The Toughest Travel Question I’ve Ever Been Asked to Answer

At first I thought the toughest questions came from Erich in my request for requests post.

1. Write a post in praise of Tyler Cowen (or another non-points inspiration who made you see things differently)
2. Give a Hansonian take on why Travel is not about vacation
3. How has your hobby modified your job or vice versa?
4. Write a post about how you think a smart but not involved person sees the points game (status chasing all the way down? Coupon clipping dressed in beach vacation dreams?)
5. Write a post on what the credit card game looks like 3 years from now. Don’t post it, but send it to a third party for a scheduled release 3 years hence
6. What are your best travel tips for introverts?
7. Invent a cynical twin, what are the thoughts that leak out of his mind?

Turns out those weren’t even close to toughest.

About a week and a half ago I spoke about travel at Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit.

It was one of the most difficult talks I’ve given because it was scheduled for less than 3 hours after the Asiana crash in San Francisco. All of a sudden the kinds of things I was going to be talking about seemed so utterly mundane. How to save a few dollars on airfare? How to get your rental car for less? At some level, on that day, who cares?

Very few people in the audience were aware of the Asiana crash at the time, they had been holed away in talks and events. People generally put their phones down, they weren’t getting news alerts.

But I felt like it was important to lead off my talk with the news of the crash, acknowledging how so much of what I was planning to talk about seemed small, and then spending a few minutes talking about why I travel, what I get out of it, how saving money or having greater comfort when I travel made it possible and likely that I would travel more, and that the time I spent flying Asiana, the time in South Korea, rather than feeling small because of the subject matter it actually made me feel more connected to the tragedy. There are plenty of terrible things that happen in the world, each and every day, yet this one really affected me.

I was talking about how I approach travel, and the people working for travel companies, and I was asked one of the most difficult, challenging questions I’ve ever gotten from an audience.

I talked about hang up, call back as a strategy to get what you want — to be nice, to ask, to ask someone else if necessary. I talked about simply being nice and connecting with the person at the front desk as a strategy to get hotel upgrades (elite status is just an entry card, there’s still employee discretion, they have their excuse now you want them to use it).

An African American woman, I’m guessing in her early 30’s, asked me “these sounds like great techniques, can you talk about how well they work if you aren’t a white male?”

Wow. Such a great question. And what could I possibly have to add?

I paused. I looked at the ground. And I answered,

I’m pausing because I’m taking your question really seriously. I am not going to pretend that I can speak to the experience of someone that’s not white, that’s female. So all that I can offer you is to think about the conversations I’ve had with people that are familiar with these same basic principles. And none of them have ever told me that they don’t work for them, or that they work differently. But I’d be interested in hearing from folks about their experiences, too.

There’s no question that I’m a moderately successful professional that’s getting close to pushing middle age.

And my experiences may not be typical (although I hope they’re still useful, and I would guess they are useful to folks who are situated similarly).

When I was in my early 20s I was a frequent flyer, I earned elite status, and I was frequently flying up front. This was certainly true for me once I was two and a half years out of college.

There are frequently discussions amongst frequent flyers about the flying experience for someone who is you, many people relate that they don’t get the same level of service and they get lots of assumptions that they don’t belong in the forward cabin.

I never experienced that — When I was barely 24 and flying up front I always felt perfectly at home, and I was never made to feel like less of a customer or someone that didn’t belong. It’s possible my experience is typical, or not, or just that I was oblivious to the social cues that others would have picked up on.

But the techniques I began learning then worked for me, and continued to work. Although of course I have no experience as a female, or as visibly a minority, to say that my experiences would transfer — but I also don’t have reason to believe or expect that they won’t.

For that reason I’d be really interested in hearing about your experiences — what you’ve experienced, or what you’ve witnessed — at the broadest level, are frequent flyer tips and tricks race or gender specific?


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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. My wife flying on my 1K status was getting shooed away from priority boarding by US Airways personnel because “Can’t you see, it’s only for Priority members?” And she is not even a visible minority, as you put it.

  2. Somebody had better have a lot of time to answer all of those questions
    I’m thinking his initials may be G.L.?
    I don’t think you get paid enough 🙂
    Yikes……….

  3. I am so tired of the race card, and people blaming their lives on some unseen ever present reason that they dont get what they want. If she always feels out of place or not granted full rights like all the “white folk” maybe it is her own biases and preconceived thoughts that all white people are racist and out to get her. What a stupid questions.

  4. I’m an Asian female. The techniques of collecting miles / churning cards / redeeming miles / hanging up and call back / booking skills…etc are independent of what race or gender I am. I don’t feel like I was declined by cc companies more often than my white husbands. I got as many incompetent phone agents as he did. Those are the skills I learned over the years, and I’m still learning, so experience matters more in this game. Now, maybe appearance stuff will matter more when you try to sweet talk to an upgrade at the gate.

  5. Gary:

    I am curious as to whether you think you may receive, unbeknownst to you, special consideration when traveling because you are a well known blogger.

    There must be thousands of front desk clerks, hotel general managers, rental car guys, gate agents, restaurant owners, etc. who know your name.

    Thanks.

  6. @toomanybooks — most of the time certainly not. My upgrades fail to clear like anyone else’s, I get bad phone reps like anyone else, screwups happen too frequently for travel providers to be trying extra hard with me. Airline upgrades are computerized and I haven’t been given Global Services, Concierge Key, etc. My status is what I’ve earned.

    At hotels? I get a little bit of special treatment at a handful where I am a very frequent guest. I don’t think it’s because I’m a blogger, they do the things for me they do for other regular guests of the same properties.

    But overall, certainly not… I mean, I hit the Hyatt Regency San Francisco pretty hard for downgrading me on a confirmed upgrade, I get put into rooms with malfunctioning and even leaking a/c systems.

    I’ve talked to some hotel folks who tell me that in general they don’t have the ability to flag people for better treatment at their properties outside of various elite designations. I’ve not been given a Courtesy Card by Hyatt….

    (Rumor has it Starwood has this ability, but if they have I haven’t benefited from it that i can tel.)

    Where it does help me is in getting answers and certain invites, mostly to things I’m not interested in or that wind up costing me money. I mean, American offered to comp me business class tickets to London to try their new 777-300ER seats. I wasn’t comfortable taking the comp, I paid for coach tickets and confirmed upgrades using my systemwides.

    I’m not going to say it never happens, but it surely isn’t noticeable or frequent (not that I’d mind, sometimes, like when traveling with my wife…!)

  7. I was in the audience & I thought Gary handled the tough question very well.

    As a bit of context, the question was asked as Gary was wrapping up some of the more “grey” tricks of the trade. Tricks where you are presenting yourself a certain way to a gate agent or front desk clerk. The question was not in regards to credit cards, ect that are mostly handled online.

    As you are all now well aware from his Colbert fame, Gary is a middle aged white guy in a suit. He “looks” the part of someone who “should” be in the lobby of a fancy hotel room or 1st class on a flight. I interpreted the woman’s question as a legitimate ask about how well these tricks for for him because he fits the stereotype of Wall Street business guy. No more, no less.

  8. People who are “so tired” of the race card….are white. It’s OK, Bob, I’d be tired of it too if I were white like you. Keep fighting the good fight.

    I’ve never had any problems with this hobby, not being white. That’s just one data point, though.

  9. @Gary. Some time ago you had a contest in which readers entered by submitting a link to their favorite View From The Wing post. The contest ran for a week with new entries allowed each day. I entered four or five times.

    I’d like to know if it’s possible to have those comments updated so they all link to this post.

    Thanks,
    Larry Lustig

  10. It’s also important to point out that certain airlines do not treat well passengers in premium cabins who are young or who are slim. For some reason flight attendants seem to believe that only old and fat people belong there. This is especially true for Lufthansa. The more overweight the passenger, the more attentive service they receive. I have seen it many times, always wished I could be a chub for a few hours on the plane.

  11. I’m a white woman and always get better treatment than my white husband. He can come across kind of distant and maybe even surly. But mostly it’s because I ask for things and he doesn’t. I know what *might* be possible and ask if there’s something that I’d really like to have.
    I’m really interested to hear what other people say though. I’m pretty modest in my requests… We would love a room on a higher floor; Could I have an extra bottle of water for my daughter, etc. Never done the $20 or $100 bill trick.

  12. I recently flew p.s. in the old F cabin. Five of the twelve seats were occupied, all men. Three of the five passengers were African-American. In 970,000 UNITED miles and about half a million miles on other carriers I’ve never seen a US domestic premium cabin flight with a composition such as that. I noticed it fairly quickly. It was an interesting feeling given that I very much occupy the visual minority when I travel. I think it’s a great question posed to Gary and reminds us that the lense through which experiences are had are very much layered.

  13. Next time you’re on a commuter jet during a business-heavy travel day, look around and see how many women are on the plane. Often it feels like a throwback to the 60s (minus the cigarettes). I’ve been on planes where I’ve been the only woman or one of maybe three. It feels weird.

  14. I’m a white female, early 30s, and have never experienced what I thought to be any worse treatment, even when I was traveling in my early and mid 20s and definitely didn’t look like the quintessential middle aged male business traveler. I’ve gotten upgrades and perks by being my normal nice self. It doesn’t hurt that I have a bit of a Southern accent — sometimes that goes a long way too.

    In a few instances, I’ve probably gotten better than normal treatment by being a young female. On one flight to Korea a few years ago, I was the only woman on the entire top deck of a United 747 in biz class. The flight attendants — all female — went out of their way to serve and talk to me and were obviously so thrilled to have even one woman aboard. The were psyched to see a young woman aboard taking on the Korean business world. I took it that they probably get their fair share of rude treatment from the normal demanding biz class set on that flight and saw me as a welcome relief.

    I do suspect that the question you got from the audience member, as least as it relates to race, is valid. Everyone, including airline and hotel staff, has prejudices and biases. All you can do is dress the part and be on your best behavior and hope that is enough when it comes to the discretionary aspects of this game. I just don’t think gender likely plays into it much, if at all.

  15. I’ve always thought that a pretty woman of any race can get much of what she wants by flirting (or just being nice, even just being pretty) to most any male in charge of providing what she wants. I have observed this many times, but not being pretty or female, have never experienced it first hand.

    Pretty females might want to respond to this comment.

  16. Love the question and your answer. I’m a white female and I have no doubt that being white absolutely does get you different (better?) treatment from some than if you are not white. The reverse can certainly be true, but not typically on as large a scale…at least in this part of the world. I will argue until I turn purple with anyone who thinks that there are not still gender and race discrepancies that impact everything from grocery shopping to car buying to travel.

    I can’t help but notice that in F there is hardly anyone (on the routes I fly) that is not white, male, and middle aged +. I am the odd-ball as a woman. It isn’t a big deal to me at all, but it absolutely is noticeable.

    If you look like “you belong” somewhere most often it is assumed that you do belong. I would bet if you look different than most, you may have a harder time with things that are in the “grey area” or require a human face to face decision.

  17. In my mid-20s my company asked me to relocate to a different country. I had a BA business class ticket, but was dressed very casually and had numerous piece of luggage. I was asked to leave the business class check-in lane twice.

  18. The issue raised by that young lady is indeed still a very real concern for many people. I think she and people like her should try their best to just act the part, even if one might feel self conscious about how they are perceived. And over time misconceptions and stereotypes that exist in society as a whole will mostly fade away to history. A very good post that addresses similar themes was just posted by Ahmir Thompson, better known as the drummer Questlove (http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/07/questlove-trayvon-martin-and-i-aint-shit.html).

  19. I am black, I am female, I am 43 years old. I love to travel. I prefer to think people are just people when they are mean, rather than think in terms of black or white. If someone makes me feel that I don’t “belong” I simply pull out my credit card to say “Yes, I can afford it too” or “my dollars is as green and yours”.

    However, a personal experience: In December 2011 my husband and I spent 8 days at a Hyatt Regency. I wanted to take my husband to dinner one night at the hotel restaurant and was very excited because they had a 3 course dinner special. (He doesn’t care for fine dinning but I love it). Well, dinner certainly did not turn out the way I planned. The waiter advised us we were too early for the special, OK, so could you offer us the special anyway since it’s almost that time? The answer was No. OK so we’ll just order off the menu. But he clearly had an attitude (Maybe he thought we weren’t big spenders since we didn’t order his wine, who knows??). I wanted to enjoy the evening so I decided to ignore him. Well, this guy made us feel so uncomfortable. We didn’t complain or say anything, we just decided to leave after we finished our appetizer. I was not going to spend another penny there with that attitude. No sir! So I asked for the bill. I guess he saw I was not happy and tried to be nice. He then took the manager over to our table to convince us to stay and offered us 20% off our bill. (Too obvious that the only black people in the restaurant were leaving so soon after they arrived, who knows?) We thanked him and left anyway. I was disappointed beyond words.

    I know some might comment that this wasn’t a race issue but race is not the only issue. The Travel and hospitality industry is looking for people to spend a lot of money with them. People have a way of judging others and sizing them up, no matter if you are black or white, and then assume you can’t afford the service, or don’t FIT in if you don’t look a certain way. Very unfortunate.

  20. On a different topic from all the comments, would love to hear the talk and learn from how you handled the news & introduced your talk in that context!

  21. I don’t think skin color or accent matters when dealing over the phone, but I am not being facetious in saying it *helps* to be white in South America, Africa, and Asia…big time.

  22. I’m sure it is obvious even to white folks that flying since 9/11 for brown males is not a hassle-free experience and I’m certain many of them think that’s just good policy. I take the sideways glances, ‘random’ extra screening, etc. in stride, and try not to get annoyed.

  23. Asian male, often in T-shirts, jeans, and flip flops… I’ve always gotten great treatment in terms of airline upgrades & hotel upgrades. I often check into hotels in my beach attire, even in 5 star hotels and they don’t bat at eye. It’s not about race, gender, or ethnicity.. it’s more about how you present yourself and how your personality is portrayed in other’s eyes. You have to be a people person and generally like-able.

  24. This has to be the strangest post I have ever posted
    I am going to stick my neck out and say that most of us if we look deep inside far enough can probably find some groups whoever they may be less desirable or not desirable at all.Travel industry folks that serve the traveling public are going to react to their perceptions and life experience for better or worse in the same way.
    I like to think much of the industry as professional smarter worldly and caring of all/most individual’s. Perhaps that’s pie in the sky thinking? I personally see much greatness and kindness to others frequently on the road wherever I travel
    At the end of the day I have witnessed over my decades of travel that
    good speaking/communication skills
    outgoing warm personality with a personal interest in others(one that doesn’t come across as self entitled )
    a professional global traveler perspective with respect for others will trump all race religion,handicap sexuality and anything else that people may consciously or unconsciously discriminate against.
    Its about engaging well with others. Some folks my own sister(love her but a cranky woman) especially are horrible with human beings and simply great with animals over people. Her only prejudice sadly (well most of the time)the human race :)You get back what you put out in the universe!
    Let the flaming begin 😉

  25. I concede defeat.

    Admittedly, you have hinted at the Hansonian take in previous posts, and do note my original questions post was written in the FCT

  26. The sentiment expressed by the audience member is one that I have thought but never spoken aloud. When I have attended FTU and Chicago Seminars and hear people talk about certain techniques, I mentally cross them off my list as things that will not work for me. I think my chances of being subjected to more scrutiny are much greater than a white male. I am black, female and in my 40’s. I am mostly treated well in airports, hotels etc. Over the phone, I am definitely treated better and I cant help to think that it is because the phone can be color blind. I’m not bitter, but I accept the reality of the world we live in. One of the things I love about the frequent flyer community is that the people celebrate difference and don’t try to make everyone the same. Thanks for sharing this experience with your readers and awesome job on Colbert.

  27. Gary is a class act and answered that question just about perfectly.

    It’s pretty hard to argue against the idea that White men are at the top of the racial/gender hierarchy. Yet it seems like the black woman who asked the question wanted Gary to somehow answer for that. Where’s the utility in asking such a nonsensical question if only to passive-aggressively say that she feels like she’s somehow disadvantaged?

    I guess there’s some weight to asking questions like that when it comes to integral parts of your life like schooling and employment, but for something as esoteric as getting upgrades at a hotel…? If the questioner is attending an event like the “World Domination Summit”, she obviously has a reasonable amount of disposable income and leisure time and this simply sounds like bitching about first world problems with a racial tint.

    I’m Asian American and although I’ve encountered annoying “you speak English so well!” comments and bellmen expecting me to be a stingy Asian tipper, this has never prevented me from having a great time while traveling.

  28. @Mike (in the audience) excellent point.

    @Jayson–thanks SOOOOO MUCH for pointing that out. very tired of that gross over-generalization of black people.

    i’m nigerian.

    my experiences can be summed up by one of gary’s own posts–http://viewfromthewing.com/2013/06/08/should-i-help-this-client-through-my-award-booking-service/

  29. @Bob – Easy for you to say. Our world is color blind and we live in utopia. Drink some more koolaid!

    @Matthew – That’s so true about being white in those places.

  30. “Pushing middle age”? If you are over age 40 (some sources say it’s 45) you are IN middle age, Gary. 🙂

    Also, good article today.

    phil

  31. 46 year old white woman. Multiple years of Delta elite status. Showed up at the airport with wet hair. Was told by the ticket agent that the sky priority line was for elite members only. I told her “just because my hair is wet doesn’t mean I don’t fly first class”. Have also been told by the sky priority ticket agents at LGA that they have a “game” they play where they guess if the person in line is actually flying first class – based on their looks obviously. Same line where I got shooed for having wet hair. On a more serious note, I have actually had my boyfriend, FO, get upgraded FIRST, befor I, PM, did not. Same flight. I bought BOTH tickets and we were on the same PNR. I demanded, nicely, to know why and none of the desk agents at the Sky Club could give me an acceptable answer. He’s a white 42 yr old. Fits the profile of the usual occupants of the first class cabin. Not a conspiracy theorist, yet….

  32. “Hansonian”, is that similar to Jeffersonian, or more like {George} Washingtonian? My childhood Hero was JFK, still is really, but I can’t get a ian to work with that. The closest would be Kennedyesque. 😀

  33. Is it really necessary to add race into the miles and points game? Will we divide ourselves at this level, also?

    1-“Of all forms of slavery there is none that is so harmful and degrading as that form of slavery which tempts one human being to hate another by reason of his race or color. One man cannot hold another man down in the ditch without remaining down in the ditch with him.”
    -Booker T. Washington

    2-“There is another class of coloured people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs — partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.”
    –Booker T. Washington

    At some point, the people need to HEAL. IMHO we don’t have leaders who encourage the healing of the States. But we as individual Americans must at least try. Seeing your fellow American as something other than a fellow-countryman only adds to this great divide, and puts one’s own heart to where they can no longer prosper.

    So I ask again – was the question even necessary?

  34. @Nick: Extremely well said!

    @Zach: If you are a failure why would it be anybody else’s fault?

  35. @ Nick. It is not an issue in the miles/points game itself, because the bottom line in collecting miles/points is based solely on your good credit and strategy. But for the purposes of scoring upgrades etc like others sometimes can or simply being spoken to without bias, yes, at times it does boil down to how a certain rep may PERCEIVE you, whether because of nationality, gender or social status. It’s just a reality we cannot escape.

  36. Ok. So here’s a perspective from India. We too have some strange forms of discrimination / biases in the airline and hospitality industry here. Often, you will find the front office people being nicer to the whites and foreigners than to the locals. This is more pronounced in the smaller hotels than in the luxury ones. Also, in places like Goa, the Indians will generally be ignored in most restaurants where there are a lot of foreigners. Ofcourse much of what I’m saying is generalization but many Indians will relate to what I’m saying.

  37. Asian (Japanese), young (20s) and female.
    Few years ago I started to fly a lot and became DL Platinum. Getting upgraded all the time, I am a visible minority in every way sitting up front, but I don’t have any negative experience and have generally been treated just as well as anyone else. No one ever said I was in a “wrong line”. I fly a lot, know what I’m doing, and am comfortable sitting up front. I’m fine with people not assuming I sit first class. Like someone commented, present yourself well, and if you want something just be nice and ask!

  38. I’m a middle-age (gulp) white guy who has no doubt that, in person, this can sometimes work to my advantage while out in public. Honestly, I don’t think it’s racism, but I do think that some people assume “I’m in charge” and therefore have an instinctual need to try to make me happy. Oddly, I first started noticing this in places like fast food places where the staff would call me “boss” even though they had no idea who I was. You’ve got to please “the boss,” right?

    Sadly, in 2013 America, a young black female is still unlikely to be perceived as “the boss,” and doesn’t have this public advantage. But there are certainly other things you can do. For example, the other month I was travelling with my wife and kids on a domestic AA flight. I happened to have gotten everybody upgraded with some vouchers. We had a previous engagement that day where we were all dressed in fancy attire. I said lets keep our dress clothes on and see how we’re treated at the airport.

    Sure enough, instead of being treated as your typical ho-hum family, we were treated like royalty. People thought we were important, and bent over backwards to please us. So dress and how you present yourself can be as important as race, sex and age.

    None of this is “fair,” of course. But human nature is what it is. Everybody has some advantage in something (like if I were a high school senior applying for elite colleges, I wouldn’t mind being black). Use what you’ve got, and don’t worry too much about it.

  39. I think treatment is individualized to a large extent. I was on a SWA flight and the black FA gave free drinks to 4 black females the while flight. I was sitting beside one of them, but didn’t get any free drinks.

    Maybe it was because I fall in the Lantean’s old and fat crowd and he was confused why I wasn’t in the premium cabin.

  40. @travelin2s Disagree on your second point. Rather I would argue – that it is how a person projects THEMSELVES as the most discerning factor in HOW they are percieved. If I’m trying to score an upgrade I will smile, be polite, attempt to engage the rep in some manner, appear well travelled, possibly address them by their first name (if they have a name badge) etc. Adversely, one can project themselves in negative ways. For the most part I try to imagine the entire exchange as if looking into a mirror. Project negativity or lack, and that is probably what will be reflected back. Season that will a sprinkle of righteous indignation, and I can guarantee the end result.

    It doesn’t matter about your color or gender or religion or if you’re fat or gay or red-headed, or a Puerto Rican-Jew. The rep doesn’t have time for all of that crap!

    Again I say, PROJECT yourself! Try it.

  41. Racial discrimination or stereotyping during the travel experience is not institutionalised in most parts of the world – no more so than racial attitudes vary in different parts of the world anyway. However, as a non-white male, I will definitely say that it does exist. Sometimes it works in my favour, sometimes it works against me. I’ve lived more than half my life as an expat – either when my dad was posted abroad or nowadays when I’ve worked in foreign countries myself – and quite simply the only people who spend the time trying to find excuses for their own failure are the ones who would probably struggle to succeed on a level playing field anyway.

  42. The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing people he never existed… and the greatest strength of any privilege is convincing people it’s not there at all. This is particularly true because privileged people are highly motivated to deny privilege or overlook it and praise themselves for their innate strengths rather than the social context that gives them a hand up. And there are myriad privileges for people of different social demographics, so it’s not a simple thing to describe. Being White in America, being male in much the world, being in a straight relationship, etc. can impart great privilege because others “agree” or “accept” that those things mean something – that being White, middle aged, extroverted, dressed well, or whatever, mean the person “belongs” and “deserves” to belong in a privileged space, whereas others do not. Consider: How many gay couples do you imagine get upgraded to the honeymoon suite or get upgraded on their tenth anniversary? That’s a privilege only married people can request, much less get without asking on the whim of a clerk. And these demographic variables are not always the same in each situation, each time, part of the world, etc. These are not “scientific truths” so much as “social scientific realities.” Whites will get, *on average*, much more assumed legitimacy in the eyes of those in the travel industry. Probably also many Asian groups, if they are ethnically Chinese or Japanese (the wealthiest and most likely to travel). It’s not playing the “race card” to point out realities and their consequences. The woman’s question from the conference was totally legit. It’s a hard question and not one that is intended to have AN answer or THE answer; it’s intended to provoke thought and engagement about how the “points, miles, and upgrades” game – which inherently can be played best by those who have the resources to do it – is inextricably entwined with other socioeconomic and cultural issues of status and privilege.

    For the record, I am White, male, straight, in my 30s, and middle class.

  43. I will add that I don’t think it’s incorrect to say that attitude or “how you project yourself” (as Nick says above in comment #45) makes a difference. All sorts of things can make a difference. But I absolutely disagree with Nick’s second point that “It doesn’t matter about your color or gender or religion or if you’re fat or gay or red-headed, or a Puerto Rican-Jew.” That’s clearly untrue, as an incredible amount of research and human experience has demonstrated.

  44. Smitty06 in Post #28 sums it up for lot of non-whites and(or) females – ‘I accept the reality of the world we live in.’ No need to get bitter about it.

    Denying the different treatments we get, based to some degree on our race/gender is merely fighting our guilty feeling.

  45. Chief Justice Roberts once called it a “sordid business,” this “divvying us up by race.” I fail to see anything in any of your tips and advice that should be altered in any way due to racial considerations. If you’d quoted Justice Roberts and moved on to the next question, you would have hit a home run.

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