Friday 8 May 2009

Just When You Think There Is Nothing New Under The Sun, Along Comes the Air Miles Hustler.


Writing press releases can be a soul destroying experience. Take a look at the newswire sometime. On any given work day the wire pumps out over 3,000 press releases to a dwindling discouraged press fraternity. Yesterday's deluge ranged from "2/3's of Householders Armed Against Intruders, Says Direct Line" (7% would go as far as to use an axe) to "Walmart Canada invests $115 million, employs 1,400 to build state-of-the-art, sustainable distribution hub in Alberta".
Catching the attention of the world press with witty, newsworthy, succinctly worded prose is a daunting daylong task. An hour into the process you (well at least me) realize that there isn't anything-new left to say in a release. Four hours later you are convinced that there is nothing-new left to write about anything. At the end of the day? You are convinced there is nothing new on the planet that will ever be of the remotest interest to any of the 3-billion people currently living.
And then you meet someone like Seth Miller.
Taking a break from press releases and accepting an assignment to write a story about scuba diving off the coast of Pompano Beach, I found myself spending a Friday in April riding a dive boat with a shipload of strangers out on the rolling Atlantic Ocean.
In between dives, we are all stripped down to t-shirts and bathing suits. Lips blue from the cold, hair caked with salt, all barriers are down, everyone is equal and knowing we will never meet again, we all talk about what we know best ... ourselves.
Seth Miller is a New Jersey, freelance computer expert and an avid collector of air miles. For almost two years Miller has been buying the cheapest airline tickets he can find that give him the most air mile points possible. The farther he can travel with the most number of stops, the happier he is. And if he gets bumped? Nirvana.
Last month he flew to Hamburg, Germany and spent 36 hours straight wandering the city (saves on hotels). Tomorrow he jets out to Ontario, California. He plans to stay four hours and then fly back to New Jersey ... with plane changes in Phoenix, Chicago and Washington DC.
Why does he do this? He is collecting air miles to take his wife first class to Singapore. Unique? He says not. In his travels he meets other people just like himself and they swap information about the best deals out there. Of course when he shares a room on the road with a fellow air miles hustlers, the guy putting down the plastic gets the hotel reward points. His bags are always packed. He is a man with a plan … and close to a million air miles. Check out his website at:
Beats writing press releases.

CUTLINE: Seth Miller in harbour on board a dive boat.