60 Seconds with The Wandering Aramean, BoardingArea Blogger, Seth

60 Seconds with The Wandering Aramean, BoardingArea Blogger, Seth

We recently caught up with The Wandering Aramean, Seth, a frequent flyer and BoardingArea.com blogger who specializes in reporting about the whole travel experience. For him, it’s not just about the miles and points. It’s about seeing the world. You can follow his blog at http://boardingarea.com/blogs/thewanderingaramean.

InsideFlyer
How did you become interested in frequent travel programs?
Wandering Aramean
My obsession with points and miles started in early 2000 as my real-life career started to take off. Travel was always a great interest of mine even before that but with work-sponsored trips happening frequently I started to recognize the value of points. A co-worker introduced me to a small online community of frequent flyers–FlyerTalk.com–and the rest was history. More than a decade later I’m still obsessed with the game and the excitement continues to grow.

IF
When and why did you start blogging?
Wandering Aramean
My blog launched just over five years ago. It started as a way to share some of my crazy travel adventures and photos with friends and family. Much to my surprise, more than just friends and family were interested in the tales I was sharing.

IF
Do you have a favorite frequent flyer program? Hotel program?
Wandering Aramean
Currently I collect points mostly in United’s MileagePlus program. Even with the challenges related to the merger in recent months the program has consistently offered up a very solid return. The award chart is pretty reasonable and there are a few gems tucked away which can make for quite nice trips. I also am a fan of their reasonably liberal routing policies. Plus, as a top-tier elite the lack of change fees on awards is tremendously valuable to me. For hotels I’m something of a heretic amongst most of the hard-core travel folks in that I’m not focused on collecting in any of the major programs. I’m a member and I accrue points if I’m staying at one of their properties but I tend to avoid the branded properties, especially when I leave North America. I participate in the hotels.com Welcome Rewards program and I’ve found it to match my desires pretty well.

IF
What’s one of your favorite ways to earn miles/points?
Wandering Aramean
I’m somewhat old fashioned when it comes to earning points: I like to fly. I’ll sign up for a credit card or two every couple years as that’s still the easiest way to accrue large blocks of points quickly but it isn’t nearly as much fun for me as actually getting on a plane and hurtling through the air at 500 miles/hour while building up my award balances.

IF
Can you tell us about one of your favorite award trips?
Wandering Aramean
I’ve recently started to challenge myself to stretch award redemptions to their limits. Earlier this year I took a four-day trip across Europe visiting three countries along the way on a single one-way award redemption which cost only 12,500 points. Each day I had a connection of 20-22 hours, allowing me to visit Berlin, Ljubljana and Skopje for a day while making my way from Stockholm to Istanbul. By taking advantage of the 24-hour connection rule I was able to turn a very simple trip into a crazy adventure and a great week in Europe. It was awesome. Visit http://www.insideflyer.com/link/?6945

IF
Do you have favorite topics that you like to write about?
Wandering Aramean
My writing focuses on my travel experiences more than on the points game. I’m a huge fan of in-flight and destination reports more than what the latest credit card sign-up promotion is or what crazy churning efforts are out there. I love to fly and being able to report on the bits which make the passenger experience better is important to me. I also focus a decent amount on industry news as following those trends has yielded some interesting information on the direction of the points game over the years.

IF
What’s your favorite benefit of being an elite member?
Wandering Aramean
My travel is focused nearly entirely on earning points for reward travel. That makes the elite benefits associated with award travel the most beneficial to me. Free changes and redeposits of awards is a huge benefit for me. I also love the ability to change regular tickets through the Same Day Change policy that United offers. Simple tickets can become incredibly lucrative in terms of points earning or much more convenient in terms of travel times thanks to that policy.

IF
What are some of the best online tools available for loyalty program members to help them manage miles and points?
Wandering Aramean
I’m certainly biased on the issue of tools to use for managing and redeeming points. That’s because I actually have built a suite of them myself. My Wandering Aramean Travel Tools (www.wandr.me) has award search and alert features for Star Alliance carriers and an alerts feature for oneworld carriers. There are also a number of carriers which aren’t in alliances but which can be redeemed on via partners which it supports. And the options continue to grow as I find time between trips to add new programs to the collection. For managing my accounts I’ve been a user of GoMiles.com since their early days and I’m pretty comfortable with it. That said, I don’t really have too many accounts as I focus my earnings into major buckets so the management process for me is pretty simple.

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