Welcome To The OMAAT Team, Spencer!

Filed Under: Misc.

As Tiffany wrote about yesterday, we’ve made some decisions when it comes to bringing on contributors, which has been quite an adventure. I’m sorry it has taken so long, but the truth is that there were so many great people we got to interact with as we went through this process. Tiffany did the bulk of the work (which I’m grateful for), but even of the people I spoke with, I thought every single one of them would make a great addition.

It also made me realize how different everyone’s skill set is when it comes to blogging. Some people were great at dissecting programs and situations. Others were amazing storytellers. Others were just all-around engaging. This is why I’d like to eventually bring on people beyond this initial group, because I think there are other unique perspectives that need to be heard.

Over the coming days and weeks we’ll be introducing a few people who will be joining the team. I’m really excited because I couldn’t feel more confident in the people we’re bringing on, and I’m so enthusiastic about the unique perspectives they’ll bring.

So let’s get started. First, I’m excited to introduce someone who didn’t even apply as part of this process, but rather who we sought out, and who agreed to join the team. This was separate from the job we publicly posted, but I didn’t want to introduce a new voice while we were doing sample posts and such.

Spencer isn’t new to writing about miles & points, and having seen his work elsewhere, I was so impressed by his writing style. Spencer will be writing primarily about miles, points, and credit cards, and I’m sure you’ll find his content useful whether you’re new to miles & points, or whether you’ve been playing this game for years. The reason I think he’s so great for this is that he has the ability to simplify complicated information. He’s an amazing writer, and I find his thought process on things easy to follow.

I read a lot of miles & points sites, but when I started reading his stuff and connecting the bylines I said to Tiffany “this guy is good, how can we get him to join our team?” The rest is history.

Miles, points, and credit cards, are the core of this site, and having someone like Spencer will nicely balance the content we’re going to be getting from the contributors — someone with an international perspective, someone with an amazing knack for storytelling, someone with a great analytical mind, and more.

You’ll start to see Spencer’s work on the blog in the coming days, and can expect a few posts from him per week.

As I’ve said from the beginning of the process, the core of this blog won’t change. I love what I do, and I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. I don’t expect contributors to replace me, because I’d be bored out of my mind if that happened. Instead, I hope that having more contributors will allow me to spend more time on fewer posts. Often I feel like I’m on a hamster wheel, just churning out posts in a way that I can’t keep up. That’s not because I’m trying to fill the blog with fluff, but rather because I want to be a “one stop shop” for all things miles & points. With these upcoming contributors joining the team I’ll have time to focus on writing more detailed posts.

In hopes of you guys getting to know Spencer a bit, below is a short Q&A with him. Over the coming weeks we hope to do a Facebook Live with him, and you’ll see his first post go live on Monday.

How did you get started with miles and points?

After years of working in politics — a world not known for vacation time — I found myself at the U.S. Travel Association (of Daily Getaways fame). Still political, but they emphasized taking your vacation days. So, I started hunting for cheap fares.

A few months into the job, I saw a link to VFTW in our daily press clips. Gary had written a piece about the Open Skies fight. I started clicking around VFTW. Saw something about points. Made a mental note to look into it again.

Maybe a month later, I decided to figure out how to fly up front — 6’3” doesn’t fit in economy. From there I started reading anything and everything I could find about award charts, credit card rewards programs, routing rules, etc etc etc.

I’ve been told reading about this stuff 4 hours a day for 6 months wasn’t the most normal thing I’ve ever done.

You’re involved in various communities within the miles and points world — what are some of the biggest mistakes you see people making with miles/points?

Two things I see a lot:

1) people put all their energy into learning about earning and forget to learn about how to redeem for max value.

2) seeing a big number as a sign-up bonus and assuming it’s better than a smaller sign-up bonus. as an example, when the United card offers 50k and SPG offers 35k.

I get it. It’s easy to see a bigger number and just go for it. I think this kind of ties into #1. If you understand the value of SPG and how the program works, you might see things a bit differently.

What’s your favorite redemption you’ve made?

Favorite redemption… that’s a tough one. I still think back to the first award I booked. I had earned 60k AA miles from the Citi AA Plat Select and used those miles to book the Etihad Apartments for AUH-MEL (when they still had an A380 on the route). I figured, why use 90k for JFK-AUH when I can only use 60k? This was pre-AA deval, of course.

Favorite credit card sign-up bonus you’ve taken advantage of?

My favorite was probably the Cathay Pacific Asia Miles Visa. As someone who earns points with a purpose, the sign-up bonus on this card allowed me to book a round-trip business class award between New York (JFK) and Vancouver (YVR).

If you ask me, 50,000 miles to fly on Cathay Pacific’s 777-300 on a transcontinental route is totally worth it. Might even be the best way to fly across the continent. Though, I still need to try JetBlue’s Mint product!

You’ve done quite a bit of writing in the miles and points space — what do you enjoy most about blogging?

Taking what seems complicated at first and showing people what’s possible with just a little effort.

I joke about how awful economy is but it’s all goal-dependent. The number of people I’ve talked to just trying to afford a family vacation is staggering. I just want to help people travel how they want.

One of your specialities are the more esoteric foreign frequent flyer programs that many people think are too complicated — why do you like them?

While they may have some quirks that can make booking a little bit more difficult, you can really stretch your points if you learn how to leverage these programs.

Take Asia Miles as an example. You can book a simple one-way business class award on Qantas from LAX to SYD for 70,000 miles. Round-trip is only 120,000 miles. The fun doesn’t stop there though.

If you book a round-trip with one direction on Qantas and the other on American Airlines, your award will be governed by its Oneworld multi-carrier award chart. A round-trip in business class would only require 135,000 miles.

When you consider that Asia Miles is a transfer partner of Membership Rewards, ThankYou Points and SPG, this is a great way to book a trip to Australia from the west coast.

For your own personal travels, are you most into airline loyalty programs, or do you care as much about hotels?

I’m definitely more focused on airline programs. I feel like there’s more creativity in putting together amazing flight redemptions.

That being said, it’s still fun finding hotel sweet spots with 5th night free awards or even using the Citi Prestige 4th night “free” benefit. Part of me wants to go to Chennai, India just to book a 5k per night Park Hyatt

Value aside, what’s your favorite premium cabin product you’ve flown? Does that award go to Etihad?

Ooh, that’s so tough. As a people person, my interaction with the crew really shapes the experience in-flight. My first Etihad experience in the Apartments will always be tough to top.

I was the only one in the cabin and the butler, Johan (from South Africa), did everything he could to make it a special flight. They even made each main course and paired them with wine so I could get the full experience. I was fat and happy after that.

My favorite lounge experience was in Garuda Indonesia’s first class lounge. The first class lounge attendants were spectacular. Specifically, Larizka and Harry took me on a tour of the new terminal since I had a long layover.

We popped into the domestic business class lounge to check it out—it has a freaking movie room.

The whole terminal is so modern and has a totally different feel than the old terminal, and it’s massive!

You can follow Spencer on Twitter @spencerformiles — we hope you enjoy his posts!

  1. This is awesome! I look forward to reading Spencer’s posts! You’re a humble guy, Lucky, but I’ll say that I think you, too, have the ability to explain and simplify complicated concepts. I still remember never understanding the old Delta award website before 2015 in terms of how they priced roundtrip/open jaw flights yet you and your team wrote an article explaining some of the logic the website uses to price out Delta awards that was quite helpful and easy to understand especially for someone who rarely redeemed Delta Skymiles.

  2. Congratulations to Spencer and welcome to our favorite blog! 🙂

    But “favorite premium cabin product … award go to Etihad?” Really? Maybe my experiences are anecdotal, but, hands down, it is the worst premium products I have experienced in Biz or in F.

  3. Great news, the more (quality and variety) the better.
    I’ve achieved some of my most memorable flights thanks to this site, but I only understand how north american programs work. Knowing how to use different programs for different sweet spot redemptions will be amazing.
    Please make a post about emirates and how to get the best deals on them, JAL miles and whatnot.

  4. @Kalboz Thanks!

    Haha, I have flown the Apartments twice and have had amazing crews on both—clearly, a small sample size. In general, I’ve had great luck with crews and have loved my time in SQ Suites, EK F, CX F, LH F, etc. Each has been a great experience. Admittedly, GA F in-flight was a bit of a disappointment in some ways after I built up my expectations, but still fun.

  5. And make your website easy to reference. So if I want to figure out travel from point A to point B i can look up options on your website somehow without doing Google search to find the articles.

  6. Spencer seems like a great addition. I realize there is only so much Ben and Tiffany can do, but I would very much welcome many more posts on using foreign airlines for redemptions, especially Cathay Pacific Miles. We have 50000 Cathay miles and I’ve almost regretted signing up for the card because now I have to learn the program! Would love to see articles giving detailed examples of redemptions.

  7. @Debit – Currently… Sapphire Reserve, Freedom Unlimited, Blue Business Plus, Asiana and Schwab debit card. SPG Business card is also a regular.

  8. I can personally attest to Spencer’s dedication, positive attitude, helpfulness and “straight-to-the-points” 😉 lifestyle. No matter the experience level of the travel hacker, you can see there’s nothing but a person who is true to his statement saying: “I just want to help people travel how they want”

  9. Spencer ?????
    the new man, introduced …….. but no pic?

    Needs to be added, now that we know about that “new” guy at OMAAT.

    Ben, i’m sure you got one on file!

    wanna see that new FQTV!

  10. Is Johan the butler that Spencer had the same Johan that you had on your Residence flight?

  11. Woo hoo!! Great choice! I love OMAAT. As a long time devotee, I hear your voices in my head. 😉 I know immediately if I’m reading Ben or Tiffany and I love you both. I’ve followed Spencer in other groups. I look forward to his contributions to the blog!

  12. Welcome Spencer!
    Given you already have your own blog, how are you going to insure you do not “reheat” the content of your blog onto OMAAT?

  13. Great choice Ben & Tiffany! I’ve read & enjoyed Spencer’s posts elsewhere and had a nice chat with him at the ORD Flagship lounge last October. Looking forward to reading your posts here Spencer!

  14. Spencer, hopefully you’ll also be able to contribute answering people’s specific questions in “Ask Lucky” section.

  15. I actually want to read his Aeropolitics piece. It is very difficult knowledge to gain online, as much of the information is limited to insiders.

  16. Damn, I was really hoping that we could get someone with a different perspective. There have been very few new reviews lately, as Lucky is pretty much the only one travelling. I was hoping you’d add someone who was based in Europe or Asia, someone who actually flies interesting routes, not just another guy to tell me when SPG points go on sale. Disappointed by this news tbh.

  17. Just a note and a warning on that SYD – LAX redemption. It is notoriously hard to come by business class reward space on these flights – I don’t think this is a reason to recommend AsiaMiles. AsiaMiles is not actually a bad program with many other reasons to join, but this isn’t one of them.

  18. Welcome, Spencer! I think OMAAT is lucky to have you. Even if you do like The Apartment. #foolsgold

  19. @EthFlyer I probably won’t be telling you about the next SPG sale, but I will be flying around the world a decent bit. I’ve booked flights between Asia and Europe (Garuda First during the 90% off promo) and am working on another now, hope that makes me acceptable 🙂

  20. @marcus – QF J (and F) awards are certainly tough to find on LAX-SYD but I have helped someone book it with Asia Miles. There are, of course, plenty of other fascinating ways to leverage the program.

  21. I’m surprised Tiffany didn’t write this post telling us how SUPER DUPER AWESOMELY EXCITED she is to be working with a new blogger.

  22. Ok this isn’t personal and I am sure Spencer is a great guy but the blurb talks about new perspectives and what do we get?

    A male, North America(?) based premium flyer with some very familiar sounding credit cards (and the huge signups only available to residents of one country), who loves the time he was served by Johan on Emirates Apartments…

    This sounds like someone quite familiar and well known?

  23. Welcome Spencer. I’m excited about your focus. Probably need to use Alaska Miles to book RT family multi-site tickets US-Asia in the next few months. But I’m honestly sort of nervous about it because they are a foreign airline and require a phone booking. Would love a post that walks the average person through that process, and what to expect on the call.

  24. Are we going to see a photo of Spencer or not?? Is he afraid of our illustrious family here??
    Do not worry Spencer…we are fine folks..you just have to build some courage from time to time..be aware the locals do bite after a fashion..

  25. @Spencer – I find it curious that of the 5 credit cards that you mentioned have constant presence in your wallet, one is Asiana…I hope to perhaps see a detailed post on all the Asiana-related “why” and “how”…
    I am contemplating both the card and the “currency”, and on the one hand am tempted by inexpensive awards (esp to South America), but on the other hand, find it a little cumbersome not to be able to easily book partner awards online…
    anyway, very curious why Asiana is so prominent in your cards selection and hope to see some Asiana posts in the future…

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