Have you ever wondered why other people are so dumb and you’re such a genius? Happens to me all the time. I remember looking at some guys out there that were ‘paying’ for flights and doing mileage runs to gain status, when I could fly for free…. But when you talk to these guys, it turns out that they aren’t idiots at all…
If you know someone in the room is an idiot but aren’t sure who it might be, take a look to your left, then your right.. don’t see them.. perhaps its you?
One thing I’m very aware of is that I tend to stick to what I know. Devaluation or not, I’ve been booking my flights this way since day 1:
Sure, I use partners, and once I even flew on JetBlue.. but basically, I use AADvantage, MileagePlus and Avios…why is that?
Comfort and Capacity
People hate change. We stick with what we know, whether it is the best for us or not, and these days we are increasingly overloaded, and while everyone here knows that the ANA chart (or is it the Korean chart?) is epic, we like to stick with United, and its shitty website, because at least we know it.
Want to play a game?
I don’t think anyone would have the gumption to do this. But what if you had to drop all your existing programs for 6 months. The world wouldn’t end, and if you were dedicated, you’d be forced to learn a lot about other things outside of your knowledge base. Humans are notoriously good at adapting and evolving when forced to do so, but if you give us the choice.. we’d rather not.
Why even bother?
What if you learned that your knowledge created limitations? You’re supposed expertise at the AAdvantage bookings means that you’d focus all your energy on them, but if they move the goal posts on you, EG taking away all the good inventory… you’re trapped. You have points, know how to book with them, and a desire to travel… these ‘skills’ create walls of a funnel and they direct you to places that are less than ideal.
A couple of guys i’ve noticed on twitter are Free-quent Flyer and Amol. These two clearly are very much into the not an idiot mode of travel hacking. I’d be happy to admit that they know a lot more than I about travel hacking. Yet these guys both have status, that came from paying ‘money’ on a flight. How can this be? He’s not an idiot, and he’s not an idiot… what does that make me?
Two clues lie within their programs of choice… TYP and FlexPerks. These are both programs that I do not collect in, because I’m comfy with my AA,UA,BA world… but what am I missing out on based on my own comfort and capacity?
To flip that around, are they missing out on anything based on their own approach? FQF for example tends to fly on these domestic tickets a lot, leveraging super sweet spots with the Flexperks and other programs.. but I see little of him flying internationally. While it could be that he simply doesn’t want to (or would get arrested when leaving the country due to an Interpol investigation..) could it be that he doesn’t because the trappings of his program choices forge his reality?
For me, I can see from a surface level that if you fly a lot of domestic trips, getting status, and paying for tickets makes sense. Paying for them with certain types of points makes a lot more sense than cash. That said, the manner in which you redeem should match your goals.
The problem is, when all you have is a hammer, everything becomes a nail.
The end game
Ultimately, I think I seek efficiency at all times, how can I always achieve my goals with the smallest cost? However, the path to getting there can be filled with distractions and ‘good enoughs’… what happens when the distractions start influencing our view on the world, and our comfort starts dictating how we travel?
Trying to expand one’s own horizons is never easy. It’s not even linear. I’m trying to wean Husband away from Delta, with the coming debacle in their miles program, and toward a combo of AA and MRPs, with a side of Alaska.
That way, we can still fly Delta, which is by far the most convenient out of MSP, and not waste any more miles than necessary. But it’s a learning process. It took me about a month to absorb the issues to come, and I read the blogs and the discussions. For him, being outside the hacking world, I’ll need to go over it in detail. Now that the US Open is finished, maybe I can get him listening!