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 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 too.

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.

In the past year my life has changed tremendously. My wife and I welcomed our daughter into the world. It means my travel priorities change a bit — I’m going to want to redeem more seats, I’m going to worry about infant fares, and I’m careful to make my business trips as quick as possible. I want to be home when I can be.

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Baby's first pat down.

A post shared by Gary Leff (@garyleff) on

I often travel for Thanksgiving. This year I’m home. One of my favorite things is to fly to India over the long weekend to have Thanksgiving dinner with Indians or that’s the answer I’ve given to US immigration authorities upon return to the U.S. when they’ve questioned the trip.

I started this blog in 2002 when I was first documenting my own learning. I wasn’t an expert. I had only 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, although I don’t share nearly as much detail that’s personal many of you know me very well from my writing — certainly my opinions, my quirks, my sense of humor. 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 or hotel’s communications shop because a C-level executive is unhappy with something I’ve said. (It’s happened a lot this year…)

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! (Here’s what I’ve learned about growing a blog and making money online.)

I don’t always have as thick a skin as I should, but I try my best, because each and every reader has something to teach me 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. Gary, you wrote this: “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.”

    That exactly describes my experiences as well, and YOU are responsible for many of those experiences through the tips you gave me through our original connection on Flyertalk. So thank YOU!

  2. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your beautiful family! I don’t know you are a farther already. I wonder why immigration would ask you if you have Global Entry?

  3. Thank you for your information Gary and for writing your blog. You know are writing accurately when you continue to receive calls from C-level executives after you helped give them a mental hernia.

    I have never been to India but, I will plan a future trip around Thanksgiving.

  4. Didn’t know you had your child born this year.
    Congrats Gary.
    I am thankful for all the information you share with us, and also I personally thank you for fighting for us against hotels/airlines that play games with customers times to times.

  5. Gary, I was a pretty frequent business flyer way back when you helped me with a tricky award itinerary. Even though I had used miles to get free tickets you opened up a whole new vista of possibilities. Now I know how to focus on specific programs and play the credit card game. You taught me that life is indeed too short to fly coach,

    Cheers to you. Happy Thanksgiving from London.

  6. Than you, Gary. Since connecting with your blog m, something like 5 years ago, my husband and I have had some memorable experiences only because of your expertise. We learned the true life value in points and sign up bonuses. So many people feel it’s not worth the effort but we al know, it really is. Thank you for doing the work to share this world with the rest of us.

  7. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family…congratulations on the latest member! In our family, we are grateful to you – as we too have reaped the rewards of your knowledge and have memories to share and more to create. Blessings to you and yours.

  8. Happy Thanksgiving to you and the family, Gary. And thank you for unfiltered posts, spelling errors incl 😉 , and the countless blogs/posts you read and support. Cheers!

  9. your honest opinion and interesting insights in the aviation industry are a delight to read, especially well paired with GIF’s 🙂 thanks and happy thanksgiving

  10. Nice acknowledgment and a pleasure to read – one of the reasons why you have such a far reader reach and diverse audience! Appreciate your honesty in this post and enjoy your blog very much – thank you back and enjoy the holiday!

  11. Gary, I think your blog is great. I have saved a lot of money based on your tips. Also have obtained several outstanding credit card deals clicking through your links. Happy Thanksgiving, and congratulations on the addition to your family.

  12. I must’ve missed the post on the addition to your family. Congratulations, Gary! It does skew the travel equation a bit 🙂

    I think our relationship with you is symbiotic. You help your readers, and we’re able to amplify your voice. Thank you!

  13. Thank you once again for providing another year’s worth of terrific travel information! You are always our go to guy for making our miles work for us in the best possible way. Best wishes to you and your newly expanded family!

  14. Thank YOU Gary for inspiring me and teaching us how to use miles. Hoarding is easy, spending wisely is hard and we need experts like you to guide us. Now that you have an infant, let’s have more posts on travelling / redeeming with kids. I have done so in the past couple of years, and that’s definitely different mindset. (Do I *really* want to spend 90K to Asia for a 3 yr old up front?) And I can’t wait to do a mileage run with my kid in the future.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  15. Wow. Thank you for sharing. With you now a father (Congrats and Best Wishes!) and Ben (OMAAT) getting married, my travel gurus are growing up fast! .

  16. From California, I wish to extend my thanks Gary for your timely and exceptional reporting! May you and the family enjoy a festive Thanksgiving holiday! Looking forward to another year reading the blog!

  17. Thank you Gary…very, very sincerely.

    VFTW has been daily reading for me for over a decade and I’ve learned so much from what you write and how you write it. VFTW is why I’m a miles and points fan and why I travel as much as I do today and I’m very thankful for all that.

    Have a great family Thanksgiving


  18. All the best to you and your family Gary. I enjoy reading your site on an almost daily basis. Thanks for another good year!

  19. Thank you so much for all the useful information you provide!

    And when you do get a hateful comment, please know that they are not representative (the 27 or so comments above mine were all full of praise, not one negative…). And also know that they are being hateful because of what is going on in their lives, and it is not a reflection on you, regardless of how personal they try to make it.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  20. Happy Thanksgiving, Gary Leff! From a reader in San Diego. Through the information in your blog, I’ve been able to help my very elderly parents and in-laws travel to their ancestral homeland in business class every winter for the past 6 years!!!

  21. Your advice and counsel have been an immeasurable gift to me and my wife — along the lines you state for your own life. What I’ve learned from you has enabled us to have experiences that we could never otherwise have. So thanks to you for that.
    Our most sincere congratulations on your family’s great year this year. Your child definitely will change your life, and probably already has done so, but will bring rewards you never imagined.

  22. Hi Gary, thank you for the daily insights that always seem to come at just the right moment. Congratulations on your growing family and keep up the great work!

  23. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving especially with a newborn .Enoyed reading your stories and info .May next year be as wonderful for you and family.

  24. Happy Thanksgiving, Gary! Your lovely Thanksgiving message has compelled us to write our first comment. Thank YOU very much for researching and writing such an informative and entertaining blog. We enjoy reading it everyday and truly appreciate all the useful tips. All the best to you and your beautiful family.

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