Dear Frequent Flyers: Please Stop Whining

Filed Under: Advice

It doesn’t really bring me any joy to write this post, but I feel like someone needs to say this? Let me note upfront that this is addressed to a very small percentage of people in our little “world,” and it’s not intended to be personal. Rather it’s intended to encourage people to step back and look at the big picture right now.

The past few weeks has taught us a lot

I understand that a vast majority of people are in a tough spot right now — people are lonely, people are struggling financially, and frankly this whole situation is just kind of sad and depressing.

If there’s any silver lining to this, it’s that I hope it has given many of us a new perspective on things:

  • I have a new appreciation for travel, and in the future will no longer take it for granted
  • I also have a new appreciation for other simple pleasures in life, from going to a restaurant, to going to a park, to going to the gym
  • This has also been a reminder of what matters in life — family, health, security, etc.

In my case that last point is actually something I’ve really come to appreciate over the past year. With my mom being sick, it’s something that has very much been on my mind.

Beyond that, my (perhaps) reckless younger years of nonstop travel have reminded me that traveling constantly doesn’t make you happy, but rather is a distraction that’s a means to an end. While I still love travel, I’m just as happy at home with Winston and Ford, as I am anywhere else in the world.

It’s pretty telling of the current state of things when this ad from Emirates almost brings me to tears:

Do some frequent flyers think everything is unfair?

This blog is about travel and loyalty programs, so it’s understandable that this is what’s discussed here, and I encourage commenters to share their thoughts as well, whether I agree with them or not.

We care more about this than just about anyone, though hopefully most of us can still keep the big picture in context. Lately I can’t help but notice an uptick of comments that lack perspective of the current situation.

For example, we’ve seen airlines and hotel loyalty programs extend status by 12 months and introduce other initiatives to take care of members. In most cases I’d say the solutions from airlines and hotels are about the “best case scenario” in terms of what we can expect.

Nonetheless, with every single one of these announcements I’ve written about, I’ve seen some people complaining about how it’s “not fair,” because it doesn’t exactly bring them the most personal benefit.

It doesn’t matter what program it is, that has been the case across the board. I don’t mean to call out specific people here, but I’ll share a few examples below — two of airline programs and one of a hotel program — though there are plenty more examples.

When Delta announced they’d extend status, the first comment was this:

for those that have already re-qualified for Diamond (125K+ MQM & 15K MQD or 250K AMEX spend) will the status be valid thru 1/31/2023?

if not, it’ll punish the members that already qualified.

When Air France-KLM announced they’d extend status, the first comment was this:

What they are offering here is totally rubbish…shows how loyalty gets rewarded. Basically they are penalizing those that have flown a lot by just using the rollover XP’s to main the status while those that did not fly too much to have rollover XP’s – these just get extended without any need or used of rollover XP’s.

Very very unfair. This is just a “fake” status extension in my opinion and not a true one like what DL, UA or AA (or heck any other major non-major airlines in the world). OTOH, typical Flying Blue….

When Marriott announced they’d extend status, one commenter said:

I just re-qualified for ambassador status with $22,000 and 114 nights. This sucks for me. I will have to contact Marriott to see if they will roll-over my 2020 nights to 2021 for 2022 re-qualification.

My problem with these perspectives

I find these arguments to be strange under normal circumstances, and downright out of touch given the current circumstances. If “fairness” is your thing, then airline and hotel loyalty programs shouldn’t be for you:

  • There aren’t industries with more variable (aka “unfair”) pricing than the airline and hotel industry; how is it fair that two people could get the exact same product, but could pay exponentially different amounts?
  • Rewards programs are inherently “unfair,” since all members are getting different value from the program; how is it fair that one person redeems 55,000 miles for an economy seat, and another redeems 55,000 miles for a first class seat on the same flight?
  • Even during good times, programs give away top tier status on a targeted basis, offer different promotions to different members, and more; isn’t that also “unfair?”

That’s the case under normal circumstances. Now look at the current circumstances:

  • Over two million people have been infected with COVID-19, and tens of thousands of people have died
  • The global economy is in shambles
  • Many places in the world have been on lockdown for weeks
  • Unemployment is at new record highs
  • Specific to the airline and hotel industry, a countless number of people have been furloughed, and others have taken pay cuts
  • Airlines expect revenue this year to drop 300 billion USD

If your biggest concern right now is whether it’s fair that someone else gets status next year that you put more effort into, then, well, I think it’s time to reconsider priorities.

Bottom line

I get loyalty programs are a passion for many of us, as they are for me as well. During good times I’ll absolutely rag on airlines for their customer unfriendly moves.

However, I think in this situation some perspective is important. For the programs doing what they can to take care of members, I find it a bit ridiculous that some people feel like victims because the exact way the status extensions are being structured doesn’t maximize the value those members get.

Let’s look at the bigger picture, and hope that the global situation will improve soon, and that we’ll be back in the sky.

Comments
  1. Hell yes, Ben, thank you for writing this post. There is so much pain and grief in the world right now – maybe we can all stop whining about whether our points or status are unfair for a moment.

  2. Although I agree with your post, it’s a bit odd to write this after an article about sas screwing people over.

  3. First world problems…some people will always play the victim. I agree a step-back to see the bigger picture is in order here. Thank you for the post.

  4. THANK YOU!!! I could not agree more and appreciate kindness and perspective now more than any time. I had a similar journey over the last 12 months. I traveled 3 weeks per month and fly 600k+ miles per year as both a Concierge Key and Global Services member. My mom had cancer last year. I too appreciate more than I did a year ago, I find comfort being home with my husband and family. I hope I do not lose the perspective and the appreciation for what’s important … but I cannot wait to get on a plane and go somewhere 🙂 Stay safe!

  5. @ Yreal — While I appreciate the optics might be strange, I think there’s an important distinction to be made. My issue is with complaints about programs that are actually trying.

    That’s different than SAS, because with SAS:
    — Miles expire after five years, regardless of any account activity
    — SAS has suspended many redemption types, including Star Alliance awards, merchandise, etc.

    So them not extending the expiration of miles *is* very much screwing over their membership at large. Also, as I think you’ll notice in that post, I stuck pretty closely to just reporting facts…

  6. Yes!!! 100% Agree! Thank you so much for writing this. I’m sure many of us will disagree at the edges of what specific sentiment constitutes “too much whining,” but I absolutely agree with the general statement of this post.

  7. I like it when they performatively wail and gnash their teeth about how they’re NEVER going to fly this airline or stay at that hotel after the latest injustice that has set off their histrionics, even though they’ve been a Quadruple Super Diamond Elite for 35 years and blah blah blah

  8. @lucky

    Agreed. I was not being judgmental of your post about sas.

    These times are weird enough as it is. I feel an urge to just take a 1h flight and turn right back around… just for the sake of it.

  9. I am satisfied now that American has extended my status. I can be more of a free agent than I normally would be for the rest of the year. Although, I have quite a few tickets to rebook with American and will probably still book primarily American for domestic coach to take advantage of my benefits, but I can be much more open to other options.

  10. Amen Lucky! I think many of the commenters that fall weigh in this camp have a slightly different perspective. While upset that other people are getting something, their main gripe is that they are not. People who have requalified in 2020 think their 2021 status should be extended THROUGH 2022, just because others 2020 status has been extended through 2021. This completely ignores the underlying reasons for extending status, and the disincentive such an extension would have (no need to earn until 2022, even if everything is back to normal in 2021). It’s a whiny, illogical, ME! ME! ME! Complaint.

  11. The entire idea of people (not just frequent flyers, but especially frequent flyers) complaining that they cannot fly or travel right now blows my mind. It also really puts our modern day travel culture into perspective of why people travel in the first place and how that has changed over time.

    People didn’t used to travel for fun or for business. Not ordinary people at least. Travel was for migration, for diplomacy, and for the aristocracy. Most of us are not those people. Some would travel some distance for illness or recovery, but they weren’t necessarily going far.

    What we see in the global lockdown situation is a return to that culture of travel.

    I think with frequent travellers, many are stuck in this expectation of service in social (and business) contract culture that is prevalent today. But this idea ignores the reasons why travel happens in the first place. The dichotomy that travel is for “business or for pleasure” has always seemed somewhat false to me. Many people travelled for need outside of business or leisure. And they still do. Those are the people who are still flying (or, at least that’s who should still be flying during this situation). It is not merely an act of business to send healthcare workers where they are needed. It is certainly neither leisure nor business for someone to repatriate.

    Closing borders the way the world has must make us ask why we are travelling in the first place: do we really need to do this? These “elite” benefit programs are advertising selling points. They are rewards, not rights. And they have very little to do with the actual reasons why people need to travel as most of our travel is absolutely frivolous (as many of us can see).

  12. Our lives are much important than miles/points/status! Ben, thank you for remind us to look at the bigger pictures – <3

  13. These are the same people who complain about a lack of a “pre-departure” beverage. Karma is a b**ch and maybe a few of those people who looked down their noses at the people behind the curtain in coach will find themselves jobless and out on their asses. Humble pie anyone?

  14. Perspective is tough. There are people on here who still think Covid19 is “fake news”, or that it’s just like the annual flu, or it’s a situation that’s been deliberately engineered by China to wreck the world economy or destroy the US or some such.

    In the UK right now, there are people destroying mobile phone masts in arson attacks because they genuinely believe that 5G is — somehow — causing Covid19, and it’s all a plot by the UK government to kill off old people.

    Frankly, most of us who’ve been taking all these flights and staying in these hotels have never had it so good. The overwhelming majority of humans that have ever lived would be looking at our lives in amazement. Most of us reading your blog had pretty much won life’s lottery by being born when we were and where we were (that’s not to say there isn’t a huge amount of human pain and suffering in the world, some people have incredibly tough lives, etc).

  15. This is the best post of the year.

    I wanted to say the same on Flyertalk, but figure I will be bashed for ever.

    It is ridiculous to see people are asking everything under the sink from the airlines who will be struggling to survive and there are real world issues such as unemployment, sick people and social instability across the globe.

    I have respect for Ben for raising it!

  16. I was on track to get higher status this year because my travel had increased. The worth of it to me were two things: 1) convenience on business travel; and 2) perks I got when I travelled with my wife on our once a year European trip.

    Corona forced a change in perspective. I got it. While never hospitalized, it still sucked. The thought that I may have infected my family was the worst part of it. Fortunately, they have remained symptom free.

    So now, my business travel is gone for March, April, and likely several more months. When it comes back, it will likely be less. Our vacation is also gone – there’s nowhere to go. But I’ve had time with my family. I’ve felt the love of people concerned about me. And my dog who lays at my side in my home office is incredibly happy that she has all her people home with her all the time.

    Thank you American Airlines for extending my status. When my wife and I finally get that vacation, we promise to enjoy the Flagship Lounge.

  17. As a f/a for a major airline, I agree with this posting… and I would like to add, that I have witnessed some take advantage of all the empty seats in B/C, and demand her mother be freely upgraded to that cabin, thus being very rude to the gate agent. Clearly, this particular individual is an opportunist, taking advantage of low demand. Does anyone go to a hotel and demand a free upgrade to a suite?? I doubt it…. we’re all in this together…. one day at a time. 🙂

  18. To be fair about everyone acting status is nothing.

    Status brings me great joy, that i love to share. I have dragged people down to brussel from Amsterdam, just so we can hang around the airport and drink leffe beer in the lounge. I have convinced my mother to take indirect flights, just so we would get lounge acces and have loved every minut of it.

    In the grand play of things, its absolutly irrelevant. But it has brought my and my love ones some great memories.

  19. Well good luck to those frequent flyers for the future… Not only is the global economy on a decline, but I’m sure many companies are starting to see that a portion of their pre-COVID business travel maybe wasn’t really necessary… with a few exceptions, what’s the real *need* to send n someone/a group of people across the world on a 5000€ flight ticket + accommodation p.p. when the job can get done just as effectively in a telematic manner? Most companies will definitely be looking at cutting costs and with everything that’s going on right now (including videotelephony’s boom) I don’t see a very bright future for business travel (and most certainly not on par with pre-COVID).

    Just my two cents

  20. Amen to that. Just because someone flew a lot up until the end of the first trimester, doesn’t make him/her more important than someone who was supposed to fly a lot on the second trimester and beyond and couldn’t do it.

  21. Thank you. FT has become unreadable. A sad comment on our culture of self-absorption and entitlement.

  22. All of you poor people who are hungry for miles.

    I always travel on paid ticket in first and business class.

  23. Lucky, thanks for sharing the Emirates video. Let that remind us that hope is just around the corner.

  24. Thank you for writing this. Although I agree with your message, I don’t think it’s fair to call out specific people. I recommend removing the reader comments immediately.

  25. Great post Ben. There is an article I just read that puts a lot of things into perspective – as travel often does for me. It’s absolutely worth the read, and I encourage all your readers to do so:

    https://forge.medium.com/prepare-for-the-ultimate-gaslighting-6a8ce3f0a0e0

    Now is a great time for personal and professional introspection. Normally, we tend to think this affects others someplace else, though this is an absolute First for humanity, where everyone across the globe is affected.

    Anyone seen the articles on the effects on the environment, especially in places like New Delhi?:
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/11/positively-alpine-disbelief-air-pollution-falls-lockdown-coronavirus?CMP=oth_b-aplnews_d-1

    Time to wake up and stare at what is truly important.

  26. As a platinum member of Wyndham rewards I should know. Being the world traveler I am.

    Everyone is going through this not just the narcissists so deal with it people. You’re not the only one with money , points, and miles.

  27. The people who read and comment on your blog sure are terrible. But, I just read it and now I’m commenting, so…

    Off to have a long look in the mirror.

  28. I feel grateful to Air France for extending my FB Gold status one more year, haters can complain, I don’t care .. More importantly I hope most airlines can survive this crisis, which is not a given ..

  29. Thanks for this post Ben. It’s when the world is peaceful, wealthy, fat and happy that the worst qualities come out in many folks. It requires war, disaster, etc to show the world what humanity really is.

    As a FF Avgeek, I’ve spent the better part of a decade trying to piece together deals for amazing luxurious trips to exotic places, drinking the finest champagnes, staying at the poshest hotels, all for minimal expense. Carefree living at its best

    But as a doctor, I now head to work every day with a new profound respect for my and my patients’ mortality. I sometimes can’t believe how caught up in the absurd most of us have been for all these years.

    I truly hope the world can return to the days where we actually care about EQM’s, saver awards and Krug vs Dom Debates. But from where I’m at right now, your blog is likely the only escape I’ll have for a long time.

  30. This virus brings out the best and the worst in people. Whenever this ends, I’m sure there will be a return to our usual complaining. In the meantime, I’m very grateful for the prompt refunds of flights that were cancelled and the protection of previously booked flights which are still valid, at least as I write, but may end up cancelled due to closed borders or other COVID 19 related issues. The hotels have been great about changes and refunds as well. Travel, both professional and leisure, are at the low end of my worries currently. And I have to thank the airlines and hotels for that.

  31. Lucky,

    Enjoyed your article, there are a lot of us who have fortunate, blessed and privileged to have travel throughout the world. There are many more who ha e not been as fortunate, we should count our blessings.

    P.S. A blessing : I booked a trip to Singapore in January, I have read all the issues with getting refunds with United. I called yesterday, and they said, we will refund your money.

    Thank you for articles

  32. So much truth here – best post of the year (so far)!!!

    I think that inherently the crowd that FFPs attract are by nature opportunistic, then there is the fine line between that and greedy which quickly deteriorates and goes into a downward spiral (fraud etc)…

    It’s like children who when don’t get what they want they know nothing but to whine…!!! Can’t agree more that we should just be grateful for what we have – beyond me how some people seem to live in an alternative universe…

  33. I’m confused, because you’re the biggest complainer. I’m glad you’ve found some perspective but just wow, the level of whining from you was truly breathtaking.

  34. Hear, hear!

    @UA_Flyer – yeap, you are absolutely right with your prediction. As a Flying Blue platinum, I wrote something on a similar line as Lucky’s post in the AF/KL boards of Flyertalk that I’m very happy with their announcement today on the extension of statuses. However, the overwhelming majority of Flying Blue frequent flyers seems to complain about how unfair it was!

    Sure, the solution proposed by some airlines might not be ideal, but c’mon – we live in unprecedented times and we should give the airlines some slack.

    Besides that, what matters is what such decisions to extend status mean for *you* – not what it means for you compared to others! I don’t like the ‘it is unfair for xxx’ lines as running for and maintaining status is not a competition. As long as you maintain your status, what is to complain? I don’t give a dime whether I maintain it on my own strength or due to airline intervention.

  35. Given that most people are immune to nuance, you putting these events in perspective is well appreciated.

    That being said, since this and most blogs during normal times are filled with whining and complaining from both the authors and commenters…this does seem a bit “virtue signaling” to me.

  36. Agree with these views.

    However, I believe some of the comments are less related “fairness” but rather a sense of underappreciation. It is not unreasonable for someone who has been spending money with a program to feel frustrated they did not get something extra when so many others have received materially more free value. When rules change, if does not impact all the same way, will always have people who gripe as to the outcome.

    The issue is the tone-deaf whininess of certain FFs in the current environment. Frustration with a program’s decisions, ok. B!tching about your situation – nobody cares. People are free to complain directly to the program and change their spending habits going forward.

  37. Hello……welcome to the real world Lucky!! We’ve been waiting!! You’ve finally grown up and you’re ready to preach about it now!

    Great post, and couldn’t agree more. I’m glad the current situation has brought some perspective into your life. You have to admit, you were living in a little bit of a bubble pre-Covid when the worst of your worries was when a meal service took too long on a 6 hour jaunt across the pond – in Biz or First no less.

    Not trying to be snippy here but again, glad things are more in perspective for you now as they should be for everyone.

  38. Could not agree more. Unfortunately for some people, they see everything in terms of assessing what they “get” and if someone else is getting something and they do not get something of equal or greater value, then for them that is an injustice that they can never forget. I bet it is even more exhausting for those people to live with that mentality than it is for the rest of us to hear about it.

  39. @John,

    You’re right, totally fake. I now remember 10,000 people in New York City dying every month of every year. Thanks for opening our eyes. Moron.

  40. Airlines are businesses.

    Loyalty programs are businesses.

    If you don’t like what your hitherto preferred business is doing, you are free to not do business with them in the future. If you have suffered damages due to their action, you are free to use the legal system to seek redress.

    You are also free to whine about it publicly, and those that you whine to are free to laugh at you, ignore you, or tell you to get some perspective (like Lucky has done here). You in turn are free to disregard their views entirely.

    I’m actually pleased to see so many people grumbling about loyalty program changes at a time like this. If these issues are a big deal to them, they are probably doing better than most people are today.

  41. I am very sad about the early demise of many a380 fleets, with some such as Air France likely making the grounding forever.

    But I also know that not only do the Companies have to stay competitive in this globalised world, but people and their livelihoods and families come before personal comfort and you cannot expect the usual customer service in times like this.

    I still await my travel credit with some airlines, but remain civil if making a call to staff about its status, as they have not caused this but many are Getting unfair abuse. Same with telephone banking, remember the vast majority of people helping you are trying their best.

    The demand for such huge planes and first class decadence will likely not be there for a couple of years post the Pandemic and health crisis.

    Be fortunate that we got to experience the a380 age and on the other side the democratisation of long haul travel with Norwegian transatlantic Fares cheaper than many transnational (I personally cannot see them surviving a prolonged travel lockdown).
    A second golden generation of air travel is over in many ways. The sooner people come to terms with this fact and make the best of what will return the better.

  42. I remember once when checking into a beachfront hotel in Hawaii. The man at the front desk thanked me for my status (I just had mid level status) then cringed and said he was sorry they did not have any upgrades available (I did not ask for one). I told him I hope you don’t hold it against me but I always hope for an upgrade but in reality just expect what I booked. He laughed and said that he could give he. Then he said he wished more people felt that way. I felt for the guy. The relief on his face was noticeable when I didn’t make a big deal out the lack of upgrade.

  43. +1 for Matthew. Ben, It’s pretty funny to call out others for “whining” when you do offer perspectives on things you are disappointed with routinely. I am not criticizing that. It’s good to hear people’s viewpoints. But to say that others should stop sharing their disappointments? I realize a blog is not a democracy but is rather a monarchy, but really, c’mon.

    We are not here to figure skate. It’s hockey.

  44. I think I always have been treated fairly by KLM and Flying Blue.
    I suffer a little bit at the moment, so far 5 flights have been cancelled. I know, this is not the airline’s fault and I am confident I will get the tickets I have paid one day.
    But may I use this opportunity to say a big THANK YOU to KLM and Flying Blue, the travels I could do, for a good price by the way, were the best in my life and includes making to babies in a far away country. 🙂

  45. While I used to think that I would always be able to hop on a plane and go somewhere the trips in F were special. The last few years however I figured it could be my last F trip and that someday I would look back on it and think those were the good old days.

    This could be from miles devaluation, airlines getting rid of F or an economic meltdown.

    So if I learned anything in all these years is that good things usually do not last and you have to appreciate them in the moment.

  46. When times are good, I get it. But we are looking at the worst economic situation since the great Depression with lingering health issues/social distancing possibly until 2022. Priorities, people. If you can complain about status and amenities, you’ve got it pretty good. Count your blessings.

  47. Thanks for this post. As someone who basically works to travel, this has put a lot of things into perspective. Business is certainly not as good as it was, but I’m fortunate to still have business to attend to, and everyone around me is in good health. My wife has a big birthday coming up in July that we were planning on spending in Italy, but we’re probably (hopefully) going to move that somewhere an easy drive from home. And if that’s not possible, I’ll just have to cook a nice meal and we can pretend we’re somewhere far away. It just feels wrong to even be frustrated about not being able to go to Italy when there are so many people with real suffering.

    I’ve also been one who always thought I could hop on a plane at any time and the world would always continue to become more open with more destinations available to us every year. I certainly won’t view leaving this country and re-entering it with the same type of nonchalance I used to. And most of all, extremely grateful my wife and I were able to take two late 2019 trips to South America to see her grandmother for the final time and to attend her cousin’s wedding.

    For the first time in my adult life, international travel simply is not a priority this year. But my wife and I are determined to push it even more when we get to some kind of a new normal around travel. Thinking about Madagascar/Reunion…

  48. Ben Holz. You are so right. Anyone that thinks business travel is going back to where it was after this is deluding themselves.

    Coats will come under the microscope. And the test to pass now is not “what will we cut?” It is “what shall we reinstate” when it comes to business / corporate travel. Brutal reality is so much business travel is not really essential. And companies really will be very reticent to re-incur the costs.

  49. If I paid for a bagel with my hard earned money, and a homeless man walked in after me and received a free one, I’m not going to complain about that and demand they either take that bagel away or make my next one free.

    I don’t “lose” anything by the bagel store’s decision to arbitrarily dish out favors for others. I still got what I agreed to pay for.

  50. 95% of OPM flying is non-essential, and can be cut.
    Hopefully companies realize that through the inevitable recession.

  51. A fair and balanced post today. The “all about me” mentality is alive and well. I know I’ll see them barging to the front of the line when we (finally) get to board that next flight, and glaring at those of us who DARE sit in those premium seats. Get perspective people!!!

  52. For those calling out this post vs one that was posted in 2017 regarding fairness… there wasn’t a global pandemic in 2017. Lucky said as much – he loves criticizing (and probably whining like the rest of us) DURING GOOD TIMES. This is not one of those good times. It’s all about context and many people fail to realize it.

  53. Whining is my profession and protected under the constitution
    Please don’t take away my last bit of happiness

  54. Good for the mind to keep loyalty programs in perspective to all happening around us.

    Comforting to see you appear more settled now after years of hypermobility.

  55. Standing ovation from me on this one, Lucky! Perfectly put. Thanks for (at least trying to) admonish certain parties for being somewhat self-centered and lacking objectivity.

  56. IMHO, this has nothing to do with fairness or how the any particular industry is unfair. Transparency or fairness just makes you look like a bigger a…h..le if you complain, but you still complain. This is just simple human greed.

    If you give a mouse a cookie.

  57. I’m glad you wrote this. I had to stop reading the comments sections because I’ve noticed they’re getting pretty toxic. I’m an FA for a major airline and it was very dispiriting for me to read people trashing my airline and our FAs, saying things like “Why should we be nice to FAs when they’ve never been nice to us?” (See your post about why people need to be nice to airline employees). We’re human you know, we’re still here risking our health trying to get people where they need to be. I appreciate your blog a lot, and I’ve always loved reading it. Thanks for standing up for us

  58. Thanks for this, I guess.

    I know this is your blog, but I can’t help but feel that the title of this post to be hypocritical.

    While I appreciate you pointing out the difficulties of the travel industry during COVID-19, I don’t appreciate that you’re so quick to point fingers about whining when I could list a number of your blog posts of you whining (typically about American) and have it be as long as my arm.

    Judge not, lest ye be judged, but what do I know?

  59. I haven’t checked in for a while but saw this and thought @Lucky — I agree re. the whining few but I’m sorry, “this whole situation is just kind of sad and depressing” sounds like you’re describing, well almost anything except a global pandemic. Did you mean to understate it so much? This is worse than when you describe some first class delicacy as “nice”…

  60. Agreed, Lucky! Thank you for having perspective, especially from someone who does this for a living. It says a lot about you. Than you!

    Then there are travel websites that keep on pushing content about where they plan to travel, usually to exotic/expensive/rare places, after the crisis is over, even though we don’t know when that may be. Sure, we should look forward to our future travel and dreams and hope whenever that may be, by all means; but pushing that kind of content, when normal people are going to have a really hard time recovering from the economic impact that his has created, and so may not have the financial means to start traveling for leisure, perhaps for quite a while, is just tacky.

  61. Well, I guess I can relate to many of you comments – except one: “step back and look at the big picture right now”. Looking at the big picture makes things worse, much worse.

    Lucky, you still seem to have some income and you defnitely have a partner, a family, friends [and a cute dog] – unlike many of us … Unlike you, I’m trying to forget the big picture as much and as quickly as I can …

  62. @UA_Flyer

    When I read those first 3 complaints that Lucky posted, Flyertalk was the first thing that popped into mind. It’s become un-readable!

    I suppose since I just reached Lifetime Platinum on Marriott last year, I should ask for a bump-up to Titanium for 2021, since an extension of my “earned” platinum will still only net me … more platinum. LOL

    No hands to the face. stay safe everyone.

  63. A thought: Perhaps AMEX Platinum might reconsider how they rebate card holders. Can’t easily use the $200 airline credit, or the Uber monthly, or the SAKS 6th Avenue $50. Much simpler credit is the $300 Chase Saphire Reserve for transportation. AMEX may seem to be a greater gift back, but it is cumbersome even without Covid 19

  64. Of course everything is unfair. We are privileged and entitled. But thank God, we are still alive and healthy enough to whine about things that infringe on our privilege and entitlement. What do you expect from people whose time would otherwise be spent flaunting privilege and entitlement in front of the less fortunate who have no choice and are forced to fly cattle class? But seriously, it has taken some of us frequent fliers decades to get here. My first frequent flyer program was Pan Am, mid-1980s. It was fabulous. My father was the first ever to get first class RTW tickets for 2 with miles on Pan Am. When will OneWorld offer award RTW tickets again? They need to do that now that they lost LATAM.

  65. Thank you for the post, Lucky. As someone who is in the industry and has to deal with a lot of the whining, I appreciate you highlighting it in this post.
    People need to just be more thankful and kinder, especially in these tough times. Stay well everyone!

  66. Excellent and timely post, thank you!
    Often when my flight takes off I think of how “miraculous” it is that I can be transported to another city, another state or even another country in a fraction of the time it took my great grandmother to get from Iowa to Oklahoma to participate in the Great Land Rush of 1889.
    Awesome!

    And I’m quite comfortable in my coach seat with my Evolution pillow, air buds, Kindle, M&M’s, eye mask and wipes. About the only thing I have in common with grandma is my beef jerky.

  67. I couldn’t agree more… I just completed Hyatt Globalist credit card spending requirements and Marriott Titanium spending requirements to keep status through January of 2022. Initially I was ticked off that I had allocated spend that could have earned Ultimate Rewards or Membership Rewards… but after about 30 seconds I realized I still have a huge point haul from all that spend that I’ll get to use and that’s great. If I want to think about fair, it’s really not fair that I get to put a ton of business spend on personal cards and get reimbursed. People leveraging loyalty programs shouldn’t be overly concerned with perceived fairness. We get to take ridiculous trips virtually for free because we have figured out how to maximize programs or exploit offers.

  68. Never commented before but felt this one was worthy. Very well said and A++ for putting things in perspective, our perks are just that and there are sooo many people struggling in so many other, more drastic/important, ways. If I had a sick family member or had just lost my job and had to listen to someone complain about how they’d gotten “screwed” by a travel loyalty program, they’d have a bruised face and I a sore hand. Thanks, Ben.

  69. You hit the nail on the head with regard to not taking travel for granted. Although I travel more or less full-time, I used to put up mental and emotional barriers to taking trips, even ones I wanted/needed to take. Never again!

  70. ” Travel was for migration, for diplomacy, and for the aristocracy”

    Wait, the first two, yeah, fair (though you’re missing some stuff- trade and armies, there’s a reason why there was a Silk Road thousands of years ago- plus SOMEONE made it sure spice could make it thousands of miles for a very long time), but why do the aristocracy get to travel and hoi polloi don’t? (I submit that things are considerably more democratic in terms of access to the resources we have for leisure or educational travel than hundreds, thousands of years ago, which is why a lot more people get that experience.)

    Sure, people can get along without travel. People can also get along without running water, electricity, or agriculture when it comes down to it. Who gets a vote on what’s frivolous and what isn’t? Is it only OK to do something frivolous like travel once coronavirus is over if you’ve got Jeff Bezos money or you have a title like Lord or Lady in front of your name? How about millionaire money? Middle class money? Starving student money? Do I need to submit my leisure plans to Greta Thunberg for approval starting in 2022, or else I end up in a re-education camp for some Maoist self-criticism sessions?

  71. Thank you a million times for calling out these self absorbed pathetic people. ( I hope they read your blog today, as they will recognize their replies that you mentioned) Do they not think of the thousands upon thousands of persons around the world at this very moment who are CRYING & GRIEVING for their dead mom, dad, aunt, uncle, grandparent, child even, who have died or are dying or struggling to get some air in their lungs, virtually suffocating to death from lack of oxygen in their lungs from this pandemic. SHAME on these “oh my elite status ” people. There is a place really really burning for them when they eventually die too ,( with their elite status cards around their necks in their coffin. AMEN

  72. @Lucky. This makes me giggle as you’re one to talk. It seems that complaining is only valid when you’re the one doing it.

    When others are doing it and it goes against what you deem to be fit and fair, then everyone should sit in their hands and keep quiet.

    #Hypocrite

  73. @Lucky –

    I don’t feel screwed by AA extending status for 1 year. I had a strategy to requalify for status without any discounts/reductions. However, AA screwed themselves. Now I will not spend the additional $9k I needed to requalify. Had they said – requalify and we will put a year ‘in the bank for you’, they would have gotten much more spend when they needed it.

  74. I still somewhat care about my elite status if things return to normal but they may never fully return. In this post what was concerning to me is your mom getting back to a full healthy life. The rest, who cares, not that important. My best to her and your family, I’ve enjoyed the stories involving both of your parents and Ford(thanks to him for some travel plans). Please take care all of you, Jeff

  75. Steve you are not special either! Obviously you did not get the intent of this well thought out post.

  76. @StuartP

    It’s a blog about airlines, hacking, and getting more for your dollar or mile. And how to drink Krug for as little as possible. Honestly, if you want bouncy fields of daisies and happy thoughts go watch a Bob Ross video.

    There is anger and there are contrary ideas here for a reason. It’s not because Lucky posts happy trees to lift our day. I personally like dissension as to his thoughts. Perhaps they lead us to middle ground as people give their contrary?

    Ben is not the God of all consciousness on the inter webs. He is a facilitator to ours. Regardless of what he thinks.

  77. @Endre

    I see not even a pandemic can shift your attitude from gloating to grateful… I’m sure the stock market has done wonderful things to your portfolio!

    Despite being an ever-present troll, which must take up a lot of time (and exhaust your repressed energy), I hope you can find a moment over the next few months to nurture the growth of taste and self-awareness, and work to identify what’s important in terms of how you spend your time. Trolling a travel blog? Maybe you should use that energy to do something productive like checking in on your family. If you’re really as rich as you say you are, maybe take one less trip in first class and donate to a local food bank.

    Even though you are full of BS, incessantly, you do reiterate the tone-deafness of digital culture that’s completely disgusting at present. I think that’s something people won’t forget coming out of this pandemic.

  78. Honestly, re my comment above- If we’re going to have an unregulated and un PC troll- I miss Debit

  79. Yes, Ben, thanks for saying that.

    I am grateful to Alaska for extending my benefits — it isn’t the most important thing in the world, but it’s something they did for me that lets me think about other, more important, things right now.

  80. Thanks, Lucky, most appropriate!

    It reminds me when after the Miracle on the Hudson USAirways flight numerous passengers sued the airline because their laptops and other personal property was still onboard and could not be recovered.

    Hopefully these challenging times will give people a lesson in what is really important in life.

    For me, I’ll soon have the chance to add to my AAdvantage Lifetime Gold status miles In the hope of attaining Lifetime Platinum with my Citibank AAdvantage purchases from May through December. It’s a nice gesture from them, but I think I’ll pass.

  81. I love how Ben is censoring the comments on a post he knew would create a sensation. C’mon, Ben, it’s just a blog, get over it. You love this. Don’t be afraid of a little shade on your monarchy.

  82. Lucky I admire how well you are dealing with this. Personally I am struggling. As someone who loves travel and makes it a priority having this world basically obliterated is heartbreaking. There have been multiple days that I contemplated just getting on any flight and turning around to come home. But I decided that empty airports and planes would be so depressing that I couldn’t. That said I think the changes to programs and status are the best that could be expected.

  83. I stopped visiting Flyertalk because of the pompous, entitled douchebaggery that’s everywhere there. I have little reason to believe that anything has changed.

  84. Couldn’t care less about miles and points right now. Priority is the health and welfare of my family and friends. Peace

  85. I love reading your posts but not the comments. Precisely because there’s a significant minority who really are entitled ar**s

  86. Thanks, Ben… this thread is long overdue. I suspect that travel vendors have long ago made their peace with the whiner class, and consider it to be part of their lives … kind of like many things: cleaning toilets and gazing over when political ads are on the TV.

    Regardless of whining, they have livelihoods to earn … and on very low margins. God bless them … they are not sinister, and I doubt any whiner could do better.

    It’s hard to believe that the whiner perspective makes any difference at all in their calculations. So, why whine?? … there is some deep and sad psychology in traveler whining. How is it even possible to ever satisfy the whining class??

    It’s enlightening to read Jarod Diamond’s Guns, Steele and Germs. A major point is that by removing emotional investment in a topic (regardless of the emotion’s source), we can understand and profit more. This is really Business 101.

    And so, better to understand the choices and objectives of airlines and hotels, and then make our own decisions. Leave the polemics out … it’s wasted energy.

    When that happens, we’re left with appreciating what we have and those we’re going through life with … including FAs, GAs and everyone along the chain.

    How liberating!

    Be glad.

  87. While I agree with you – It’s human nature for people to be upset that someone got something for “nothing” that they “earned”.

    Once cold easily ask you to see it from their perspective – the only difference ‘they’ being a huge minority.

    For reference – not chasing ANY status this year, pre or post COCOS-19.

  88. Well said, Lucky! We need to have everything put into perspective such as you are not stuck at home but safe at home.

  89. @Stuart…… I value Ben’s blog as much as the next man. And I too enjoy Krug at 25k feet when I am fortunate to be able to, but in these unparalleled times ( in our life time ) , now is not the time to whine about ones elite status. Thats all I meant. Are YOU one of those whiners ? I bet you are.

  90. Good Post Lucky…while all online forums seem to bring out flaming whiners of all sorts-stressful times may be amplifying this effect. Yes we should all be thankful we are not stranded in one of the many(poorer/struggling) locales that we love to visit but wouldn’t/couldnt live in and where health care is non-existent or unavailable.( I was just in Myanmar in January-rated 158 out of 160 countries for health-the delightful populace is indeed in trouble). This too shall pass!

  91. Family is important especially your mom. I really thought travel makes you happy. When all those readers read your blogs. How you travel in First and Business Class. What champagne you are drinking. Complaining and whining about those airlines. You know, I really thought you very happy to do that.
    If you can reflash back your memories, try to think back. You are whining a lot, Ben @ Lucky.
    I love your blogs and story however at times I felt that some of it you make it up. Making stories.
    Try to rethink back.

    Take care.

  92. Pretty disappointing post Ben, this (I thought) was an environment where like minded individuals with similar targets could exchange views about something that plays a big part of our lives. I live in Brazil and more people are murdered here each year than have or will die of Coronavirus but that doesn’t mean that I should be thankful everytime I head to Guarulhos Airport I should thank God I made it their alive and take any rubbish that service providers such as airports or airlines chuck at us.

    Your hostility to some of the people that follow you is more rubbish than Air France’s response to Coronavirus as I thought you were on our side, I never believed Air France was in the first place.

  93. @Endre
    I have a couple of questions for you.
    1. If you ALWAYS fly on a paid business or first class ticket is that because a deep pocketed corporation is paying for your flights, and you are fortunate enough to benefit from this corporate spend? Do your paid business or first class tickets extend to your personal/aspirational trips that you take?
    2. With all of the miles/points you are accumulating from ALWAYS flying paid business or first class, what are you doing with all those points/miles? Converting them to Amazon gift cards, perhaps?[!!]. I feel sure you are earning them for your travel otherwise you likely wouldn’t be reading OMAAT?

  94. Ironically, a strikingly similar scenario was illustrated 19 centuries before the airline industry existed. (See Matthew 20:1-15.)

  95. Time to pitch in and do something.
    My wife a semi-retired hospital doctor who decided to volunteer at a hospital out of town that is in desperate need. Covid is a real emergency that effects us all. The hospitals are still filling up!

    I will travel with my wife and drive her to the hospital and back and take care of rooms and meals. I did this in the past to support her when she worked extra for our travel money.
    I am going to help the hospital also in a support roll, yet to be determined.
    She is in her late 60’s and I am in my early 70’s.
    She has agreed to work 22 days in May those are 12 hour shifts! They are short of doctors because they got sick.

    We are the fortunate ones.
    We have been able to travel the world for the last 15 years, mostly in First class. ( only 25% on miles) It has been wonderful! We have had a good life.

    Thank you Ben for all of the great tips and trips. I travel with you in spirit all of the time! ( I even try to get the same rooms in hotels you have reviewed.)

    Now is the time to pitch in rather than bitch-in .

    We are putting our life on the line with the many medical professionals and volunteers who are also putting their lives on the line. (Cred to the BA crews that are helping out at the hospitals.)
    ( Maybe other USA airline crews, who’s wages we are paying can give us a hand too. )

    Now we need to help out. Do what you can, if it is even to stay home.

    This pandemic will not end with a divine edict from our resident president.

    BEN: your travel blog is my daily bread. Thanks for the positive words!

    To all my fellow travelers our there, stay safe! This is NOT over yet
    Hope to travel with you again, in first cabin, of course.

    Bear

  96. Ben–GREAT ARTICLE! .

    Thank you for being one of the few reporters with chutzpah to call it as it is. You
    have a new fan .

  97. Kudos for telling it like it is. Whining at any time is selfish and inconsiderate. Never focus on the negative and always count your blessings.

  98. While I didn’t read all of the comments I was glad to see that the ones I did read were positive to your story Ben. Let us all hope as frequent travelers that all the people that keep our hotels, airlines, restaurants, etc operating, actually have jobs when all this passes. Stay safe and healthy everyone.

  99. A not too insignificant minority of frequent travelers wrongly and selfishly believe that they are special and deserve special treatment and recognition despite the global health crisis going on around them. It takes a special kind of selfish to think this way when so many people are sick, dying, risk getting sick or dying, or know others who risk getting sick or dying.

    These entitled jerks are the bane of humanity.

  100. Dear @Bill,

    The “wrong and selfish” are the people who only care about a “global health crisis” that attacks indiscriminately of race, nationality, income such as COVID-19 and thus is not only predominately confined to the developing world, especially Africa, as is the case with Malaria, TB, HIV/AIDS and famine.

    Prior to COVID-19 it was perfectly fine for we “banes of humanity” to complain about issues relating to frequent flying whilst at the same time a child was dying of malnutrition every 5 seconds (according to UNICEF) and will continue to do so long after COVID19 is resolved one way or another.

    We were able (rightly or wrongly) to separate one thing from the other.

    It was also fine to grumble about airlines and loyalty programs, check out Lucky’s latest credit card blags for airmiles as around 1.5 million people (according to the WHO) died of tuberculosis (205,000 of those children)… But given that only around 500 of that 1.5 million was in the United States then that apparently is was not, is not a crisis.

    Million Milers were obviously more important at the time than a Millions Killer.

    Bill is angry about whingers now because COVID19 is a problem for Bill, famine is not Bill’s problem, just something maybe he donates $5 to when he goes to church, TB is not Bill’s problem, Bill’s had his vaccine, Bill is fine… so are his family.

    So please allow me to edit you above comment to being: “It takes a special kind of selfish to think this way when so many people are sick, dying, risk getting sick or dying {IN COUNTRIES WE CARE ABOUT}”

    If you are truly unselfish then I suggest you persuade Ben to lead a new mission, that instead of he and everyone following him using their air miles gained by signing up for multiple credit cards and bonus deals on luxury flights that they instead donate those miles to the charitable programs that most airlines offer.

    Kind Regards,

    A. Jerk

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