Agnostic ag·nos·tic /aɡˈnästik/ – having a doubtful or noncommittal attitude toward something.
I used to care about loyalty.
I was a slave to the loyalty programs I had chosen – sleeping in inferior hotels (sometimes changing properties in close proximity to increase my stay count), doing an occasional mileage run to top off my account at year-end to be certain I’d maximized my benefits, planning my vacations around inconvenience so I could utilize my upgrades and my points at certain properties or on specific routes.
There was a time when I proudly carried a couple dozen frequent traveler program cards. That scene in the movie “Up In The Air” when the two frequent travelers slap plastic down on the table to compare their statuses? That was me.
Now, not so much. Agnostic is a better description of my attitude.
That has – admittedly – made it difficult for me to edit a site that is hosted on a frequent traveler platform where points and miles are the obsession.
I too was once obsessed. But after two decades of chasing the brass ring, I’m done.
Its not the changes to the frequent flyer programs that others have lamented.
Its not even the slow decline of my favorite programs.
And it has nothing to do with fear of making status with my programs. (Going into 2017, I’m maintaining status on all three major airlines right now with lifetime status and going on 17 years of Executive Platinum on American Airlines. I’ll also have top tier status with four of the major global hotel brands, top status with two rental car companies, and mid-range status on two cruise lines.)
Its frankly a change in what I value. Becoming agnostic helps me obtain that.
When I’m on the road, I want things to be as seamless as possible. I don’t have time to take unnecessary connections, drive to out of the way hotels, or deal with hassles of any kind. At the same time, I want the best possible product that I can obtain with whatever budget I’m given. That means not having to worry about upgrades being processed properly (I’m looking at YOU American Airlines). That means having a comfortable environment to work in (hotel or airport). That means just having a consistent rental car experience (Hello Silvercar!).
Its time to put my money where my mouth is when it comes to maximizing my travel/life balance. It means overcoming the challenge of working in the fragmented style that travel creates. It means simplifying my wardrobe for travel (do not even ASK how much money I’ve spent with MM.LaFleur this year!)
Over the last two weeks I’ve stayed in two lovely boutique hotels that were within a couple of blocks of hotels in at least two of my loyalty programs. The boutique experience was preferable – and in both cases, less expensive. I enjoyed spacious well-decorated rooms, interesting room service options, high quality toiletries, friendly staff, fluffy robes, and comfortable beds. I chose them not because they were boutique properties but because they were the most convenient properties that fit within my budget for each city.
This week, I’ll stay in Marriott and Starwood branded properties… again, the best choices for my itineraries. I’m not shunning the brands, I’m just not going to be blindly loyal to them so I can have free wifi and bottled water (amenities that most of the boutique properties throw in for free anyway). I may have felt a little bit like Ryan Bingham in “Up In The Air” when he couldn’t join the elite line at the one-off property, but I lived!
I’ll fly American Airlines and Lufthansa (or possibly British Airways… I like that my multiple points balances and status still give me some flexibility on making last minute changes to my travel plans) – but I also booked upcoming flights on Delta and United because the schedules or prices worked out better.
Now that I’ve cut the tether, it has been much easier to plan my travel. Just pick the best option and go. I never knew being agnostic could be so easy.