Back in November when me and 220 other aerophiles were jetting around in a chartered Boeing 757-300 there were a couple reporters along for the ride. They each focused on different aspects of why all all of us were there and what motivates us to travel as much as we do. Some of them got it and some of them most certainly did not. But none of them managed to relay the story quite as eloquently as Greg Lindsay, writing in the February 2010 issue of Condé Nast Traveler magazine.
His article, Triumph of the Air Warriors captures the spirit of that specific trip as well as the joy that many frequent flyers find in hunting down deals, identifying loopholes and otherwise fighting back just a little bit against a system that is decidedly stacked against the customer.
"I call it Airworld," Bingham says in the novel by Walter Kirn on which [Up in the Air] is based. "The scene, the place, the style. . . . Airworld is a nation within a nation, with its own language, architecture, mood, and even its own currency—the token economy of airline bonus miles that I’ve come to value more than dollars. Inflation doesn’t degrade them. They’re not taxed. They’re private property in its purest form."
For you, Airworld is the nowhere you pass through on your way to a meeting or a vacation. It’s the series of tubes from security to your gate, and to the rental car lots, chain hotels, and fast-casual restaurants. At every stop, if you’re savvy, you earn precious miles. American Airlines launched the first frequent-flier program almost 30 years ago on a lark; United followed suit a week later. Therein lies the tale—and many free trips to Hawaii. These led to real-life Clooneys endlessly chasing miles—and who knows what else.
And that’s what it is for me. The chase of the miles. The hunt for bargains. The chase for new cities, airlines, aircraft or just random trips that I’m just crazy enough to take. Lindsay spoke with a couple dozen “Air Warriors” – residents of AirWorld – about their adventures. And the stories we tell are full of frivolity, challenges and conquests. From one guy’s tale of his earliest memory – falling down the stairs of a 747 as a three year old – to a story of a mass revolution against an airline’s declining product quality, the stories are great reads.
Plus, I’m quoted a few times in the article; I’m sure that contributes to my appreciation of it.
You can read it here (http://www.concierge.com/cntraveler/articles/502250) or pick up a copy on the newsstands. The print version has a pretty awesome photo, too.
- A week-long Frequent Flyer party
- A WSJ video about my crazy trip last week
- I just worked beverage service for a 90 minute flight
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