My name is Stephen and, although I’ve already posted a couple articles, I’m excited to officially introduce myself as a new contributor to the Point Me to the Plane. In addition to my real-life job, I work as an award booker for Juicy Miles, and I was recently asked by Adam to come on as a PMTTP writer to provide a different perspective on the miles and points world. I’ve been involved with the frequent flier community for about a decade now and have been fortunate enough to have held at various times a number of top-tier statuses. As my travel has diminished, I find myself this year as a USdbaAA Platinum, Alaska MVP, and Hyatt Diamond — just as any true Chicagoan still calls it the Sears Tower, it’s going to be some time before I bring myself to use the new status tiers the clearly overpaid marketing department at Hyatt came up with.
WHY AM I HERE?
Nobody who has been involved with points and miles for more than a couple years can deny that there’s been a steadily increasing amount of noise and chaff in the blogosphere. As with any community that started out in relative obscurity and has become more mainstream, the points/miles community has been inundated with newcomers and, subsequently, bloggers who try to capitalize on those newcomers. While I certainly don’t consider myself any sort of veteran in the game, I still remember the days when the community consisted largely of those who liked studying fine print and putting in the time and effort to learn how to leverage loyalty programs.
We’ve reached a point now where those who enjoyed the puzzle and the chase are drowned out by dubious bloggers promising that “travel is free” and Johnny-come-latelies feverishly trying to redeem their 28,034 Starpoints and 106,000 Chase UR for an RTW first class honeymoon trip with three stopovers and two open-jaws. I’m by no means knocking the useful and thoughtfully written how-to-guides and introductory posts out there (that is, after all, how a large proportion of us were introduced to the game), but disingenuous clickbait headlines or a list of credit card application links couched in something that poses as actual content is probably not the best way to go about helping beginners.
Moreover, now that the community has warped into one where clicks are more important than content, we routinely see both established, reputable voices in the community as well as a gaggle of countless others post articles that are, to be blunt, useless drivel. Over a dozen nearly identical posts about a man being forcibly removed from a flight does nobody any good but the bloggers who posted them. Nobody cares about crappy Daily Getaways packages and even fewer people care about “deals” that even SlickDeals won’t show.
To be sure, there is still great content out there, but regrettably the bar to becoming a points/miles blogger these days is, if not nonexistent, abysmally low. Let’s be frank for a minute. If you consistently demonstrate that you can’t spell or you make a habit of using more than 5 exclamation points per blog post — you know who you are — you probably shouldn’t be writing about anything, travel or otherwise.
My aim is to be a fresh voice for those who miss the way the community used to be. I’m not here to be another thought leader in credit card affiliate links, and I’m not going to try to talk you into purchasing Alaska miles at a 40% (WOW!) bonus*. You won’t see any sensationalistic, misleading posts about how amazing VS miles can be for flying NH F or how incredible EY miles can be for booking SN J (largely impossible as those who have actually done the legwork know, unless of course you’re on a first-name basis with Garrett at the Manchester call center), and you certainly won’t have to suffer through any clickbait posts about the latest IDB/inflight brawl/lost baggage/insert your own trivial “airline news” fiasco from me. Rather, I’ll be writing about my travels, various “experiments” that I try, news and developments that I find interesting, and what my friends in the community are talking about — imagine the conversations you and a group of your miles/points and AvGeek friends might have after commandeering the bar and going to town on the single malt selection at the Lufthansa FCT.
So welcome, thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy the ride.
*Hilariously, I wrote this before the actual recently announced 40% bonus on purchased Alaska miles.