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365 days ago, I walked into this weird, crazy and amazing place with my debit card in my wallet and a confused look on my face. My coworkers were throwing around terms like “award redemptions,” “transfer ratios” and “bonus categories” like they were talking about the weather. I’m sorry, what? Could you say that a little louder for the people in the back?
(That’s me. I’m the person in the back).
I admittedly didn’t know much (read: anything) about the points and miles game before I started working here, but somehow convinced them to hire me… and as you would expect, I’ve learned a TON. This is mostly due to the fact that my coworkers — many of whom I now call some of my closest friends — are some of the best people on the planet and absolutely brilliant. I’m not just saying that; I literally call them “my personal Google.”
It was hard to narrow the list down to just six things, but these are my highlights of the past year.
- Don’t use a debit card for anything other than taking cash out of the ATM. There is negative point (pun intended).
- The card you use for groceries will be different from the card you use for going out to eat. Pretty much everyone gets confused by this. Don’t be one of those people.
- I’m now the person who volunteers to pay the bill at group dinners to get all the points. My friends entertain this and think it’s insane that I have six cards now. If they only knew.
- On that note, choose your cards — and when you get them — wisely. 5/24 is real.
- Don’t fear credit cards with annual fees. They may end up paying for themselves.
- Delta and Amex, United and Chase and Citi and American are all partners and have co-branded cards. Just when I thought the world was small because I’m Jewish and from Long Island, the airline/credit card world made it even smaller.
Oh, and speaking of planes… I learnt a few things there too, namely:
- Flying can actually be fun. Who knew?
- F, J and Y are code for first, business and economy. Use them to convince people you know what you’re talking about, even if you don’t.
- There’s a difference between premium economy and economy plus. Premium economy = almost business class, but not quite; economy plus = a little more legroom than economy. Pick your poison.
- 2-3-2 > 3-4-3.
- The Boeing 777-300ER can also be referred to as a “77W”… which is not confusing, not even a little bit, not even at all.
- Airline codes! AA is easy. But then: B6 = JetBlue, WN = Southwest, EK = Emirates, CX = Cathay Pacific. The list goes on. Another thing that is super straightforward and easy to understand, right?
- Airport codes! I knew JFK, LGA, and MSY like the back of my hand even before working here, but that was about it. And now? Come at me, HKG.
- The difference between an A380 and a 747.
- Reverse herringbone is not a type of steak. Neither is regular herringbone.
- Pitch is not, in fact, a baseball reference, but how much space you’re going to have to work with. Google Flights can show you this, and it’s a lifesaver.
- I really want airline elite status, and if I can’t chill at the lounge before a flight now, I feel like I’m missing out. Happens to the best of us, right?
- The difference between angle-flat and lie-flat. You’re going to want the latter.
- Finding out that your upgrade is not going to clear will crush your hopes and dreams. Speaking from experience here.
- Phalanges are not real. (I kid, I kid, I knew that already.)
I’m by no means an expert, though. There are still a few things I stutter on whenever someone starts asking me questions after they find out where I work. For example:
- MQMs, MQDs and all that jazz. Nick Ellis has tried explaining this to me about 5,000 times; it sounds more complicated than the financial accounting class I took in college. Nick says it isn’t. I know he’s right. Soon!
- How to really tell planes apart. While I don’t call them “giant metal things that fly through the sky” anymore because this personally offended Wallace Cotton, I am still learning which ones are which. I’m working on the 737, 757, 787, A320 and A350. Some day Wallace will be proud.
- Last but most certainly not least… How in the world do these things fly!? Seriously, it’s wild.
But hey, there’s always next year, right?
Samantha Rosen is The Points Guy’s social media editor.
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