How to tell you’re a frequent flyer — without telling anyone you’re a frequent flyer

Dec 20, 2020

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We’ve all been there: You’ve wrapped up your time in the lounge, well-fed and properly hydrated, and are heading for security only to find that the TSA PreCheck lane is closed. Now, you’re stuck in the regular security line (quelle horreur!) behind that guy who’s fumbling to take off his cumbersome shoes (wrong), has his phone in his pocket (wrong again) and has buried a half-consumed bottle of Smartwater (the irony!) somewhere deep inside one of his many carry-on bags.

This isn’t your first rodeo, but you’re thinking it might be his.

Infrequent flyers are part of the flying experience (the sooner you can accept that, the easier your life will be) and you can usually spot them from a concourse away. The same could be said of frequent flyers: strategically packed bags (the fewer the better), an efficient travel outfit (no bulky coats here, folks) and a TPG Jetlagged AF sleep mask (kidding, kind of).

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We asked TPG readers (read: road warriors) to tell us the telltale signs of a frequent flyer and the answers did not disappoint. Here’s what they had to say on Twitter.

You know the lingo

Pamela Ford said, “In the car, I tell people they are free to move about the cabin once we park and seat belts off!”

And of course, frequent flyers use a completely different alphabet. Juan said, “Foxtrot, Lima, Yankee, Echo, Romeo.”

Sometimes, you can identify a frequent flyer by his or her hard-earned nickname. Imesh Vaidya said, “I am known by the nickname A16.” And Twitter user Kellie Dickerson earned her nickname at the CLT Admirals Club B concourse, where she says they “know [her] by name and Chardonnay.”

You have friends in high places

Jorge said: “You board behind Larry Kellner out of LAX and you text your friends to let them know.”

For Twitter user Socrates Bartender, the tip-off is that he’s “… been invited to the wedding of a bartender who works 1,100 miles from my house.”

And MK said, “I have a standing order at Hudson’s.” Enough said, right?

You live for quick trips

What’s a quick weekend away or day trip for a frequent flyer? AirCandi said, “Breakfast in [California], lunch in New York, dinner in Florida” three to four times per week is a sure sign of a frequent flyer.

For others, that means a brief hop to the other side of the globe to wrack up a few last-minute miles. “End of year weekend run to Hong Kong,” said Twitter user FrankM.

No matter where you’re going, faster is almost always better for frequent flyers. Twitter user Zuagroasda said he’s “From [the] train station through security to [the] gate in 15 minutes.”

You have the right gear

Frequent flyers have had hundreds of thousands of miles to get the frequent flyer uniform down. That’s why Frankie Godoy said, “I have a jacket with a built-in neck pillow and eye mask.”

Sometimes, it’s just about having all the necessities packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice. “I have a set of chargers [and] cables and a shaving kit that only live inside my suitcase,” said Imran Kahn.

Toni Watkins said his “current suitcase AND briefcase were mileage gifts from Delta.” Also file under: Friends in high places.

And really, who needs to buy pajamas when yours come with all those first-class fares? Twitter user Monica McCarty said, “I haven’t bought pajamas in years.”

You have the right attitude

Jim del Rosario said you can easily tell the frequent flyers apart during the all-too-common mechanical delay. “You’re on the plane and it’s not leaving due to a mechanical,” he said. “While others are frantic, you sit calmly and wait for the text to let you know what flight you’ve been rebooked on.”

You make smart choices

“If I have to connect,” said Twitter user Vanessa Sundra, “I’m gonna route myself through here instead of there to get the extra EQMs.”

Treb Gatte said you know you’re a frequent flyer when “your phone has 72 photos of your airport parking slot number so you know where to find your car when you get back.”

And of course, there are frequent flyers who always know what to expect. “I consider flights based on the equipment flying it,” said Nick Boylan.

You’re prepared for anything

Regional jet? No sweat. Andrew McCoy said “I don’t ask for a gate check tag when I board a CRJ550 when I travel with a roller carry-on.”

For Twitter user Ed Stone, he knows he’s a frequent flyer because he has his “wife’s Delta Skymiles number memorized, but not her social security number.”

Want to know why Yong Yi is a frequent flyer? “FlightAware is my homepage,” he said.

Bottom line

Flying (and traveling in general) is like everything else in life: it gets easier the more you do it. Less anxiety about packing. Less anxiety about timing. Less anxiety about turbulence. Less clapping when the plane lands. Here at TPG, you’ll find us practicing as much as we possibly can when life returns to normal. See you in the air then!

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