In Praise of Upgrd.com

Following up on Travel Wednesday, I’m going to focus this Blogosphere Thursday post on a travel blog worth visiting.

I’d like to stipulate that I really like to travel.  It’s not just about the destination for me, it’s about the experience.  I don’t really mind the lines or the process.

I’ve been fortunate in that business travel has often allowed me to collect enough miles to earn status privileges (silver, gold, platinum, etc.) on airlines.  This lets me board early, get upgrades and bonus miles.  With the miles I earn, I’m often able to redeem them for first class travel.  To me, the whole frequent flyer thing is a game and a challenge.  I like figuring out how to collect more miles to get even better status to get even more perks.

If you are like me, you need to follow the group of guys at Upgrd.com.  I wish I could recall how I stumbled upon this site, but I’m happy I did.  I also listen to their podcast where the personalities of the key participants (Matthew, Mike, Ben, Hunter, Josh, Fozz, and Gary) all come out.

So, what can you learn from Upgrd.com?

  1. Ins and outs of the various frequent flyer programs, including how to redeem, how to get bonus miles, what status levels get you, and what to do with your miles in the case of an airline merger.
  2. How to make sure you get an upgrade, which is a whole science in itself.
  3. Why volunteering to take a later flight when yours is oversold can be a good thing and how many miles to request.
  4. All about “mileage runs” and how to build them.  A “mileage run” is a trip someone takes only to earn miles.  There is a rule of thumb that if your miles “cost” less than 3 cents (cost of fare divided by # of miles), then it’s a good deal.  It may be worth spending a day, for example, on a quick round trip between St. Louis and Los Angeles.
  5. Descriptions of the various cabins on different airlines, airport clubs, hotels, etc.
  6. Stories about the traveling experience.

As an example of something I’ve learned recently —  Delta now has a special only out of St. Louis and a few other cities that lets you get your status faster and provides bonus miles.  To get that, however, you have to sign up for the program.  I did, thanks to a tweet from Gary at Upgrd.com.  Because I’m based in St. Louis, and we have to connect to get anywhere, I’ll be tempted to make the next trip on Delta to maximize the miles as long as it doesn’t take me too far out of my way.

Another thing I learned from these guys are the concepts of “status matching” and “status challenges.”  Status matching occurs when one airline matches the status you’ve earned at another, usually as an incentive to get you to fly them.  When I got to Continental Platinum last year, I was able to get Delta Platinum in just 24 hours with a simple email – and I hadn’t flown Delta in years.  Status challenges allow you to get to status levels faster by flying a large amount of miles in a short time (and paying a small fee).  Challenges are good if you’re flying patterns move you to a different airline for an extended period, such as when you start servicing a new client or are on a new project in other cities.

For those of you that don’t think about all this stuff, but fly a lot, it may be worth visiting and possibly subscribing to the boys at Upgrd.com.

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