Want to know more about the Faces of FlyerTalk?
Mary is a what we call a travel hacker I’m still amazed at how many people have been on FlyerTalk for as long as they have and I’d never met them. Having seen great deals come and go she’s someone that can attest that you need to network and act on deals. Build friendships with fellow travelers is a great piece of advice she shared with us. Mary, thank you for sharing your perspectives and experiences with us all. We’re thrilled to you be a part of “Faces of FlyerTalk”.
When did you find FlyerTalk and how did you find it?
I found FlyerTalk a month or so after Randy started it. I was using AOL at the time, and it had a “spin the wheel” feature that would randomly select a different area for you to explore. I spun the wheel and it landed on FlyerTalk. At that time I was doing more business travel, and almost all of it international. If you can believe it, I was so in awe of what I was reading there that I was afraid to take out a handle and post. I finally did in 2001. In just the first month or so of reading, I learned enough to earn a few tickets to Hawaii.
Do you consider yourself an infrequent, fairly regular, or miles and points addicted reader?
I’m definitely a points addicted reader.
How often are you on FlyerTalk, and what forums do you typically visit?
During the week I jump in multiple times a day. Not so much on the weekends. I visit about 20 forums on a regular basis, though sometimes just to see if there are any new topics. I always check Hyatt, UA, Community, Travel Buzz, Hawaii, Orlando, and the Omnis.
Do you travel for business, leisure, or both?
In the beginning, both. Now it’s mostly for leisure, though I suspect I may be doing a bit more business going forward. Technology has made it so I can do my job from anywhere, and now it’s usually from either my office or home.
For business travel, I’m required to use the least expensive fare on our preferred airline. For hotels, we are able to book government rates at just about every chain. We can keep our miles and points.
What credit cards are you carrying in your wallet right now, and which ones do you recommend to friends?
CO Presidential Plus Mastercard, Amex Gold Membership Rewards, and Disney Visa (for park benefits only – it’s a lousy card). I’m happy with the Presidential Plus, as it allows me to earn EQMs on my spend, since some years I’m just short of getting status. I’d recommend it to anyone needing/wanting to earn toward EQMs, but not to anyone who doesn’t care about status.
What’s the single most successful thing you’ve done to acquire points and miles?
The old gold points promotion for ordering magazines from years and years ago. I can’t remember how many miles I earned on that one, but it was a lot … At least I think it was Gold Points. It was so long ago I may have forgotten who ran the promotion – all I know is that I got a ton of magazines and even more miles.
How many miles / points have you accumulated in the past year? In your lifetime?
This past year, not all that many. My usual travel pattern was slightly different so I didn’t earn that much. Maybe 80k miles and 40k points. In my lifetime? Well, I’m at nearly 1 million Hyatt points, and I would say about 700k airline miles across a few different airlines, with UA being the bulk.
Do you use a tracking program to keep track of your miles / points? Which one?
Yes, last year I finally signed up for Award Wallet and it’s the best $5 I ever spent.
How does your spouse / partner / family / friends feel about this hobby?
My husband thought I was nuts, as were most FlyerTalkers, until he realized he was going to Hawaii a couple of times a year in first class, staying in ocean front club rooms or suites for 8-10 nights, and it was costing us less than a one week vacation in Disney World. Now, when I need help doing a mattress run, or he’s not sure which shopping portal to use for a merchant, he always calls and asks. My parents don’t realize the extent of my participation, only that they’ve been to Hawaii a few times for free. I don’t even tell my friends because they simply wouldn’t understand. All my friends know is that I play the miles game, but no one has pressed for details.
What’s your most memorable trip?
That’s a hard one to pin down. They’re all memorable. Most recently, it was our first trip to Kauai. We arrived to the island very late after connecting through Honolulu from the mainland. For some reason, Hyatt upgraded us to a stunning ocean front suite in the center of the property – an ideal location. And it was a regular room reward. I was expecting a closet facing the parking lot. Though it was our first trip to the island, and we did see all the major sites, any time spent at the hotel was in our suite on our lanai. Who needed to be on the beach or at the pool when we had everything we needed right there? We did “thank” the hotel by spending a small fortune in the spa. We’ve been back several times, and are totally addicted to the suites there. So much so that we don’t like it if we’re “stuck” in a regular room.
What suggestions can you give to rookies and newbies on FlyerTalk?
Read, read, read, and then read some more. Then when you’re done, start over and read. As well, familiarize yourself with all the types of forums that are available. FlyerTalk has become so much more than just how to earn airline miles and hotel points.
Are there any particular fellow FlyerTalk members whose advice you follow?
I can’t name just one – but in almost all cases – it’s people who I have known or met and have a good rapport with.
What’s the one thing you’d like to see change on FlyerTalk?
Sometimes I get the sense it has become the gimme, gimme forum. Particularly Miles Buzz where it seems the posters there are only interested in getting enough miles and points for that once in a lifetime trip. They really don’t contribute a whole lot and IMHO disappear once their objective has been met.
Have you attended or are you planning on attending any FlyerTalk related events?
I’ve attended a few in the NY area. Most often, I go to smaller or private meetings in other cities. There’s one FlyerTalker I see more in Lihue, Hawaii than in any other mainland city.
Any other comments / questions / suggestions / advice?
Get to know your way around FlyerTalk and it’s people. Go to community events. I’ve made some close friends who I’m sure will remain lifelong friends. Heck, I’m not even sure how many FT weddings there have been, and I know of one which has produced a FlyerTalk baby.
Mary, thank you again for sharing with us. We’ve got a couple of thank you gifts to get to you, and your avatar will now show you, as one of the Faces of FlyerTalk for years to come.
Here are a few pictures Mary has shared with us:
Deal of the Day
For today’s Deal of the Day Gogo is donating 10 one-time use passes (up to $17.95 value each) 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 (make sure to include your first name, last inital, and home airport) or this afternoon’s Deal of the Day post to be eligible to win.