I love you points. I really. just. love. YOU. You've turned this weary traveler into the envy of many, taken me to places I never imagined I'd ever see and on top of it all, you've made the journey nearly as fun as the destination. In fact, you've made me feel rich and famous more times than I can count. After so many years of loving experiences together I wanted to write you a memoir, a highlight reel of favorite moments...
"Oh The Peering Eyes"
"Who is that?" says one, "damn them" says a glancer "that looks nice" remarks another. Oh the joys of flying First Class with British Airways in New York City. It was Christmas time in New York, trees were up, lights everywhere, but one place that didn't seem to feel the joy was JFK Airport. Long lines wrapping corners. Using 68,000 miles (and sadly around $480 in taxes) we were escorted personally from the First Class check in desk to the very front of the security queue. It was a simple gesture, far from the grandest airline offerings, but my goodness did it feel good. The stares... I can still see them. Thank you, points.
"What Year Is The Dom"
Gary Leff always says that his favorite thing to ask on a flight is "what year's the Dom". "It's an 06', Mr. Ott, will that be ok?". Oh the happiness as I opened the privacy door to my private First Class suite aboard Emirates First Class. Piyawadee K, the flawless cabin service manager, had just seen that I was indeed awakening from a blissful slumber and knew that only one thing could hit the spot at 33,000 feet. It's hard to say which was more fun, asking the question or receiving a glass (bottle) of Dom Perignon "for free" in the air, but regardless I felt like a total celeb, famous and fancy, if only for a few hours. Thank you, miles.
"Tokyo From Above"
"Aren't those macarons ridiculous?" "How about the truffles in the eggs?". Tokyo is a dream city for most. Thanks to you, points, electric blinds controlled by an iPad signaled the start of our mornings on our last trip to Tokyo. Perched countless stories above it all, there we were in a five star hotel which goes for over $500 a night. We used SPG points, just 35,000 per night and got upgraded to club level, where truffles in the eggs were "a thing", complimentary champagne and cocktails were too and the views at night... well. They were magic. I keep thinking it'll be brutally hard to ever top that stay, but thanks to you again points, we'll use just 25,000 Chase points, converted to Hyatt points for the Andaz Tokyo, which would've been $650 per night, out of our league.
45 minutes to get off a flight, grab your bags, clear immigration, check in again, go through security (again) and make a flight at one of the worlds busiest airports? I didn't even break a sweat. Thanks to some travel savvy, I spent $29 per person to get fast tracked through Bangkok airport at rush hour. I made a flight that was essential to the timing of the rest of my around the world trip and I made it with time to spare. Sometimes the points make an unforgettable trip, but other times it's knowing when $29 is going to make you infinitely happy, and on time. I'll always chuckle when I think about sitting in that golf cart facing backwards as we breezed through Bangkok airport. Best $29 bucks I ever spent.
"Three New Years"
"Five, four, three, two... happy New Year". My second major "ahaaa" moment with points and miles was redeeming Delta Skymiles for Virgin Upper Class. My wife and I were in London to visit her family and Upper Class seemed like a neat way I wanted to travel. It all started with their private wing, which is more like a hotel for checking into airplanes, but it really bubbled into memory, sitting at the Upper Class bar. We were flying on New Years Eve on a late evening flight and as we crossed each time zone, the pilot would ring the phone by the bar to initiate a countdown. The crew poured themselves apple juice, those at the bar champagne and by my count I had three New Years celebrations on the flight. The bed on board certainly helped afterward...
Oh the confusion. Here I am sitting in Los Angeles sending emoji pictures of three people going on vacation to my wife and she just can't figure out why there's a third person. It's because to her knowledge at the time, there were only two. Little did she know I was looping her into the surprise that her sister, separated from us by a continent would be joining us on our upcoming Bali and Singapore adventure. Thanks to one of Qatar Airways very best deals we were able to swing three of us in a style only once attainable in Youtube videos. We'd hit some of the niftiest corners of the world and we'd do it all together. Sometimes it's not what travel can do for you, but for the ones you love. This was one of the happiest moments of my adult life. Thanks, Qatar Airways.