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One Mile at a Time [OMaaT] discussions [merged]

One Mile at a Time [OMaaT] discussions [merged]

Old Jul 22, 15, 1:27 am
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Originally Posted by Forrest Bump View Post
Indeed. I'm in disbelief mods allowing this carnage.
Its a difficult line to follow... OMaaT is 'baring it all' on RS, so people are talking about it. When UA 'ban' was not documented, we removed all comments detailing anything. Yesterday I went back two weeks in this thread and cleaned up most of it. Feel free to report anything you think needs further clean up, but do add a reason.

Regards Oliver2002
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Old Jul 22, 15, 1:43 am
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Originally Posted by Forrest Bump View Post
And not taking into account we're talking of a forum member.
I don't think anyone is criticizing him as a member of FT. With only two posts this year, there's no material to criticize.
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Old Jul 22, 15, 2:03 am
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Originally Posted by cruisr View Post
He use to deny that he was a "trust fund" kid so maybe he technically isn't but he certainly had bank rolling for his 6 trips across the Pacific, not to visit anyone, just to fly when he was a teen.
My memory of this was that it was a glitch in the UA IT software. You could use points for 1 trip that could become more as long as you flew out of one city, returned to a different US city, flew out immediately again, rinse and repeat. The software only charged points for 1 RT. You had to love flying simply for the sake of flying to do it.
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Old Jul 22, 15, 6:52 am
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Originally Posted by obscure2k View Post
He must have a P.R. Person. Suddenly, Ben is a Flying Kardashian.
Hilarious! Flying Kardashian! I wonder if he'll get a reality show? I think he's a good guy and have learned a lot from him though I wish he didn't put a lot of media attention to the "hobby".
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Old Jul 22, 15, 9:31 am
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Originally Posted by HadesNL View Post
What i mean to say is that those articles portray a living style and system-gaming that is worth all the effort, for those that have time, good creditrating and money (demographics: RS/DM-readers) but does it suit everyone?
For me the problem is that he, and other bloggers, have sold the dream: you can travel this way too and it's, almost, free.

Then it turns out that Lucky is a onepercenter that probably paid for a lot of these trips with cash.
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Old Jul 22, 15, 10:52 am
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Originally Posted by Fredrik74 View Post
For me the problem is that he, and other bloggers, have sold the dream: you can travel this way too and it's, almost, free.

Then it turns out that Lucky is a onepercenter that probably paid for a lot of these trips with cash.
It's like those real estate guys on infomercials in the early 2000's, going on about how we can all be instant millionaires by "easily" flipping properties. Meanwhile, what they never disclosed is that they were millionaires by selling subscriptions to their services. TPG is in the same 1%, and even sold his site to a large company. I don't doubt these guys have millions of miles and points, but I do think they're also very well off financially from site activities. I don't blame them, it's a business and they very creatively and smartly found a good niche that works. The rest of us really can't be too bitter about it; if we've gotten as far as finding FT, we should be in this "hobby" with eyes wide open.
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Old Jul 22, 15, 11:51 am
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The reality is that Lucky and TPG and others are all selling a dream that is VERY hard to come close to. Even those of us who have been at this for a while (since the mid 1990s in my case), this is just a much different environment now than it used to be.

1) Miles are harder to earn. DL, UA, and WN have tied earning RDMs to spend. That means for anyone flying those two airlines, even people who fly a lot, unless they are flying exorbitant fares or only shorthops, they got a haircut. In the meantime, shopping portals have lost lots of avenues to earn (UR stopped featuring hotels.com, IHG, etc as partners).

2) Miles are more difficult to use. Airlines have more data and can do better analysis on what flights are likely to sell out and which ones aren't. And with loadfactors at all time highs, fares at healthy levels, and airlines at record profit margins, there is very little incentive to hand out easy redemptions. I've been booking awards for 20 years and have never seen it this difficult. This hits people who are less schedule flexible (say with kids) especially hard.

3) Churning is dying. Chase? Dead. Amex? Dead. Citi? Not yet dead. The signup bonuses are bigger but they are no longer as frequently churnable. And that's for folks with spotless credit.

4) Taxes and surcharges are WAY higher than they used to be for "free" tix. "Taxes on BA for AUS-LHR-AUS? North of $700 per person. I flew UA for about the same as that on a discount fare last year. And there are so many airlines that now charge YQ.

5) The big winners are those who can use their corporate card to charge large or frequent purchases and reimburse or those who have the time and risk appetite to MS.

For the VAST MAJORITY of frequent fliers, MS is neither practical and too risky. Jobs where one can charge hundreds of thousands and get reimbursed don't grow on trees. The earning has become more difficult and the redemption is becoming more difficult, too.

Take a guy like me and let's assume I am single and unbound...I earn 400k RDMs per year from flying, another 100k from credit card spend, and another 100k from hotel stays.

How much does that buy me these days? Say 500k RDMs is 2-3 rt F trips on LH using UA MP and the 100k hotel points amounts to 2 nights at a nice property with most chains?

That doesn't even get close to covering dozens of F flights and 365 days of hotel annually. Clearly, most of Lucky's hotel stays are revenue stays and even a percentage of his flights have to be paid because one can't fly that much for free.

And that is my only beef. It makes it all sound so easy and it just isn't anymore. Granted, it used to be. But the dream they sell is only possible if someone puts a truckload of effort and time into it. Something that MOST people don't have because they have jobs, spouses, kids, friends, hobbies etc. That's why the article title is so misleading. Lucky must spend between $50k-$100k on travel each year.

The median household income in the US was $51,939 in 2013 and in real terms (adjusted for inflation), that number has been declining and is now lower than it was at any time before 1996.

So one concern I have is that folks put themselves into questionable territory by opening and attempting to manage a bucketload of credit cards, only to have to deal with poor availability, outrageously poor mileage valuation, exorbitant time required to string together itineraries and to understand the programs, all of whih could be a net loss to them in the long run.
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Old Jul 22, 15, 11:54 am
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Well, it seems to be working. http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/25155786-post360.html
The same question was posted in 3 places.

This is also interesting: http://www.google.com/trends/explore...=Etc%2FGMT%2B7
Seems the advertainment in RS was worth the money.

Last edited by skunker; Jul 22, 15 at 12:01 pm
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Old Jul 22, 15, 12:24 pm
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Originally Posted by Fredrik74 View Post
For me the problem is that he, and other bloggers, have sold the dream: you can travel this way too and it's, almost, free.

Then it turns out that Lucky is a onepercenter that probably paid for a lot of these trips with cash.
Nowhere in his blog (that I can recall) has Ben tried to sell people on his lifestyle. He is a salesman and travel blogger. He documents aspirational travel and has tried to inject his own personal style of writing and reviewing. These trip reports document the product and try to push credit card referral links. With good credit and methods to meet spending bonuses you can typically follow his methods to get similar results. The average reader probably is not involved with mileage runs, living out of hotels that generate miles/points, having a business that generates a large number of MR points through travel related purchases, and directly purchasing miles.

What's not free:

- Expense to manufacture spend in order to meet spending bonus requirements.
- Taxes and fees on award bookings
- Fees if you hire someone to book your award trip
- Annual credit card fees
- If you value your time searching for awards, driving to the store, driving to the bank, making online payments, etc... can add up to several hours.

Ben's travel typically does not come directly from cash purchased first class flights. He buys miles, uses credit card sign ups, lives in a hotel, mileage runs, and has a business that charges a lot of travel related expenses that earns points. Though he does from time to time purchase first class travel and does pay cash for hotels.

The misnomer that many fanboys of Ben and other popular bloggers put out there is that he is where he is because of his talent, dedication, and hard work. I think others have just pointed out that the involvement of his family financially backing him from a young age, the UA scam, and making complaints in order to seek compensation also played an important part of his early success (or ability to stay afloat). The article also skipped over the time that he spent as a travel agent...

There is also an element that Ben's experiences are not what one should expect through similar travel. He is a well known blogger that may receive special treatment. He is well known for "reaching out" through social media when something goes wrong. He is well known for broadcasting where he is through social media (checking-in on planes and hotels) and tagging the hotel/airline in the message. He has had relationships with the companies that he often reviews or documents.

Also, it has been disclosed that many bloggers reach out to airlines and hotels before their trip. At the end of the day his blog is still a great resource for photos airline and hotel products if you want to see photos. He also has documented the process of how to use your miles and points to obtain that travel if you have said miles/points in your account.

I still think Ben is talented and very successful at what he does. There are very few bloggers that are well received in this forum... (Frequent Miler, Wandering Aramean, etc..). To some extent there is always going to be some negative sentiment towards travel bloggers as they are for the most part making a living through credit card referrals, bring an influx of new people into The Hobby, and kill "deals" faster by detailing them in full and sending them out to a wider audience who may not have otherwise been involved in the deal due to the amount of time and research involved.

Last edited by Astrophsx; Jul 22, 15 at 12:38 pm
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Old Jul 22, 15, 12:54 pm
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i don't get the personal attacks on Ben either. good for him, he's making a good living blah blah.

that said...the AS folks are probably going to flip out on his latest post. highlighting the EK redemptions to all the new eyeballs coming to his site.
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Old Jul 22, 15, 1:03 pm
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Okay... Maybe I'm wrong about the selling of the lifestyle:

I earn well over a million miles a year, which I don’t think is really unattainable for most. All of the techniques I use are within the terms and conditions of the various programs — it’s about knowing the rules, not breaking them.

I probably fly about 200,000 miles per year on American, and as an Executive Platinum member I get a 100% bonus on miles, so that’s 400,000 miles right there. Living in hotels has also given me the opportunity to rack up points on hotel spend, which has made that practice more sustainable.

I pick up 2-3 cards every three months or so, so I’m constantly on the look out for the best sign-up bonuses. I earn upwards of 500,000 points each year from credit card sign-ups alone, so taking advantage of the best offers is key for me.

I would have to disagree and believe that earning 1,000,000 through the listed methods is not obtainable for most. Also, well over 1 million miles... That's 900,000 right there. If you are flying as often as he does, flying family members (who may have points/miles from CC sign ups), and then flying a reporter on a few trips I'm going to assume that you are burning well over 1 mil in miles/points. He also glosses over the purchasing of miles and how he obtains the other miles.

My theory is that Ben saw the bump in readers that Mommy Points gets from being featured on Nightline... He some networked with this reporter and sold him on the story with the promise of free first class flights knowing in the end it would get him a bump in new readers after the story was published.
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Old Jul 22, 15, 1:06 pm
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Well, well, well.

I'm glad to see, finally, a few value-add posts free from ad hominem rancor. Those of you who have been around Flyer Talk for longer than the short while I've been around will no doubt draw your own conclusions.

I would only add, or rather reemphasize, the importance of near-unlimited scheduling flexibility. I mean, really, who amongst the gainfully and fully employed can drop everything to fly across the Pacific six times in little more than a week? Not I.

I'm not even going to talk about paid fares ex places like Colombo or Cairo.

And living in hotels full time with a monthly home-fires maintenance nut equal to exactly zero has got to help, too.

There's hard-to-duplicate magic, in other words, on both the earning and the burning sides.

I could be wrong, but I consequently believe that many read the site not to duplicate the whole lifestyle -- who could do that? -- but rather to cherry-pick the little pieces, the reviews and tips, that are most personally useful. I've used a few and, for me, that's enough.

That's all putting aside the sheer entertainment value, of course.
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Old Jul 22, 15, 1:14 pm
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Yeah, there is useful content although I find that more of it comes from his co-writers and not from Ben himself.

When he was a teenager and mileage running across the country to get his parents first class for their trips to Germany, that probably came out as a wash or moderately profitable compared to purchasing the tickets with cash. Ben liked it because he got to fly around the country, although spending times in airport hubs like Detroit and Denver would not in my mind count as seeing the country.
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Old Jul 22, 15, 1:18 pm
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Originally Posted by FallenPlat View Post
I could be wrong, but I consequently believe that many read the site not to duplicate the whole lifestyle -- who could do that? -- but rather to cherry-pick the little pieces, the reviews and tips, that are most personally useful. I've used a few and, for me, that's enough.

That's all putting aside the sheer entertainment value, of course.
You should also point out that there is a lot of work not seen. Even though something has been posted a year ago been will get a comment with a question that was posted recently and will go back to that blog post and answer the question. I believe that is what sets himself apart from many other bloggers.

You do have to say that while he isn't selling his lifestyle... The word of mouth about his lifestyle drives traffic. "Hey, have you heard about this guy that basically lives in first class? He's tricking the industry and is a travel hacker. I follow him and I'm going to (insert international destination) in first class after following his advice".

I agree that it is all entertainment for the most part. Although if I were someone new I'd be a little overwhelmed with 5+ posts per day and 3 other travel writers (easy not to see who wrote the post if you skim too quickly).
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Old Jul 22, 15, 2:36 pm
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It's a sad irony that points and miles obsessive bloggers are getting media exposure just as the game is coming to an end. But maybe that's a good thing as this kind of attention is not going to make the programs any more generous. It's only going to make the so-called 'idiots' (yes, I saw the non-apology explanation for that quote) who run the programs clamp down that much faster and harder.
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