“I chuckle because I didn’t pay anything for this seat…”

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Welcome to the next interview in our interview series where renowned mile and point gurus share their insights on having Big Travel with Small Money!

Miles & Points Interview: Bengali Miles Guru

Tahsir has been fascinated with traveling ever since he was a kid.  He’s currently a 20 year-old student at the University of California, Riverside who also runs an award booking service.

Bengali Miles Guru - Interview with Tahsir

Tahsir in Singapore celebrating the New Year!

How and when did you start collecting miles and points?

I started collecting miles when I was about 17.  I started just reading blogs and became instantly amused by how easy it was to fly!  I remember going to flyertalk for a random question I had about meal service on domestic flights and it all just started from there!

Why did you start your blog?  What’s special about it?

I started my blog because I wanted to help people who don’t necessarily know how to use points.  I tried to strike a balance between beginner and expert where I would start fresh and “grow” with the reader.  There are so many amazing blogs out there and I just wanted to throw in some of my thoughts and how I became successful at collecting miles.

I believe the most special feature of my blog is my award booking service.  No one out there has a flat rate of $50 for everyone on an itinerary!  People tell me that it “degrades” my image, but in reality, everyone’s looking for a deal and this is a good deal.  I’ve had dozens of customers that flew around the world and more!  I’ve never had a complaint and for the past few months, have been doing most of my business through referrals.  I sometimes also go on flyertalk and offer to help book itineraries for free!

What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?

I believe the one single thing they can do is to really use common sense.  People don’t realize how much they can earn just by shopping for the same product online.  People often tell me that what they want is never online or that they want it instantly.  The truth is, most stores now offer store pickup and if you’re not pleased with your purchase, you can exchange it for something else!

What’s your most memorable travel experience?

Bengali Miles Guru - Interview with Tahsir

New Year’s Celebration in Singapore

My most memorable travel experience would be when I flew to Singapore for New Year!  It was about 11:30 pm and there was a crowd of people that surrounded a small office.  It was almost as if they were all called to board a gate at the airport!  This line wasn’t for a plane though, it was for the huge observation wheel called the Singapore Flyer.

Bengali Miles Guru - Interview with Tahsir

Happy New Year! Tahsir in Singapore

The midnight ride had sold out months before, but thanks to our Ameriprise World Elite card, they were able to make a few calls and get us 4 tickets to the midnight ride just 2 days before!  We waited and waited wondering whether we would get to the top before midnight.  Sure enough, the most amazing sight revealed itself.  It was Singapore.  A city known for the hustle and bustle now was lit up by fireworks!  For miles, all I saw was fireworks!  Our guide told us that some fireworks were from neighboring Malaysia!  It was one of the best trips I had ever taken!

Bengali Miles Guru - Interview with Tahsir

The Midnight Ride(Singapore Flyer)

What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?

When I first started talking about points, naturally, my parents were skeptical.  Traveling for free didn’t sit well in their minds.  I eventually convinced them to apply for certain cards (Citi American Airlines 75,000) and before we knew it, we were at 350,000 points!

That year, we took an amazing trip to Malaysia & Hong Kong in Cathay Pacific First Class.  After we got back, my parents were finally believers.  My relatives soon followed and were also able to rack up an impressive amount of miles.

Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?

Honestly, the one tool you have in knowledge.  After booking dozens of trips, the process just becomes automatic.  You start to ask yourself where a stopover can be or where you can transit through.

The biggest tool though is to call in.  I know many people hate calling and waiting on the phone, but I love it and my saying is “two brains are better than one.”  Some people would argue that by calling into some centers, you’re only using one brain 😉 but I’ve met some really great people through call centers and I have a lot of respect for what they do!

What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?

The LEAST expected way I earned points was by using an American Express card to book a port-o-potty.  Hear me out!  My sister was having her wedding at a ranch in Malibu, California and the owners required that we have a separate bathroom because 700 guests couldn’t use a septic tank bathroom.  We decided to go with a local port-o-potty company and charged it to our Gold Card.

The statement came the month after and it showed 3X bonus on the potty purchase.  When I looked into it more, it turned out that the port-o-potty owners also owned a travel agency and just used a single merchant system that made everything into a travel expense!  That was pretty amazing.

What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?

I wish I knew how to earn more points out of the gate.  For years, I was under the impression that you had to spend $30,000 to get $30,000, but I found out that wasn’t the case.  If I had known that in the beginning, who knows how many more millions I could have racked up!  In addition, I was also under the impression that you could only apply for one card every year and so that’s what we did for a long time until I found out you can sometimes apply for 2 or 3 in the same day!

What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

I feel like my readers would be surprised to know how much I’ve traveled given my age.  I’m 20 years old and the only continents I haven’t been to are South America & Antarctica.  Being the son of someone who works at an international airline, we would often take random trips to Malaysia or Singapore on the weekends.

I remember one day I got picked up from school and was told we were going to Malaysia the same day for Thanksgiving.  It was awesome and I’m extremely blessed to have had the opportunity.  As I get older and start my own blog, I’ll be traveling on my own to different places all around the world!  No doubt that I’ll be blogging about my adventures as well.

Bengali Miles Guru - Interview with Tahsir

Tahsir and his family in Hong Kong

Any parting words?

I tell this to all of my customers who get MAD at me for charging too little.  Trust me, I have gotten yelled at!

Bengali Miles Guru - Interview with Tahsir

 Tahsir in Kona, Hawaii

“I love to travel and I’m sure you do too. When I sit in first class (sometimes) and see a man who argues with the Flight Attendant about paying thousands and getting horrible service, I chuckle. I chuckle because I didn’t pay anything for this seat and I’m extremely proud that I was able to do so.

When you take your flight and look out the window knowing you didn’t pay for this flight, you’ll understand.  You’ll understand that travel is a passion for me and I get satisfaction by your satisfaction.  Money always comes second to happiness.  I was taught that all my life and I apply that to my own business.  If you’re not happy or you’re just content, I haven’t done my job”

Tahsir– Thanks for sharing your thoughts on having Big Travel with Small Money!

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40 responses to ““I chuckle because I didn’t pay anything for this seat…”

  1. I feel the same way. I wished I would have started collecting points earlier…..back when the gravy train was really rolling. Great interview though.

  2. Way to go Tashir! Thanks for all your help.

  3. Cocky smelly bastard, go back to pakistan

  4. It’s somewhat ironic to interview a guy who supposedly travels a lot, and the bulk of the pictures are over 10 years old. Or maybe the New Year’s eve novelty glasses they sell in Singapore are recycled? 🙂

  5. Chuck, people like you disgust me.

  6. @bluecat: I had the same thought, but I think the glasses read “2012,” not “2002.” He would have been 10 years old in 2002, and that’s not a picture of a ten-year-old.

    @chuk: Thanks for that bit of racist nonsense. Before you try again, you might notice that the Bay of Bengal doesn’t touch Pakistan. And please share with us all how you can smell things on the internet.

    @Daraius: “a old student?” {shaking head}

    Nice interview, good to put a face on someone who’s new but has been recently helpful on MP and FT.

  7. Whoops! That *is* a 2012! Looks like I’m the one that needs new glasses!

  8. Thanks for posting Tashir’s story. As a UCR alumni, it was fun to read about someone who is attending my alma mater!

  9. I wish I started as early as tahsir too. I was on of the people that took on his offer on FT for free bookings, he responded quickly with a intelligent booking. thanks!

  10. CanadianMillionMiler

    @Chuk – You stink for being a stupid racist who doesn’t even understand geography and ethinicity in the first place.

  11. Tahsir – Congrats. I am amazed by your interest, knowledge, experience and sharing of information at the age of 20. But calling yourself Miles “Guru” is too early 🙂

    D – Nice interview. How about bringing out some moderation/ approved reply messages to your blog?

    • @Ram @DisappointedWithChuk – “Let her [Truth] and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?” – John Milton

      I don’t moderate or delete comments, but I can see why you ask for it!

  12. DisappointedWithChuk

    Daraius, I respectfully suggest that you remove Chuk from posting any comments on this site. We are better off without such idiotic comments / individuals! Thanks.

  13. I also respectfully suggest that Chuk’s post is removed and that he is not permitted to post again.

  14. @Ram, I side with D on this one. The Milton quote is especially good. But, in the back of my mind, I have to wonder what would be done (not just by D, but by any of us) if Chuk went all crazy-post on the current verboten topic: Mohammed.

  15. @chuk, you are a troll. I think everyone has a right to their own opinion, as long as it has some resemblance to intelligence, which somehow you don’t even pass that test.
    @Daraius, I respect your opinion to not remove comments. Thankfully this blog doesn’t usually generate a lot of hateful comments.

  16. @chuk ……why PAKISTAN ???

  17. Good interview. Maybe I’ll move all my Skypesos redemptions to his service … last booking took me 7 hours to complete. I don’t know if $50 is enough to charge, hah!

  18. Think carefully before you say “I didn’t pay anything for this seat”

    That saying shows your stupidity. At least you have to pay taxes for award ticket. Besides, you have to take into account the hours spent for getting credit card miles. searching, and planning for award ticket. Time is money, this is the basic thing you should learn for your education.

  19. @ Chuk, you’re disgusting and your comment doesn’t even resemble clever. That being said, I don’t think comments should be moderated. The only person who “stinks” is the person making stupid comments and contributing nothing to the miles/points discussion.

  20. And this was a great interview. I wish I’d gotten into this during my college years, when I was constantly charging everything to credit cards. Back then, my criteria for getting a credit card was 0% interest (for a limited time) and cash-back.

  21. Hey Everyone,
    Thanks for your support! It really does mean a lot. Although I still have a lot to learn about and am far from some other frequent travel bloggers, I love helping people with what I know and always love to learn more. I apologize if I came across as uneducated with my saying that “I didn’t pay for anything.” in fact, I did pay for the taxes and I did pay for the star bucks coffee that gave me the initial points to take my trip. I hope that the community continues to support and read along with me as I grow my blog and business.
    Tahsir Ahsan

  22. CanadianMillionMiler

    @Tashir – Just with Tashir saying that he didnt pay anything for the ticket when in fact he paid taxes and fees doesnt warrant you calling him stupid. Thats a bit harsh. I assume he paid negligible fees and taxes and he may have considered that as nothing much. Ofcourse he paid something, plus his time to research and book. He may have not be 100% accurate with him words, but it is close. Give him a break, he is just 20 and quick to apologize for his mistake. Live and learn.

  23. CanadianMillionMiler

    Sorry I meant @Nayamir above.

  24. bookmarked, i am abit surprised of the content of blog from a 20 sunny.

  25. That’s a pretty view of the Singapore CBD (Central Business District). Wish there was a way to stay on points at the hotel in the very left in the first picture (Marina Bay Sands). Paid rack rate but it was a gorgeous view/room. Infiniti pool was unique and pretty fun. View from up top at night was worth the price.

  26. Fascinating interview. Loved the port-a-potty points story.

  27. Great interview. Thanks darius and tahsir.

    Chuck, My parents are from pakistan, but i grew up here in california. I am sad that you have such hatred in your heart. I love it here and i am not going back. I am an american. In fact, im more american than you are. In america, we believe in tolerance. Good luck to you chuck, but i dont want such morons in my america. Go back to mars!

  28. I said my comment because ppl from India and Pakistan smell like crap. They don’t believe in taking showers and eat lots of stinky spices. Plus they look very disgusting in case you have not noticed.

  29. Chuk – On your first post, you spewed against Pakistanis. Second one, you added Indians. Next one will be Middle east and then Chinese. Ironic that you are on a blog looking for easy ways to travel. Please stay/travel in your own zipcode.

  30. @ Chuk – What ethnicity are you? . I am sure you do not believe in washing your foul mouth. You are a piece of $hit. Shame on you coward.

  31. Ignore the trolls. The more you pay attention to them, the more they keep posting.

  32. Will someone start a site that would help people achieve a plan to earn point and book flight to certain destination? My goal is china,thailand , europe and hawaii for a family of 5. China maybe just 2.

  33. @ Leslie, acquiring miles and booking 5 tickets can be challenging, but I managed to do it this past summer. It was quite a challenge and I learned a lot throughout the process. I’ll be blogging about it soon. If you want to send me a message or post in the “help” section, I’d be happy to help you go over your options.

  34. RMS, I bet u are a smelly indian

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