Want to know more about the Faces of FlyerTalk?
Matt (matthandy) is an IT consultant currently living in Sydney but originally from the UK. He’s been in Australia for two years now. Prior to moving he spent a few years working in London, which included trips to Asia including Singapore, Hong ,Kong and Korea. Between 2008 and 2009 he also spent just under a year living in New York, working for the same London-based company. Moving over to NY was the reason that he first obtained Silver status with BA and he’s been working to keep it ever since! He loves travelling in premium cabins and very much enjoys writing about his experiences. He’s won the BA Forum’s ‘Trip Report of the Year’ competition two years in a row now. His passion is photography so he ends up combining the two hobbies and including many of his photographs in my trip reports. Here’s an example of one of Matt’s trip reports. Matt, 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 stumbled across FT around four years ago. I’d just started travelling on a regular basis between London and New York so no doubt I was looking for the best seat on the upper deck on BA’s 747! In fact, I think that the first thread that I ever posted was on that same subject. It’s the simple things that get the obsession started.
Do you consider yourself an infrequent, fairly regular, or miles and points addicted reader?
I’d say that I’d a fairly regular reader. The amount of free time that I get to spend on FT usually correlates with my work load which at the moment is quite considerable. I tend to enjoy the community and travel aspects of FT, rather than focusing on points and miles collection.
How often are you on FlyerTalk, and what forums do you typically visit?
It’s fair to say that I visit at least once a day, but usually more. You’ll find me lurking around the Trip Reports forum where I contribute quite a bit, I’m on my 19th report now. They take a huge amount of effort to put together but they are well received. I also contribute to the BA and Qantas forums mostly, dabbling in the Cathay Pacific and Emirates forums on occasion. I tend to stick with forums for airlines that I’ve actually flown a few times on, so that I have some experience to share.
Do you travel for business, leisure, or both?
Both. My business travel doesn’t take me as far as it used to. When I was based in the UK I’d end up travelling all over the place, usually the US and Asia. Now that I’ve moved over to Sydney my regular trips are all domestic, with the occasional trip to New Zealand. My leisure travel normally revolves around going back to the UK to visit family and friends. I do try to put some stop overs in the middle though to make the most of each trip.
The company that I work for here in Australia has quite a sensible travel policy. We are allowed to take care of our own travel arrangements and book carriers and hotel that suit, as long as we are reasonable and sensible.
We definitely get to keep the miles and points, in fact I think that there would be a revolt if this was not the case. Getting up at 4am each Monday and getting back at 10pm on a Friday are made a little easier by knowing that we are able to earn status with the airline that we choose.
What credit cards are you carrying in your wallet right now, and which ones do you recommend to friends?
I only have my bank’s standard gold card, which you cannot earn points on. All of my business spend goes onto my corporate American Express card. In theory I really should investigate a way to get some points/miles out of this spend, however, I like to keep my personal and business spend separated at present.
What’s the single most successful thing you’ve done to acquire points and miles?
Hmm, I’d measure this in terms of spend rather than acquisition. I only earn from flying, rather than from credit card spend or shopping, so I’m not a points ‘fiend’ at all. I recently managed to save many thousands of dollars by getting creative with my routing and being able to secure business class on a number of sectors using points, something that I was pretty happy with.
How many miles / points have you accumulated in the past year? In your lifetime?
I think that the most my BA balance has been was probably only around 130k. I tend to earn and spend rather than hoard them up for that one big trip (since it is difficult to get availability in some cases).
Do you use a tracking program to keep track of your miles / points? Which one?
I use the helpful ‘flight diary’ at BA97.com to track my flights, but not my points/miles.
How does your spouse / partner / family / friends feel about this hobby?
Some of my friends think that I’m a little odd. I usually ‘check in’ on Facebook when I’m visiting various lounges and airports around the world and they’ve now started mocking me by jokingly checking me in at all sorts of places! However, some of them come to me with travel questions such as suggested routes etc, so they can’t think that it’s too odd! I think that unless people travel themselves they can’t really understand how much value frequent travelers attach to lounge access, priority check in and boarding etc. However, it’s these things that make travel that little bit more bearable, when flying for business at least. I recently took a friend into the BA lounges at Heathrow for the first time. He was in awe of all of the free food and drink, as well as the atmosphere. It’s fair to say that he began to understand why I get so excited about lounge access!
What’s your most memorable trip?
It is difficult to pin-point one specific trip to be honest. I have a list of aviation ‘to-dos’ which I have been lucky enough to work my way through in the last couple of years, so every time I get to tick something off it’s memorable. I suppose that one of the most memorable trips was my first business class experience, especially as it was a surprise upgrade from premium economy. I couldn’t believe that there were lie flat seats, real cutlery and crockery, and plenty of free Champagne on tap. My first First Class trip was definitely memorable, as was my flight over to Sydney, leaving the UK to start a new life in Australia; it was rather emotional. I also had a fantastic time clambering all over a dis-used 747 in the Australian outback, I’ll never forget that (see the photos included).
What suggestions can you give to rookies and newbies on FlyerTalk?
Get involved! Everyone is pretty friendly but each board has it’s own culture so what might work for one forum might not work for the other. I’d suggest that new users take the time to review some of the guides and ‘sticky’ threads at the top of each board as they normally contain absolutely loads of useful information.
Are there any particular fellow FlyerTalk members whose advice you follow?
To me Moomba is a legend in his own right! He often has so many different RTW tickets on the go at once he’s always a good point of contact for me when I’m looking to plan out a new trip.
What’s the one thing you’d like to see change on FlyerTalk?
I really enjoy the fact that each forum/board has it’s own culture, but, when it comes to FlyerTalk as a whole I do find it very US centric. It would be nice if there was a greater reflection of the international nature of the reader-base. On the whole though I’m very happy with the way that FT operates.
Have you attended or are you planning on attending any FlyerTalk related events?
This is an interesting one! I spend most of my time on the BA board but I actually live in Sydney now, so I’m not able to attend any of the meet-ups and events that are planned in the UK. Having said that, I did attend a Sydney ‘mini-do’ a few months ago plus I’m good friends with a number of FTers who I’ve met up with on my travels. I’m hoping to meet up with more people in the future.
Any other comments / questions / suggestions / advice?
I’d like to suggest that people take a visit to the Trip Reports forum. You’ll find tales of experiences from all over the world, in various classes across various airlines. It’s a very friendly and fun forum and it’s a departure from some of the points and miles focused boards.
I had the chance to talk to Matt by Skype from Sydney, Australia where it was a beautiful sunny morning 14 hours ahead of me in Hilton Head. Matt is a UK guy that still credits it all to BA and spends his FlyerTalk time on BA and the Trip reports forums. Matt, nice to talk with you and 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 Matt 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.