Welcome to a new Sunday series that will be a bit like a fireside chat. I count it a privilege to be a part of an amazing group of Travel bloggers here at BoardingArea.com. But just how well do you know “your” BoardingArea writers? Are you reading all the blogs you should be each day? This series will help you get to know them one by one. Now on to this weeks chat.
Want to know who has the best 1st class seats on any airline? Ben knows. Want to know who has the best suites, best lounges, best of anything at all travel related? Ben knows. Keep in mind this is a blogger who spent his weekends, as a teen, as a 1k with United and did his homework on jets! Amazing! Let’s get to know more about One Mile at a Time:
Rene – Hi Ben! Each time I read your blog I just smile. Your energy and writings (and photos) are infectious and while I may not visit or ride on most of the planes you do, it is fun to have goals. Tell us, just how did you get started blogging?
Ben – Thanks Rene! I’m excited for our chat – I’m even writing from a Delta Skyclub in your honor! There is sadly not an actual fireplace (or working power plugs, for that matter), but the JFK Skydeck is quite impressive!
I love blogging, and I really love flying, so it’s great to hear it comes across somewhat in my writing. I started blogging in 2008, actually, and it’s a rather ironic story.
I’d been active on FlyerTalk for years prior, and as you mentioned in the intro, was enabling first class travel for myself (and my parents) by mileage running nearly every weekend throughout high school and college. Despite what people might think, I still managed to get decent grades, and actually never missed a class or assignment due to travel.
I’d just come off a pretty brutal series of transcon flights (at that time Tampa-Dulles- Orlando-Los Angeles-Portland-Seattle and back was a typical weekend for me), and somehow forgot to set my alarm. I woke up halfway through my class, which, of course, had an exam scheduled for that day.
I was really upset, and set about trying to make myself feel better. Obviously, when you’re in college the way to do that isn’t to email the professor, or otherwise solve the problem – it’s to find a distraction, so I emailed Randy Peterson to follow up on a new project he was starting, which was going to be called “BoardingArea.”
Within a few weeks I was blogging, and it’s been an amazing journey.
Oh, and the class I missed? A computer skills course. Explains a lot, right?
Rene – Just amazing. Another question I am sure so many want to know is do you “live” on jets and in luxury hotels each day? From the blog it seems you never stop moving! Do you?
Ben – Hah! It’s interesting, because that’s actually something I also get a lot of criticism for. I got hooked on this hobby when I realized that by investing my time, I could fly Lufthansa First for the same price I’d been paying for coach.
Although the equation has changed over the years, the value proposition still makes a great deal of sense for me. I don’t generally blog about the mileage runs and mattress runs I do, as I can’t imagine anyone wants to read a DFW-ORD trip report, but there is certainly a less glamorous side to my travel!
Advances in technology also mean I don’t have to try and sneak trips in on the weekend, and can “efficiently” do a lot more travel. For example, I’m in the middle of a 30,000 mile blitz to finish my year-end status runs – I’m spending seven of nine nights in the air, but every segment has Wifi and outlets, and all the longhaul flights have flat-bed seats! This would have been impossible even a few years ago, but it means I can keep up with the blog and my award booking service without worrying that my in-flight time is hurting my business.
I’ve been averaging probably 300,000 flown miles per year lately, and maybe 150 nights in hotels, so I’m home probably half the time. I’m actually trying to put together a plan to live in hotels full time in 2014, so that should be interesting.
Rene – Giggle – wow! You are truly an expert when it comes to 1st class travel. Are you afraid of what is going to happen next year and beyond with all the changes going on with travel programs?
Ben – I’m not afraid, necessarily, though it will certainly take some adjustment. The United devaluation is particularly difficult, as the split award chart makes it tough to justify the value of an alliance, and Delta continues to alienate travelers with their dishonest tactics. We’re also still waiting for the other foot to fall with the US Airways and American merger, so it will certainly be an exciting year.
The thing to keep in mind, however, is that this game is always changing and evolving. Miles are easier to come by (in ways) than they’ve been in my lifetime at least, and the products available are getting better and better. I had a double bed on an A380 to myself this year! That’s just ridiculous, and not something that was available even this time last year.
So while these changes are difficult, I really think it’s more of a new chapter, and we have to continue to find ways to maximize our miles and experiences with the new rules.
Rene – Thanks for that insight. Do you have any amazing, and for you I know that is saying a lot, trips planned for 2014?
Ben – I typically don’t plan that far in advance, actually! I do have a few things ticketed on some of the Middle Eastern carriers that I think will be fun to read about. I’m also planning a One World Explorer award with American, and want to continue my quest to fly every A380, so you should see some Korean Air and Air France reports. Since this is your blog I won’t emphasize that neither of those products can be redeemed for with SkyMiles :p
As a consolation, however, I am also trying to put together a Skyteam Business class trip to Europe, though that will likely have to be booked rather last-minute.
Rene – So what can we look forward to from One Mile at a Time next year. Do you have any grand plans for the blog?
Ben – Hah, that is one area where I always have tons of plans. I’m working on updating some of the technology (which, as previously mentioned, is really a challenge for me), and am hoping to refresh the site a bit.
In general though I want to keep focusing on the core elements of the game – earning points and then burning them – so you’ll continue to see trip reports featuring great products, along with posts detailing how to get the miles for those aspirational trips!
Rene – Thanks Ben for taking the time to chat and for the chance to get to know you.
Ben – Of course Rene! Thank you as well!
You can follow Ben on his blog at BoardingArea, via Twitter, via Instagram and Facebook. If you need award booking help you can check out his service as well. If you like points, luxury travel and nice hotels – you need to read Ben’s blog each day! Be sure to check back next week for a chat with “your” BA blogger Gary from A View from the Wing. – René