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“homeless” First Class Traveler
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While most of us can only make travel reservation after a careful review of available cheap travel options, such as cheap airplane tickets, discount hotel rooms, and cheap vacation packages, many of us have dreamed what it would be like flying in first class.
For the past 18 months, Ben Schlappig has been homeless. This 25 year old American has no fixed address, nor keys to his own front door. He figured that he did not need to both paying rent since a bed was only ever a first class ticket away.
Ben is a professional traveler who pays an almost fanatical attention to fine print and uses a mixture of frequent flier miles and credit card reward points to travel around the world for a fraction of the cost.
He started earning air miles about 10 years ago when he was just 14. One of Ben’s claims to fame is that he has never flown in coach on an international flight.
The native New Yorker usually flies about 400,000 miles annually, enough to circle the globe 16 times. He spends an average of four hours in the air each day, and takes at least one international flight per week.
When Ben reaches a destination he stays at opulent hotels and seldom spends more than three days in one place.
Airplanes feel like home, according to Ben. He knows every aspect of first class seats and enjoys a certain familiarity with the staff since he tends to run into the same crews.
Ben manages a very popular blog, with 36,000 followers, called “One Mile at a Time.” He claims that his opulent travel is not beyond the means of the average traveler if that person is prepared to do his or her research.
Many people would be skeptical of his lifestyle because it is commonly believed that there is no such thing as a “free lunch”, and that if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
Ben readily acknowledges that redeeming miles is trickier than collecting miles.
He started his flying obsession at age 14 when he came across a United Airlines flyer offering 5,000 extra miles for every segment flown. He convinced his parents to let him spend his summer flying across the country accumulating points, promising their next trip to visit family in Germany would be taken on free first class tickets.
By summer’s end he infrequently left airports, sometimes, taking as many as eight flights over a single weekend, and emerged with an elite airline status.
Even after flying over five million miles, Ben says that he is still just as awed by the experience as he was when he was six years old and continues to be amazed by viewing sunsets from the sky.
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