All alone in first class, 6 wild things at the TSA and more: Zach Honig’s favorite stories of 2019
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
As with many of my TPG colleagues, it’s been a very busy, points-and-miles-fueled year. In 2019, I spent more than 125 nights away from home, flying some 223,152 miles around the globe. I got to shoot a video series in Australia, cover the Paris Air Show and visit Japan with some of my closest friends.
I’m constantly inspired by my fantastic colleagues at The Points Guy, but two have me thinking about this year in particular — Benji Stawski and Liz Hund — following 2019 recaps of their own. So, without further ado, I’d like to share my 2019 story highlights, including the work I’ve most enjoyed producing here at TPG.
A world-class first-class flight without a single other passenger in the cabin? It probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise that this one made the very top of the list.
This assignment was an absolute dream for any aviation geek, despite the insane desert heat. I may have been sweating up a storm under the 110-degree Arizona sun, but I got to spend two days with an aviation legend — and I’m not just talking about the plane.
Inaugural flights are often a ton of fun, and United really does it up right. This time around, the team even printed custom pajamas to mark the occasion — UA’s very first nonstop flight from Newark (EWR) to Cape Town (CPT).
I managed to see the northern lights once before, from a plane, but traveling to the middle of Alaska to catch them from the ground was an entirely different adventure. Miraculously, I managed to snap some very cool shots without much equipment — just a steady hand and a brand-new phone!
I’ve always been impressed with the TSA’s fun Instagram page, and when I reached out about meeting the team, social media manager David Johnston responded right away. Our own social media lead, Caitlin Riddell, joined me for what turned out to be an exceptional D.C. day.
We don’t accept free flights here at TPG, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get creative when it comes time to book! Here, I share some of my more common tricks, letting me score coveted inaugural seats — on the cheap.
Rolling luggage can get in the way when you’re trying to discreetly capture loads of pictures as you board a plane. So, I usually just end up leaving mine at home. It’s pretty incredible how much you can squeeze into an ordinary Tumi backpack, especially if you don’t mind doing some ironing once you land.
This one was all about being in the right place at the right time. I had a free day in Hong Kong after reviewing United’s new Premium Plus product that just so happened to coincide with the opening of one of the city’s most-anticipated new hotels, the St. Regis. I was able to set up a last-minute tour, and I’ve dreamed about booking an overnight stay ever since.
I was a gadget reviewer in my previous life — I produced the world’s first oversized smartphone review back in my Engadget days — so I’m always excited to try new gear. I was especially excited about this one, since the iPhone 11 Pro is a total game-changer for travelers, too.
2019 has turned me into a podcast fiend! I had barely listened to any before I launched my own this year, and now I’m addicted, burning through episode after episode during my NYC commutes. Season 1 of my TPG podcast, Miles Away, was such a success that it’ll be back — even bigger and better than before — later next year.
Featured photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees