Everywhere and nowhere


I travel a fair bit…a bit more than I can enjoy, actually. To me, an airplane represents a period of tedious antiseptic confinement, and a hotel room is a closet with a bed that I’ll use for sleeping, nothing more. So this story of a subculture that games the airlines to get constant free travel and hotel rooms is a horror story to me. They fly around pointlessly, land in exotic places and never leave the airport, just waiting to board the next leg of their circuit.

I guess it is a kind of game, and these people are masters of it. I just don’t see the point.


  1. Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened says

    I guess it is a kind of game, and these people are masters of it. I just don’t see the point.

    I get the appeal of a free first-class flight and a night in a 5 star hotel, but considering you don’t actually get to do anything, and considering the amount of effort involved, is it really worth it? I mean, 40 fucking credit cards? I don’t even trust myself with one!

  2. frog says

    Everybody needs a hobby, I guess? If he enjoys being on an airplane all the time, then he’s found the right job for him. I’m pretty impressed he found a way to monetize the activity.

    Is it something I would want to do? Of course not. I enjoy flying (esp if I can avoid coach), but I prefer to see the destination for a few days. But there are lots and lots of jobs I wouldn’t want to have even if I were qualified: professional football (American) player, stockbroker, POTUS…

    At least he’s not bankrupting investors, bombing other countries, or getting his head bashed.

  3. qwints says

    I know plenty of people who do a very minor version of this, but always with the goal of actually going on a vacation.

  4. M'thew says

    I guess my recent flight back from Kuala Lumpur to Europe (two 7 hour legs with a stop-over in Dubai as we were flying Emirates) would have been more pleasant if we had booked first class instead of economy. Nevertheless, the bad air inside the plane and the constant roar of the air rushing past the fuselage would have made itself noticeable even in the firstest of classes. No thank you, I would not like to do that all the time. And I’d rather sleep at home in my own bed than in a hotel room.

  5. HolyPinkUnicorn says

    I don’t see the point either, but I’m really not a fan of flying. Frankly, I find it exhausting and I’m fairly sensitive to the cabin pressures found on commercial jets. (The thought of my grandfather flying in upressurized and unheated B-24s in WWII is something that makes even the handful of flights I’ve taken in C-130s sound luxurious by comparison.) I’ve driven across the U.S., with ten to eleven hours of the day spent driving, with short stops for fuel and food, and still didn’t feel anywhere near as bad as I have after half the time in an airliner.

    And if nothing else, someone who makes a living off gaming a system is generally not someone I would call a hero, even if it’s from luxury hotels and credit card companies. That, and the slightly greater exposure to cosmic radiation don’t seem to offer any real benefit.

  6. moarscienceplz says

    I’d pay good money to get antiseptic confinement on an airplane. Slip me into a fiberglass capsule and screw down the lid, please.

  7. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    I have to admit that The Hobby seems to be an interesting pastime. Gaming the system, exploiting all its loopholes, justifying it as illustrating the loopholes so the airlines can close them. The cost, however, of total devotion to being in the air, and anonymous hotel nights when occasionally on the ground, is a little too steep. Schlappig can have all the “fun”.
    ack, my bad. I kept reading his name as “schlepping” [definition of which, will be left for the reader. *hint* *hint* *nudge* *nudge*]

    re antiseptic:
    I don’t think that word (literally) actually applies for such an environment.

  8. magistramarla says

    My son-in-law travels a lot and he has on occasion taken an extra flight in order to game the system for a free upgrade, etc.
    He and my daughter have so many airline miles, it’s ridiculous. It is helpful when they “donate” miles to another family member who desperately needs to get somewhere.
    BTW, Where is everyone’s sense of adventure?
    I would love to be able to travel much more often than I do. I enjoy flights, even long ones, and I love staying in new places. The month that we spent traveling around Europe was a dream come true for me, and I was definitely not ready to come home to boring Texas.

  9. illdoittomorrow says

    I still like flying, though I only fly about one return trip every other year or so. The thrill of hard acceleration on takeoff, watching a new place swivel and pivot as we bank over it to land, the sudden change from smooth descent to bumpy runway on landing, even a bit of turbulence in between. Watching the landscape race by beneath me. Being able to reach anyplace on the planet in a matter of a couple days, with no effort on my part except for sitting in a semi-fetal position and putting up with the squirming mass of sneezing, coughing humanity next to me. And walking into and out of an airport with nothing but a carry-on bag… that alone puts a smile on my face.

    Yup, still like flying.

  10. serena says

    “BTW, Where is everyone’s sense of adventure?”
    Ahh now, she’s in Chiswik!

  11. Holms says

    I think “I don’t see the point” could be said of everyone’s hobbies, if we overlook the bit about them having fun doing it.

  12. methuseus says

    First of all: this comes in the wake of airline deregulation, and it says that as a result of these policies, many people are getting shafted and paying much higher prices than they normally might. There’s no honest reason why the same seat should have 5 or more tiers of pricing that could possibly be applied to it. Thanks to deregulation and these frequent flyer programs, the average person who does not fly much (like me and all of my even somewhat distant family members) has to pay more than the average cost of a flight most of the time. Yeah, this guy is a real “hero”.

  13. John Horstman says

    On the basis of the fossil fuel/carbon emissions costs, I rate this as slightly less moral than killing small mammals for fun.

  14. says

    And then I read the whole article and, well, yeah, he probably would think that “Up in the Air” was paradise: he’s on the autism spectrum, he’s pretty detached from the wider world, and he’s obsessed with ‘winning’. I don’t think this is a life that anyone with a life would enjoy.

  15. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    re @15:
    Please Horstman, don’t go that way. [so I will] There’s lots of reasons to shudder at this kind of “gaming”. The carbon footprint is basically inconsequential, as those planes are spewing that CO2 regardless of him flying along. He’s basically just filling a seat that would have been empty without him. His added mass, being transported also, adds a little to the CO2 production, the morality burden is minimal.
    The carbon footprint only applies in the hypothetical, if everyone gamed the airlines that way flights will be added to accommodate the higher population of flyers who are flying while paying zero for the seat
    The problem with that hypothesis is, if that happened then the game would collapse entirely and no gamer would be flying ever again.