How I got into this hobby
When I talk to people about my “travel hacking” they always tend to ask me how I got into this hobby and what it actually is. Most of the times I get funny reactions as people think I’m crazy or they are in disbelief about how I got some great cheap deals on a hotel reservation or flight.
In late 2013 I was looking for cheap fares to get to the USA and I stumbled across the words “error fare” which were completely unknown and new to me. I spent hours searching on Google and reading all kinds of articles which triggered me to think how to benefit from things like a status match, loyalty programs and elite status… Eventually I found my way to the biggest frequent flyer community in the world, Flyertalk, and from that point in time I was hooked!
As I didn’t do a lot of flying my main focus was on hotel elite status and through a blog I found on Google I read how to get status quickly through a status match. Because I lacked the knowledge, I started requesting a status match with every possible hotel loyalty program without even having the need for it. It was only a year later that I realised that this was useless, but you learn from making mistakes!
These days I put the focus on a limited number of hotel chains and try to maximize the benefits I get from them, my best score so far was getting an upgrade to a 2 room senior suite at the Intercontinental Hotel in Berlin. I am far from being an advanced travel hacker, because it’s a skillset you build up over the years and invest a lot of time in doing research. In my case, it’s a hobby that got a “bit” out of control to say the least.
It wasn’t until 2015 that I got my first airline elite status with American Airlines, which will soon be featured in an article on this blog. From the moment I had it, I was able to match it to elite status with Alitalia (SkyTeam Elite Plus) and Copa Airlines (Star Alliance Gold). So things can move fast, but the goal now is to maintain my elite status and with the upcoming changes in several loyalty programs it won’t be easy, but it just depends on how much I want it…
The thing about this hobby is that when you do your homework, you can invest a minimum amount of money and get a long way with it. Ok it’s an addiction and can take up a lot of time, but you reap the rewards in the long run. Some people are just not interested, come up with the argument of lacking time… well hey then don’t come and complain to me that you paid way too much for your flight or vacation if you’re not willing to invest! Or have me look for you for a small compensation 🙂
I spoke about addiction in the previous paragraph, well I’m glad I’m not alone in this hobby because if you look at the online community of Flyertalk you’ll see that there are over 600.000 members and over 25 million posts which are all related to frequent flying or travel. To give you an idea of what my hobby is all about, have a look at this next video by Gabriel Leigh which most addicts like me will have seen numerous times…
As you can see, this stimulated my motivation even more to get into this hobby! The pursuit of elite status is addictive and to quote a fellow travel geek: “You’re an elite status slut!”. Maybe I just like to game the system and try to make the most of my 33 hotel loyalty and frequent flyer accounts.
It just depends how far you wanna take it, I’m currently trying to find out what my limits are, how crazy I can make it in terms of flying to certain places to get miles, what kind of redemptions are possible. For those completely unfamiliar with this phenomenon, I’m hoping to share some of the things I’ve learned since I began.
Till next time!