This blog could also be titled: "How I started my own frequent flyer program..."
For the longest time I have been an avid collector of Status Points. The more I had the better I felt. Cut the queues, get a free drink, an upgraded room, a better seat; It was all about status, and being recognized for who I am. I am is an international traveler, terribly predictable and awfully repetitive. George Clooney, in his movie "Up In The Air" was my mascot. I had lots of Status, and zero self respect.
Do not misunderstand me. It was fun. It is indeed better to sleep in a larger room in a hotel, and get that free drink at check-in. It is more comfortable to use the Gold VIP queue at airport check-in. It is nicer to drive a larger, stronger car. It is definitely easier to fly business class than economy. And while it was all "free", it came at a cost. I had become a beggar, and I had been wasting time on "the points race"
Over the last few years, I have seen frequent flyer clubs increase the number of miles needed to earn benefits. The memberships have become so hard to maintain that I started loosing one status after another. The business atmosphere also changed. Business travel was looking at cheaper alternatives for hotels, and a smaller entertainment budget. Both meant less points on my hotel memberships, and credit card status points.
As a knee jerk reaction to these new membership criteria, I quickly adopted a new philosophy, and a bad one if I say so myself. I started focusing on a single airline, so at least I could keep a Gold status with one company. I made it a point to sleep in the same hotel chain, so I could collect the points, and I always rented cars from the same company. This turned out to be the worst decision I could make.
I ended up paying more for flights, as I had lost the competitive nature of the business. I also found myself making connections in airports that did not really make sense to my travel plans, and lost countless hours detouring just to get those extra points. With points value going down, what points I did end up collecting were pretty much useless. And do not for a minute forget that I had to beg at airports. "Can I get a free upgrade?"; "Can I get a better seat?" I must have asked this a thousand times, just because as a Status flyer I hoped I deserved it. I think begging took a bigger toll on my well-being than anything else.
I did not fare much better with hotels. Staying with a single chain meant I did not always choose the best hotel or the best price, or even the most convenient location. Once more I was loosing time and money. And yes.... the begging for an upgrade never stopped. Sure, when I asked at check-in I did not "beg", I more or less demanded my rights, but inside, I knew I was begging.
I could go on an on about membership clubs and how they got me to plan my trips incorrectly, and had me begging for a freebie, but you get the point.
And then, about a year ago, I established my own frequent flyer program. It fits my needs to perfection, and since I am the owner of the program, I do not have to beg; I get all I want when I want it. So now I plan my flights to meet my schedules, and I do not take extra connections if not needed. I also find cheaper flights. True, I do not get as many upgrades as before, but I was not getting them anyways. And since I know I do not deserve them, I stopped asking for them. I feel much better not having to beg. With the time and money I save, I allow myself to go to a good restaurant before or after I land; I find its much better than the free peanuts and stale sandwiches in the lounges.
I also choose hotels that are better suited for my trip. I take a room that fits my needs, and ignore the possibility for upgrade. If I really needed a larger room, I would have booked it. Since I save money on hotels and taxis now(location, location), I can afford a nicer, upgraded room once in a while, without begging. I simply book it. Its much nicer to check into a suite without having to "ask" for it.
So there. I have established my own frequent flyer program. From day one I have given myself the highest status of "Golden President and Ambassador". Under this program I am allowed to book flights on any airline, sleep in any hotel, take any room I want, and with the time I save, I write blogs. With the money I save, by the way, I buy my "free" tickets to anywhere I want, and I have no blackout periods. Begging is not allowed under the terms of this membership.