‘Frequent Flyer – The Video’ – why we do what we do

For no reason in particular, I thought it was a good time to give this video another push.  I haven’t mentioned it for a couple of years – although it is permanently referenced in the sidebar on the desktop site – and hopefully you may have 20 minutes spare today to enjoy it.

If you’ve never seen “Frequent Flyer – The Video”, then you really should. It has been about 5-6 years since Gabriel Leigh made it, I think as a graduation project in the US, but it remains a fantastic piece of work.

It is a 20 minute piece about collecting airline miles, in particular the people (like us!) who do it. It primarily focusses on mileage running – taking very cheap or multi-segment flights on crazy routings in order to accumulate miles or status points very cheaply.

This practice has historically been very popular in the US because of the ability to turn a New York to San Francisco flight into an 8-segment marathon, on the same airline.  It has become less common recently as the major airlines brought in spend targets as well as mileage targets to retain status.

(In Europe a mileage run is a lot more difficult because of the number of different airlines – the best you might manage is, potentially, flying London to Zurich to Frankfurt instead of London to Frankfurt, in order to add an extra Star Alliance flight segment or some extra miles.  British Airways tier point runs are becoming less attractive with changes to how American Airlines treats domestic First Class and the 2015 changes to London City – New York JFK tier points.)

Frequent Flyer The Video

Anyway, back to the video. The production quality is outstanding, as good as any documentary made for the cinema. Randy Petersen, founder of Flyertalk and Milepoint, is featured, as are some other regular Flyertalk posters, albeit under their real names.

It includes a segment with Steve ‘Beaubo’ Belkin, talking about how he infamously hired disabled Thai rice farmers to fly between Bangkok to Chiang Mai all day, every day, in order to take huge advantage of a Star Alliance promotion! (Belkin is the first person you see talking when the video starts, Petersen is second.)

The link to the video is here on Vimeo if it is not showing above. If you’ve already seen it, watch it again – it is worth it for the quality of the film making alone.

A planned feature length version of ‘Frequent Flyer’ which was the subject of a successful Kickstarter campaign seems to have hit the buffers, which is shame.  Enjoy this 20 minute taster version.

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  1. Thanks for highlighting this, Rob. Great film, great stories.

  2. I’ve never quite understood how the Thai farmer thing worked… didn’t the points all get posted to the farmers’ FF accounts? How did he access them? Just pretend he was one of them when he made bookings for himself?

    • He didn’t ‘pretend’ – he simply redeemed their miles for his own tickets in the same way you might redeem your for a mate.

  3. the real harry says:

    O/T given we’ve all got STTM – Raffles did you look into skyclub.com & gagfare dot com?

  4. Sorry,

    I lost interest < 60 seconds:

    First person interviewed states that he "may" have gone to Europe once or twice when he was at High School.


    • Steve’s ok 🙂 What is spooky is how many people in the video I have met in the last couple of years.

  5. JamesLHR says:

    OT – My new VS Flying Club number came through last night. Does anyone know if I have to manually update Amex Rewards, Tesco Clubcard, MBNA and Heathrow Rewards with the new number?

    • There’s been no comms. I had two MBNA statements both produced 11 Nov and points haven’t posted. I’ll give it to the weekend before chasing as surely that has to be a way of capturing such postings with the transition?

    • Just seen a message on the Amex membership rewards site which said that due to the changes to the Virgin scheme, cardmembers won’t be able to transfer points to Virgin from sometime on 9 November until 11.59pm on 18th November.

      MBNA is probably working to the same timeframe.

  6. The word “Otaku” springs to mind… that’s what Mrs Gavin calls me anyway for being interested in miles!

  7. OT – 15,000 Avios has appeared in my BAEC account overnight titled special promotion. I have no idea what this is for.

    I do know I’m still missing Avios for Avis (only got 700 instead of 1700 for a recent rental) and 4,500 for the Sunday Times Magazine, but can’t think of anything else I’m owed.

    Has anyone received similar?

    • Have you had a BA Amex since it launched in 2001?

    • Its from the Latest Hillergram..

      Time flies. It may be hard to believe but the British Airways Executive Club is celebrating fifteen years of partnering with American Express®. As a thank you for being a Cardmember and part of it since the beginning, we would like to reward you with 15,000 Avios.

      As you know, there are lots of ways to spend your Avios – whether you decide to put it towards a cabin upgrade, hotel stay, or reward flight for your next getaway – we think it’s well‑deserved.

      Thank you again, and we hope you enjoy.

      Warm regards,
      James Hillier
      from the Executive Club

    • Lucky sod!

  8. The link to the LCY-JFK TP article is wrong, taking you to the article about cutting BA3/4

  9. OT. Email from SPG. 2 SPG points on SPG Amex spend at SPG and Marriott hotels till 15 Nov 17. Decent offer. But also means SPG Amex around for another year? Longer than I thought.

    • Per £ spend

    • Scallder says:

      Starwood/Marriott had previously confirmed the Starwood Amex cards would be around in the US for a while, so presume the same will apply here. Need to apply for one shortly, so very much hoping that they bring back their 20k sign up bonus offer, although that is seriously clutching at straws…

  10. the real harry says:

    O/T what was that review you did of HUKD a few years ago Raffles?

    very amusing

    ISTR you mentioned their incredible energy?

  11. I say I am an miles collector but bloody hell they are pros. Haven’t had to do a likes run or more importantly a tier run. Can imagine that soon. A quick hop to DUB or BHD

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