Listen up Troops! You are about to receive a series of highly unclassified briefings on frequent flyer miles. Now I know that some of you may have knowledge of this subject and for you there will be advanced training. However, for the majority of you this is something you are dimly aware of, but probably don’t know much about, other than that annoying announcement the Flight Attendant makes right after the safety briefing you ignored. Let me tell you a war story of what you might be missing.
Iraq November 2008.
My XO: “Hey, Sir, where are you going for R&R?”
Me: “I’m flying to Sydney and meeting my family there. Then we are going to take a cruise around the south Pacific and visit Fiji, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia. Hope to take my daughter scuba diving for the first time.”
XO: “Holy Cow, that sounds fantastic, all I did on my R&R was spend two weeks at home. That must be costing you a fortune.”
Me: “Not really. The cruise is costing me less than $100 per night per person and , as you know, the military will fly me anywhere I want to go for free, so I might as well fly someplace exotic.”
XO: “ Yeah, but flying your family from Alaska to Sydney must cost thousands.”
Me: “No, hardly anything. I used miles from my Alaska Air and United accounts to Fly my wife in Business Class to Sydney and I found an inexpensive coach ticket for my daughter to fly out from Baltimore where she is going to college.”
XO: “Baltimore to Sydney in coach, that must be killer.”
Me: “Well, it would be except I used something called a Systemwide Upgrade to get her into Business Class for free the whole way.”
XO: “Wouldn’t it have been cheaper just to get her a free ticket like you did with your wife?”
Me: “Yes, but then she wouldn’t earn miles in order for her to become an elite flyer on United.”
XO: “Uh, OK, sounds great, but my head is spinning just trying to understand all that.”
Me: “You have much to learn Young Padawan. Sit down and I will explain it all.”
The above is all true. I am a senior Army officer, you can call me Colonel, that has over 26 years in the service and flown all over the world. I have accumulated millions of frequent flyer miles and am such a good customer that the airlines often upgrade me for free. I use my miles to fly friends and family around in First Class for free. I can teach you how to do all this too in exchange for a little work on your side. Stand by for further instructions!