About First Class Flyer
When the Red Sox beat the Dodgers 7-4 in 2008 at the LA Coliseum they did so in front of the baseball’s 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 reports with, it recently occurred to me, a lot more followers than all those fans.
How did a minor league pitcher end up with more than a Coliseum-sized collection of followers?
It's a fair question because First Class Flyer membership isn't free. It isn't even cheap.
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 airfares—more 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 serves—and 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 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 don't broadcast their price slashing, when it comes to prestigious First and Business Class.)
Why endure air travel when you can enjoy air travel?
That’s a fair airfare aphorism.
Prof. Thomas Y. Levin
New York Times
The Wall Street Journal
Condé Nast Traveler
Los Angeles Times
Fleischer Sports CEO
Four Seasons Resorts Magazine
The New York Times
Lawrence Pass, MD
Prof. Michael Beckerman