Want to know more about the Faces of FlyerTalk?
Dave B. (TexasYankee) is the first guy I ever met face to face from FlyerTalk. It only seems right he should be the first, in a long series of interviews, with members of our community. I was a new member back in the early 2002 when I signed up for a Mileage Run Seminar put on by Viajero Joven in a small community library just outside of Chicago. Dave was the first face to greet me from of this wonderful band of travel crazies. Warm, outgoing, gregarious and full of spit and vinegar. Dave was a medical supplies salesman at the time and had pens and candy samples for all the attendees. We hit it off right away.
Dave great to catch up again and thanks for being our first in the “Faces of FlyerTalk” series.
When did you find FlyerTalk and how did you find it?
April 2000 after reading an article about the Pudding Guy and the LatinPass Million Mile Run I followed a link to FlyerTalk. Once there I read all of the posts on the LatinPass Million Mile Run and the journey began!
Do you consider yourself an infrequent, fairly regular, or miles and points addicted reader?
I am a fairly regular miles and points addict.
How often are you on FlyerTalk, and what forums do you typically visit?
My visits to FlyerTalk are much more frequent / multiple times daily when I need to get my runs scheduled for status. I have mainly been a Delta flyer as I began the game with thousands of miles due to many years of use with a Worldperks Visa. Since my job involved windshield miles I have financed my flying personally. FlyerTalk has really helped with posts about great fares over the years.
Do you travel for business, leisure, or both?
Mainly leisure in order to maintain status and see the world.
For your business travel what parameters did you have on booking? Did you get to keep the miles and points?
When I was working for a major corporation as a field sales rep. I would find reservations on Delta to suggest to the travel company that met the budget guidelines for two meetings a year; I was able to keep the points. It was a sad day when they made us switch to the corporate Amex card which meant no more personal credit card points.
What credit cards are you carrying in your wallet right now, and which ones do you recommend to friends?
SPG Amex personal and Chase Sapphire Preferred which are the main go to cards. I returned from a trip yesterday and carried the Delta Amex to use to renew my SkyClub onsite so the Rep at the desk would get the credit, and I would get double points. (found a 10% discount code on FlyerTalk – SCORE!) This also allowed me to get a third guest in at the generosity of the CSR at the desk. Also, the Hilton HHonors Surpass card to get the points multiplier on large gas or gift card purchases.
For friends I recommend SPG and all the Chase cards to start. I also have many friends who have amassed many miles with the Citicard AA offers.
What’s the single most successful thing you’ve done to acquire points and miles?
Without a doubt the SunTrust Delta SkyMiles: 900,000 for myself and 500,000 for my wife. Although the Presidential coins by far amassed as many or more points but over a longer span of time. I really miss the coins – but I have much more free time. But then there is the LatinPass Million Miles for just 10 days of travel … which I could only use 500,000 before they stopped honoring them. I guess that is not just a single thing …
How many miles / points have you accumulated in the past year? In your lifetime?
Last year: 950,000. Lifetime: conservative estimate is 7.5 million — 75% of which are due to the Frugal Travel Guy, The Mileage Run seminars, MrPickles’ Presidents, and FlyerTalk posts on discount fares.
Do you use a tracking program to keep track of your miles / points? Which one?
How does your spouse / partner / family / friends feel about this hobby?
Certifiable Looney Bin candidate … BUT: Spouse and family love the First Class or free travel, friends love the free travel scheduling service, and/or emergency last minute plane tickets. Also my wife participates after receiving strong suggestions to act from me … but do not ask her about the Mileage Run to HKG (to keep status) in economy when I had to cancel at the last minute for a job interview — to which she flew alone and how hard that seat was for 17hrs at a time … both ways!
Also when my wife’s friends ask her about my obsession she laughs and says: “Hey I know where he is at all times. In an airport, or on a plane where the security is extremely high so he cannot get into trouble. They limit the time and number of drinks in which he can indulge. Therefore he is not home going to the bars and chasing other women – he chases miles and points!”
Even though I have been to Maui and back 5 times / Honolulu 2 times – but never left the airports – I am not obsessed!
What’s your most memorable trip?
The LatinPass Million Mile run showed me a world that I would never have experienced. Cuzco, Peru, and Machu Picchu are truly a must see for all. From there it has been a fantastic journey that gets better every year! Thanks to FlyerTalk.
What suggestions can you give to rookies and newbies on FlyerTalk?
Read the “Sticky” threads at the top of each forum first. These will answer 90% of your questions. Many veterans of FlyerTalk have spent hours of research to become proficient. Some may not have patience for “newbies” who seem to not want to do the research. If you take some time to to do the research you will be able to find many awesome places to visit, get many discounts that are not evident to the public, and get advice on awesome places to eat!
Most important is that when you see a deal act fast! If you wait for a travel partner/spouse to decide it will be gone.
Are there any particular fellow FlyerTalk members whose advice you follow?
FrugalTravelGuy, The Points Guy, Viewfromthewing, StarwoodLurker, MrPickles, and SchmutzigMSP. There are many who have opinions which I trust and act on so it is difficult to list all.
What’s the one thing you’d like to see change on FlyerTalk?
A policy to quickly block the vitriol spewed by wackos who criticize everyone and turn good posts into many pages of worthless hate speech. The USMint Coins as an example.
Have you attended or are you planning on attending any FlyerTalk related events?
Yes – the original MR seminar at the Library in Chicago 2/05, Seminar #2 San Diego 02/06, Chicago 2010, Chicago 2011, and plan to attend Chicago 2012.
Any other comments / questions / suggestions / advice/things people don’t know about you?
After the LatinPass run I let my day job interfere with my obsession for about 4 yrs. After learning that being Platinum supposedly allowed better access to lower points level tickets in Business/First Class to Asia I decided to go to the MR Seminar in Chicago at the Library (FT Mileage Runners jumped on a free meeting location!). The world of perks quickly unfolded with many secrets of travel loopholes from business travelers who lived on planes. Thus appeared the FrugalTravelGuy this guy from Michigan with way too much energy. We communicated sporadically via FlyerTalk over the next year and both planned on attending MR#2 in San Diego. I was attempting to raise above my Northwest Gold status but found few inexpensive fares. Here Rick mentioned a MR from AUS-SJC on Delta for about $150 but I must have had that “deer in the headlights” look so he emailed me the details a few days later. (He is amazing in his desire to help others!) Delta code-shared the miles but not upgrades so I flew about 8 RTs in economy I wished I had taken Rick’s advice earlier and booked more flights! From there I became Platinum and the miles poured in!
I am by no means as heavy a FlyerTalk hound as many as I find the time for the research is limited on my part. I know many who know all of the airlines and code-share partners as well as the flight schedules for each – by memory! Unfortunately I need more time to read all of FlyerTalk. Perhaps it is lazy on my part but I wait for the Frugal Travel Guy to find all the deals and let me know!
My life experiences have truly increased exponentially in a positive way due to FlyerTalk.
Thanks again Dave for your friendship and positive contributions to the FlyerTalk community. We will be changing your FlyerTalk membership to the Premium Service, sending you an extra luggage tag and exclusive FlyerTalk lapel pin. In addition your avatar will now show you, as one of the Faces of FlyerTalk for years to come.
Deal of the Day
For today’s Deal of the Day AutoSlash is donating a $50 Hertz Gift Certificate for the best overall travel deal submitted. A great mileage run, mistake fare, partner promo, new card sign-up offer, or the special twist you figured out on a deal today. Add it to the comments section of this post or this afternoon’s Deal of the Day post to be eligible to win.