Let Me Thank You

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.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. No, thank you for your time and efforts in helping our niche community by sharing your travel experiences and expertise.

    Happy & safe travels! 🙂

  2. Thank YOU Gary for all the help. We used your Award service last year for our Europe trip & all went perfectly.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you & your great staff.

  3. I’m thankful to you, Gary, for opening the door for me to explore the world in a way I would not have thought possible. I appreciate, too, that you are always graceful even to those who post critical comments. I have learned so much from your blog and it is part of my daily routine to read it closely.

  4. I enjoy visiting your blog on a regular basis and reading most (if not all) of your posts.
    I find them very interesting and they helped me a lot in my travels.
    Thank you!
    One thing though Gary, is that I noticed you are writing substantially fewer trip reports these days, and I do miss them.
    Do you have any plans for more trip reports going forward?

  5. It is your readers who should thank you. Well written timely information. Could not have progressed along the path with this “puzzle solving” with out your fine help. Read you everyday, would not miss your thoughts and observations.

    Ralph W

  6. Thank you Gary for all the tips you give every day to all of us. I can’t imagine that someone does not benefit at one time or another from your experiences and wisdom.
    So Happy Thanksgiving from a grateful traveler.

  7. Thanks to you Gary for sharing so many useful tips and your expertise in this crazy hobby/obsession of ours. There is no way my husband and I would be able to travel in the style we do if it weren’t for creative use of points and miles. We really appreciate all you do.

  8. For all our differences and heavy “blows” (I can vouch for how tough your skin is!), when it is all said and done, you and I have in common something that’s more transcendental: an abiding passion for travel. While the Robert Duvall character in “Apocalypse Now” just loved the smell of napalm in the morning, I get high on the smell of a new city or destination in the morning. And to be able to get and stay there as cheaply as possible is truly heady stuff.

    Keep on travel bloggin’, @Gary, and Happy TG to you too!

  9. Great post, Gary.

    I know personally you have helped so many — I’m one of them — so please keep on keeping on!

    And HappyThanksgiving

  10. I also wish to thank you and other bloggers including and not limited to Ben from One Mile At a Time, Ed from Pizza in motion. All of you have thought me so much about travel and how to effectively earn points and use them. I like the way many of you reference each other with useful information as well, it shows there is a real community here. I also try to pay it forward sharing what I have learned and directing others to these sites. Keep up the valuable work as well as letting the travel industry know we can continue to make choices based on their fair and and unfair practices.

  11. Have a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving Gary. And my thanks to you for being one of the first travel bloggers that I read. You opened my eyes to what one could do travel/point wise. Your blog gave me the insight into buying stickers to get a million US Air miles. Something clicked when I read your post and it forever changed how I look at acquiring miles and points. I only wish I had gotten more. Lol

  12. I echo what the others have said, Gary. Thank you for your blog and your kindness in responding to an individual email.

  13. I’ll add my thanks. I believe your remarks and those in comments can affect corporate policy. Personally, I hope that the folks at Hyatt have noted the overwhelmingly negative reaction to the “World of Hyatt” program. (I asked the Hyatt receptionist how she will welcome more than one explorist. Exploristi? Exploristes?)

    My biggest gripe is the takeaway of the amenity. A big advantage of the program.

    I think that this blog will have a positive response from Hyatt. For this I thank you.

  14. Thanks and a Happy Thanksgiving. I have always said – and told you in person as well that I consider your blog the go to. The most well rounded for sure!

  15. Many thanks Gary for providing a most useful and comprehensive blog on timely happenings in the airline industry. I’ve been following you for several years while flying more than 100K annually! Each offering provides added information which enhances the joys of air travel.

    A very happy Thanksgiving holiday to you and your family!

  16. Happy Thanksgiving, Gary! Great to connect with you here an on Twitter. Maybe we’ll meet IRL at some point! -@rakeshlobster

  17. Gary-
    Thank you so much for a few minutes a day of “happy” reading about travel. Also for you help in spending miles efficiently on several long trips. My friends have taken to referring to you as “my frequent flyer guy”! Happy Thanksgiving!

  18. Thank you, Gary. Thanks to you I have had travel adventures I would have only dreamed about. And now more on the way. Happy Thanksgiving to someone for whom I am truly grateful.

  19. The thanks go to you Gary. Thank you for teaching others such as my self how to maximize our miles, get the best deals and the best Credit Cards for our needs. Thank you for all of the time and effort you put into sharing your knowledge and helping others, such as my self.

    Wishing a very happy thanksgiving & Holiday season to you and your family.

  20. Thanks TO Gary and the whole family who read this blog everyday. You changed the way I travel. I came to the USA 16 years ago and I never saw a chance to travel the world. Now I started reading this blog and in two years I already had visited more than 10 country maybe is and small number but two years ago even 3 was an enormous number.THanks again to the whole community of travel.yoesdamy

  21. Thanks for saying thanks, Gary. This is certainly a two-way street, and it’s great that you’ve benefited and feel fortunate for what you’ve experienced and the role you play.
    It’s important to this reader that I express appreciation TO YOU for sharing the ways to access and benefit from the miles and points systems. My wife’s and my lives have been enriched by the opportunity to do things we never would have been able to afford to purchase with money. Thanks, too — importantly — for your accessibility and willingness to engage with those who depend on your accumulated knowledge and wisdom. Not everyone, when he/she leaves this planet, will be able to say that the lives of hundreds or even thousands were improved/made more enjoyable by his/her actions; you’ll have no doubt.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

  22. Thanks for your work. You do have a unique place in this corner of the blogosphere, and it’s appreciated.

  23. Thank you for your contribution to our travels and hobbies. Wonderful post. You are absolutely and most definitely THE BEST in the business. Happy thanksgiving to you and your loved ones.

  24. Thank you for your hard work and dedication, since reading your blogs. I have found many invaluable tips and tricks that have enhanced either my own travel and travel experiences or that of my clients.
    Keep up the great work and happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  25. So grateful for you, the blog, and all your research. It might be that there’s a lot that’s not relevant to a retired Vermonter, but what is relevant is always extremely valuable. You build community. And bring the world within reach. So, thank you!

  26. Thank you Gary. If I only had two travel related blogs to trust for the rest of my days. It would be VFTW and OMAAT.

    I appreciate you thoughts

    Keep doing what you do!

  27. It becomes a tradition to read your article on Thanksgiving Day. It makes me feel warm. Thank you Gary for your unique view.

  28. thank you and happy thanksgiving to you and you family. please keep it up, Gary.
    we love you and your blog!

  29. Gary, Thank You for your blog, your kind response to emails and for all that you do keeping us informed. Happy Thanksgiving and best wishes for the holiday season. Happy Travels.

  30. Gary,
    You are head and shoulders above the other guys and gals in this field, and I have learned a lot from you and your blog.

    Wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving!


  31. A belated thank you — I’ve enjoyed reading your blog from the start and look forward to many more years of updates and insight.

  32. I am new to the miles and points game and being from South Africa makes it that much more difficult but I can honestly say that I have learned a lot during the past 6 months from reading your blog . If you ever in Durban SOUTH AFRICA pop me a mail and we can meet at my place for a meal.

  33. Thank you for your invaluable insight and helping fellow travelers like ourselves enjoy more of the world. I read your blog almost every day, and it’s a joy to see what new change, trip, deal, and experience awaits us.
    Thanks again for your time and efforts to support your blog and it is sorely needed in an era of commercialism and blatant over-marketing (with seemingly less benefits and value for consumers) from travel vendors.

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