“It was the coolest thing I could think of doing at that age”

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Welcome to the next interview in our interview series where travel bloggers share their insights on having Big Travel with Small Money!

Miles & Points Interview: Lounge Buddy

Tyler co-founded loungebuddy and has visited ~52 countries.

Lounge Buddy - Interview with Tyler

My first visit to the Great Barrier Reef near Northern Australia

How and when did you start collecting miles and points?

I became fascinated with miles and points around the age of 13 when I received an upgrade certificate from TWA in the mail.  With the start of my computer consulting business at age 15, I began acquiring massive amounts of miles through my American Express Gold card I used for all of my expenses.

As my passion for travel grew, so did my desire to learn more about the perks of travel… so much so, that I figured out how to apply for (and receive) an American Express Centurion Card at the age of 17.  It was the coolest thing I could think of doing at that age. 🙂

Why did you start LoungeBuddy?  What’s special about it?

There are few guarantees in air travel these days.  Delays, cancellations, diversions, and misconnects are never within our control, but having a place to make the most of your time in the airport is.  LoungeBuddy was created as your answer to finding a place to relax, be productive, freshen up, or just get away from it all.

A better travel experience awaits – use LoungeBuddy to find it.

Lounge Buddy - Interview with Tyler

The LoungeBuddy Founding Team

There are numerous places on the web to get airport lounge information: an airline’s website, the alliance site, a blog post, a forum such as MilePoint or FlyerTalk, or other sites that have been created by an individual that highlight some of their favorite lounges.  The problem is that there is often conflicting information, no standards on amenities, and no place to be able to compare offerings across an entire airport.  LoungeBuddy simplifies this process by:

1) Using our Lounge Access Wizard by telling you which lounges you have access to with a variety of methods such as your credit cards, class of service, elite status, memberships, and even if you’re a US military member.

2) Providing detailed information on each lounge including amenities, location, photos, and the cost for single entry.  In addition, we’ve built a community to allow LoungeBuddy members to share their tips, tricks, reviews, ratings, and photos of lounges.

In essence, whether you’re a road warrior looking for the best lounge for your needs at a particular airport or a casual traveler looking for an exclusive, all-inclusive airport experience on that next long layover, LoungeBuddy is your new friend in travel.

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

Buy everything you can on your personal, mileage-earning, credit card and get reimbursed by your employer!  It has literally earned me no less than 10,000,000 miles. 😀

Lounge Buddy - Interview with Tyler

Enjoying my dessert in the guest seat on BA’s new first class

What’s your most memorable travel experience?

I’ve been so fortunate to have flown well north of a million miles and visit 52 countries…all before my 30th birthday.  Given the amazing places I’ve seen, this is a very difficult question to answer.  The first place that comes to mind is my second visit to Rwanda.

I’ve been working with the Akilah Institute for Women, a school in Rwanda that gives women an opportunity to get a college education.  Being able to visit the students to see how much this school has changed their lives was amazing.  In addition, I was able to trek through northern Rwanda and see the Mountain Gorillas.

This was certainly one of the most unique and memorable experiences of my life.

Lounge Buddy - Interview with Tyler

Gorilla Trekking Rwanda

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

They’re thrilled to have their own personal travel expert.  Since founding LoungeBuddy, my hobby/passion has become my job.  Many of the gifts that I give to my family and closest friends come in the form of free flights, hotel rooms, and upgrades…who wouldn’t love that?

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

I’m a huge fan of ExpertFlyer.  Getting seat alerts and being notified when award inventory is available has made it especially easy to secure that Economy Plus seat that opens up or that first class award ticket that seems to become available at the last minute.

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

Sending in compliments to airline customer service.  There have been a few times where I’ve written in to commend an exceptional employee and received bonus miles for “compensation”!  It’s funny how things work sometimes.

Lounge Buddy - Interview with Tyler

The Redbull Stunt Plane Acrobatics Experience near Bankstown

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

One mile in one program is never worth the same as a mile in another program.  I wish I had made a list of the places I wanted to visit and the checked to see which airline program was best to use for redemption.  Fortunately, I learned this fairly quickly and focused on specific airlines to maximize the value of my miles and points.

What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

I love the concept of a “mileage run” but feel terrible when I’m on one knowing that I won’t have time to actually enjoy the destination.  Thanks to my new position at LoungeBuddy, I can visit more destinations and have the opportunity to explore the airport and beyond.

Lounge Buddy - Interview with Tyler

Quick trip to the Burj Al Arab in Dubai

Any parting words?

Having a luxury air travel experience doesn’t mean you have to spend a significant amount of money more than the cost of a coach ticket.

Thanks to all of the new travel options presented by airlines, we can now choose what part of our experience we want to enhance – whether it is having priority security and boarding, that seat with extra legroom, WiFi connectivity, or that airport lounge to be able to relax and recharge before/between/after your flight(s), everyone can have a better travel experience with a few extra bucks.

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

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14 responses to ““It was the coolest thing I could think of doing at that age”

  1. I immediately downloaded the lounge buddy ap after reading this, it is awesome! I’ve been looking for something like this; this will save me a lot time as I prepare for trips! Thank you Lounge Buddy!

  2. No Milan or Moscow?!?! Or Johannesburg or Capetown.

    I thought, well maybe they really focused on domestic. Nope. Not even Honolulu is listed.

    He should have been upfront about that in the interview. Not ready for prime time.

    Oh, and the reviews page of this app is loaded with paid/fake reviews.

  3. These guys look like they know what their doing! Thanks for introducing them.

  4. I love hearing about entrepreneurs in the travel industry. Loungebuddy is an awesome app!

  5. Isn’t ready for primetime? He’s been to over 50 countries before his 30th birthday!! There are still countless 20-30 year olds living in their parents basement let alone travelling on their own to over 50 countries.

    Ok, so he hasn’t been to Milan or Moscow but he’s been to Rwanda and other “exotic” locations multiple times. Not everyone has to go to Paris in order to be a travel expert IMO.

  6. Why in the world are you giving this valuable space to advertise an Apple device app. This Lounge Buddy app is only available on it an iphone…not even a computer web site. I am really suprised by this D.

  7. “Welcome to the next interview in our interview series where travel bloggers share their insights on having Big Travel with Small Money!”

    Nothing against what his website is trying to accomplish, but I fail to see how his website helps one have big travel with small money….. or is even a travel blog for that matter

    Maybe the heading of this series should be renamed “where people who run travel-related websites share their insights on having Travel with Money!”?

  8. @Rob I agree there, getting 10,000,000 miles because your employer lets you get re-reimbursed for a job that you travel constantly hardly can be considered “Big Travel with Small Money”…it sounds like “Big Travel with Someone else’s Money” to me.

  9. I’ve been using loungebuddy since beta and LOVE it!! Their personal feedback via emails has been exactly what good developers should be all about.

    Great job guys on a QUALITY app that I use every time I travel! Thanks!
    @palmerlaw
    @travelblawg

  10. Thanks for all of the fantastic feedback on this post. To address the concerns mentioned:

    – We’re working very hard at adding numerous airports around the world. At the present time, we have over 700 lounges in 60+ worldwide airports. We’ve started with the airports that have the most passenger traffic (from ATL to HKG to CDG to FCO) and are adding airports in the countries where we see the most usage. By Monday, we’ll have several additional airports in Australia and Canada, and will have several additional airports in the US (including HNL) and Europe in the very near future. Africa and South America will shortly follow.

    – We don’t compensate anyone for writing reviews about any lounges or for any reviews specifically about our product. Given that our service is 100% free of charge, those that find it a useful product have been kind enough to share their positive feedback.

    – One of the most valuable parts of LoungeBuddy is that there are hundreds of lounges listed in our App that are available for use for a one-time fee. As this segment is about “Big Travel with Small Money”, for a price similar to checking a bag or getting an economy seat with extra legroom, you can access a lounge that has the right amenities you need to make your trip infinitely better. In the same way that SeatGuru has made it significantly easier to know what your seat experience will be before boarding, LoungeBuddy makes airport lounges more transparent and accessible.

    – LoungeBuddy is working hard on adding an Android version in the near future. We decided to make the best App possible on one platform to start (iOS) and then expand to other platforms. To sign up for a notification when we’ll be available for Android, go to: http://www.loungebuddy.com/android

    – LoungeBuddy is working hard at creating a structured community of frequent travelers and airport lounge enthusiasts. Not only can share reviews and ratings of lounges you visit, but you can share your own photos. Since our launch less than three weeks ago, we’ve had people from over 140 countries use LoungeBuddy to make their travel experience that much better. We welcome any additional feedback you have. Feel free to email us at support@loungebuddy.com. Thank you for your support!

  11. The criticisms here are really nitpicking. No one promised this or that website to only be a certain way or type. Get a life people.

  12. “The criticisms here are really nitpicking. No one promised this or that website to only be a certain way or type. Get a life people.”

    If pointing out that the blog intervewee has nothing to do with the explicitly stated purpose of these interviews listed at the top of this post (“travel bloggers showing you how to have big travel with small money”), I’d be curious to know what a non-nitpicked criticism is

  13. Do you mean 1 million miles reimbursed through your employer or 10 million???

  14. I love Lounge Buddy so much I downloaded the beta version on my gf’s phone because I have an android. I can’t wait until it’s available for Android too!