Thank you. Thank you for stopping by to visit my blog. Thank you for commenting and sharing you experiences. Thank you for the e-mails — expressions of your own thanks, but also your questions, I love answering them and working through puzzles with you, and I love knowing when I’ve contributed in some way to you.
Similar to last year I thought I’d take the Thanksgiving opportunity to express my thankfulness for each of you that reads my blog and interacts with me throughout the year. I’ve said this many times before but I really do consider myself one of the luckiest people, and certainly much more fortunate than I could have ever imagined.
I was a semi-frequent flyer as a young child. My parents divorced when I was young and I flew back and forth between the coasts. I remember boarding planes and looking at first class cabins — not imagining who would pay so much more for the seats (and back then it really was a lot more), and knowing that I would never be one of those people.
And of course I haven’t ever paid for international premium class travel. At least until this year, when I bought a China Eastern business class ticket but that cost me less than $100. And a flydubai business class ticket, which cost me less than Emirates coach. (Of course that doesn’t include the countless mistake fares or the British Airways sale that used an AARP discount and either Chase discount or miles-as-payment promotion.)
I’ve been fortunate to travel the world, and to do it in the sort of comfort I couldn’t have imagined. I’ve stayed in remarkable places, met remarkable people, and I’ve seen and experienced interesting things — none of which I could even have imagined growing up or at the beginning of my professional life.
At about age 5 I had family move to Australia. I remember flying American Airlines to visit them — back when they flew Honolulu – Sydney with a DC-10. Continental flights to Australia were cheap back then as well.
When I finished college and moved to the East Coast for work, my family gave me frequent flyer miles to come home for holidays. I remember burning my grandfather’s British Airways miles back when you could get peak holiday domestic travel on American Airlines at the saver level.
From a young age I learned that:
- Travel was how you stayed connected to family
- Miles were how you showed someone you cared, especially if you weren’t very good at saying it.
I started this blog in 2002 when I was first documenting my own learning. I wasn’t an expert. I had less than 5 years of elite status under my belt. But I knew more than many, and I did get lots of questions about miles and points and it seemed interesting to people. I knew others who were blogging and I thought I had a unique voice to offer (it was mostly political blogs back then). And yet looking back through the archives of earlier posts I didn’t have much of a voice at all!
I’m also deeply shy, which some people can find off-putting when I meet them (thinking that by not being outgoing with them I must not be interested). The written form has allowed me to connect so well with many. And I’m grateful for those connections. This hobby has enriched my life in so many ways, including less obvious ones.
This blog has done that for me as well. In many ways it’s still the same personal blog I first started, I write and share what is interesting to me. I usually write as though no one is reading, and I’m shocked when I get a call from an airline’s communications shop because a C-level executive is unhappy with something I’ve said.
Two weeks ago one corporate communications staffer compared me to Donald Trump, and they didn’t mean it as a compliment. SAD!
Now there are just a whole lot more people reading the blog than when I started and I appreciate each and every one of you. Even the ones that are trying to insult me!
I leave the comments section pretty much moderation-free. I’ve only ever asked two or three people not to participate, and I only delete extremely graphic content and comments that include extraneous personal information about people. That takes a thick skin. This is, after all, the internet.
I’m not sure that’s the right answer, I’m not sure the comments section is as useful as it could be as a result, but it always felt too slippery a slope to delete comments based on my own judgment of how constructive they are. It would be too easy to dub comments critical of me as necessarily mean-spirited and unwelcome.
I don’t always have as thick a skin as I should, but I try my best, because each and every comment has something to teach me (even if it’s only reminding me about humanity’s depravity!) or challenge me. And the positive feedback touches me deeply.
So thank you. Thank you. I look forward to continuing to share this journey together, and I appreciate this opportunity to reflect — and to acknowledge.