Almost scammed, about to be Bonvoyed, eat free in NYC and more

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In this Frequent Miler week in review around the web, read about how you could leverage technology to eat (or do lots of other things) for free, ways to be Bonvoyed beyond your control, how even the best of us can get scammed, and more. Read up in this week’s run down.

How I Eat For Free in NYC Using Python, Automation, Artificial Intelligence, and Instagram

The technical stuff here is way over my head, but I found the premise of this post from Chris Buetti at Medium.com fascinating: he managed to completely automate an Instagram account (and a little more) in order to leverage it for free meals in New York City. A number of bloggers in the miles-and-points space have recently addressed the ethics of their jobs, and this post in particular is a great reminder of why the ethics of the people you follow might matter. I’m definitely not saying that what the author did here was unethical. But it’s a good reminder that not everyone’s restaurant recommendations are coming from the right place if you know what I mean.


Fearing the worst: All the ways I’m probably gonna get Bonvoyed on my Europe trip this summer

If you didn’t know what I meant by the end of that previous sentence, Windbag Miles can fill in the blanks with stories of how he’ll probably be Bonvoyed before even being Bonvoyed. If that sounds like hyperbole and paranoia, read the post. I read the first paragraph kind of assuming it was just going to be a funny overly pessimistic rant, but by the end I found myself actually expecting him to be Bonvoyed in at least one or two of these scenarios. And I can sympathize. I’m about to be Bonvoyed this week. And I guess that’s why they’re getting away with it: not enough people are willing to vote with their wallets. For my part, I’ll certainly write about how I got Bonvoyed assuming the most-likely scenario indeed happens. Hopefully ye olde Windbag will let us know what happens as well.


I WAS *THISCLOSE* TO FALLING FOR A SHANGHAI TEA HOUSE SCAM

Ugh. When I saw the title of this post, I immediately knew what Becky at SightDOING was talking about. If you or someone you know is not familiar with the Shanghai tea house scam, read/share this post as it mirrors many of the best scams going. Knowing that the author is a quite well-traveled blogger, I had to read the story to find out what happened. As I read it, I felt a pit in my stomach growing knowing how close I’ve been to the same (and remembering a few times when scammers got the better of me). This post is a good reminder that these things happen to the best of us, so it’s wise to keep up your guard. On the flip side, when I arrived at the train station in Tokyo yesterday and couldn’t figure out which exit I needed, an older gentleman approached me asking if I needed help. My first instinct was to say no with this post totally fresh in my mind and already planned for this week in review, but something about him made it feel like he was just a genuinely helpful human. And it turned out he was — he walked us out of the station, helped me carry one of my bags, and set us on the correct path to our hotel without any hidden agenda other than being a nice person. Moral of the story: always be on guard for scammers, but don’t let them ruin your belief in the inherent goodness of humanity.


New York City to Follow London, Milan, Singapore, and Stockholm with Congestion Pricing

In news from Frequent Business Traveler that is disappointing to me, it looks like New York is going to add a disincentive to drive south of 60th street. Pre-2017-me wouldn’t have cared too much about this — unwilling to pay $40-$80 per night to park my car, I always used to just find street parking on the Upper East Side and take the subway where I wanted to go (being careful to read the signs for alternate-side parking rules). But with parking now free for Hyatt Globalists and on Guest of Honor reservations, I’ve found Hyatt stays in Manhattan more valuable to me since I can drive down and park right at the hotel for free, saving me time and money. Sounds like it’ll soon be saving me less money.


When a Trip is On-Off-On Again Due to Life Situations

This post from Miles for Family resonated with me because I’m currently in Tokyo on a trip that I considered canceling up until the day before departure (due to family/health reasons in my case). In fact, our outbound flights were changeable up until 24 hours before departure and we pushed the trip back by a day exactly 24 hours and 22 minutes before we were scheduled to leave (to give us an extra day to re-evaluate). On the way to the airport, we discussed contingencies if we had to cut our trip short. To say that it is a huge weight off our shoulders knowing that a last-minute change/cancellation would only cost us a couple hundred dollars rather than the thousands most people would stand to lose on a similar trip is an understatement. Unexpected things happen and this post is a good reminder of how good we have it in booking our trips with currencies that are much more flexible than cash bookings. While it won’t reduce the stress of difficult times, the flexibility of award travel at least adds less stress than it would for folks who were all-in on a dream vacation in the same circumstances.


That’s it for this week around the web. Check back soon for this week’s last chance deals.

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