By Emory Jones
Hello. My name is Emory and I’m a frequent flyer.
There, I’ve said it, and it feels good to finally get that out in the open.
I’m what they call a “Million Miler” in tarmac slang. I take full responsibility for my situation, but still, I can’t help feeling that the airlines share at least some blame for landing me in this spot. The experts call it “enabling.”
There are other frequent flyers out there that are hooked on the habit even worse than me. I’ve seen them sleeping in airport lounges and walking through terminals with that blank stare they all have. I once spotted a man in the Tampa airport (or TPA as we frequent flyers call it) who had a NINE-million miler tag. I shook his hand and offered what little comfort I could. But in the end, there was nothing anyone could do for him.
Like me, he’d started flying early—back when it was physically impossible for a flight attendant to get a pilot pregnant. In those days, airlines only doled out their addictive “points” occasionally. They’d use them to get on the redeye to Richmond or to make us take a midnight flight to Fargo. It seemed harmless at first, but before long, I was constantly wanting more “points.”
For years, I didn’t tell my wife I was hooked, although she suspected. As hard as this is to admit now; I once left that poor woman alone on New Year’s Eve so I could fly to Memphis and back for more “points.” I desperately needed two segments to stay in some “elite” program that made “points” easier to get–I don’t even remember which one now. I told her I went for bar-barque, but she knew.
My tolerance for “points” was so high back then, I could stay up for days without coming down. Always in search of “points,” I flew so much that I used to recite those pre-flight safety instructions in my sleep: “Welcome aboard!” I’d shout in the middle of the night, scaring my wife and the cat both. “If you have a child, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you’re traveling with two children, pick the one you like best.”
It isn’t just airline “points” I’m addicted to. Hotels and rental cars offer their own seductive charms. I once drove a rental car past two dozen perfectly fine hotels to stay at a sleazy one located 78 miles from my meeting. It was all because I needed more “points.” It was always about the “points.”
It’s too late for the likes of me and that poor man in Tampa. But, if I could offer just one small sliver of guidance to young people starting out on a life of travel, it would be this:
For Pete’s sake, take the bus to Albuquerque. And when you get there, stay at your aunt’s house.
Emory Jones grew up in White County and is known for his humor, love of history, and love of all Southern. Currently, Emory lives on Yonah Mountain near his hometown of Cleveland, Georgia. In addition to articles and newspaper columns, he has written three books including, Distant Voices: The Story of the Nacoochee Valley Indian Mound. His latest book is an “entertaining history book” called Zipping Through Georgia on a Goat Powered Time Machine. He and his wife own Yonah Mountain Treasures, on Hwy 75 near Cleveland and Helen. Visit them at yonahtreasures.com