You Think About Miles Too Much When…

I came across an old post from 2004 and wanted to share it again. As I noted in the original post, the ideas in this list are not original to me but were culled from various contributors.

You know you think about miles too much when…

… you hear the words “mile a minute” and find yourself pondering the concept of earning bonus miles as a function of time.

… you answer the question, “How many miles per gallon do you get?” with “It depends on what credit card I use.”

… you unthinkingly ask your non-frequent flyer friend why she is taking the nonstop flight to London instead of the connection through Syracuse.

… one half of your brain keeps trying to calculate the cost/mile value of a mileage run against a baseline of a $24.98 SFO-CDG ticket, leading to a temporary conclusion that a $507 JFK-SIN trip is “expensive”.

… you criticize your spouse for not spending enough (“doing your share”) on the credit card last month.

… you see a lone shopper in the grocery store place a box of Nutrigrain bars in his cart — and you have to bite your toungue not to ask him if he will be using the 100 miles on the box.

… your teen learns that the best way to ask for something is “It’s on sale, and you’ll still earn miles for it!”

… when all your friends are in debt to you because you always pick up the check at lunch.

… one of the first things you do with the person you are training is to go over the airlines and routes out of their local airport, and which mileage programs will work best for them.

… when you have not only YOUR frequent flier and credit card numbers memorized, but also the numbers for family and friends that you book travel for.

… you know all your mileage balances within 50 miles, but can’t remember your phone number.

… even though the “low fuel” light on your dashboard has been on all day, you drive past half a dozen gas stations and ten extra miles to the Shell that takes Diners Club.

… the only thing you use Excel for is tracking miles, and you write to Microsoft asking them to include class-of-service bonus spreadsheet function to the next version of Office.

… you walk into a meeting at the office and people ask, “So where did you go LAST weekend?”

… you buy flowers for your wife so you will get your [shopping promotion] partner. What’s worse is when she asks you if the florist is a partner.

… a loved one passes away and you think that the funeral home accepting your miles-earning credit card mitigates your loss.

… you book an international trip because you don’t want to waste a Systemwide Upgrade domestically.

… you plan day trips to cities you find boring just because there’s a websaver and you can get free booze in the lounge

… you get a big goofy smile when you hear “Rhapsody in Blue”

Any of these hit a bit too close to home for you?

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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. …you ask a friend where she stayed on a business trip to Southern California, and you’re surprised when she tells you which town/neighborhood in the area rather than the specific hotel and hotel chain…

    …you can’t help going on and on describing credit card, airline and hotel points earning and burning options when someone casually asks you about then, even though you see their eyes glazing over after 30 seconds…

  2. Gary, Very good post. Most of these have applied to me in one form or another. Here are some questions I would your opinion on, or the comments of others:

    Say the universe of all the customers that fly the major carriers is X.

    (I know each airport has enplanements figures, but I am curious to know a rough figure for the total universe of fliers in the US.)

    If you were to draw a pie chart of all fliers,

    What would be the piece for the highest elite fliers that fly over 100k miles a year?

    Then the piece of the folks over 50k a year

    Then the piece of over 25k miles a year

    Then, what I would assume the largest piece, which is all remaining fliers that fly less than 25k miles a year.

    Do anyone out there know what X equals, and the % for each of the 4 pieces of the pie?

    rough estimates…. I am very curious to know how big of a group is us elite fliers? and how big the other groups are….
    Out of that #, what percentage

  3. When people tell me they’re taking or have taken a flight somewhere, my instincts are always to ask in order: 1) which airline; and 2) whether or not they’ve remembered to credit the miles to their frequent flyer account.

  4. You are thinking about miles – when you drive an hour to check in to a hotel and drive back without staying the night (Club Carlson Promotion).

  5. When someone tells you that they recently got engaged, the only question you can think of is “Where are you going on your honeymoon? What airline will you use and what hotel are you staying at?”

    If they can even answer, you proceed to tell them how wrong their plan is.

  6. 1. You are thinking about miles – when you’re focused on a corrective action & future risk mitigation plan for your wife, for using the wrong credit card, without even questioning what she bought and/or why!

    2. You are thinking about miles – when you have your next 6 months of manufactured spend already “allocated” based current & future minimum credit card spends.

  7. I paid for my father-in-law’s 2009 funeral with a mileage-earning card. He would have been quite amused.

    The funeral home took about 45 minutes to figure out how to charge me. They said no one had ever paid by CC.

  8. My 21 year old has learned how to get me to buy her gas when she’s out of money before her next pay check…”Remember you’ll earn miles” she says.

  9. When you are in the supermarket check out lane, and it drives you crazy that the person in front of you is paying in cash, “missing out on all of those miles”….

  10. When you have a gullbladder surgery in the morning and all you can think about is which card to charge it to.

  11. Robert Hanson – or, when you are in the supermarket checkout lane, and it drives you crazy that the person in front of you is using a credit card that does not earn rewards. (Or, worse, a Capital One card.) 🙂

  12. Or when I drive by a shopping center and I see 5x, 3x , double or triple dip etc. in my mind, instead of the stores’ names. If there’s a Walmart, I feel complete!

  13. When you find out that a friend was arrested and the first thing you asked him is why he didn’t call you so you could post the bail on your credit card…True story.

  14. I was on the gurney in the ER, waiting for surgery and I wouldn’t let my visitors go out for a bite to eat at the nearby restaurant without letting me make a 1000 point Open Table reservation first.

  15. A friend on mine recently shared that he was going on a busines trip and (he said) that for the first and probably last ever time he would be turning left. I was appalled and immediately suggested that I should give him some credit card advice!

  16. I know we’re thinking about miles in my family when my husband suggests we go out for dinner and says to me, “Which restaurants are we allowed to eat at again?”

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