60 Seconds with Mr Pickles who earned over 1.2 million AAdvantage miles with coins.

60 Seconds with Mr Pickles who earned over 1.2 million AAdvantage miles with coins.

“Mr. Pickles” found notoriety in December 2009 when The Wall Street Journal wrote a front page article mentioning how he earned American Airlines lifetime Platinum status without ever stepping on an American Airlines flight. Currently, he holds over 5.8 million miles and points over several programs and has top tier status with United, Air France, Continental and American Airlines as well as Starwood Hotels and Hilton Hotels. You can follow Mr. Pickles on Twitter at @TheMrPickles.

InsideFlyer
How long have you been a member of a frequent flyer program?
Mr. Pickles
I joined my first frequent flyer program, American AAdvantage, on Saturday, Feb. 16, 1985.

IF
Were you an active member from the very beginning? Or did one particular offer get your attention to make you more active?
Pickles
Not with American, I just joined by following an offer in a magazine. I later joined the PSA Airlines FF program because of an offer of bonus miles for every shipment of a “SmilePack” package shipment. My job at the time required many same-day urgent shipments and the program allowed me to earn 500 miles for each package shipped.

IF
Which frequent flyer program(s) do you prefer? And why?
Pickles
United MileagePlus has been good to me. As a 1K I have had the fortune of all of my upgrades clearing in the last two years.

IF
And hotel programs? Which are your favorites and why?
Pickles
I have been a longtime fan of SPG but it wasn’t until 2009 that I really started to earn points by acquiring the SPG AMEX credit card. Between hotel stays and purchases I have amassed 454,000 SPG points even after a 15 nights redemption and a transfer of points to AAdvantage. In January of 2011, I began using the Hilton Surpass AMEX credit card and have now a total of 754,000 Hilton HHonors points. I find that the benefits of being a Hilton HHonors Diamond whilst staying in their international properties rewarding.

IF
You’re most famous for the dollar coins offer. Can you tell us a bit about your experience? How many miles did you get?
Pickles
The important thing to remember is that I set a reward goal and that was to hit the two million miles Lifetime Platinum status in the American Airlines AAdvantage program. I already had over 1.2 million from credit card spend when I started buying coins from the U.S. Mint. I was able to add an additional 1.2 million points to my AAdvantage account. In addition, I opened several Citibank checking and savings accounts and my account balance as of today is 3,025,000 lifetime miles. I would like to hit four million by Dec. 1, 2012.

IF
As someone who is famous for earning American lifetime elite without setting foot on one of their planes, what do you think of their recent decision to change the program to count only flight miles?
Pickles
I believe that the credit card users make more money for the airline than those who actually fly butt in seat (BIS). The airline should recognize those credit users who are at least as responsible for the airlines existence as their flyers. Perhaps this is why they are allowing some credit card purchases to still count until December 2012 and hopefully they will extend that date.

IF
How have you spent your miles?
Pickles
Gifted a wedding present to my niece two business class tickets on British Airways to Barcelona for her honeymoon. I have redeemed for travel to New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii. Partner travel to Singapore. Used some miles for employee incentive rewards to Europe, and I once had an employee who lived in Southampton and worked for me in Amsterdam, so I used redemptions to pay for his weekly flights for two years.

IF
You were very generous in sharing your knowledge about the coin offer. Some frequent flyers try to keep lucrative offers to themselves. Why were you willing to share information so freely?
Pickles
I am naturally a generous person and I hate to see people holding themselves back. This was an opportunity for the average FlyerTalker to excel on their own. They just needed gentle persuasion and I hope my example helped them in meeting their potential.

IF
Would you still do that today if an opportunity came up?
Pickles
My response would be more measured, because of the reaction of the online haters.

IF
Do you have any tips for someone who might be new to FFPs?
Pickles
Sign up early, choose a carrier from each alliance, and then be patient. The offers will come in when you least expect them. Be prepared to respond fast and often. KEEP YOUR CREDIT SCORE EXCELLENT. Be vigilant about reading forums like milepoint.

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