Three words that mean gold: Kindness of Strangers

Australian Frequent Flyer Forums

Australian Frequent Flyer ForumsCanberra
Australian Capital Territory
28 Jan 2017

The Australian Frequent Flyer Online Community – to give it the full title – is exactly what it says. Australia is a long way from most of the world’s other countries and to go anywhere, it’s long haul flying or swim. The average Aussie tends to be well-travelled, simply by being in Australia.

If you’ve travelled, you know that other travellers – especially in places like pubs and youth hostels – will share their experiences. If someone has just come from a place others are going to, they can answer questions, pass on specific information, ease the way.

Australian Frequent Flyers is like that. In many ways, it’s like a great big hostel common room, with the drinks flowing and the stories neverending and the photographs being passed around, addresses exchanged, and news running continuously on the corner TV.

The kindness of strangers

What is most appealing about the place is the willingness of members to help out someone they have never met and likely never will. For example, one of the sub-forums on the site is titled “Your Questions”, and members ask for advice on all subjects: what to do on a 12-hour stopover in New York, how to find award seats to Hong Kong, can someone travelling through Dubai retrieve a phone left in a cafe there?

Lost in TransitOften there will be several pages of advice, sometimes contradictory, usually useful, always pertinent, and all of it freely offered. Problems are solved, cheap flights found, transit questions answered, phones retrieved and restored to owners.

The whole site works on the same principle. Specialised areas deal with specific airlines, hotel chains, credit cards… (Frequent flyers tend to be keen on credit cards, for reasons I’ll talk about later.)

The help of people who work in the industry, make regular trips, have decades of experience behind them, and/or have made all the mistakes before is invaluable. I was able to save six thousand dollars from the price of a round-the-world ticket by following detailed step-by-step instructions from members who had exploited a particular loophole.

What travel agent would tell me that?