This Year I’m More Thankful Than Usual, And Let Me Say Thank You To You, Too

Every year on Thanksgiving I offer a reflection on the good fortune I’ve had in travel, mile and points and to be able to interact with so many wonderful readers over the course of the year. And as difficult as 2021 has been for so many – let’s face it, it’s a dumpster fire, and we thought nothing could match 2020 – I’m even more thankful than I’ve ever been.

  • First, for my family’s health. When people ask me how I’m doing, as part of a polite start to most conversations, I usually offer that I’m doing wonderfully compared to most of the world. Sure there are things that aren’t going my way, but what do I have to complain about? So far at least I have my health, and my family does too.

    I am genuinely grateful to the bioscientists who delivered remarkably effective vaccines that have allowed most of us to return to mostly normal life. How on earth are we not throwing ticker tape parades for these people?

  • Second, for the good things that Covid has wrought. The last two years have been terrible for people in so many ways. And the scales tipped heavily on the horrible side. But that doesn’t mean everything about the pandemic has been horrible, and I’m not sure we appreciate enough (or at least talk about enough) the small bits of joy that wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t spent so much time at home.

    With business travel grounded so long I got to have dinner with my now-three year old daughter nearly every night. I get to meet her every morning when she wakes up, and share duties with my wife putting her to bed. And it’s not something I’d have ever gotten, because she’ll never be a toddler again. Intertemporal substitution – “I’ll make it up with more dinners and bedtimes later” – isn’t exactly the same thing.

  • Third, for my readers. I get to interact with brilliant and thoughtful people through this blog. Sure, the comments on posts often descend into madness (it’s the internet) but I’ve gotten to know so many people. And online friendships are all so many people have had, I’ve been practicing at it since the start of this blog in 2002 (and really going back to my BBS days in the mid-1980s).

    A couple of months ago I heard from a reader I hadn’t heard from in years, and he offered one of the nicest tributes to me and to my blog imaginable. He began as though I might not remember him, and it might be some sort of imposition to reach out. Of course I remembered our past correspondence.

    If there’s one thing I think I have to offer writing for 19 years here, it’s a memory. I remember when things have happened before, been promised before, and how they worked out. And I try to offer some of that context to the day’s developments. I remember most of the people I’ve had the good fortune to get to know since I began in miles and points, and it’s sustained me this year even more than in others.

I thought I’d take the Thanksgiving opportunity to express my thankfulness for each of you that reads my blog and interacts with me throughout the year. I’ve said this many times before but I really do consider myself one of the luckiest people, and certainly much more fortunate than I could have ever imagined.

I’m deeply shy, which some people can find off-putting when I meet them (thinking that by not being outgoing with them I must not be interested, or somehow aloof). The written form has allowed me to connect so well with many. And I’m grateful for those connections, although I don’t share nearly as much detail that’s personal many of you know me very well from my writing — certainly my opinions, my quirks, my sense of humor. This hobby has enriched my life in so many ways, including less obvious ones.

This blog has done that for me as well. In many ways it’s still the same personal blog I first started, I write and share what is interesting to me. I usually write as though no one is reading, and I’m shocked when I get a call from an airline’s or hotel’s communications shop because a C-level executive is unhappy with something I’ve said. (Or when one of those C-level folks comments here or drops me a note, as happens so often too.)

Now there are just a whole lot more people reading the blog than when I started and I appreciate each and every one of you. Even the ones that are trying to insult me! I don’t always have as thick a skin as I should, but I try my best, because each and every reader has something to teach me or challenge me. And the positive feedback touches me deeply.

So thank you. Thank you. I look forward to continuing to share this journey together, and I appreciate this opportunity to reflect — and to acknowledge.

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. Wow… your daughter is 2… time flies. I remember the post you wrote about bringing her along in Qantas F.

  2. Love the delta turkey article photo. I’ll read any article that has that. Thanks for everything Gary!

  3. Let me add my thanks to you as well and best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving. and hoping next year is back to normal, whatever that is.

  4. Thank you Gary for a wonderful blog with a personal take, and tons of insight. I think you are sufficiently close to, yet sufficiently outside of, the travel corporations to be a great source of information. And with a more professional take and more depth than most bloggers.

    And I think the comment section here reflects the same – not overcrowded yet with a wide variety of opinions that is at the same time from an educated base. Also, by being so patient with all the commenters, you manage to take the higher ground in those discussions. The high ceiling always makes the comment section a fascinating place to dwell for a few moments after the main article(s).

    Glad that you are able to spend irreplaceable quality time with your daughter and the rest of your family during this trying year… Thank you for everything you do, and Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. Happy Turkey Day, Gary.
    I find your insight to travel very valuable and always look forward to your experiences with my travels.

  6. I came here to read your Thanksgiving message every year. It is what you are so different other bloggers. Happy holidays!

  7. Thanks, Gary for your daily blog and take on all the different subjects that you tackle. View is about the only travel blog that I read, rarely going to other blogs after reading yours. I first met you, or perhaps say attended a couple seminars you had at the old Chicago Milepoint shows, and have followed your writings ever since then. I too, haven’t traveled since March, business or pleasure. It will be really nice to get back on a flight again when things get back to normal*. * what ever the new normal is.
    Take care of yourself and your family.

  8. Gary, thank you and Happy Holidays to you and your family. And thank you for your responsiveness to my emails – your advice and your blog have helped me learn so much, and I really appreciate that. All the best and keep up the great work so I can keep learning!

  9. I rarely if ever comment, and certainly not read others as that descends into madness, exponential futility and illogical horror, but this last year and before compelled me. Some responses only made me feel greater anger and regret, sorrow for Americans, sorrow for facts. So base ….. But this comment is for you and no one else. Thank you always for what you do. And have a safe holiday filled with love, hope for better times!!!

  10. Many thanks Gary for the ongoing informative news and assessments of the industry. The articles are always timely, incisive and interesting! From sunny California, I wish you and your lovely family continued good health, much happiness and great rewards. With new COVID vaccines soon to be available and distributed, I look forward to our returning to normalcy early in the new year! Happy and safe holiday season to all !

  11. Happy Thanksgiving, Gary!

    Your writing has been a consistent source of high-quality information and analysis of the travel and points world. Of course, the blog also mixes in items that catch you eye and amuse you which run the gamut from low-low-brow to high-brow. I enjoy it all. While I’ve only met you briefly once (after a talk you gave at the World Domination Summit in Portland), I’ve grown to trust and view you as a friend, albeit virtually. Thanks for all you do.

  12. What a moving and uplifting post. I hope that you and yours remain safe and well and hope to meet again at some point next year. In the meantime, I will continue to read your blog with the same regularity.

  13. First of all let me wish you and all readers a very happy and wonderful Thanksgiving and the coming holidays .. second i have to admit that your words spark the peace feeling inside me and most of your readers ,, and it’s really Soul Touches deeply inside .

  14. Thank you, Gary! This has been my favorite travel blog for many years, and I look forward to continuing to read it every day. Also, thank you for your responsiveness to my emails. I hope you and your family have a Happy Thanksgiving!

  15. Warmest greetings to you and your family on this Thanksgiving Day! Many thanks Gary for your wonderful and thoughtful holiday message. We greatly value the exceptional, candid and timely assessments on the airline and travel industries. Along with your readers, I gain valuable insights on the ongoing commentaries. Keep up the great reporting by being a terrific friend and keen advocate to the traveling public!

  16. Thank you Gary for keeping this blog going. It is quite entertaining and sometimes very useful. Best wishes to you and yours….

  17. I’ve been reading you for well over a decade, Gary. Thank you for the many insights you have shared, for the tips I have cashed in on, and for the humble spirit you offer on a day that should be about more than turkey and mashed potatoes. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  18. Gary, Happy Thanksgiving & I am thankful, among other things, for this blog (which is free!) where I have learned methods which enhance my travel. Best to your & your family.

  19. Thank you Gary, for an awesome blog. Your advice is almost always right on the nose, and you never hesitate to admit on the rare occasions when it is not. The useful information I get from your blog helped me through the years to greatly enhance my travel experiences, and as an added benefit to periodically reconnect with my family on wonderful vacations. Thank you for always being so responsive; whenever I sent you an email, I always get a personal answer from you. But… OMG… How may hours a day do you work?? Do you ever get any sleep? Wishing you and your family a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!

  20. I appreciate you Gary for always providing such informative content, with a depth and insight that no other blogger brings. Thank you for all that you do, and Happy Thanksgiving!

  21. Gary, you rock and I enjoy your writing immensely!
    Yes, health is very important.
    Hang on to it as best you can.
    You just be you!

  22. I don’t usually feed the trolls
    but, Gene, you just soiled Garys special moment.
    Have you no shame?
    Dumb question! Of course you people have no shame.
    Really Gene you can’t keep it civil for one minute?
    How sad for you…..

  23. GringoLoco, this post is new to me and very touching and special.

    So there!

    Thank you Gary for your time awesome insights.
    You truly are a


  24. Gary,
    Thank you very much for spending your time, energy, and spirit in providing very professional and instructive content in a very readable, logical, humorous, and current facts based manner.
    You are very much appreciated by many, and your sense of humor, honesty, and even handedness are envied by many of us.

  25. Just reading through (almost all of) the comments above should make you feel good, Gary — and deservedly so.
    First with your advice conveyed in CN Traveler by Wendy Perrin years ago, then with your blog, you’ve provided info, suggestions, and how-to tutorials that enable someone for whom the points game is not a full-time profession, but an occasional hobby, with the ability to experience a number of amazing travel opportunities that otherwise would have been inaccessible including SQ, LH, EY, TG, and UA F tickets, lots of C tickets, three St. Regis Bali stays first on Starwood and later Bonvoy points, and upgrades and perks from rental car and hotel chain elite status. And before you handed off Book Your Award to Steve et al, you got us Qantas C tickets t/f Australia using AA miles when that was a real feat.
    As a part-timer at this game, I don’t devour bunches of travel blogs — yours is the one I read every day.
    So thanks for what you’ve enabled us to do. I join all the many other commenters in expressing appreciation to you and wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving and holiday season and the brighter 2022 we all hope for. Notwithstanding the tragedies in many dimensions brought to us by COVID, as well as all the other challenges and hurt in our world, pretty nearly all of us can find a lot for which to be thankful — and that’s what today has been all about.

  26. Thank you, Gary, for your message and for so many years of being a trusted advisor to so many of us in this hobby. Your advice has contributed invaluably to my own ability to travel to far off places (in business class!), and I am deeply appreciative. I had a private blog on the hobby just for friends and people referred by them. When I retired it a couple of years ago, I provided them with links to some others. In so doing, I noted that yours was the one that could be trusted the most to be free from bias associated with revenue sources.

    I am remiss in not having thanked you sooner. I’m glad you provided this opportunity.

    Btw, I think we all hate to impose on your time and privacy, but you’ve always been kind when I met you.

  27. Thank you Gary for such a lovely post. I have never made a comment on your blog in all the many years I have been reading and enjoying it. I look forward to it arriving in my “in box.” I have been educated, reaped many many benefits for which I am still grateful for! Reading your Thanksgiving missive I was moved to send mine. Your talent, your resource of information and your excellent and timely perspectives have added to my travel enjoyment…not to mention the enormous amounts of money I saved using your tips on credit card bonus offers, FF award points and where there are opportunities to be had. I could go on and on. I should have definitely reached out as I flew (pre Covid) to Singapore from LAX. I flew on Cathay Pacific and immediately after take-off I was sipping champagne, when hot nuts were delivered to my incredible FIRST CLASS CUBICLE . It was YOUR INFORMATION that afforded me this dream experience at just the right time. I was able to use my FF points stuffed with some credit card bonuses you suggested which made this flight a steal!. As I looked out my (2) windows (!) I honestly thought of your “View from the Wing” articles. I should have reached out then but I was too involved with the incredible service, the incredible meals, snacks, wines served on China with tablecloths … while enjoying the incredible large screen entertainment and…lying flat for a nap. I refused to really sleep lest I miss something fabulous. When the flight ended I thought to myself..I could have just stayed on the plane and made it my destination. Gary you were and still are “my travel hero”❤️ Thank you for your beautiful positive Thanksgiving message. Blessings to you and your family.

  28. Thank you, Gary, for your blog. It’s been very helpful to me over the years. I appreciate the useful information as well as your positive tone. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving break.

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