Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

How an Airlines Reporter Travels: Meet the AP’s Scott Mayerowitz

Billie Cohen | December 10, 2015

Scott Mayerowitz knows airlines. He’s been reporting on them at the Associated Press for five years, and before that was a travel editor and business reporter with ABC News. So he’s not just any old travel writer—he’s an investigative journalist with chops. However, this self-described #avgeek is not so serious that he’d turn his nose up at the chance to go sky diving on a cruise ship or to share a good Throwback Thursday selfie.

His Twitter and Instagram feeds are must-follows for any traveler—not only for the airline and travel news he provides, but also for a window onto the world of frequent fliers and mileage junkies (he is one himself), and for a humorous peek at his own life too.

Most memorable travel moment:

Visiting Iceland in summer, it was still light enough after a late dinner to play a round of golf with my dad. It wasn’t the best course or the best performance on our part, but there was something very unique about teeing off that late at night.

Most embarrassing travel moment:

Ordering food at foreign restaurants. Anywhere. My Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese—frankly any language skills—are atrocious. Even when reading something off a menu, I horribly mispronounce it. I always try, and I want locals to correct me so I can learn, but it’s embarrassing to me and my travel companions.

Name one thing people would be surprised to find in your travel bag:

Pacifiers. Hey, I’ve got an infant daughter. I’m still kind of surprised at the things I now travel with.

Scott takes his future avgeek along for the flight. Photo: Scott Mayerowitz/Instagram

Scott takes his future avgeek along for the flight. Photo: Scott Mayerowitz/Instagram

Touristy spot that’s actually worth it, and the trick to doing it right:

The museums and monuments of Paris are surely packed with tourists but not the least bit touristy. The one trick to avoiding the masses is to buy the Paris Museum Pass. Yes, it can save most first-timers money. But the real value is saving time by skipping lines at sites like the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, and Versailles. Simply visit one of the less-crowded museums first to buy the pass.

Non-touristy spot people might not know about but should add to their must-visit list:

Most folks now know that Bruges is a popular place to travel outside Brussels, but Ghent, which is lesser known, was really cool. The city isn’t as postcard-pretty but is more vibrant; it’s filled with unique stores and restaurants and isn’t catering mostly to tourists.

Name two indispensable apps you use when you travel:

Google Maps (now with an offline feature that is perfect for overseas travel) and FlightAware, which updates me about flight delays, inbound aircraft, and the filed flight time.

The travel gadget or gear that has saved your life…or your mind:

My portable battery charger—well, chargers. I normally travel with two iPhones, an iPad, and my laptop. The laptop gets first priority for any spare electrical outlets. So that’s where the battery chargers come in; they ensure that my iPad will survive a long flight or that my phone has enough juice left upon landing to be productive.

Choose any two travel-world bloggers and tell us the most important thing you’ve learned from each.

It’s so hard to single out one or two folks. I’ve learned way too much about miles, points, and gaming the system from the scores of bloggers out there. I’ve also found tricks to making my travels easier from people like Wendy Perrin. And then there is Brett Snyder at CrankyFlier.com, who spells out exactly how things work in the industry.

Related:  The Airlines’ Biggest Shortcoming, According to The Cranky Flier

Whose Tweets do you find the most useful and entertaining when you see them in your feed?

I find Brian Sumers offers some of my favorite geeky, airline news. Then there is my awesome co-worker David Koenig, who is on top of every bit of industry news you would ever need to know.

Name one way the travel industry can do better.

A lot of websites will sell you a package vacation with air, hotel, and car rental. But none of them seamlessly ties all of that together. It’s the same thing with hotels and airlines. Travelers might be treated like royalty at a great hotel, but then that magic of the vacation disappears at the airport check-in counter. Luxury hotels and airlines need to find ways to better partner to have that service seamlessly carry over throughout the entire trip. For us, it is one journey, and travel providers need to start thinking about the trip from our perspective.

Look into the future and describe one aspect of travel that you think will be different in 20 years:

The personal interaction will be gone from all but luxury travel. We already check in for flights (and a handful of hotels) with our mobile phones. We can order room service on an app. And forget the city walking tour. There’s now a podcast for that. Sure, this does help empower some independent travelers, but we also risk a homogenized travel experience and miss out on those tiny interactions that give us a sense of place and uniqueness.

You’ve said the points/miles game will either go away completely or change drastically. Can you speak to that?

I have a confession: I am a points-and-miles addict. But I am getting closer and closer to getting out of the game. Or at least changing my strategy. Unless you are an elite flier, loyalty doesn’t pay. And even there, the real benefits don’t kick in unless you do 50,000 miles a year. The same for hotels. The top-tier folks are treated great, but otherwise the leisure traveler doesn’t see giant benefits. Still sign up for programs and collect your points, but maybe it is time to rethink those credit cards. A two-percent cash- back credit card will probably suit most travelers best. Especially if you just fly domestically in coach and are happy with a clean, safe hotel room. Plus you aren’t married to one airline or hotel chain. That said, I’m finding it personally very hard to break the habit. I still am getting value out of luxury hotels and international business-class flights, but it is getting harder and harder.

Related: The Best Credit Cards for Travelers

Most effective thing you’ve ever said or done to get an upgrade or a special perk while traveling:

Airline upgrades for special occasions are a thing of the past. But hotels still have much leeway in who they upgrade and why. I’ve had good luck on my honeymoon and even one night when my wife and I escaped for a kid-free night. I usually reach out in advance with my confirmation number, explain why this is an important stay, note any status I have, and ask if there is anything they can do to make it special for my wife.

To make friends, I always carry:

Airline drink coupons

Overrated:

Theme parks

Underrated:

National parks

If you were in my car during a road trip, you’d hear me singing:

The wrong lyrics to whatever’s on the radio.

The airplane movie that, unexpectedly, made me bawl was:

500 Days of Summer

When I travel, I’m not afraid of:

Getting lost

But I am afraid of:

Losing perspective.

 

Follow Scott:

Twitter @GlobeTrotScott

Instagram @GlobeTrotScott

 

Be a smarter traveler: Follow Wendy Perrin on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

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1 Comment

  1. Kathy @goseeittravel

    I will definitely start following Scott! We have a saying for traveling with stuff intensive little people “all of hassles of travel, none of the conveniences of home” – but it’s fleeting, and oh so worth it to travel with your little one (s)!
    We have also abandoned loyalty /miles programs- never mind the award booking hassles and fees, and program cuts, we were treated so shabbily after a missed flight with a legacy carrier, where they gave away our seats despite managing to fly our luggage onwards, due to one of their own late connections. We had to wait over 24 hours for the rebooked flight despite being in one of the highest levels of their “loyalty program” . That was just the last straw incident, after that we said “no more ” to “one way” loyalty programs! I know of plenty of apps (Thanks to Wendy) that will show the best routing, seating and schedule combos for the best price!

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