“Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?” – Morpheus, from The Matrix.
(Sorry for the lame analogy)
If you’ve followed the points world for even just a few months, you’ve probably noticed that although there is a lot of great information written about by all the points bloggers, there is also a noticeable absence of other information that could seemingly be extremely valuable.
You know this not because the bloggers have stated there are certain things they don’t write about, but because of veiled references and/or comments made on particular blog posts. You know because when you, as a beginner, tried to read FlyerTalk, you found everyone was seemingly speaking a different language – that they were talking in “code” in many posts. Well, you’re right.
There seems to be an unwritten code among most of the popular points bloggers to not “out” some of the most valuable tricks and loopholes in the game. The reason is pretty obvious: the points bloggers know they have a lot of readers, and writing about a particular trick would increase the number of people utilizing that trick, which would in turn make it worth it for a company (like United, Hyatt, etc.) to figure it out and end/correct the trick or loophole.
Essentially, writing about the deal would “kill” the deal, and that benefits no one, right?
Yes and no…maybe.
The first school of thought is that yes, the more people that make use of any trick or loophole, the more likely it will be to get noticed and the more likely the deal will get shut down (or alternatively, it will become worth it for the company to invest in closing the loophole). After all, companies are interested in making money. If there are tons of people taking advantage of a particular deal/trick, companies can probably charge more or adjust the deal in some way to make it favorable to them and less favorable to everyone else. But if there is only a select group that knows about it, the chances of the deal/trick remaining available increases since it may not be worth it for a company to make adjustments to their systems.
The second school of thought is that if there is a deal/trick that’s being taken advantage of, it’s likely to be short-lived anyway. Why not spread the word and let everyone take advantage of it? These are tricks that are likely already written about on FlyerTalk and MilePoint, so doing a blog post with a summary means that thousands of people no longer have to read every page of a FlyerTalk forum to decipher the code, and can just read it in plain English instead. The deal was already publicly available – the blogger just made it easy to read.
The third school of thought is that it doesn’t matter how many people can figure out about a particular deal/trick, as long as they put in effort to figure it out rather than having it laid out step-by-step (as a blog post would do). There is a sense that you have to “earn” the knowledge by putting in the time to read every page of FlyerTalk, or by trial and error on your own. This preserves the deal for a longer amount of time since fewer people know about it, but acknowledges that it is public knowledge available to those who work to figure it out.
So who’s right, who’s wrong, and how can you get in on the truly great tricks?
Once again, there’s no straight answer. Million Mile Secrets is famous, or infamous, for posting step-by-step instructions on how to maximize certain deals. These are deals that other bloggers most certainly know about, but don’t write about. Just take a look at the comments section of this post for a raging debate on whether it was appropriate or not to out a deal with such detail.
The debate isn’t limited to just the comments sections either. I love following the bloggers and other points gurus on Twitter. There was a lot of anger after MMS made that post, and one of the Twitter users I follow made the following tweet:
FlyerTalkerinA2: “@MilMileSecrets What’s the first rule of Fight Club? We don’t talk about it….Never mind.”
MilMileSecrets: “@FlyerTalkerinA2 – Who said I agreed to the rules of Fight Club?”
If you’ve seen Fight Club, you know that it’s a reference to the secretiveness of the whole thing. Scottrick from Hack My Trip made a fantastic post on his philosophy towards these types of deals and whether or not they should be preserved and, if so, how. He also makes a Fight Club reference.
So the answer to the title of this post is an unequivocal YES, there is a code among points bloggers and the experts/elite of the points community. This code exists for many reasons, and sometimes they’re selfish reasons.
CAN YOU GET IN ON THE GREAT TRICKS?
“Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.”
Sadly, there’s isn’t anything specific you can do or one blog you can read to get all the good tricks. Because of the code, it’s very hard to figure out these tricks, and I’d say that figuring it out is the only way to actually get in on it. Million Mile Secrets writes about a lot of these deals, but not all of them and not all the time. Other ones come out slowly, and you’ll know it’s one of them if you read angry comments talking about the inappropriateness of the post. I can point to several examples in addition to the ones I noted above, but here’s one more.
If you’re really interested in becoming an expert and saving tons of money on travel, you’ll just have to put in the time. Read all the points blogs and the comments, and if you’re interested in a certain topic read every page of that particular FlyerTalk forum. It will take you forever, but just ask yourself how much money you want to save and how much time you have to devote towards saving money. It’s not worth it for many, but for others it absolutely is. Also, follow points bloggers and other gurus on Twitter. It’s a great forum to hear about the day-to-day problems they face and how they solve them. Yes 95% of tweets are useless, but the other 5% could be very valuable.
The Chicago Seminars and Frequent Traveler University are venues that the points bloggers and other frequent travelers attend to discuss a lot of deals, and have also been known as locations where certain “secret” items are discussed. It’s as much about the networking and relationships as anything else.
Finally, I think you’ll find that many people are very generous if you simply ask. Send them a direct message on FlyerTalk, MilePoint, or Twitter, or email your favorite points blogger. Many times they’ll be happy to help you along a little further, and if not the worst they can say is “no.”
I’ll leave you with one final Morpheus quote from The Matrix:
“I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.”