However, according to PostBulletin.com, some of these travelers may soon be paying more than they bargained for thanks to changes that American Airlines is making to their frequent-flyer model.
These alterations would offer better mile rewards for spending more money on their tickets, while reducing points offered to those who mainly travel on discounted fares. American Airlines is now the fifth carrier to move to this payment-based model for free reward seats, following Delta, United, Southwest and Jet Blue.
Supposedly, the “airline is looking to reward its most loyal and most valuable customers,” as explained by a spokesperson for American Airlines.
Frequent-flyer rewards have been based off of mileage for around 30 years. Instead, it will now benefit mainly business travelers, who buy the most expensive last-minute tickets usually only days before the flight.
American attributes this quick change to their merger with USAirways, which also means this will affect travel on American Airlines’ subsidiary, American Eagle.
The new model will reduce rewards from mileage by as much as 40% by March of next year.
While these changes may benefit some of their more upscale business clientele, many other frequent flyers may be in hot water. CNN reports on one particular homeless traveler who essentially lives in the first-class section of planes due to do his impressive ability to manipulate the mileage points system through the fine print.
Twenty-five-year-old Ben Schlappig has no official address. While some frequent flyers afford their lifestyles by buying condominiums or other lower-cost homes, which require only about 1% of the purchase price for yearly maintenance, Schlappig decided to skip paying rent or a mortgage altogether.
Beginning at the young age of fourteen, Schlappig now flies an average of around 400,000 miles each year, just about enough to circumnavigate the world 16 times. Overall, he spends an average of about four hours a day on airplanes, once a week on an international flight, and spends the rest in hotels, which are also covered by his miles.
“I feel as at home in Emirates first class, as I do anywhere else. I know every aspect of the seats; there’s a certain familiarity with the staff; I tend to run into the same crews,” said Schlappig.
Unfortunately, Schlappig may soon be forced to find a permanent home as the airlines begin to cater more to their wealthy clientele.