Why I Am Thankful This Week

by on November 21, 2011 · 70 comments

in General TPG Business

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I am a very fortunate person. This year has been pretty incredible for me – in June I left my stable day job to become a full-time blogger and since then the site has more than doubled and there are a lot of really great things in the works. There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not aware of how lucky I am to be pursuing and living my dream.

That being said, I know that my experience is not typical and I really appreciate the support of those around me. One of the most positive forces in my life has been my Grandmother, who has been one of my biggest cheerleaders for as long as I can remember. While she doesn’t use the internet or even understand what a blog is, she knows I’m happy and is completely supportive of my life – as unconventional as it may be.

I recently asked Grandma what she would want if she could have anything – she’s admittedly not a materialistic person so I knew it wasn’t going to be a new car or house. She told me that she’d love to be able to travel to Santa Barbara to visit my aunt, uncle and cousins, but that amount of air travel would be too brutal to do alone. For an 89 year old woman she’s as sharp as a whip, but physically struggles to walk unaided, so taking a solo cross-country trip isn’t in her cards anymore.

However, it immediately struck me that I should take her to California. I have more miles than I can use and as a healthy 28 year old, 6’7″ man, I can help her through the multiple travel obstacles I dodge on a near daily basis.

So, I ended up using 50,000 US Airways miles for her to fly roundtrip in first class. I would accompany her on the outbound (using 25,000 Continental miles for a one-way award) and my aunt would fly her back in a couple weeks. I ended up using 25,000 Continental miles for my Aunt’s return ticket and I used 25,000 Ultimate Rewards points transferred to Continental for a United business class ticket from LAX back to JFK.

I’m actually typing this post while we relax in the Charlotte US Airways lounge (thanks to my Amex Platinum card) and so far the day has been flawless. While it was mildly disturbing to watch her get patted down by the TSA while in a wheelchair, the agents were super friendly and she took it in stride. We’ve had a lot of quality time and I’m hoping for an on-time, smooth flight to LAX.

So basically, I’m thankful that I have an amazing family and that I’m able to use my miles to help make my Grandma’s dream come true – and she doesn’t even feel guilty knowing that I used miles and didn’t break the bank!

I’ll report back with tips with traveling with someone who has mobility challenges. I hope you all have safe travel weeks whether you are visiting family or staying put this Thanksgiving!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Kaz

    Thank you for this post. It’s a nice reminder about what travel is all about – making life more meaningful, in a way unique to each person.

  • Dhammer53


  • Rob

    Your a good man, Charlie Brown. I’m sure you’ll fondly remember the trip and the quality time for a long time to come. I regret not having had (or taken) more opportunities to give back to my grandparents, who I know have done so much for me.

  • Kris

    Very sweet! I hope she enjoys the trip.

  • Mommy Points

    I love it. That is what it is all about. As much as it means to you, I bet you will never have any idea it means to her. Thanks for sharing and Happy Thanksgiving to your family.

  • Anonymous

    How dare you use miles for domestic flights!!!

    Just kidding; this is a great story. I find it very rewarding to help friends and family out with free flights and upgrades. I, too, have more than I need.

  • Nice

    Wonderful post! Wish I could do the same for my loved ones. Hopefully someday I can with your advice.

  • Mario

    So cute! hope you have a great thanksgiving and that we get to see you soon!

  • arjun

    Very refreshing.

  • FoodieHaley

    Aw Brian – this is a great post and it is so nice of you to do that for your Grandmom. This one really warmed my heart :) Happy Thanksgiving – Please send my best to your family.

  • Laurie

    As far as I’m concerned, this is one of the best ways you’ve used your points! Have fun with your Grandma and family.

  • Gary

    Hey Brian! I’m a born and raised Santa Barbarian! Glad that you are able to come out to my neck of the woods! It’s been rainy but there should be some nice clear weather for you this week. I hope you have a great trip out here with your grandmother.

    On a side note I am thankful for your site as well. While I am still a newbie at this it has allowed me to do some amazing things and I look forward to the trips my wife and I will be able to take in the future!

  • Million Mile Secrets

    That’s a great thing to do and possibly one of the best use of miles. Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Mrcandoit

    Freakin awesome! It is not the inherent point total that matters–it is what you do with them that counts. Using them to have/share meaningful real life moments is exactly what this points gig is all about. As if you need any affirmation—your help allowed me to secure 2 first class tickets from Atlanta via Amsterdam to the Seychelles for my honeymoon next year. No way I could have afforded that travel plan if it was just $$$. So, it makes me feel good to support your efforts knowing that you “get it.” Cheers and happy holidays to you and yours!

  • Pam Tierney

    Now that’s an awesome cost per mile. Kudos!

  • Andre LaPlume

    Awesome post!

  • Neal Roscoe

    Great story, thanks for sharing and hope grandma has a a wonderful trip

  • Cruisr

    Wow I wish my grandmother was still around. She died when I was 45 so I had her a good long time. She was my greatest cheerleader too. It’s awesome on so many levels that you are doing this. Safe travels and Happy Rhanksgiving to both of you.

  • MB

    What a nice story hope you enjoy your week here, saw Gary’s comment and I live in Santa Barbara also if you need any tips ask – I’m sure us or another local resident would be happy to offer some suggestions.

  • guest

    this is the best use of your miles ever!!

  • Ed

    Okay, this post brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful thing to do—I hope she has a great time!

  • fritof33t

    You, sir, are the bees knees.

  • toomanybooks

    Exactly the right attitude.

    But wait for folks to tell you that you have wasted valuable points on a domestic redemption!

  • Stevelb36

    Good for you:)

  • MDAccount

    THAT’S the most valuable redemption of all. Well done. You’ll be grateful for this trip for the rest of your life, and its rewards will be infinite. Congratulations on having your priorities straight, and congratulations to your grandmother for helping raise you to be so smart about what matters.

  • InACents

    Have a wonderful trip with your grandma! I’m sure she will speak of this trip for years to come.

  • Tricia

    Sweet! Have a great Thanksgiving!

  • Mooper

    I went through a nearly identical experience with my grandfather, but the difference in my case was that I waited too long. His health declined before I was able to make it happen, and he ended up passing (he was 95). It makes me feel good to hear you were able to make it a reality for your grandmother, and you should feel great about it. Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Anonymous

    haha nice. My favorite line: “While it was mildly disturbing to watch her get patted down by the TSA while in a wheelchair”

  • Kevin

    Great story and an excellent use of points! I hope she enjoys the trip!

  • IPBrian

    Connecting family is a great use of those miles and points! Have a great trip Brian!

  • Anonymous

    I plan on using my leftover Avios to help my parents realize some travel dreams, since they’re worth more for them living in Miami. Like you said, it’s one of those win-win situations where they won’t feel guilty about the extravagance because it was “free” and I’m happy to make them happy.

  • Terrymandmikeh

    Thanks a really great photo and a really wonderful thing to do! Happy Travels!

  • Jenny

    How heartwarming! I love it. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your Grandma!

  • jb

    You take the cake for being a great guy and great grandson. Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Ozaer Shah

    35 comments , but I still need to say WAY TO GO BRIAN….you did the right thing!!

  • Itay

    What a great post! Happy Thanksgiving
    Itay TLV

  • Mile Ho

    That’s what I’m talkin about! Awesome use of your miles.

  • Ram Kashyap

    I think this is where the difference between miles and money comes. Emotions have a lot better CPM. I bet this would have brought you more pleasure than a business/first class trip to Asia. :)
    Happy Thanksgiving.

  • Alex

    Family time is priceless! Happy Thanksgiving buddy :) Anytime you are in Tulsa, hit me up on twitter @noviceflyer! :)

  • Marco

    AWESOME.. Good for you, and your Granny . Your coming to rain here in Santa Barbara , but very gorgeous place. I’m a big fan of yours and thank you for many of my trips. Happy thanksgiving to you and yours..

  • PJ

    avios go long way on short hops !! lucky you and me :)

  • theblakefish

    That’s awesome!

  • RR

    You’re a good man, and good grandson!

  • Jasonjoerg

    Good for you Points guy! Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Nhan

    TPG, you rock! Favorite site of all time! Nhan

  • Steve A

    That’s a wonderful use for your miles and more importantly, your time. Please hurry with the tips about traveling with someone who has mobility challenges. I’ll be flying transcon in a few weeks with my parents who are in their mid-90s.

  • Rdinallo

    What a good grandson! As a mother of boys, I can only hope that when they are older, they are as kind and considerate! Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Marc Winters

    You truly understand what Thanksgiving is all about

  • BothofUs2

    This is an awesome story, TPG! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  • xtc

    very nice story :D

  • Jennifer

    You are a wonderful grandson, Brian!! As a granddaughter to a similarly physically challenged (and equally as sharp and fiesty) 89 year old grandma, I know what it means to get that valuable time with her, especially during the holidays. In fact today my uncle in Hilton Head priority mailed all of us kids/grandkids an “invitation” to a 90th birthday party for my grandma… which will be held on a Caribbean cruise next July!! He and my aunt are generously treating for everyone’s cabins. The only caveat… we all have to pay our own transportation costs to/from the departure port. So, in the spirit of family and genorosity, I have offered to use my glut of BA miles to get everyone to Miami. : )

    While it will be challenging to take a cruise with Grandma (I’d imagine she’ll need to be in a wheelchair), it might be the last time we get to all spend as a family with her, and I hope she is able to appreciate and enjoy it.

    Have a wonderful time!!!

  • Bluto

    Pretty awesome.

  • SPLP007


  • Charles Clarke

    Great use of miles.

    My mom is 89 also and I’ve flown with her a few times. She normally uses a cane, but gets a wheelchair in the airport. Before using miles to fly first class, going through security with her was my way of getting the short line. :-) It is interesting to watch the contortions they have old folks go through. Though the old folks also have the best excuses for setting off the detectors. :-)

    I remember flying with her to my aunt and uncle’s anniversay in October 2001. I was amazed at the changes in security then and they’ve gotten worse since. I’ll probably be flying with her to CA next year. We’ll see how it goes.

    I think my mom’s mobility challenged tips would be:
    Plan on checking bags.
    Have lots of patience.
    Arrive with spare time. Sometimes it takes a while for the wheelchair folks to get to check-in. But then you get the short line.
    Have lots of tip money for wheelchair folks, airport cart folks(when doing transfers), etc. I find it interesting how different airports have immigrant workers that come from specific nations/cities. One comes, gets a job and then sends money to get the next here, etc.

    I hope you have a wonderful time with your family in CA.

    BTW, unless you *want* to emphasis the difference in your sizes, you might have someone take the picture from her side. They can’t run too far with your phone/camera on a plane.

  • Jax

    That’s awesome Brian! Have a nice Thanksgiving and happy the Blog is going so well!

  • Glitzy40

    I am a proud mom of 2 children who like you, know the importance of family. When dad died 2 weeks ago, my son and his family including their 3 children ages 3 and under as well as my daughter and her fiance, all flew from Florida to Michigan using their miles to attend Grandpa’s funeral. My son, who is a young new pastor, would have made his Grandpa proud as He conducted his very first funeral. None of us are business travelers, so the miles we have are from credit card bonuses and use. My son and his wife have now depleted their 75K Citi accounts for flights and a renting a mini van. My daughter’s fiance used his Venture account miles (matched 75K citi acct) for their tickets. If it wasn’t for the info I pick up from this site and flyertalk, we may have missed out on the blessing of being part of this final part of dad’s life. Keep up the good work and keep loving on grandma….you will NEVER regret your time with her!!

  • Carberrie

    So sweet! I love that picture of you and granny! :)

  • Giovanna León

    That is very sweet

  • Rowergirl7531

    What an amazing Bonus Transfer story — miles for 1M times the smiles! Too bad this was with AmEx … otherwise, it would surely be a top candidate for a “priceless” MasterCard commercial.

  • Jana

    Awesome! So glad you were able to grant your Grandma’s request. It’s those moments that makes life wonderful. Happy Thanksgiving!

  • none

    With your love of AmEx Membership Rewards, I’m surprised you haven’t reminded readers to sign up for the $25 benefit of Small Business Saturday, this Nov. 26. Read here:

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