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Apr
10

Conceding My Professional Traveler Status

I’ve always been a strong believer that face-to-face communication is far better than indirect forms.  Sure, phone and email are much more convenient, but words alone, combined with poor writing skills (especially my own) in the case of email, make both greatly inferior to looking a person in their eyes while hearing what they have to say.  Because of this, I traveled a lot on business.  Many years, I was on the road for at least some part of the week, most weeks of the year, sleeping away from home about half the working nights every year.  I was often on the road for weeks at a time.  I’m no hero and there are many who travel even more, but I believe I qualified for the frequent part of frequent traveler.

Like many of you, I was a million-mile flyer on several airlines and had platinum, premier, elite or other god-like status on most others.  Flight attendants recognized me; the people manning the airline clubs knew me by name; hotel employees remembered my preferences; and car rental agents made sure they got me the car I wanted.  I had a wallet full of travel cars and I knew just about every shortcut at every airport I routinely traveled to.  If my flight was canceled, I was booked on another one before I left the gate area.  If the weather was bad, I had a hotel room at the airport reserved in my name.  And, when I did travel with my family, I did so freely as a result of all the miles I built up. 

In those days, I would walk through the airport and scoff at the amateurs.  I would marvel in how lost they were and how little they knew of the system.  While they struggled in long lines, I waited until the very last minute before boarding my flight.  I was a ruler of my little world.  Pathetic, I know, but you gotta feel good about something, right?

Not any more.  When it comes to travel, I’ve forfeited my professional status to once again join the ranks of the amateurs.  My 100,000 mile/airline/year travel rate has dwindled to several thousand miles on a few airlines.  I stand in lines; I’m ignored by desk clerks; I’m surprised when a reservation is correct when I arrive; no one knows my name or what I like.  Very sad and very time-consuming . . . just like for everyone else.  I’m no longer special.

I used to have a bag half-packed in my closet with a complete duplicate shaving kid and pre-loaded essentials.  I could be completely packed for short business trip in less than five minutes.  My briefcase was also ready to go.  Writing instruments, glasses, notepaper, chargers for everything electronic I own, drugs, vitamins, and even food.  A kiss to my wife and kids and I was airport bound.  Perfectly prepared. 

But like an amateur, on my current trip, I forgot my sunglasses, cell phone charger and clothes to work out in.  I’m sure I’m missing other things as well, I just haven’t discovered what they are yet.

This all comes to mind as I’m sitting in my seat on a plane.  The captain just came back to thank the passenger next to me for flying his 10,000,000,000th mile on this airline, or something.  That could have been me, I thought, I coulda been a contenda.  Of course, I don’t miss the traveling at all.  I do miss the benefits when I’m on the road, though.  I also hate the feeling of being an amateur among the traveling professionals around me – so unworthy.  In the end, I wouldn’t trade what I’ve got to spend all that time on the road again, but it sure would be nice to get more professional benefits with my sub-gold card status.

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 April 10th, 2007  
 Will  
 Misc Thoughts  
   
 6 Comments

6 Responses to Conceding My Professional Traveler Status

  1. I can’t wait until I shed my status (that means staying home)…but like you…I tremble in fear when I contemplate plebedom. The best investment you can make is the $2500/year for the AMEX Centurian card to ensure your top tier service and access to most clubs? I don’t qualify personally (yet) but have a business card and it’s the best retention tool ever created.

    Dialing an 800 number produces a mythical person who’s life is geared towards making mine better no matter what the effort level required. (It’s like having a Scotty to fix your warp drives in 3 minutes or we’re all dead).

    Although I’m still PLAT on AA, I now have PLAT level status on USAIR, CONTINENTAL, and DELTA along with entry into the clubs and the “Priority Pass” membership.

    The worst part of the card is hearing the giddy girls at the SBUX counter say, “Like oh my god…this is the card Brittney has!”

    Just give me my coffee…

  2. I can’t wait until I shed my status (that means staying home)…but like you…I tremble in fear when I contemplate plebedom. The best investment you can make is the $2500/year for the AMEX Centurian card to ensure your top tier service and access to most clubs? I don’t qualify personally (yet) but have a business card and it’s the best retention tool ever created.

    Dialing an 800 number produces a mythical person who’s life is geared towards making mine better no matter what the effort level required. (It’s like having a Scotty to fix your warp drives in 3 minutes or we’re all dead).

    Although I’m still PLAT on AA, I now have PLAT level status on USAIR, CONTINENTAL, and DELTA along with entry into the clubs and the “Priority Pass” membership.

    The worst part of the card is hearing the giddy girls at the SBUX counter say, “Like oh my god…this is the card Brittney has!”

    Just give me my coffee…

  3. Think about the opportunity this creates for the airline, car rental, hotel companies – IF they could treat the “ordinary” person as an “elite” they would have a chance to RETAIN them as a customer for life dont you think?

    The AMEX stuff if a paid privilege but imagine if you got great service just for paying THEM money and being a customer?

    WOW – what a concept!

  4. Think about the opportunity this creates for the airline, car rental, hotel companies – IF they could treat the “ordinary” person as an “elite” they would have a chance to RETAIN them as a customer for life dont you think?

    The AMEX stuff if a paid privilege but imagine if you got great service just for paying THEM money and being a customer?

    WOW – what a concept!

  5. I’m just a humble Amex Platinum card holder. I’m afraid if I ask for a Centurian card they may discover that I’m an amateur traveler and have to turn me down. I don’t think I could take the rejection 😉

    Mukund, yeah, it would be nice if you got Centurian-level service just for being a customer, but then they’d have to come up with the Zeus card for those will to pay to be special.

    I’d never be a member of a club that would have me as a member, anyway 😉

  6. I’m just a humble Amex Platinum card holder. I’m afraid if I ask for a Centurian card they may discover that I’m an amateur traveler and have to turn me down. I don’t think I could take the rejection 😉

    Mukund, yeah, it would be nice if you got Centurian-level service just for being a customer, but then they’d have to come up with the Zeus card for those will to pay to be special.

    I’d never be a member of a club that would have me as a member, anyway 😉

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