The Travel Politics of View from the Wing

For folks who thought I was being political or one-sided in posting about the Romney campaign’s drawing for tickets on the campaign plane, I’d remind folks that I did cover Obama Points, the loyalty currency the President introduced during the 2008 campaign, more than once.

And I predicted Obama’s victory 8 months before the last election (as well as that we were headed into the worst recession since World War II, that we were in a liquidity trap the Fed would be powerless against for some time, and that the coming four years would see big deficits and no tax increases — not bad on the prediction score!).

I have political preferences of course, I write about my thoughts on policy occasionally (mostly with regards to travel issues — such as the TSA, air traffic control, small airport subsidies). But I’m not really a fan of Democrats or Republicans. But I will write about their travel, like Mike Huckabee complaining about his treatment as a Delta Diamond, former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s experiences with award redemption when he traveled to South America for his affair, Ron Paul’s elite status upgrades, and the elite status comps that Delta gives to Georgia politicians.

When it comes to travel, miles, points, and status — no politician is safe!

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, 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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  1. I often imagine I’ll disagree violently with something or other Gary says. My imagination is faulty because I nearly always find myself agreeing with him on most points. IME Gary is an equal opportunity critic, so nobody is safe.

    That said John might think about how anybody could do anything positive in the virulent political atmosphere of the US at the moment. No one could have dealt with the unconscionable mess left behind in 2008. It is amazing that it has not been worse. At least the government has made money on GM, the bank bailout and close to on AIG.

  2. @jbcarioca – Thank you very much for the kind words.

    Allow me to push back on your final sentence, though. “At least the government has made money on GM, the bank bailout and close to on AIG.”

    Regarding GM they’ve certainly done better than many predicted, but I don’t think the government has made money on the investment yet. And that’s not counting the $15 billion in tax liability they wrote off in bankruptcy. The bank bailouts included forcing several relatively healthy banks to take capital to obscure that a handful taking funds really needed it… and the healthy ones paid in. I don’t believe that the government has made money on Citi or BofA at this point. And as for AIG, the accounting here is complicated because they’re wildly far off break-even if you look at the investments made by the Executive Branch — it’s only when you fold in the Federal Reserve’s holdings that were transferred with a cost basis of zero, and compare current AIG value to the average cost of the government’s holdings, that you get close to profitability.

    Now, none of this is my area so I’m totally open to correction. But it just seems that this area is … complicated, to say the least. 😉

  3. Made money with GM? Are you kidding?!? They still owe the tax payers $42 Billion. Obama hands it to the UAW and wiped out the secured creditors who purchased bonds issued by the company! Talk about rocking investor confidence! Also please don’t start with the mess he inherited in 2008. That mess started with Carter and Clinton gave the Community Redevelopment act some teeth! This forced banks to make loans to people who couldn’t pay them back and that’s why we are in the mess we are in. Don’t fall for the Clinton deregulation spiel either as he was the one that repealed Glass-Steagall! Not Bush or Reagan! I agreed with the decision but they can’t argue deregulation got us into this mess when he was the one that deregulated AND cut taxes, mainly because of the GOP congress, but either way he signed them.

    On another note Gary curious as to which smartphone you ended up going with? I hope you went with Galaxy S3 because that iphone announcement was pretty weak. They turned a cool looking phone into a remote control!

  4. @econjon – your link suggests net loser of $19 billion on GM, though other estimates are higher. It estimates a $22b loss on AIG. Actually losses will vary based on market prices of those entities’ stocks.

  5. I think you all should stick to riding on planes. I get enough of this other discussion on FB & The Twitter.

    For example. I’m using 50k miles for my Dec 8-9 787 Dreamliner Nation-Wide Tour: DCA-EWR-IAH-SFO-IAH-DEN-DCA.

    Let’s discuss predictions that UA will actually fly the 787 on the 4 middle legs above???


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