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.
Today we get to meet another world traveler that not only has an amazing blog but also knows more about points, programs and routes than most people I know. Adam writes the blog Point Me to the Plane and also travels 100,000 miles a year and stays 100 nights at hotels for his full time job. I am so happy to have some time out of his busy schedule to get to know him better. Let’s dive in and get to know Adam.
Rene – Hello Adam. I have been looking forward to this chat for a long time. I am always so impressed with those who have full time jobs and still find so much time for our passion of points and miles. But first, what motivated you to blog and how did you find BA as your home for the blog?
Adam – Hi Rene. Thanks so much for having me, I really enjoy reading these each week. Point Me to the Plane actually started as an internal email newsletter for my colleagues. We were all traveling constantly for work and earning points and miles along the way. In order to prevent those co-workers who were less points obsessed from squandering their mileage collection opportunities, I started a weekly email to update them on upcoming promotions, help maximize their points, assist with redemptions, and provide air, hotel, and sightseeing advice. The email distribution quickly expanded to family and friends and then continued growing.
At the same time I was a big fan of BoardingArea and decided to email Randy to discuss turning the newsletter into a blog. Randy asked if I could forward him some of the newsletters and the rest is history – we coined “a young professional’s advice and perspective on the points game and the latest travel news”.
Rene – I love it. So many ask what it takes to be a travel blogger. Many times people start as you did but they cannot keep going neither do they have the expertise you have. I have to tell you my head just spins when I look at your “categories” list on your blog. I mean, is there any airline or country or hotel you have not flown, been too or stayed at?
Adam – Hah, I have to get those categories cleaned up soon! I really am happy to be obsessed with this points hobby, but also find the daily news items in the aviation, lodging, and travel industry in general to be super interesting too. Each day I’m acquiring as much knowledge as possible and doing my best to share it with the reader community. Some news might not seem all that points relevant at the time, but it certainly can be down the road – from redeeming points on new equipment or seat types, to potential tie-ups and mergers.
My goal was to visit 30 countries by 30 and I’m happy to report back that the current count is at 73! Now, I don’t count transiting through airports or train stations, I’m talking legitimately making time to explore each new location. Unfortunately, with those types of requirements, work trips haven’t been the most helpful. Instead, I use miles and points to fund my leisurely exploring. In terms of airlines and hotels, I love experiencing something new and so I do my best to sample a new carrier on each leg of a trip, trying hard to avoid the same product on the long-haul sectors – gotta have fresh trip reports! For lodging, I’m a big Starwood fan, though I do switch up the SPG brands and locations for my stays. With work travel in 2013, I somehow also managed to hit Hilton HHonors Diamond status. I’m currently making a conscious effort to diversify to Hyatt this year and I just successfully completed my Diamond challenge…at only $49 a night at a Hyatt Place!
Rene – Truly dizzying! Wow. I have to tell you, bloggers like you amaze me. I do not have any idea how you keep all the things you do in your head. And I have to ask you and give a bit of a shameless plug about what else you do that is award booking with the service Juicy Miles. I know many readers are very appreciative of your service. How do you do what you do and keep it all straight with all the different airlines and routes? How do you do it?
Adam – Thanks for the plug Rene ;-). Yes, very busy indeed two full time jobs, the blog, and Juicy Miles! Interestingly enough, Juicy Miles also came about from literally feeling physical pain as I saw colleagues wasting their miles on short hop domestic trips to Florida. All of the sudden there were all these people at work who were following my advice from the newsletter, taking advantage of different promotions to get the most out of their required business flights, and then wasting those miles! Trips to visit family and friends in the US are great and all, but it almost always pays to buy those flights (unless it’s a holiday or busy travel period). To help explain my case, I started including trip reports in the newsletter. Pictures don’t lie and when you caption them with a price of $30 or less for a roundtrip flight to Europe, Asia, Hawaii, etc. everyone wants in! The routing rules for each airline sort of became another hobby of mine and I actually enjoyed constructing complex itineraries. Some people like crosswords, I like award reservations. I educated myself (with the help of Flyertalk etc.) on each carrier’s rules and then just kept myself updated with new routes, partnerships, alliance members, etc.
I’m really proud of Juicy Miles and it’s grown considerably since it first launched. We now have a team of 7 expert bookers, each with their own specialization and skill set. I’m sure that several of your readers are familiar with Christopher, he and I handle all of the Delta / SkyTeam award requests. People joke about SkyPesos, but there are still some amazing redemption opportunities. Virgin Australia is always exciting, but now the new KLM World Business Class is making for a great redemption to Europe on SkyMiles as well.
Rene – That is so neat and I fly Delta / Skyteam all the time and you have me all excited about what is next. Love it. OK on to a few more questions before you run. You are soon to cross the 2 year blogging milestone. Let me be the first to say congratulations for that as it is a major accomplishment. What can we look forward to from Point Me to the Plane in year 3 and beyond. Do you have any amazing trips planned that we can look forward to reading about and thinking about asking you to help us book as well?
Adam – Isn’t that crazy? I cannot believe that late April will be two years of Point Me to the Plane! It is a lot of work having these two “side jobs”, but they are so much fun and I’d never give up either of them. In order to get the best possible award inventory, I am one of those fliers who books my award flights just a few days (sometimes a week or so) out. However, I do have quite a few trips planned in 2014 which were forced upon me by the United, Delta, and Hyatt devaluations. I am most looking forward to a trip to Mongolia, I’ve been dying to go for quite some time. I currently also have a trip back to Australia planned (haven’t been since 2003) with multiple stopovers in Asia including Burma! I’m also excited to return to Africa. I recently blogged about my ATL-JNB flight on Delta, as part of my trip to South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Zambia. Safari in South Africa was fantastic but this time I’m looking forward to seeing the great annual migration in Tanzania and Kenya (booked with SkyMiles). Throw in some World Cup in Brazil and I’m fully covered.
In terms of the blog, I’m very excited about a complete redesign as well as a very much enhanced and better organized trip report area…one of my favorite parts of the blog. We also have some exciting contests coming up to celebrate the AA/US merger and launch of several of their new aircraft. I’m also working to finalize several trip reports including a multi-part series from my recent Emirates A380 First Class Shower Suite trip to the Maldives. I’ll actually be switching to a more local based job and so it will be interesting to follow along as I attempt to maintain my status without the work trips. In general though, the blog will continue posting the latest points, travel, and airline news each and every day. The news won’t always be positive as we’ve seen the last few months, but I do think it’s going to be quite an exciting year for PMttP!
Rene – I cannot wait to keep up with all your travels. Adam, thank you so much for sitting down and for the chance to get to know you better. I love the blog, so appreciate your booking service and all the help you provide to readers just like me!
Adam – Thanks Rene, I’m a huge fan of DeltaPoints and the DeltaPoints reader community and love assisting them with their requests (we currently have some exciting Round-the-World requests in the works)! It was great to finally chat with you and I’m looking forward to meeting up with everyone in Seattle for FTU!
You can read more at Adam’s blog, follow him on Twitter and RSS feed and learn about his award booking service as well. Be sure to check back next week when you will have a chance to get to know another one of your all time favorite BA bloggers one on one! – René
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