web Musings of The Global Traveller

Friday, November 13, 2009

Frequent Flyer Friday #9

Celebrating Friday with a short interview with a frequent flyer.

Steven Frischling
Steven is globe hopping photographer who has branched out into travel and airline consultancy. He has an active blog, Flying with Fish, runs a small business, The Travel Strategist, and is a Director of Emerging Media [ed - ie he is on twitter a lot] for Innovation Analysis Group. When not travelling the world earning a stiff back and numb butt, Steven spends time with his family, watches the Boston Red Sox and shoots photos.

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

What is your home airport?
Steven - New Haven-Tweed. This is a lovely little airport which currently has five flights a day all Dash-8 turboprops to Philadelphia. However, New York JFK always feels like home to me, having grown up right at the end of runway 4R/22L.

What is the airline you usually fly?
Steven - US Airlines, since it is the only airline to fly to New Haven so nearly all my trips include at least 2 flights on them. Prior to 2006 I mainly flew Delta but then they stopped flying to New Haven.

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
Steven - until last year when an unexpected health issue decreased my flying significantly I lived on planes. My travel will soon be picking up again but I plan to adjust my lifestyle to road warrior.

I hope you have a full recovery soon.

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
Steven - business travel, butt in seat (BIS) miles.

Please describe how you travel in 4 words.
Steven - Fast and light (OK, that is 3 words, sorry).

Now for some travel advice from Steven.

Flying with photography gear has its own challenges. What are the most common issues and how do you overcome them?
Steven - The most common issues most photographers face, both professional and hobbyist, is the desire to pack everything they own. This ads unneeded weight and decreases valuable space. Since checking camera gear can be risky, the biggest challenge is hauling everything you need on your back on the plane as carry-on. To avoid weight restrictions on certain European and Asian airlines I pack everything into a photo vest. I have managed to fly with a photo vest stuffed with 2 full-size pro bodies 8 lenses, a flash, a 12” Apple PowerBook and batteries. This is possible because a vest is clothing and is not weighed or counted as a carry-on bag.

Nice one. I can think of some non-photographer chronic overpackers who could benefit from that trick.

What is inside your carry-on bag right now?
Steven - Right now my Mountainsmith Endevour briefcase is loaded with a Sony PSP (Darth Vader limited edition!); eight UMD movie disks for the Sony PSP; my technology-run pack (CF card reader, USB cord, charger for laptop, iPhone, Blackberry, noise canceling headsets, 4 AAA batteries, international power outlet adapter, etc etc); Canon battery charger; Canon 20D; Canon 28-70f2.8; National Geographic Magazine; 2oz bottle of Purell; pack of disposable wipes; Kit Kat bar and a Moleskine notebook.

What is your preferred airline for regular travel, and why?
Steven - US Airways could be my preferred airline because it gets me home to kids. On the other hand I used to fly Delta on most of my domestic and international flights, which I always enjoyed. My preference for Delta dates back to when I was a kid watching their L-1011s fly over my house all day long.

What is your preferred airline for a special trip, and why?
Steven - I am not sure I have an answer to this question. If the Concorde were still flying I’d say British Airways or Air France just to get a shot on the Concorde, but now the airlines, even the great ones, are all pretty much the same. If I wanted a great layover experience I might say Virgin Atlantic for their arrivals lounge at London Heathrow; Korean Air for their lounge at Seoul Incheon or possibly KLM for the pure enjoyment of Amsterdam. If I was able to swing a first-class seat I might add Lufthansa to the list due to their First Class Terminal at Frankfurt, which I have been spoiled to use in the past.

Please give one of your great tips on travel.
Steven - When transiting through airport security enter the line completely prepared. Make sure your mobile phone, keys, wallet, pens, etc are off your body and secured. Place them in your bag or a zipped jacket pocket so they are out of sight and reach of airport thieves. Be as prepared as possible for the airport security process and never take your eyes off your items. The most common place to get targeted by an airport thief is in the security line.

Sound advice. It is much more difficult for the whole carry on bag to be taken than slipping, say, a wallet out of a tray.

What is your preferred frequent flyer program, and why?
Steven - Of all the programs I have used, I prefer British Midland/BMI’s Diamond Club. The program has a relatively low threshold, is low maintenance and offer fantastic value for mileage redemption.

Please give a tip on frequent flyer programs.
Steven - When choosing a frequent flyer program keep in mind the best program for you might not be that of the airline you fly most frequently. I fly US Airways most commonly and for the past few years I have chosen to place all my miles with BMI.

Thanks Steven Frischling for sharing some great travel advice and all the best for your evolving career. 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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