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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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