Ok, so it was actually an award for a Canadian friend flush with Star Alliance miles and no OneWorld, but I did book an Etihad business award for myself for Maldives-Abu Dhabi-Casablanca.
So now do I belong in this hobby?
I often feel an outsider in the miles and points world. Flying does not enchant me and so-called ‘aspirational travel,’ really aspirational transport, does not arouse me.
Some people mistake that for me being anti-premium cabin travel. Far from it. The best flight awards I have are putting my wife in premium cabins on trips we take, which pays off for the entire trip.
For me, I came of travel age commuting between the US and China in economy. Anything under 6 hours I see little value in premium cabin travel, and anything under 10 I hesitate to pay any kind of premium. I have not redeemed for premium cabin for myself since I can remember.
There are three reasons for this:
- I take lots of trips. Every mile I earn goes to travel primarily to destinations where economy tickets are exorbitant (Africa, South Pacific) and my main goal is to get there without breaking the bank. Other than AA with OneWorld’s limited footprint and the BA problem, my balances are all low.
- The ‘earn and burn’ mantra focuses on ‘burn’ to inoculate against future devaluations while ignoring that ‘earn’ can change drastically. Two jobs in a row travel has been cut drastically for the rank and file. The limited manufactured spend I do has cratered with the demise of Target’s prepaid products. Revenue-based Delta and United mean I earn status but few redeemable miles on my cheap economy ticket. For what it takes for me to earn a mile, I generally do not want to pay additional for premium cabin. Call it the Walmart Lie-Flat Ratio: hours in Walmart needed per hour earned for an airplane lie-flat seat.
- I don’t value the premium cabin flying experience all that much. A better rest is great to have. The experience, though, is among the most superficial and transactional of travel. I can’t think of a single trip I have taken where the flight is among my top lasting memories. If there ever is such a trip it won’t likely be for good reasons!
Many in this hobby have the opposite situation for 1-3. By necessity or choice they take few trips, they earn more than they can burn, and they value premium cabin travel a lot. That’s great and the flexibility of this hobby is their goals and my goals are both attainable.
Now that I have finally earned my premium cabin award merit badge, will you accept me? 🙂