web Musings of The Global Traveller

Friday, August 28, 2009

Frequent Flyer Friday #4

Celebrating Friday with a short interview with a frequent flyer.

Seth - Wandering Aramean

Seth is a self-described chaotic traveler. He has an active blog, the Wandering Aramean, covering travel thoughts, news, and his many & varied journeys.

First, some questions to see what kind of frequent flyer Seth is.

What is your home airport?
Seth - I'm based out of New York, equidistant from all three airports, and I use all three regularly. That being said, I find myself at Newark slightly more frequently than the others based on the train access and an affinity for Continental.

What is the airline you usually fly?
Seth - Continental is my main airline, although I'll fly anyone if the deal is right. I also fly a lot on United, generally crediting miles to bmi Diamond Club.

Which of the following best describes your flying pattern?
- infrequent (eg annual) leisure trip
- jetsetting for pleasure
- frequent (eg monthly) business travel
- road warrior
- mileage runner
× I live on planes

Seth - In the next month I'll be flying lots thanks to the JetBlue All You Can Jet deal. I like to fly and I like being on planes. I'll do whatever it takes to further that pursuit - given the opportunity to fly, I'll take it.

How do you mostly earn your frequent flyer miles?
- promos
- credit card spend
- business and leisure travel
- taking extra flights on trips I need to take
× mileage running

Seth - Some trips aren't pure mileage runs but rather a short weekend vacation. 12-36 hours anywhere generally seems like a good idea.

Please describe how you travel in 4 words
Seth - observant, fast-paced, anywhere, anytime

I'm getting the picture you'll go anywhere for a day or two at the drop of a hat. Does your unusual travel pattern cause any problems for you with security, immigration or customs?
Seth - I've yet to experience a problem. I came close once in Luxembourg of all places where I took 5 minutes to convince them I really was only spending 16 hours there (see Luxembourg report). Other than that it has all been smooth - I've been lucky thus far (knock on wood).

You've bought a JetBlue All You Can Jet Pass for one month of travel. Why did you buy this?
Seth - Even though I have to work the entire month of the JetBlue deal, I know there are opportunities for me to fly, see more airports and some cities along the way. It won't be a "value" play for me because I could just as easily not flown those weekends.

[Editor - I have my doubts that you wouldn't have been flying anyway!]

Having access to so many flights was too hard to pass up. I aim to visit around 25 JetBlue destinations during the month, all without missing any time from work. I love to fly and this is a great opportunity to do it on the cheap, even if it does mean showing up at work directly after flying for roughly 60 hours straight.

We can follow Seth's All You Can Jet adventures on his blog.

Now for some advice from Seth.

What is inside your carry-on bag right now?
Seth - Passport, netbook, kindle, DSLR camera, eyeshades and a toothbrush. Everything else is optional, but the "go" bag is always ready.

Please give a tip on travel.
Seth - Your flights are going to be delayed or cancelled every now and then. Remember that it isn't happening because the airline is out to screw you, and that sometimes life doesn't run smoothly. Use the opportunities presented to see something new or otherwise derive value where you might initially want to freak out and scream.

A great example happened to my wife and I in Paris a few years ago. I misread the train timetable and we managed to find ourselves in a 3-hour gap between trains instead of a 30 minute gap. Initially I was frustrated but we regrouped and soon managed to find a beautiful cemetery right around the corner from the train station. We filled a very pleasant and peaceful hour or so there.

What is your preferred airline for regular travel?
Seth - I generally fly Continental. Based in New York City they offer a great number of non-stop flights - not worrying about misconnections is nice. I also enjoy their domestic product and they have good partners with plenty of redemption options (almost all internationally, half in premium cabins).

United is my second choice, generally on QUP fares for the purpose of collecting insane amounts of bmi miles.

[Editor - QUP is a cheap form of first class fare for USA domestic flights, and favoured by many people on Flyer Talk for their mileage earning potential at relatively low cost.]

What is your preferred airline for a special trip?
Seth - I don't really have one. I enjoyed Air France l'Espace Affaires (business class) on my last "special" trip but it wasn't that special. One of my goals is to fly more in proper first and business class. Sadly most US-based airlines are not in that class.

What is your preferred frequent flyer program?
Seth - bmi Diamond Club provides great value in a number of ways - premium cabin awards, cash+miles redemptions, one way awards and allowing stopovers on most routings. Combined with the high earning rates for paid first and business class, they are a great program.

Second choice for me is Continental OnePass. It certainly has limitations (notably lack of certificate-based upgrades for elites) but the program is very consistent and transparent. I like that a lot.

Please give a tip on frequent flyer programs.
Seth - Never underestimate the value that partners of the program may add. In some cases these are more valuable than the host airline. Learning the nuances of the programs to be able to leverage your points for maximum value is well worth the time invested.

Thanks Seth for sharing some great advice. I look forward to reading about your adventures flying JetBlue on the AICJ Wandering Aramean and in the media. Have a great weekend.

For other frequent flyer friday posts please check out the index. If you have any questions you'd like answered, or wish to nominate someone for an interview, please drop me a line using the please use the contact me link. For all sorts of reasons I can't make any guarantees, but if you're interested chances are others are too and so we'll get some good interviews.

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