After 25 years of working for a consulting firm with lots of travel, I got a letter in the mail from American Airlines. Congratulations – you are now a million miler! We are giving you gold status for life, 35k bonus miles, and wait for it….. luggage tags! At that moment, it was less of a badge of honor for me, then a reflection point – how many hours did I spend up in the air away from my family? How many delayed or cancelled flights had me sitting in those lovely black armchairs at the airport.
About that time, my 14 year old son started getting interested in travel, frequent flyer miles, and maximizing travel experience. We’ve always had amazing family travel experiences. I’ve never been one to hoard frequent flyer points. If you are not making interest on it, they are more valuable today than tomorrow, right? We’ve had so many free trips through the years – Italy, Greece, Hawaii (4 times), Australia, most of the Caribbean islands and pretty much every top destination in the U.S. When I actually had to pay for tickets for one family vacation, a good friend couldn’t believe it. Jeff Turner paid for plane tickets! What is happening in the world?
Soon after that, a credit card offer appeared in my inbox. Sign up for Southwest Credit Card, spend a few thousand dollars over 90 days, and get a free companion pass (the best deal in free travel). I’ve had one in the past, but with young kids, wasn’t really able to maximize it. Plus, Southwest didn’t really fly to any exotic spots at that time. But this time was different, my kids were getting older and they now fly internationally including the Caribbean, a wonderful vacation spot.
So I signed up, hit the spend limit, and the companion pass was mine. Despite disappointing my oldest son, the companion was going to be my lovely wife. The payoff was immediate, a quick weekend getaway to New Orleans with my parents watching the kids. My 15 year old pleaded with me and with Southwest’s policy allowing a change, I switched it over to him. I told him if he continued to do well at school, I would take him on a trip with me at the end of the school year. A Southwest flight to L.A. led us to Paramount Studios, Santa Monica, a Dodgers game, Disneyland, lots of free lounges, a stop in Denver, six nights in six different Hilton hotels (upgrades and free breakfast everywhere).
The passion and love was back, but this time it was different. It was travel, yes, but it was something more. It was more than just a journey and free travel, it was building a life long relationship with my son. Now with my renewed companion pass, I plan on bringing my son on more trips in the future and continuing to build our relationship with travel.
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