my status with me. Miles are one thing, but my Gold card? Love you or leave you, it’s nice that for every one frequent traveler that leaves there is likely another taking my place. Thanks.

Pay at the pump.
I suppose the idea of selling me stuff at the kiosk, including more miles and more legroom, is a pretty good idea–no argument here. But could you ever possibly guess that the more miles I have, the more miles I want? Elite frequent flyers are more likely to buy miles at airport kiosks than any other airline customer. Fill it (my account) up.

Happy Birthday AAdvantage!

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