I’m not much of a sports fan, although I do follow certain sports/teams now and then. One of the things I can’t get enough of is fans arguing on message boards about why one team is superior to another team as if the other side is just one good argument away from giving up. Even if one team absolutely kills the other team in a game, it was all because of the refs/umps, or so-and-so was injured, or some other dumb sports-ism. But I get it, sports are fun to watch, and having a rooting interest in a team is a fun bit of escapism (unless you’re one of those people who lets a sports team subsume your identity and actually get depressed when your team loses). The reason I bring this up isn’t to castigate anyone for enjoying sports or defending their team (lord knows I can’t hold my tongue when some dipshit starts talking about how great Notre Dame is at anything)… no, my point is that the same rooting interest pops up in the points and miles game all the time, and it’s always super dumb.
I find myself falling prey to this sometimes as well, and I always chastise myself whenever it happens. Here’s a good example. A little while back, Ben Schlappig posted a photo of British Airways 787-9 first class on Instagram, and of course there were like 1500 comments each saying “Wow, looks like business class.” A bunch of comments even pointed out how the BA seat was identical to the B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seat, which isn’t even remotely true. I hate-read a good smattering of these people all parroting a phrase that has become conventional wisdom through sheer force of repetition, and I immediately felt like I should defend BA against all the haterz. I reviewed this same product very favorably recently, and I started to feel a quixotic urge to make these idiots realize that they were wrong and BA actually has a good product.
First, WTF is wrong with me that I give a fuck what a bunch of commenters on Instagram think? I hate how petty I am sometimes, but a deep-dive into my self-loathing isn’t really a focus of this blog, so I’ll move on. Thankfully I didn’t debase myself by leaving a comment on Instagram (although I did comment on One Mile at a Time’s blog post about it, so I’m not completely innocent here).
My bigger point is that I should want people to continue parroting the line that there’s nothing redeeming about BA first class, because that means there will be more award seats for me. United Polaris is another good example. It’s not the best seat in the sky, but it’s very comfortable, and I get annoyed when people who reflexively hate everything about United talk about how much it sucks. But those are just people who I don’t need to compete with the next time I’m looking for almost non-existent saver space on Polaris flights.
Head over to FlyerTalk, and you can find some amazing, impassioned arguments over things like whether Chase Ultimate Rewards is better than Amex Membership Rewards, as if it matters whether one is better than the other. Unlike in sports, where only a total scumbag would root for Notre Dame and USC, it’s perfectly acceptable to like both Chase and Amex. The conventional wisdom is that Chase is better, which is fine, since that means Membership Rewards will have to compete harder for customers, which should benefit me. I also think the people who talk about how they’ll switch all their spending over to American Express in protest if Chase ends Ultimate Rewards points pooling are being incredibly foolish, but this hobby literally couldn’t exist without the foolish behavior of others.
I’m also fairly contrarian by nature, so I tend to work myself into a lather of opposing opinions anytime a big group of people seem to agree on something. (To bring it back to sports, this is why I can’t fucking stand the San Francisco Giants despite living in San Francisco area.) When it comes to points and miles, though, I should want to be on the opposite side of the conventional wisdom as much as humanly possible… Within reason of course, since I’m not about to melt down my Amex Platinum so I can start crowing about how great PNC Bank Flexpoint Miles are (or whatever PNC calls its shitty reward currency).
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