What Is Pen and Passports – and who is Kyle Stewart?

Wednesday, 07 January 2015 199 Views 0 Comments
What Is Pen and Passports – and who is Kyle Stewart?

“To know me is to fly with me.”

– Walter Kim

My tan leather bag was taken straight to the laundry room.  The contents emptied into the washing machine without any sorting – call me a renegade.  I started the wash and in an hour I would return to throw everything in the dryer with reckless abandon.  I came upstairs, played with my daughter and talked to my wife.  I’d only been gone two days, a usual thing for me.  

Walking into work the next morning, I opened my laptop and greeted my boss.

“Where was it this weekend?” He asked me, a half turned smile on his face.

“Just Anchorage.” I replied and pretended to settle my things.

“Just Alaska huh? You’re game is slipping.”

I am in the middle of status run season. A status run is a cheap way to acquire a special class of airline frequent flyer miles that give me privileges and access worth far more than the cost of the ticket, and apparently, my time.  

Pick a plane… any plane.

I toss him a very obscure and cheap trinket, the less it makes sense the more he likes them.  For me, the trinkets are an even exchange for extra days off that might be required from time to time when a flight is delayed and a connection is missed.  For him, they are a way to participate and something to talk about with people visiting his office.  At work, I am just the crazy guy that takes unnecessary trips and would rather be flying to some far flung place around the globe than eating chicken wings at a Super Bowl party.  

The representations of me aren’t wrong.  

The miles accumulate in my account.  In my many, many accounts.  My thick passport with the maximum pages added bulges from my pocket filled with hundreds of stamps from dozens and dozens of countries.  

But why? Isn’t it enough at some point? 

The short answer is that it’s complicated.  The status runs make perfect sense.  If you know you will continue to fly next year and you are just 10-20,000 miles short of hitting the next tier, the costs are quickly weighed out by guaranteed upgrades and the cash value of the miles I will earn from the flights.  That’s a simple math equation.  I fly the status and mileage runs to take the much more expensive trips that I actually want to take but would never want to spend the money on.  

That probably doesn’t make sense to a lot of people, so let me put it in simpler terms.  Imagine that you’re at the Gap and for every 10 purchases you make in a calendar year you could get one free item, just about anything you want. 

Most people would buy normal clothes that they want to wear as they need them and if they get to the ten purchases they will look forward to their free item.  I’m the guy going through the clearance aisle buying socks for $3/pair and doing that transaction 10 times.  When it’s time for my free item, I am picking out an expensive jacket.  The way I look at it is that I am beating a system designed to beat the customers and I am buying a leather jacket for $30, a jacket that likely costs them less than that to produce anyway.

It’s whether or not it will ever be enough that is tougher to answer.  In terms of status and mileage runs, yes they have gotten old and I wish I didn’t have to do them.  However, for the second part of that question, whether the wanderlust ever truly drains from your blood completely, I’m afraid that will never be the case.  

In fact, the more I see, the more I realize how little I have seen and done.  The more I see and do, the more I want to share it with people that I care about.  There are two versions of me, the one I am when I am traveling, and the annoyed discontented version I am while I am waiting to go traveling again.  I prefer the former and not the latter, most people agree with that assessment.  While I am traveling, I am the real me, and while I am waiting to go again I am forced to put on a good face but just pretending and plotting.  Certainly plotting.  I am always looking for my next escape back out into the world where I can be myself.

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