Frequent Flyer Master — A product review

If you’ve ever heard of the brand The Art of Non-Conformity you may have heard of Chris Guillebeau. Self described as a man who “writes, travels and helps people take over the world,” Guillebeau is a frequent traveler, speaker, entrepreneur and all-around social maven out in the blog and Twitter sphere. Among his claims to fame are a host of online guides for purchase, speaking on topics from successfully working at home to how to make money as an artist.

His latest is called Frequent Flyer Master, and it’s a guide to maximizing your earned frequent flyer miles, or as he puts it, “democratizing free travel.”

Earlier this week Mr. Guillebeau asked me to take a look, so as a frequent traveler myself I accepted a free copy of the $49 guide for a review.

Am I now a frequent flyer mile guru? Has my life changed? Has abject foreshadowing already ruined my review? Find out more below.The $49, 40 page, downloadable Frequent Flyer Master is separated into three major sections: Strategy, earning and spending miles. Throughout the course of the guide, Guillebeau patiently educates the reader on how frequent flyer mile programs work, pointing out numerous strategies, tips and tricks of the trade and then following up with a significant Q&A and onward reading section.

Much of the content focuses on how to best earn your miles, from on-the-ground activities such as skymall shopping to airline promotions to credit cards. Once rife with miles, Guillebeau continues onto best strategies for redemptions, speaking on booking technology, airlines and other travel tech.

It’s a great wealth of information and without a doubt would be extremely useful to an everyday, pedestrian traveler looking to get educated on the industry.

The predominant suggestion of getting miles and travel for practically nothing, however, is a bit misleading. It’s true that subscribers to this guide will have the means to earn 25k miles or a free plane ticket, but this miles don’t appear out of thin air. Yes, one can get a pile of bonus miles from Lending Tree without setting foot in the airport, but one needs to get a mortgage (and at what rate?). Similarly, one can earn 90k miles from applying for multiple Citibank credit cards, but that requires multiple credit cards, purchases and subsequent cancellations.

Most frustratingly, almost all of this information is publicly available. At the end of the document, Guillebeau openly lists Flyertalk as a resource for further reading, and it’s true: the patient reader can find almost everything in the above 39 pages among those Flyertalk threads.

What Frequent Flyer Master really serves is a pinpoint demographic, a host of readers who only need a shortcut to a compiled list of best deals and strategies for the frequent flyer — all without sifting through sheafs of threads out on the web. Admittedly, to a novice traveler this $49 is a decent investment.

For the patient, ardent, frugal traveler who’s looking to get started in the frequent flyer mile game, an alternative recommended investment would be a trip over to