Why Frequent Flyers Are LESS Likely to Cheat (Despite Survey Data)

Point Me to the Plane flags a story about cheating spouses traveling in order to carry on their affairs.

“There’s no better time to pursue a discreet affair than when you’re hundreds or even thousands of miles away from home,” said AshleyMadison.com founder Noel Biderman. “Our members have stated that the distance not only lessens their fear of getting caught, but also alleviates feelings of guilt.”

…And how on earth do these cheaters pay for these rendezvous without getting caught? Turns out more than half pay for it through a business trip, either directly on a corporate card or through a rewards program (no paper trail!) or by adding days onto a business trip.

Using miles under the belief that there’s “no paper trail” seems naive at best. Sure, strictly speaking the tickets are electronic but

  • You pay taxes on the award ticket with a credit card, and using miles would seem to undermine the story about being gone on a business trip.
  • Frequent flyer accounts will show the redemption. I guess this assumes that the spouse being cheated on doesn’t have access to the family AwardWallet account.

In the case of paid trips it might be advisable not to accrue miles so that the real details aren’t visible to a spouse logging in to see changes in a points balance. But what frequent flyer aficionado can walk away from earned miles — elite qualifying miles no less! Perhaps cheaters open separate mileage accounts and accrue with alliance partners?

Pondering whether Vanilla Reload purchases loaded onto Bluebird cards are really just ways of putting money onto a prepaid card that generates no paper statement. Are cheaters more likely to use Bluebird? Is “manufactured spend” really a myth — a cover for illicit activity?

Unlikely. Divorce is a scary thing for frequent flyers. Marriage means double the people to apply for cards, and household income will again be permitted on card applications.

Point Me to the Plane also seems to have a theme going, having posted suggesting that inflating ones income on card applications could be used as proof of higher income in divorce proceedings. I expressed skepticism in the comments, and the divorce attorney guest-writing the post conceded the more likely scenario was using true statements about income as evidence to combat artificially low reported income in divorce proceedings.

Nonetheless, there are very strong reasons for frequent flyers not to cheap. Entirely apart from moral considerations. Miles are too easily tracked. They’re hard to walk away from. And being married doubles your opportunity for card signup bonuses. What miles and points junkie would risk that??

That’s why I considered it a mistake for AshleyMadison.com to offer the city of Phoenix $10 million for the naming rights to Sky Harbor airport for five years. When the city turned it down, they were really just offering the cheating website sound business advice.

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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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  1. But we saw the cheating wife in Up in the Air so AshleyMadison must be right. 🙂

  2. Hah, I promise it was an unintentional theme last week! Luckily the gf enjoyed those posts.

  3. LOL-“Unlikely. Divorce is a scary thing for frequent flyers. Marriage means double the people to apply for cards, and household income will again be permitted on card applications.”

  4. I think you’re projecting, here…

    I’d be (very slightly) more inclined to believe an unscientific survey of self-identified cheaters than these speculations. Every relationship is different, but my spouse couldn’t care less about keeping track of miles, much less looking at our statements, and would never consider getting a card for the signup bonus. I know a number of other frequent flyers in the same boat.

  5. Never heard of Ashley Madison – but from a quick glance at their sight it appears they have an affiliate program . . .

  6. What a stupid post. Do yourself and everybody else a favor and don’t dilute your otherwise excellent blog with nonsense like this. It gives off the impression that you are just trying to fill space with BS.

  7. Given the large number of spouses/significant others who allow their partners to apply for cards on their behalf, with complete access to their credit reports and other very personal data, there are certainly a lot of us who are not too worried about breakups!

  8. @Michael – well, thanks for sharing your opinion! I saw the post on the other blog, and it amused me so I offered comment. There’s no “fixed” amount of space on a blog the way there is in a newspaper, so I don’t really try to fill space with BS. I write what interests me, and hopefully others are interested as well. I’m glad in any case that you were interested enough to share your comment.

  9. @ chris M. Ha ha funny. I enjoy the comments to the post, but the post is still beyond pathetic.
    @Gary Didn’t mean to come off as abrasive. Next time maybe a post about sex on airplanes and which demographics are most likely 🙂

  10. Question: My husband and I own a business together as a partnership. Does anyone know whether we can both apply separately for an INK business card (same business name) and each receive the 60k bonus?

  11. It wouldn’t be a complete shock if travelers, partnered or otherwise, are more likely to have a history of having more sexual partners than those who don’t travel. Whether that comes with a greater inclination for the traveler to “cheat” is a question more of motivation rather than opportunity/means.

    There is some historical mapping of the spread of at least one STD which shows that surface travel routes for commercial goods traffic were a major route for spreading of STD infections. I haven’t seen the same thing for air travel routes, but then again those with more disposable resources for recreational travel are probably also probably more likely to be educated about sexual health concerns than those of lesser socio-economic background means.

  12. I like how Michael starts his comment with “What a stupid post.” and then later says he “didn’t mean to come off as abrasive…”

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