Back in March 2018, so almost three years ago now, Radio 4 ran an interesting documentary called “Inside the World of The Frequent Flyer”.
I noticed the other day that it is still available online – click here – so I thought I’d give it another plug.
The producer, Laurence Grissell, found some of his interviewees (with our permission) at the 2017 Head for Points Christmas Party. As well as featuring our readers, there is a fair chunk of me in there too.
Laurence is a keen flyer himself and has taken part in a few mileage and status runs of his own, so the programme does take the topic seriously despite the style of the narration.
This is how Radio 4 was promoting it:
Up in the air with the frequent flyers who’ll go to extreme lengths to achieve airline status and rack up air miles. Are they playing the system – or is the system playing them? Georgie Glen narrates their stories
Many hardcore frequent flyers will stop at nothing to achieve the privileges which go with airline status, planning convoluted multi-leg journeys to maximise their points. It’s a whole sub-economy – a parallel currency which the airlines control, and which the frequent flyers seek to exploit.
The consequence is a life which is spent perpetually in transit, on airplanes and in airport lounges. We hear what motivates these individuals, what they gain and what they lose from spending so much of their lives up in the air.
My contribution is slightly detached because a lot of the chat is about mileage and tier point runs. As a family man – and with a business to run – I haven’t had time for those for the past 10+ years.
I do, of course, understand the economics of the process from both the point of view of the airline and the traveller and that’s where I pop up.
It is only 27 minutes long, and worth a listen if you’ve never heard it – or another listen, if you haven’t heard it since it was first broadcast three years ago.
PS. Laurence also made the April 2020 documentary ‘Last Flight to Newquay’.
This was originally conceived as a documentary about how Cornwall Airport Newquay was responding to the collapse of Flybe, which accounted for the majority of its flights. During production, the coronavirus lockdown took full effect and the production team was on hand as the future of the airport – and the local community – turned even bleaker.
You can listen on the BBC Sounds website here or via the app if you have it. It is 27 minutes long.