9500 Free Miles and Flight Attendant Arrested for Smuggling 26 Passports in Underwear!

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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 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. A heads up, the Spirit bear doesn’t shed any clothes. One must be logged in, to use the code and add miles to your account. Yes, I did use miles for magazines, except they came from my other other account.

  2. Hi Gary,

    Regarding Etihad’s study, they use a time period for traffic that is intentionally misleading, 2009 to 2014. Traffic bottomed out in 2009 due to the recession, so they are using a low traffic year as the base, and traffic has increased every year since then, so naturally, numbers across the board have gone up significantly since 2009. This report is similar to what the US carriers are doing…carefully using data designed to support their side. So, my comment isn’t meant to point out which side is right in this issue, but mainly designed to point out that the study itself is problematic.

  3. @Adam 2009 US-origin international traffic was equivalent to 2006 US-origin international traffic, so I’m not sure how much the base year is really going to matter (and for what it’s worth 4Q2009 traffic was greater than 4Q2008 traffic). The origin year here matters for a before-and-after comparison of ME3 service growth to US markets.

    See for instance http://www.transtats.bts.gov/Data_Elements.aspx?Data=1

  4. I’m actually quite familiar with that website. I’ve been researching the impact of the 2008 EU/US open skies agreement so the past few months I’ve had my head buried in spreadsheets. I don’t know as much about the history of open skies with the gulf countries. So my comment wasn’t meant to speak about Open Skies, but rather that the time period chosen appears to have been chosen to help Etihad show how Open Skies has benefited consumers, which I do believe to be true. If they chose 2008 as a base year, however, the results would look different.

    As someone studying in this field, from an academic perspective I think it is important to remove bias from research and aim for truly informative research. When Delta uses data against the gulf carriers, they undoubtedly ignore important information that hurts their case. When annual reports are done on which frequent flyer programs are best for redemptions, you rightfully point out the flawed methodology. That is what I’m trying to do here. Customers are in a better position because of Open Skies with the gulf states. Fares are likely lower and it is easier to get to more destinations in places like the Middle East and South Asia. But using a down year as your base year in any study, especially with a small sample of 5 years, will always serve to show how things have gotten better. In this case, it would be interesting to see how overall traffic data and market share has fluctuated from year to year before and after 2002 (which also happens to be a down year for traffic, but if you show year by year changes, it shows better how traffic and market share has changed), when Open Skies was signed with UAE. You can find all these details in the T-100 reports on the site you linked to, specifically in regards to direct flights to/from the US. However, for people flying via Europe to the Middle East or India, the T-100 data isn’t helpful.

    Back to the Etihad study, if US and European airlines cut back significantly from 2008 to 2009 due to various market conditions including the recession, it wouldn’t be surprising to find that their overall traffic has increased since 2009. I’d like to know how traffic has changed since 2002, 2006, 2008, etc. Hopefully that illustrates my thoughts about the base year better.

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