My trip to Frequent Traveler University (FTU)


FTU is is an event similar to the recent Chicago Seminars in which hundreds of frequent flyer addicts attend presentations, get drunk network, and learn from each other.  Last weekend, FTU was held in Los Angeles at the LAX Sheraton Gateway hotel.  Here are some miscellaneous take-aways from the weekend…

TSA PRE (Still) Rocks

I qualified for TSA PRE both going to and returning from FTU.  No line, shoes stay on, liquids and laptop stay in the bag. I love it.  In Detroit I was not surprised to hear the familiar three beeps indicating that I was selected for TSA PRE.  Since they began TSA PRE in Detroit over a year ago, I’ve been lucky enough to be selected every single time through.  I think I’m 12 for 12 or so.  LAX was even more fun.  The regular line for security was huge.  The line snaked back and forth, around pillars and walls.  If stretched out I would estimate that the line would have reached China (which would have been convenient for those travelling to China).  The elite line, though, was completely empty.  I walked and walked past one traveler after another who stared at me with jealousy and rage.  It was great.  Then, three beeps later, I was making my way to the Sky Club.  Travel life is good thanks to elite status, TSA PRE, and free lounge access thanks to my credit card (Delta Reserve)…

Face to face meet-ups are awesome

It was great meeting readers, fellow bloggers, and others that I had previously known only by their online handle.  I won’t mention specific people here because I would inevitably forget a few key ones.  More importantly, I don’t think it would make a very interesting blog post.

98% of the population has both an Ink and a Bluebird

This is from a scientific study conducted during my “5X everywhere” talk in which I asked attendees to raise both hands if they owned both cards.  It seems reasonable to assume that this was an unbiased sample of the U.S. population, so we can extrapolate to the whole country….

Above photo copied without permission from Frequently Flying
Approximately 98% of attendees claimed to have both a Chase Ink business card and a Bluebird prepaid card.

In-N-Out Burger is just OK

What?!  Let me explain.  Fellow blogger, MileValue, led a big group over to a nearby In-N-Out burger on Saturday night.  I had a great time meeting and talking with many awesome people.  MileValue bought me dinner (thanks!), but for some reason didn’t buy dinner for the rest of the gang.  Come on MileValue, there were only about 40 of us there.  What gives?  Anyway, this was my first ever trip to In-N-Out Burger and I got a milkshake, a burger “animal style”, and fries.  The milkshake was very good, but not as good as at Great Plains Burger Company in Ann Arbor.  The burger was quite good, but in my opinion not as good as burgers with “the works” from Five Guys.  And, the fries weren’t nearly as good as at Five Guys.  I know many will disagree with me here and that’s OK.  Don’t people say something like “There’s no accounting for taste”?

image   image
My In-N-Out burger looked something like this one   This photo resembles a Five Guys burger I ate once.  I like the mushrooms.


The Sheraton Gateway was nice, but…

I wouldn’t call it an awesome hotel, but the Sheraton was quite nice.  The bed was comfortable and everything seemed to be clean and in good condition.  The breakfast in the club lounge was a bit lacking (no hot dishes, if I remember correctly), but they had a very decent evening spread.  The breakfast buffet in the restaurant was much better.  Wi-Fi was painfully slow, but then I plugged in my travel router and all was OK again.  One night I returned to my room to find that housekeeping had put up a hand towel with a brown streak running down the middle of it.  Ewww.

I resemble a movie star

As the seminar was coming to a close, a new friend with apparently impaired vision told me that I look like Christian Bale.  I laughed and thanked her.  I have never been told that before, but I am often mistaken for the guy who played Richard on the TV show “Lost.”  Take a look at the images below and let me know who you think I look like most:

image   image   image

Christian Bale


Frequent Miler


Richard, from Lost


I ought to sue Hyatt

Todd Tomlin, from Hyatt, gave a very interesting presentation about Hyatt’s past and planned future.  What I found most interesting was that Hyatt has blatantly stolen my best ideas.  Todd talked openly about the “Hyatt Lab” as if we wouldn’t know that it was a complete rip off of the Frequent Miler Laboratory!  Amazingly, he didn’t stop there.  Todd has clearly learned from me about gift card churning as he has recently moved from their Gold Passport department to their gift card department!  He said he was looking for volunteers to help them understand what gift card features were most needed.  Yeah, I have a suggestion.  Make it loadable to Bluebird….

I failed to convince Daraius to take off his bow tie

In the last session of the seminars, Daraius (Million Mile Secrets) and I debated the merits of bow ties.  Despite my best arguments I was unable to convince him to take his off.

Daraius (left) explains how bow ties can be used to gain admission to airport lounges.  Frequent Miler (right) hangs his head in frustration, having failed to make his dissenting view clear.  Photo borrowed without permission from  I promise I’ll return it when I’m done.
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