Home > Meetups, Travel Tools > #FTULAX Review – New Friends and New Digs

#FTULAX Review – New Friends and New Digs

New Friends

It was my first ever Frequent Traveler University, and like everyone else, I am bummed that it was over so quickly.

If you’re someone who reads the blogs thoroughly and wonders if FTU is for you — it’s not. But if you’re someone who wants to get to know people in the community and learn some tricks that will never make it to blogs, then by all means, FTU is not enough!

My mattress run suite (though I did end up catching a few Zzzz's that night).

My mattress run suite (though I did end up catching a few Zzzz’s that night).

On Friday, after checking in to the Radisson to earn my free stay credit for a more expensive hotel night later, I met the infamous TravelBloggerBuzz (or George, or @FlyerTalkerinA2), who somehow got a better suite than me and breakfast certificates! Whaaat? Right there and then, I knew I had lots to learn! During the cocktail hour, I met loads of other bloggers, tweeters, and miles enthusiasts, and found it easier to just put my @PointsToPointB handle on my nametag. Apparently, people read what I write! Who knew?!

I also met the Santa Claus of Frequent Flyer Miles, Randy Petersen

I also met the Santa Claus of Frequent Flyer Miles, Randy Petersen.

Friday was a pure social session with free drinks, and I eventually headed out to dinner in Culver City with  FrequentFlyerUniversity, TravelSummary, JustAnotherPointsTraveler, and @HouseOfV, who taught me a lot about combining points and paid fares for future mileage runs. We later caught up in Santa Monica with GiddyForPoints and MileCollector, who talked to me more about his methods of points-earning.

Saturday’s sessions were somewhat informative, but what I was excited about was crossing off an item on my bucket list by having lunch with TheMrPickles, who explained some of his creative points-earning techniques to me. The sessions ended a bit early, so I ended up being found by MileValue, whom I met in L.A. earlier this year, and was invited to his “standard room suite” for a get-together before dinner, where we talked about the best premium cabin redemptions (although I ended up speaking about the Emirates A380 First Class shower for a while).


MileValue MeetUp (pic courtesy MileValue)

We headed out to dinner at the Westchester In’n’Out, quite possibly my favorite fast food location in the world due to its location next to the northern LAX arrivals runway. I got to talk to FrequentMiler for a while about where the reload game was going, and met loads of others to talk about schemes and tactics. I don’t even think we ever sat down in the In’n’Out, we all just stood up and used the decorative ledges as tables while eating and talking points!

View of a Korean Air 777 landing, on a prior trip to In'n'Out.

View of a Korean Air 777 landing, on a prior trip to In’n’Out.

Sunday started off with a session all about the secrets that you won’t find on blogs. Depending on your travel habits and risk aversion, just this one session could save you hundreds of dollars. I won’t go into it because we would certainly kill the deals by posting on a concrete and lasting thing like the internet. We followed that up with some sessions to close the day, including two by beaubo from Flyertalk, who told some of the amazing entrepreneurial experiences he used to earn millions of miles at a time (I recommend listening to Steve’s Baht Run story at 14m:52s in this video).

The big guys like Daraius, Gary, and Lucky were quite busy and I wasn’t able to talk to them for a while, but there are future events for that (although I was surprised when Lucky came up to me to say he recognized my handle on my name-tag and thought my stuff was interesting … am I allowed to blush? Do you read this, Lucky? Comment, dude!). Although I did get to speak to Emily from Million Mile Secrets, and it somehow came out that I was the creator of the infamous “THE VANILLA RELOADS ARE GONE” video that Emily is apparently a huge fan of (phew, dodged a bullet there!). I’m so famous, she requested a picture, though I asked if we could use some props for it:

I need some circles and arrows!

I need some circles and arrows!

Sunday came to a sad end, and those who came from out of town had to make their way to the airport. I hung out near the bar and talked to those who had red-eyes or late flights. On Saturday, the hotel’s water was closed off due to a burst pipe, and those who stayed at the hotel got compensated as little as 4000 points to as much as 7000 points and a free room. However, it happened during the day, so it affected all of us at the seminars. Someone told me to go ask for compensation and I ended up getting 4,000 SPG points … without even being a guest! At 2.3 cents each, that almost pays for the seminar fee! Score!

I ended up heading out to get Korean BBQ with The Wandering Aramean, Just Another Points Traveler, and others, which was again, loads of fun with tidbits of information that can’t be gleaned from a blog post.

What all am I trying to say from this? It’s that despite subscribing to so many blogs about miles and points, there’s only so much you can learn from words on a screen. Getting to an FTU or Seminar or DO or Meetup really helps you learn things that you didn’t think would be possible. I’m not yet sure if I’ll be able to go to FTU DC in April, but I sure hope I can.

New Digs

One blogger whose work I’ve read since he started blogging is Scottrick at Hack My Trip. We met this weekend and had a genuine mutual appreciation for the unique ideas we had, especially since they seem to complement each other (with Scottrick having his ideas on maximizing fares and me having ideas on maximizing points). Starting today, I’ve decided to publish a few guest posts on Hack My Trip. You can read about my conversation with the founder of the Wallaby Card, who had a 5-minute spiel at FTU this past weekend. Over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll be bringing more ideas to Hack My Trip’s site, and we’ll see where it goes from there. I’ll still have this blog for other points-related things, and will definitely keep my Twitter going, but I want some of my ideas to capture a larger audience.

It was great meeting so many others at FTU — can’t wait until the next one!

Categories: Meetups, Travel Tools
  1. December 4, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Amol, it was great meeting you. Let’s find time for lunch or something next time.

    • Amol
      December 4, 2012 at 9:22 am

      Great meeting you, too, hopefully I can come to the next seminar!

  2. Travel Summary
    December 4, 2012 at 8:35 am

    Great to meet you there! Look forward to your new trial partnership with Scott!

    • Amol
      December 4, 2012 at 9:22 am

      Good meeting you too, and let’s get in touch if you come up to LA/I go down to OC.

      • Travel Summary
        December 4, 2012 at 10:22 am


  3. December 4, 2012 at 8:56 am

    Great meeting you, Amol, however short it was. Best of luck with your “merger” with Scottrick!

    • Amol
      December 4, 2012 at 9:23 am

      Thanks, good meeting you as well. It’s only a “codeshare” for now!

  4. December 4, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Thanks for the mention. I am so slow it just hit me that you were the guy behind the infamous video. For a moment, I thought about posting your pic w/ Emily on my blog..but I changed my mind. Interesting to see how your guest blogging goes with Scott…I am watching you:-)
    Currently waiting to hear back from my source on the compensation for the water issues…Stay tuned;-)
    And GREAT round up, I will feature this tomorrow!

    • Amol
      December 4, 2012 at 9:32 am

      It’s okay, we all had more important things to worry about over the weekend … like having our hotel overrun by beauty pageant contestants.

      I know I am being watched by you, I am technically posting on BoardingArea now. 😛 Let me know what happens with the compensation. I still have the business card the front desk gave me and instructions on what to do

  5. December 4, 2012 at 10:31 am

    I already received 2.5k pts by email and gently pushing for 4k. If not, I am not going to sue about it;-)

    • Amol
      December 4, 2012 at 10:32 am

      Can you sue based on discrimination? : D

  6. December 4, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    Let’s just say you can get a lot more points if you were there on an award stay.

  7. December 5, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    Did you actually manage to get points for the water issues? I asked nicely at the front desk but was told guests only and I wasnt staying there.

    • Amol
      December 5, 2012 at 12:54 pm

      They haven’t posted yet but I was told it was 4000 points after speaking to the front desk manager on duty. I told him that the water issues were mainly during the day and affected everyone at the conference, not just those staying at the hotel. If it had been at night/during non-seminar hours, it would’ve been a different story.

      • December 5, 2012 at 12:56 pm

        Ah should have been more persistent! Any chance you can PM me the email/instructions on how to go about it after the fact?

      • Amol
        December 5, 2012 at 1:00 pm

        I would just send an email to the manager (don’t have the card on me) with a snap of your conference name tag and explain the circumstances and why it was an inconvenience. You may or may not get it, but it’s worth a try. Frankly, even though it wasn’t completely the hotel’s fault, it was a big inconvenience for everyone. They opened the can of worms by stating each room-guest would receive points, even though we were all at the same seminars while it was going on paying the same seminar fee.

  8. December 5, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    fair enough! Will give that a go! Thanks!
    PS – totally did not realize it was you who wrote this blog. I think your jacket kept covering the nametag half the time!

    • Amol
      December 5, 2012 at 1:11 pm

      I also forgot my nametag at my place on Sunday — d’oh! 🙂

  9. December 5, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Aah well….happens! So did i! I take it you live around LA then?

    • Amol
      December 5, 2012 at 1:39 pm

      Yes, which is why I skipped on staying at the hotel. I did the Radisson on Friday because I found a good rate and they had a Stay 1, Get 1 promo for use in any US hotel.

  10. December 5, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Gotcha. I live in the Culver City area. Will def make it a point to catch up the next time around!

  11. December 18, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    Good stuff, I added you to my points blog roll, I agree with your statement about FTU not being for everyone.

  12. January 8, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    I just now found you! too bad we didn’t have a chance to meet at FTU, looks like you are hanging out with the big guns now! congrats on your partnership with HMT!
    ps sjbsisioneep: I ended up getting 8000 SPG pts and didn’t stay there either! inquired at the front desk: gal said ok , to fill out an small form, filled it in with my husband’s account info, then later emailed them , asking them about it and sent them my SPG stuff, so though may be a little underhanded, got 8000 points for my inconvenience (I did have to leave twice for a bathroom break, you know!?)

    • Amol
      January 8, 2013 at 2:16 pm

      We’ll meet at another FTU! I had to fight for my points as well, ended up escalating to the SPG Twitter team, where I got a response from the manager almost immediately. Points posted within 5 days.

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