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Want to know more about the Faces of FlyerTalk?
Sharon (SkiAdcock) is a self-employed consultant in the film & broadcast industries, as well as a professional speaker. She lived at the beach in LA for several years where she frequently met Flyertalkers who were on mileage runs to LA. She has recently relocated to the Midwest, where alas there are not as many mileage run opportunities & there’s something called snow.
Sharon, thanks for your sense of humor, all the work you put in to help all of us in the frequent flyer community, and also with all of your fundraising! You’re a true ambassador, and we’re proud to have you be a “Faces of FlyerTalk”.
When did you find FlyerTalk and how did you find it?
I subscribed to Inside Flyer & would read about people doing (crazy) things to accumulate miles. Inside Flyer mentioned FlyerTalk (FT), so I finally checked out the site.
Of course I was immediately hooked – wow, the knowledge about the programs I was a member of was incredible – and there was this community of people who actually met in real life too. I attended my first “DO” in London one month later. Since that time I’ve organized the annual Presidents (US) Weekend London DO many times.
Do you consider yourself an infrequent, fairly regular, or miles and points addicted reader?
I’d probably say fairly regular to totally addicted. I read about my programs frequently, but I’ve also let opportunities go by.
How often are you on FlyerTalk, and what forums do you typically visit?
I check FT daily. First, because I’m addicted to FT for the knowledge & the camaraderie amongst members. Second, because I’m Vice President of Flyertalk’s TalkBoard & I need to keep up with items or issues that are brought up for our consideration in the TalkBoard forum.
For those not familiar with TalkBoard, it is a member-elected advisory board created and empowered with the task of making recommendations with regard to the management, organization and content of FlyerTalk to the Community Director of Flyertalk. The TalkBoard consists of 9 voting members, chosen by popular election to two-year terms, each fall.
I usually visit the Marriott, United, Community Buzz, Women Travelers, Travel Health & Fitness, Contest/Sweeps & Omni forums.
Do you travel for business, leisure, or both?
Both. My travel has changed over the years. When I worked for Fortune 500 companies it was primarily business travel with occasional leisure. When I became self-employed I still had the same pattern. But as the industries I work in have consolidated, there are less business trips due to the consolidation, and most of them are on my dime – i.e., I’m not a corporate traveler whose company picks up the tab. I’d say over the past years my travel has shifted more from business to leisure, with a lot of the leisure being FT DOs.
What credit cards are you carrying in your wallet right now, and which ones do you recommend to friends?
I don’t really tell friends what specific cards to get. What I do tell them is: if you’re going to use a credit card for any type of purchase, then make sure it’s a miles/hotel points/whatever earning card. I also tell them to look at their patterns/interests to determine which card makes the most sense for them. If their interest is air or hotel travel, then get that type of card. If it’s camping or outdoor activities, then get an affinity card that gets points for that interest. Not everyone is interested in travel. I know; blasphemy.
What’s the single most successful thing you’ve done to acquire points and miles?
The single most successful thing is fly & stay at hotels. Simple, but it works. Others that are related that I’ve done are sign up for airline & hotel promos and buy things through the shopping portals. Have an airline affinity card. One thing I haven’t really done is follow the Miles Buzz & Mileage Run forums, so I’ve missed out on points earning opportunities over the years.
How many miles / points have you accumulated in the past year? In your lifetime?
In the last year not as much because my travel & spending is down due to business being down. In my lifetime, in the millions! I’ve flown about three million miles (butt in seat) over the years and stayed in hotel rooms thousands of nights (butt in bed). Then add on points on spend from credit cards I’ve had over the years, as well as hotels/airline promos for which I signed up. I rarely redeem points for domestic stays, but save mine for international trips. So I’ll wipe out a lot of points at one time, flying first class internationally and staying at expensive hotels overseas.
Do you use a tracking program to keep track of your miles / points? Which one?
No. Other than making sure flights/hotel stays posted after I flown/stayed, I don’t really track. When I first started traveling, the airlines & hotels didn’t have the programs that exist now with elite levels & perks. You earned points/miles. So I flew & stayed with the most convenient. Now I tell people to focus; have a main airline with one back up & the same with hotel, so that you can get elite status with them & benefit from the perks.
How does your spouse / partner / family / friends feel about this hobby?
I’ve traveled starting with my first job, so that part is not a biggie. But since I’ve joined FlyerTalk and started attending DOs, flying overseas for a weekend, or standing inside the engine of a 767 before it leaves for Moscow, they think I’m a bit quirky (ok, nuts), but like me anyway.
Even if we tell others how they can earn points, most just nod, say how cool, and then don’t do anything about it. That’s why I don’t get upset when the airlines/hotel programs have ‘elite-lite’ programs. For every person taking advantage of that, there’s another who doesn’t. It all evens out in the end.
What’s your most memorable trip?
That’s a toughie. The most memorable trip was StarMegado 1. I’ve been on a StarMegado since, but the first one was magical & truthfully I don’t think can be replicated, even though they’ve done a few since then. I’ve also been to some memorable DOs, such as the London MegaDOs, Dusseldorf DOs, Prague DO, Capitol DO, Sea DOs, and many more. I’ve had a few trips that weren’t DOs, but were made wonderful through the input/advice/generosity of fellow Flyertalkers. I’ve also attended my alma mater’s international alumni trips to such places as Russia and Spain/Portugal/Morocco, which were great. I attended school in Vienna Austria & go back every few years as that city holds a very special place in my heart.
What suggestions can you give to rookies and newbies on FlyerTalk?
My first suggestion would be to read the stickys that are in a forum. Often, a lot of the info they’re looking for exists in the FAQs and other stickys. Read the FT guidelines/terms of service so they know what’s expected and which things might not be appropriate.
Read the drop-down menu listing all the forums to get familiar with what forums are available. There might be some that they didn’t know existed. If there are some forums they’re going to read regularly, then set them up in “My FlyerTalk”, so when they log in they’ve got links of the ones they’re the most interested in & don’t have to scroll through all of the forums.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for advice. Check the stickys or do a search first to find out if the answer already exists. But if it doesn’t, then ask.
Check Community Buzz to find out where Flyertalkers are getting together. Some DOs are quite organized & encompass a few days. Others are as simple as meeting up for a meal or drink. I’ve met so many FTers over the years, and some have become quite good friends.
Are there any particular fellow FlyerTalk members whose advice you follow?
There are many I like/respect & have gotten a lot of advice from over the years. I am always grateful to Flyertalkers who are willing to answer my questions & provide advice, and in turn I try to do the same for other Flyertalkers – i.e., ‘pay it forward’.
What’s the one thing you’d like to see change on FlyerTalk?
The one thing is something that for the most part is outside of FT’s control: that FTers treat others with respect and not be snide or rude, whether it’s to fellow FTers, moderators or TalkBoard members. And to remember this – we were all new to FT at one time. Just because someone is new to FT doesn’t mean they don’t have travel knowledge.
Have you attended or are you planning on attending any FlyerTalk related events?
I’ve lost track of the number of DOs I’ve attended over the years! I’ve been to some wonderful Dos, such as I mentioned above. Some have been quite organized; others just consisted of meeting for a meal or drink.
My next event is the Chicago Seminars event in October, where I will be in charge of the charity raffle for the 3rd year. A plug: for those who are attending, don’t forget to bring US/Canadian/Australia $$, Euros & GBPs to donate to the charity raffle! We have some great prizes and will be donating to some great charities.
Any other comments / questions / suggestions / advice?
Explore FlyerTalk and learn what it offers. Get involved, whether it’s through providing information or answering questions. Attend DOs if you can & meet other like-minded (crazy) individuals. The #1 bit of advice that I can give is do what makes sense for YOU. Some will do mileage runs to get points. Others will just want to learn more about utilizing their programs better. What works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another; just be true to your own self.
As Sharon is also currently serving as the VP of Talkboard we’ve put some questions specific to her role there. Hopefully this’ll give us all a little more insight into the efforts she puts in and the work that the Talkboard does for FlyerTalk.
When were you elected as VP of Talkboard at FlyerTalk?
I was elected to TalkBoard in November, 2010, and elected as Vice President of Talkboard in December, 2011.
What do you see as the benefits of being on the Talkboard?
The paycheck. Just kidding – it’s a volunteer position.
The intrinsic benefit is (hopefully) helping to making FlyerTalk a bulletin board that continues to meet travelers’ needs, whether they be a leisure or business traveler. I take my responsibilities seriously (as do other TB members), and am willing to consider a variety of topics when suggested by FTers or TB members themselves, & do the due diligence when something is up for a vote. I think TalkBoard members have an enthusiastic commitment to giving back to FT and its members to ensure FT’s improvement and success.
If you weren’t on the Talkboard, would you still spend as much time as you do on the forums? More? Less?
I’d probably spend about the same amount of time perusing the forums I normally read. However, since being elected to TalkBoard I do spend more time in other forums or in reading a variety of threads & communicating w/ FTers when something is brought up for our consideration and/or vote.
Do you have a favorite post or discussion?
I think the threads that are the most interesting are those that FT’ers feel the most passionate about, regardless of which side of the discussion they’re on, whether it be Omni posts counting or the mileage run forum not being restricted, to programs changing or pulling benefits without notice yet touting it to their customers as ‘enhancements’.
Sharon, thanks again for sharing with all of us. I’m looking forward to seeing you in Chicago this October; as should everyone else! We’ll be changing your FlyerTalk membership to the Premium Service, sending you a pair of luggage tags, and exclusive FlyerTalk lapel pin. In addition your avatar will now show you, as one of the Faces of FlyerTalk for years to come.
Here are some pictures Sharon shared with us from her travels …
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 (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.
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- Annual Fee: $450 fee
- Foreign Fees: No
- Card Type: Travel
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