Podcast #50 – Yet Another Winter Storm, Travel Super Elites

Recorded in the TravelCommons studio after hanging around home for the holidays. I talk about yet another tough struggle to get home when a pre-Christmas blizzard shuts down Denver, a couple of listeners share their trials of sitting next to travelers with killer bad breath, and we talk about new class distinctions among frequent fliers with the emergence of the Super Elites. Here’s a direct link to the podcast file.

Here are the show notes from TravelCommons podcast #50:


  • Intro music — Warmth by Makkina
  • Recorded in the TravelCommons studios outside Chicago
  • Did a good bit of flying right before the holidays — Memphis, New York, and SF twice in two-and-a-half weeks
  • Heading back out west this week after two weeks of doing nothing
  • Bridge Music — Flight by Ga’inja
  • Drew Leifheit of the Budacast podcast talks about killer bad breath when seated between two German brothers
  • Bridge Music — Rocky Road by KCentric
  • My travel plans get derailed yet again by the second big winter storm of the season
  • The problem is not with Chicago this time, but with Denver
  • Bridge Music — Wilderness Dance by DJ Squirrel King
  • In past podcasts, we’ve talked about an “explosion of elites” devaluing of frequent flier status
  • Have started to see the airlines put more separation between their top-tier and mid-tier status levels
  • A New York Times article describes new levels of benefits for extreme frequent fliers
  • Closing music — iTunes link to iconPictures of You by Evangeline
  • Bridge music from the Podsafe Music Network
  • Feedback at comments[at]travelcommons.com, the comment board on podcastalley.com, or right here in the comments section below
  • Direct link to the show
  • Leave a comment


    1. “Super-elites are the Skull and Bones of the sky,” said the frequent-flier expert Joel Widzer, referring to the blue-blood secret society at Yale. “Don’t bother asking how to join. If you qualify, they’ll let you know.”
      “”You should have never gotten that seat in the first place,” the agent whispered to him to avoid being overheard by other passengers. “You’re Global Services.”
      His membership, she added, “means we like you a lot.””
      “Beyond all the perks, the real bonus is “the ‘Wow!’ factor,” according to Mr. Brierley, the loyalty expert. “It’s those times when you land in a snowstorm
      in Denver, and your connecting flight is canceled,” he said. “There are long lines at the airport, and you’ll probably be stuck overnight. But when your
      plane arrives, there’s an airline employee holding a boarding pass for the next flight out – and you have a seat in first class.””
      <a href=”http://www.elliott.org/archives/000070status.php” rel=”nofollow”>Elite goes platinum</a>

    2. Just started listening to the podcast today and have listened non-stop all afternoon. I travel considerable amounts for work into remote areas for 3-6 weeks at a time, and I certainly relate to all of the topics you cover. We in Canada also suffer from over-zealous security screeners, which borders on silliness as I can never imagine someone trying to hijack a Twin-Otter in the isolated Northern Regions.
      The situations that appear to be attracted to me while travelling to & from range between annoying to ridiculous. This is mostly due to flying on the airline known as Innu Mikun, though Air Canada can provide me with countless moments of silliness as well.
      The Innu Mikun flights are either 40 minutes or 4 hours long, if they actully decide to fly on the day you wish. Highlights of the last year include:
      – taking 29 hours to get home, consisting of 3 flights totalling 2 hours, 50 minutes;
      – spending 3.5 hours of the 4-hour flight next to an very intoxicated obese man that smelled very similar to rum-soaked dog feces, who had one arm in a sling made from a dirty dish towel, resulting in constant requests to buckle his seatbelt and pick up whatever he constantly dropped on the floor;
      – and my favourite: the 4 hour flight where one person suffered from airsickness, which resulted in 9 more of the total 13 people on the flight to become sick (I was spared), essentially re-enacting the pie-eating/vomit scene from the movie “Stand By Me.”
      The unfortunate thing is that, in “non-isolated regions,” the wearing of sunglasses & headphones while your face is stuck in a book, is generally regarded as “no conversations, please.” It isn’t the case on these flights….
      Keep up the great work on your podcasts! They may take my mind off the constant taps on my shoulder to buckle a seatbelt.