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I was making small talk today with the new guy, that’s Spencer by the way, and it occurred to me that I haven’t ever really explained how this whole shebang started. If you don’t like the film Love Actually, I’d click away now. If you do, go bake some warm cookies and settle in.

God Save The Points is a result of over one year of long distance transatlantic dating. The story really actually started when I flew Delta at age 12 and read on a napkin that if I joined the Delta Skymiles program, I could earn free flights one day. At that age, I was very easily impressed. I signed my entire family up, with a dial up internet connection that same day. Yes, I was “that” guy.

a man and woman taking a selfieTime passed and I remained a frequent traveler via my early life exploits, always keeping up with the game; but my knowledge hit necessity in 2011-2012. I moved back to New York from Los Angeles, just as my now wife (that’s Laura, by the way) who is from London was deciding to move from New York back to London. Yes that’s right – we met after she decided to leave. &$#!

We met once over the summer, but not again until the fall of 2011, three days before Laura had a Virgin Atlantic flight scheduled to move home. The connection was instant and the rest is history. But how we got there is more interesting than the soapy stuff. We did long distance for a year, on a very-very limited budget. Finding good deals mattered. Maximizing points mattered and finding the best things to do with a short amount of time… yeah they really mattered. Sounding familiar?

a man and woman standing on a mountain topAs a life long points fan, I convinced Laura, who was admittedly a bit skeptical, that it was worth sticking with one airline alliance to earn points and benefits throughout the year. We set a rough estimate of it being “worth” staying brand loyal if the price was within $50 of the lowest option and in that year we flew across the pond to see each other every month, without fail. In economy.

In that year of 2012, airlines hadn’t yet quite figured out how to make their economy customers feel entirely unwelcome and undervalued, so we managed to hit status in the first half of the year. By the second half, the benefits such as lounge access were starting to make a huge difference. We were both creating a nice haul of points, another thing airlines have managed to wrangle away from economy flyers, and we had high hopes for spending them in a future year where we’d be in the same place. Points made a huge difference and I wanted to help people share the joy.

a man and woman sitting in an airplane eating foodIn 2013, I convinced Laura to move back to New York after over a year of monthly transatlantic flying. On her last ever flight of our long distance, she got her first operational upgrade. In New York, we both got Delta Amex cards and further pushed our loyalty. In almost no time, we were finally able to cash in our points for a round trip to Rio in business class at 100,000 points per person. It was awesome.

As that year went on and we traveled more together, Laura noted that I seemed to know more than some of the people I was speaking to on the phone from the airlines, and thought maybe I could be a useful voice amongst the blogs I loved so much. I didn’t know nearly as much as I do now, and I continue to learn every day. Nonetheless, my hero Gary Leff of View From The Wing, was encouraging enough to get me to give it a go, and as they say – the rest is history. I’m a fan of blogs just like you to this day.

Not many people get to do what they love for a living, let alone do it in a space as fun as travel, so I’m very grateful to you all. Well, the ones who aren’t mean in the comments section.

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. A lovely story. Also, the mentions of the not-so-distant days when the airlines were more ambivalent about hating the people who brought in their revenue makes me rather wistful, but I like your story better. Best of luck, bud!

  2. I don’t often comment on anything, but what a great story. I love reading your posts and follow you on Facebook to watch out for these bargains.
    It was always on my bucket list just to experience Business Class the once. We paid a huge amount to experience a once in a lifetime opportunity when we flew London to Vancouver return. WIthout looking into the detail of what Business Class is like on different airlines, we went with BA and joined up to their BAEC. Whilst the timing of those flights was not too important when we booked, it did set the stone in motion where in that first year, we managed to get to Gold. In that year, I managed to find a bargain from Edinburgh to Colombo with Qatar Business. Now their Business Class was an eye opener. So with a few more flights in premium economy to Tokyo, and Business to Marrakesh & Turin, we hit Gold. Yes, you are right to stick with one alliance. That first year being with BAEC was a lucky year, it had been fun being Gold, Silver is much more achievable for us as we always hope to find a Qatar Business Class flight to a destination we would like to go to. It works out for us if we have to start from a European city as we then pay for economy with BA starting our journey from Inverness. It’s been fantastic now that BA have resumed flights from Inverness, and the demand is there as they will be increasing the number of flights.
    Keep up the good work, and your words have inspired me to think more tactically.

    1. Agree completely with you jean. Yours is a similar strategy to ours. And we refer each other for our amex cards without fail, thus getting bonus x bonus points. And away we go!

      Lovely story Gilbert, love your posts.

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