When the Red Sox beat the Dodgers 7-4 in 2008 at the LA Coliseum they did so in front of the baseballs biggest-ever crowd:
I mention this for a couple of reasons, kind of related:
1. I used to be a minor league pitcher.
2. I now publish a newsletter and blog with, it recently occurred to me, with a lot more followers than all those fans.
(Enough followers, in fact, to fill nearly two LA Coliseums.)
How did a minor league pitcher end up with a newsletter with that many subscribers?
It's a fair question because many of First Class Flyer subscriptions aren't free. They aren't even cheap. The newsletter itself isn't even in truth a newsletter, well not a paper one (unless you print it out).
To best answer why so many subscribers, I need to go right back to my baseball days, back to the early nineties, to a Kansas City Royals farm team, at the bottom of professional baseball's barrel.
Traveling back and forth every year to Spring Training on one-way tickets (two of which cost much more that one round-trip), I got interested in airfaresmore specifically, getting better ones. My wages were a barren $850 a month, 6 months out of the year, so saving $300 on an airplane ticket, twice a year, was to me an earnings upgrade! (In case you're wondering, the Royals gave us a check equivalent to full-fare coach money, over $600 each way at the time if memory servesand let us keep the change.)
We traveled a lot and I got hooked on the challenge of getting a really good deal. I'd save 25% often, sometimes even as much as 50%. Don't ask me why, maybe I was born with the upgrade gene, but this happened so much the teammates started asking me to get them deals too. I'd routinely get us massive savings and everyone was thrilled with the change the Royals allowed us to keep. With our minor league paycheck, the money we made on flying around amounted to as much as 20% of our annual salary! You could almost say booking flights was a great side-business to playing ball. What started out as a hobby has now become a career. I'm fascinated by the workings of the airline industry the way a lock picker's fascinated with locks.
Or, more to the point, picking them.
It's one weird métier, but it sure suits me.
Naturally, the more adept you get at airfares, the more you gradually start climbing the ladder of better travel experiences all round.
What I learnt early decipher the jargon, discover the bargain most travelers can't be bothered with. But I'm happy to do the hard work for as long as my readers are happy to do the homework.
That's the thing, First Class Flyer isn't a ticket out of coach into premium, it's what can get you the ticket if you are prepared to do a little work. (Remember, the airline industry is a complex, ever-changing industry that only deals in products that are eminently perishable. Each and every product unit has a strict use-by date, right down to the minute. Anything not sold, goes to waste. Most airlines hate wasting seats, so they find ways to fill them. But they never broadcast their desperation.)
Why endure air travel when you can enjoy air travel?
That's my motto.
I suspect it's the motto of my subscribers too.
The majority, according to a recent reader survey, originally subscribed because they believed First Class Flyer would provide them with reliable information on the cheapest Business and First Class airfares, and how to best upgrade to Business Class. Given that 41.8% then said they'd probably renew and 22.3% said they'd definitely renew, it would appear two out of every three readers see value in subscribing.