a man wearing sunglasses and a blue shirt

The short answer is yes, and it’s really fun. Meeting people in the wild gives an amazing feeling that some “thing” or nugget of information I’ve shared has mattered.

In like 2017 I had an idea, or rather stole one from Richard Branson, which catapulted GSTP into the mainstream a bit. I did this thing called “catch me if you can”, where if you found me in an airport and we were on the same flight, i’d happily trade my first or business class seat with the observant traveler. I did this for months, with a published map while dropping clues on where and when.

It quickly took things from a blog and blogger doing “well” to appearances on most morning shows in the Western world like Good Morning America, and even in Australia too. I’ve oddly been on Sunrise on 7 twice, and I love David Koch the lead presenter.

News stories about the amusing “treasure hunt” went somewhat viral everywhere from daily papers in virtually all languages and continents, from far away places Brazil to Singapore to Travel & Leisure and The Times, and despite not having the readership of a couple other blogs, I’ve since seemed to get outsized recognition.

Recently I’ve had more and more friends asking if I ever get recognized in airports and planes, so for my own amusement I figured I’d answer and share some of those meets because they’re actually a real joy.

a man lying down on a pillow

Only Planes And Airports

I’ve never had a desire to be famous and I’m not by any means. I’ve just always wanted to help improve people’s travels and that’s created a really cool sweet spot.

Particularly in big hubs like a London, LA or New York, I do often get recognized when I travel — but only in the airport and only by people who are crushing their own personal travel game. And that’s why it’s cool.

Other than Flyertalk wankers in London, all my interactions with people have just been incredibly kind. People say hello and let me know that at least one article I’ve written or tip I’ve offered has improved their travels. I’m not sure there’s anything in travel that means more.

What’s funny is that people are often shy to say hello, but I can’t tell you how impactful it is to me when people do.

Numbers and dots on the internet obscure the connection of 1:1 interaction. Even if a piece helps just one person optimize their points earning, grab a great airfare or unlock an otherwise inaccessible travel experience, I’m f*cking elated!

I’ve come to realize that you don’t memorize names or faces of people who share most things in the world, so if I’ve made a measurable enough impact on you that you do, I have all the time in the world to chat and have a coffee, err maybe wine, in the airport.

a man wearing sunglasses and looking at the camera

It’s Been A Really Weird Few Years

The times of the global health crisis really changed a lot for me with my activity and interests.

I’ve written about the reflection of how loyalty is in a fascinating reset, because so many people unexpectedly found themselves in new circumstances, or with time to better weigh their options and travel preferences with ample time for reflection.

Even I somewhat burned out blogging and doing TV for European and UK news during the years as I broadened my interest and thinking beyond the hamster wheel.

My heart isn’t in the granular “250 bonus points here” style content anymore. There are great resources which will make sure you vacuum up every last offer, but I don’t even have the heart to participate in some of the more pedantic and small fry earning or burning, so I can’t pretend to enthusiastically write about it.

More than ever, I love trying to focus on the big picture trends and the things that really drive the results and satisfaction in travel still. I love the “cheap” around the world business class fares, new upgrade strategies and best ways to optimize stays or flights. I’m still here.

If we ever cross paths in the real world, please do say hi. I love meeting people in the wild, particularly ones that have leveraged the advice I share for a better cabin or an airport lounge, which is often where I can be found.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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    1. I’m on flyertalk myself and generally it’s an amazing place with a wealth of random strangers who will proactively try and help or guide you. More than once I’ve asked about doing XYZ and been told that there is a much better, cheaper and more fun way of doing whatever it is I was aiming for.

      That said. It can be brutal at times. You learn quickly to hold off on suggestions if you don’t REALLY know what you’re talking about because the place is full 9f those with, literally, decades of experience and/or knowledge and sometimes they won’t pull any punches in pointing out why you’re wrong. That said I still say it’s a net positive place.

      @Gilbert it’s good to have the attitude you do about interaction if spotted. The woman whose travel blog was the 1st I started to read properly ( Michele from Turning Left For Less) has become a friend of sorts in the few years since I began my own travel & loyalty journey. We often converse away from her blog privately & if she absent mindedly mentions an upcoming flight I’ll mess with her waiting till I know boarding would’ve begun & say “Oi. You just walked past me in 2A” ( she’s typically a 1k kinda gal) but I’ve also learnt from her that whilst generally great. She has been spotted by some real characters

  1. Sat next to another travel blogger, let’s call him “the pointz dude.” Tried to tell him I enjoyed his blog, basically ignored me and acted like a wanker that thought he was better than anyone else in biz class. Not at all like the persona he pretends be.

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