Today's interview features Mark Beattie from boardingarea.com/milesfromblighty fame. Learn below how mark accumulated 2 million miles with a single 'deal'!
How, why and when did you get started to blog your thoughts on travel?
I have been blogging for about three years now – who knew it would last that long? The impetus to start was that so many of the blogs I saw were very US-centric. Whilst the rest of the world does not have such developed schemes, people outside the US often know less than they should about where they earn miles and what to do with them.
What is your blog all about?
I try to mix reports on first hand travel experiences, news about airlines and schemes that I like and information about how offers and promos work in the UK and Europe.
Are you a full-time blogger? If so, do you live a rich lifestyle? 🙂
Oh goodness No – and never would be! There simply isn't the cash in the blogs to live in London. There are no credit card referrals here which are massively lucrative for US based bloggers.
What has been your most popular post so far?
The recent series on London seems to have gone down well. I've tried to look at what I love about London and present it for visitors to use to research a stay. (You can try it for yourself here)!
What's your favorite country/place you have traveled to and why?
I love Australia, but its so expensive these days. I remember a wonderful day in the Ocean at Broome in Western Australia swimming in water warm enough it was like bath water.
Where would you want to live if you'd have to settle on one place?
I am very happy in London – more than 25 years, but as I get older I think somewhere in Germany may be in my future.
How many countries have you been to?
Too many – but no where really exciting or unusual although I will be in both the Seychelles and Maldives this year.
What was the most rewarding travel situation you encountered?
For me, the best was an offer from KLM some years ago. They offered to match your highest mileage balance if you flew 30 segments in 90 days. I did this by flying Continental from Dallas to Austin, via Houston for a week. Nearly 2 million miles later I have just used up the last of the miles on a First Class ticket from LA to Paris. (You can read about this here – http://boardingarea.com/milesfromblighty/2014/01/07/air-france-first-class/)
What is your most embarrassing travel pet peeve?
Well it has to be the nightmare that is airport security – whether in the UK or the US, it has become a mess. I worry that it does damage to the airline industry as will not save us from a concerted terrorist attack
What was the most complicated flight itinerary you have ever booked?
Oh Lord! So many over the years – I am trying to make them easier as I get older – longer connection times at airports I know are troublesome, airlines that will make an effort to rebook me, and good travel insurance when it all goes wrong.
What is your favorite hotel you stayed at?
I have sentimental attraction to the Grand Hyatt in San Francisco – I used to stay there a lot. After that I probably don't 'love' many hotels. I do like the Andaz in Amsterdam as its very eccentric in its design. The location of the Grand Hyatt in Sydney cannot be beaten in my view.
What airline/hotel are you craving to try?
I really want to do a long trip on Emirates in First. I have done it in Coach, from Sao Paulo, Brazil via Dubai to London and I enjoyed some it a great deal.
What are your favorite travel websites and why?
Well of course I have to say Boarding Area don't I? Other than that, MilePoint and Flyertalk provide a good deal of information and have a vast archive of reviews and member experiences to share.
What gadgets help you out on your travels?
iPad, iPad and my MacBook Pro – all of these travel everywhere with me now.
Where do you earn the majority of your miles? Credit Cards, Online Shopping Malls?
As I mentioned, its much harder in the UK and Europe to earn huge numbers of miles and this limits earning levels here. Typically for me, its travel that lets me earn. I am a voracious consumer of promos that earn extra points.
Do you have a simple advice for a beginner – how to collect and use miles easiest?
Think! Its likely that the scheme you join when you first fly will be the one you live with for the rest of your life, especially if you are after status. And who isn't? You need to pick an alliance that you like – OneWorld, Star or SkyTeam. Think about what you plan to do with your points – free flights, upgrades, hotels, lounges? After that learn what you can about each alliances offering and then pick an airline that works for you. If you never fly them then status won't matter, unless all you want is lounge access on Economy tickets. Several of the boards mentioned above offer advise threads where you can ask more experienced flyers which scheme they propose for you.
Can you share a secret with mightytravels.com readers what's a less known way to earn miles?
In the UK, look at the Avios scheme which you can switch in to your BA or Iberia schemes if you collect there. You can earn points there from recycling your old mobile phone, joining a breakdown service, and even on buying home improvement supplies.
What is your biggest learning from earning so many miles and points?
Track expiry dates – they never really existed when I started out.