Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Schlappig in an upgraded room during his travels.
(Photo: @onemileatatime/Instagram)Ben Schlappig is what you might call an
airline rewards savant.
He’s been outsmarting airlines by manipulating their own rewards
programs to fly around the world (on his own) nearly for free since he was 13
(his dad reasoned it was better pastime than smoking pot).
At 16 he flew across the Pacific six times in one trip (Chicago, Osaka, San
Francisco, Seoul, and back), and by 17, he’d flown 500,000 miles.
These days, at the ripe old age of 25, Schlappig traverses the world spending
little or none of his own money — it is his life’s work.
His business, PointsPros, helps book trips to get the most out of their
frequent-flyer miles.
Then, last year, when his lease ended after a break up, he decided to get rid
of most of his belongings and live out of a suitcase full-time, which he
details on his blog One Mile at a Time.
"I’m very fortunate in that I do what I love," Schlappig told Rolling
Stone.
"An airplane is my bedroom.
It’s my office, and it’s my playroom.
"Related: The ‘Man Who Flies for Free’ Reveals His Secrets
Even after having flown well over four million miles, Schlappig says he still
loves flying.
(Photo: @onemileatatime/Instagram)So how does he do it? Since he was a
teenager, Schlappig has been part of a community of like-minded frequent flyer
nerds whose pursuits are known as the "Hobby" — these enthusiasts
devote their time to using frequent flyer miles, rewards credit cards, and
airline loopholes to fly for cheap or for free.
From his adventures in Hobbying, Schlappig learned tricks of the trade,
including these: 1.
Choose one airline to earn elite status, even it means starting off with a
few paid-for flights to create loyalty.
Because elite status comes with lots of perks and upgrades.
(Shclappig chose United, but then was kicked out of the program a few years
ago.
) 2.
Sign up for as many of the best rewards credit cards as you can.
(One particularly clever trick among Hobbyists is to use these credit cards
to buy dollar coins, then use the coins to pay off the credit card bill
immediately — so you’re actually buying nothing but reaping the
rewards anyway.
)Related: The Best Rewards Credit Cards for Travel 3.
Exploit the airlines’ imperfect algorithms.
Maybe not for the novice, but according to coding Hobbyists, it’s
shockingly easy.
"The people who run these programs are idiots – and we’ll
always be one step ahead," Schlappig once said at a Hobby gathering.
4.
Get bumped — strategically.
In 2011, Schlappig told The New York Times that he had snagged "well over
$10,000" in United flight vouchers in three years by using Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) data to book flights that were most likely to be
overbooked and therefore bump passengers.
(Of course, this revelation is also what got him kicked out of
United’s elite program.
)
It’s a lot for the layperson, but not for Schlappig.
These days he says he spends about six hours a day flying, and says he has no
plans to stop: "The world is so big, I can keep running.
At the same time, it makes you realize the world is so small.
"WATCH: Flying Singapore Airlines in First Class for an Hour Ruined My
Life Let World traveling club Travel inspire you every day.
 Watch World traveling club Travel’s original series "A Broad
Abroad.
" He's been outsmarting airlines by manipulating their own rewards programs
to fly around the world for years.
Here's how.
.
3.
Exploit the airlines’ imperfect algorithms.
Maybe not for the novice, but according to coding Hobbyists, it’s
shockingly easy.
"The people who run these programs are idiots – and we’ll
always be one step ahead," Schlappig once said at a Hobby gathering.
4.
Get bumped — strategically.
In 2011, Schlappig told The New York Times that he had snagged "well over
$10,000" in United flight vouchers in three years by using Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) data to book flights that were most likely to be
overbooked and therefore bump passengers.
(Of course, this revelation is also what got him kicked out of
United’s elite program.
)
It’s a lot for the layperson, but not for Schlappig.
These days he says he spends about six hours a day flying, and says he has no
plans to stop: "The world is so big, I can keep running.
At the same time, it makes you realize the world is so small.
"WATCH: Flying Singapore Airlines in First Class for an Hour Ruined My
Life Let World traveling club Travel inspire you every day.
 Watch World traveling club Travel’s original series "A Broad
Abroad.
" He's been outsmarting airlines by manipulating their own rewards programs
to fly around the world for years.
Here's how.

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