UsingMiles is excited to announce a new blog series featuring Scott Schneider, a young frequent flyer who is going to share with us his experiences while flying and provide tips and tricks to getting the most out of your miles and points. In this first blog entry, I will introduce myself as a frequent flyer and an expert traveler. I am currently a senior in college, hold a top-tier airline status, and have maintained that status since the age of sixteen. During that time, I have been a member of two of the three major airline alliances; my status has allowed me to sample, without a charge, many airport lounges of the alliance airlines around the world. My most frequent travel companions hold top-tier status at several of the most famous international hotel chains, so I am very familiar with the benefits, upgrade possibilities, and amenities of those high levels. There are individuals who have elite status because they fly several times per week for a job, people who have been gifted status, members who fly a handful of long distance flights per year, and then those who do a combination of both leisure and business trips. Do all elite level flyers share a common love for flying? Certainly not! I have sat next to Global Services passengers, the coveted highest yielding, “royal elite status” members of United Airlines, who, in their opinion, already spend too much of their lives flying. For me, as well as probably a fair percentage of frequent flyers, I actually enjoy my time on the airplane. I am enthralled with the overall trip experience. Even though there are extraordinarily full flights and larger airport crowds than ten years ago, there is an underlying joy in flying. Is it normal to enjoy flying 100,000 miles annually year after year? Well, obviously I do, so there is some kind of obsession. Whether or not it is healthy to look at online frequent flyer boards while transiting in Hong Kong after a fifteen-hour flight is more of a subjective matter. “How in the world can someone at your age fly so much?” is probably the number one question that is asked of me. People are always astonished to learn that I have been such an avid frequent flier for years. To enlighten everyone from the get-go, I will say that I earn most of my airline points and maintain my high status through my guilty pleasure of mileage running. Only the most devoted frequent fliers who are obsessed with maintaining their status will even embark on a run. However, anyone who does go on a run tends to get a thrill out of it. A mileage run, which not surprisingly has gotten into the mainstream news over the past few years, is essentially a series of flights done for the sole purpose of earning miles. There is a simple formula used called “cents per mile” to calculate if the mileage run is worth pursuing. To obtain “cents per mile,” or CPM, one takes the total price and divides it by the total mileage earned. If the result is 5 CPM or less, then, typically, the fare is deemed to be a good mileage run. Often the mileage runs involve many out-of-the-way segments and convoluted routes to get from the origin to the destination—so much that if one were to draw the route on a map, it would zigzag all over the country or even the world. I have done runs to Honolulu, Manila, Anchorage, Dublin, Scranton, Tokyo, and all over the place. What is the craziest run I ever did? It was a Newark to Bogota, Colombia trip via Hawaii and Anchorage that crossed the continental United States three times over a three-day period! Segment five of the nine segment trip actually never happened because of a misconnection which caused a spiraling disaster and ended up requiring a reroute; but, that fiasco is a story for another time. The price for such a crazy trip, netting over 20,000 flown miles, was $402. To put everything into perspective, the world’s longest nonstop flight is Newark to Singapore which is 19,070 miles round trip and certainly not priced anywhere near $402. The vast majority of airline flights today are ordinary, uneventful, and would never be newsworthy. However, it is statistically impossible, after 100,000 miles, to not have several instances of snafus, crazy passenger encounters, and plain funny situations. The overall travel experience, whether positive or negative, the forever exciting game of scoring an upgrade, the opportunity to meet new people from all walks of life, and the ability to see a new city or country one would most likely never visit makes the entire flying adventure worthwhile and thrilling. This blog will share some of the unique experiences I have encountered while flying and will provide a perspective into the mind of a young, avid frequent flyer.