Grinding, IRL

by Steve Bowler on December 30, 2007

in massive

I was watching the CBS Sunday Morning News Magazine show, and they did a piece on frequent fliers who take flights at the end of the year for no other reason than to maintain a frequent flier perk membership.  At face value, I thought they were just crazy, but after awhile it started to make sense.

Evidently when you achieve the Executive Platinum level membership with an airline, you get free First Class upgrades, a free membership to their elite fliers club (Red Carpet for United, for instance, I think).  Some of these executive fliers found themselves a few thousand miles short of the annual minimum to keep that membership, so they wind up booking “flights to nowhere” in order maintain their minimum.  One exec was flying to Indiana, staying overnight, and then flying straight to work the next morning once or twice per week in November/December, on his own dime, in order to keep his miles total up for the year.  In the end, I’d say it’s worth it if taking a few extra trips means you get First Class upgrades for free (and preferential treatment over others) and board before anyone else.

It started to seem that I’d seen this behavior somewhere else, but couldn’t put my finger on it.

My wife, who was watching the show with me, then astutely pointed out, “My god, they’re grinding.”

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