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Are bloggers getting paid to fly?

Are bloggers getting paid to fly?

Old Jan 29, 13, 8:48 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Feb 2009
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Are bloggers getting paid to fly?

I've only really been in this game for about four years. I started off reading FrugalTravelGuy and noticed from time to time he would write about his experiences using his miles. I remember contacting him a few years ago and asking why he didn't do more detailed trip reports? He pointed me in the way of boardingarea and said that it was more the specialty of the blogger at One Mile At a Time.

Never quite added up for me.. Full time college kid traveling all the time. Was he paying for these flights or using miles (he does a lot of posts on how to rack up miles)? I remember he said he flew a lot to Europe to see family, I think? How does someone like Lucky fly 65% of the month? I kind of stopped caring as I enjoyed seeing the first class products and the non-stale writing.

Fast forward to today... I see this in my twitter feed:


Then I go and read some of his recent trip reports. They seem rather jaded.. instead of just showing what the product is like and giving a few small opinions.. he is saying how he is upset that while on the ground he didn't get to drink his favorite champagne till he was in the air due to some sort of tax and all the sudden has become a food critic. So it is pretty obvious that these trips aren't being given for free by the airlines with those kind of reviews.. yet.. when something goes wrong on a flight he doesn't get as upset as someone who just paid $5-10k for the seat might be.

Putting all thoughts of his writing style and method of reviewing aside. How does someone like Ben travel in first so often? I get the feeling that someone like Daraius at MillionMileSecrets and the Points Guy have most of their travel funded from credit card sign ups, at least that is what I get from reading their blog (I know they make their living off of credit card sign ups). I'm also aware that you can get things like SPG points for referrals.

It's kind of like reality TV for me. I want to think that it is all being funded by miles so I can say to myself hey I could do that too! Just gotta save up more miles!

Don't get me wrong! For the most part.. I enjoy hearing reviews and seeing trip reports. I think it's great that these people get to travel, but I'm very curious how much is funded by miles and points. They usually have to put a disclaimer correct? If a trip is being funded by an airline or hotel?
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Old Jan 29, 13, 9:23 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: May 2010
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Probably a mix of miles and personal wealth. A post he wrote just last month- "I’m a massive proponent of earning and burning miles and points. Even though my points balances at any given time add up to 2-3 million, I do everything in my power to diversify as much as possible, and never carry a balance of more than ~500,000 points in a single program."

Love his trip reports! He's living the dream!
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Old Jan 29, 13, 9:30 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: May 2010
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A roundtrip redemption with a stop-overs and creative routing can be consist of 6 or more segments.

In an example he wrote about, a US to Asia 90,000 miles redemption on US can look like this

10/01 LOT 7 New York to Warsaw departing at 6:15PM and arriving at 8:55AM (+1 day)
10/02 Austrian 626 Warsaw to Vienna departing at 10:35AM and arriving at 11:55AM
10/04 Austrian 63 Vienna to Beijing departing at 5:40PM and arriving at 9:15AM (+1 day)
10/09 Swiss 197 Beijing to Zurich departing at 6:45AM and arriving at 11:20AM
10/09 Swiss 789 Zurich to Brussels departing at 12:30PM and arriving at 1:45PM
10/10 Brussels Airlines 501 Brussels to New York departing at 10:25AM and arriving at 12:40PM

That's six segments and 4 products in one redemption.


Last edited by Ragnarok; Jan 29, 13 at 9:46 pm
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Old Jan 29, 13, 9:40 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: May 2010
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Originally Posted by Ragnarok View Post
A roundtrip redemption with a stop-overs and creative routing can be consist of 6 or more segments.

In an example he wrote about, a US to Asia 90,000 miles redemption on US can look like this

10/01 LOT 7 New York to Warsaw departing at 6:15PM and arriving at 8:55AM (+1 day)
10/02 Austrian 626 Warsaw to Vienna departing at 10:35AM and arriving at 11:55AM
10/04 Austrian 63 Vienna to Beijing departing at 5:40PM and arriving at 9:15AM (+1 day)
10/09 Swiss 197 Beijing to Zurich departing at 6:45AM and arriving at 11:20AM
10/09 Swiss 789 Zurich to Brussels departing at 12:30PM and arriving at 1:45PM
10/10 Brussels Airlines 501 Brussels to New York departing at 10:25AM and arriving at 12:40PM

That's six segments and 4 products already.
looking at his trip report index, you're right. Not so many trips, as there are segments. The way it's spaced out, it seems lucky was flying twice a month on a international leisure trip.
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Old Jan 29, 13, 9:49 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
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I doubt it ,he does fly ALOT to earn status ,add a few sign up bonuses a year ,referrals and promotional bonuses and one can earn easily 1-2 MM miles and points .

But my guess is (tax experts correct me if I'am wrong) that reviewing different airline/hotel products could qualify as a business expense since that his full time "job", therefore most of this flying and lodging expenses are tax deductible.

Man I need to start a blog ....
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Old Jan 29, 13, 9:52 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
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1. A lot easier to do when flying alone
2. They choose the flights to have the most possible segments. Also I doubt they are choosing based on dates, or based on destination. Most of us care where we're going, and what days we're traveling, as well as how long are our layovers. If I could leave tomorrow I could probably go somewhere cool in FC. But I can't (job) and I might not even want to go there.
3. Most bloggers talk in one ways. "I flew 22 hours and 6 flights in first class for 62,500 miles and $12. Yea... but eventually you have to come home. And as in #1 if you're flying with a spouse, friend, sig-fig.... well you're looking at 4x the miles
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Old Jan 29, 13, 9:52 pm
  #7  
 
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Doable just by using magic card tricks. Not sure if bloggers are paid or just use card tricks. Am sure magic card tricks can bring in 1 million or more miles a month.

Originally Posted by longleaf View Post
looking at his trip report index, you're right. Not so many trips, as there are segments. The way it's spaced out, it seems lucky was flying twice a month on a international leisure trip.
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Old Jan 29, 13, 10:03 pm
  #8  
 
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I believe that some of the bloggers are sometimes offered free trips -- sometimes just hotel, sometimes air and hotel. Some bloggers will accept the freebies, others won't for fear that the free trip might create bias. I believe that Gary at View from the Wing and Rick at Frugal Travel Guy have gone on record that they do NOT accept free trips. Those bloggers who accept free trips generally reveal the complimentary nature of the trip in their trip reports. I believe Lucky at One Mile at a Time and Brian at The Points Guy DO accept free trips but reveal the fact in their trip reports.
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Old Jan 29, 13, 10:31 pm
  #9  
 
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The bloggers get referral bonuses from credit card companies that people click to apply. I am not sure if they get cash referral bonuses or if they are in the form of airline miles, hotel points or other point system (AMEX MR or Chase UR). However the bloggers can get pretty lucrative referral bonuses that are more than sufficient to support their websites and allow them to "travel for free".
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Old Jan 29, 13, 10:53 pm
  #10  
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Originally Posted by Time traveller View Post
The bloggers get referral bonuses from credit card companies that people click to apply. I am not sure if they get cash referral bonuses or if they are in the form of airline miles, hotel points or other point system (AMEX MR or Chase UR). However the bloggers can get pretty lucrative referral bonuses that are more than sufficient to support their websites and allow them to "travel for free".
I will say that out of all the popular blogs Lucky focuses less on hawking credit cards than most of them do. So it almost seems as if he relies on another source of income. I thought he was a part time luxury travel agent, but he wrote that he's a full-time stay at home blogger.

When I think of a travel writer. I think of travel magazines or people who write books to get income.

As far as points...
If you have a few million in the bank from credit card sign ups, I'd be under the impression either your miles are spread out among many different programs... or you done a lot of churning and have not spent your miles.

Some of these airlines that offer suites.. they aren't always easy to come by.. and when they do come up they are 90,000 one way.

I think most credit card issuers give a cash referral.
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Old Jan 29, 13, 11:17 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
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Every blogger should go on record to say where they get their points / miles from, and if they get paid to travel, or have a trust fund. Readers need to know if what they're being presented is a realistic scenario, because many would sign up for the CC having unattainable expectations.

Lucky is probably the worst of them all.

In his description he says he spends 100+ days in hotels and flies 300k miles a year. That's 12 times around the world, all in premium class. There's not enough credit cards out there to rack up that many miles, while burning them at this rate. One or two years, maybe, but then you stop being eligible. No way anyone can generate that many miles, even manufacturing spend. And how much would you have to make "travel consulting" to afford to pay for those flights? I'm pretty sure he's a trust fund kid.

Why should we care? Because if he's going to be selling a pipe dream to get card referral fees, he should probably come clean that what he does is unrealistic for the average person.

Also his blog doesn't even provide any new useful tips anymore, just bragging about another "product" that he tried. Who cares if the steak is tough on your first class flight?
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Old Jan 29, 13, 11:24 pm
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Originally Posted by atxtravel View Post
Every blogger should go on record to say where they get their points / miles from, and if they get paid to travel, or have a trust fund. Readers need to know if what they're being presented is a realistic scenario, because many would sign up for the CC having unattainable expectations.

Lucky is probably the worst of them all.

In his description he says he spends 100+ days in hotels and flies 300k miles a year. That's 12 times around the world, all in premium class. There's not enough credit cards out there to rack up that many miles, while burning them at this rate. One or two years, maybe, but then you stop being eligible. No way anyone can generate that many miles, even manufacturing spend. And how much would you have to make "travel consulting" to afford to pay for those flights? I'm pretty sure he's a trust fund kid.

Why should we care? Because if he's going to be selling a pipe dream to get card referral fees, he should probably come clean that what he does is unrealistic for the average person.

Also his blog doesn't even provide any new useful tips anymore, just bragging about another "product" that he tried. Who cares if the steak is tough on your first class flight?
You forgot to mention he often travels +1 with a companion. Even more miles required. Not sure why he goes to Singapore so much but i enjoy reading his blog. Entertaining.
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Old Jan 29, 13, 11:27 pm
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Originally Posted by webazoid View Post
You forgot to mention he often travels +1 with a companion. Even more miles required. Not sure why he goes to Singapore so much but u enjoy reading his blog. Entertaining.
It's gotten past entertaining and crossed into comical. Why would anyone continuously fly around the world and spend 1-2 days in a city, then fly again? Isn't the goal to travel, and not to spend half your life in a plane?
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Old Jan 29, 13, 11:30 pm
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
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Most of the "top" bloggers refer to their flights/trips as if they paid cash (in that they seem ungrateful). But there are some that really do seem grateful and aren't snobby. I'm also sure they'd mention whether or not they got the trip for free (as in, a paid trip by someone).
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Old Jan 29, 13, 11:35 pm
  #15  
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Originally Posted by atxtravel View Post
Every blogger should go on record to say where they get their points / miles from, and if they get paid to travel, or have a trust fund. Readers need to know if what they're being presented is a realistic scenario, because many would sign up for the CC having unattainable expectations.

Lucky is probably the worst of them all.

In his description he says he spends 100+ days in hotels and flies 300k miles a year. That's 12 times around the world, all in premium class. There's not enough credit cards out there to rack up that many miles, while burning them at this rate. One or two years, maybe, but then you stop being eligible. No way anyone can generate that many miles, even manufacturing spend. And how much would you have to make "travel consulting" to afford to pay for those flights? I'm pretty sure he's a trust fund kid.

Why should we care? Because if he's going to be selling a pipe dream to get card referral fees, he should probably come clean that what he does is unrealistic for the average person.

Also his blog doesn't even provide any new useful tips anymore, just bragging about another "product" that he tried. Who cares if the steak is tough on your first class flight?
I think he provides tips, but that his reviews are a bit jaded. I was just quickly reminded that this was someone in their mid-20's with the twitter update. I think that he has an opportunity to become a really refined travel journalist... maybe that speaks to the people who enjoy high end traveling... but that's not who his crowd is... it's people who save up miles to maybe go on a international trip in first class once or twice a year. That's why I brought up the food and alcohol reviews.

I'm just curious how he does it... just as some people have interest in hearing the pudding guy tell his story. I don't mind if he has a rich family or a trust fund. I will point out one thing you don't see these travel bloggers doing... staying at many places that are considered the "finest hotels." They are always staying at a place that has some sort of rewards program.

I will point out that he has only managed to eat at the Burj Al Arab...
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