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They're mostly empty now, save for two men in their twenties who seem even giddier than the flight attendants. This sort of thing happens to Schlappig nearly everywhere he goes.
On this trip, his fans will witness Schlappig's latest mission: a weekend jaunt that will slingshoot him across East Asia — Hong Kong, Jakarta, Tokyo — and back to New York, in 69 hours.
Schlappig owes his small slice of fame to his blog "One Mile at a Time," a diary of a young man living the life of the world's most implausible airline ad.
Posting as often as six times a day, he metes out meticulous counsel on the art of travel hacking — known in this world as the Hobby.
But its alleged founder soon learned that you can't rule the underworld without spilling some blood Around age 13, he discovered the website Flyer Talk, a massive free-for-all forum of all things airline, where users meet to strategize over deals, test for cracks in the bureaucracy and share the spoils.
There, Schlappig found a global community playing a massively complex game set upon three basic components.
The two teens were identified through their Snapchat usernames DMV records.
But his fans aren't just travel readers — they're gamers, and Schlappig is teaching them how to win."I'm very fortunate in that I do what I love," says Schlappig, stretching out in an ergonomic armchair as we reach 30,000 feet and just before the mushroom consommé arrives.
Inside Cathay Pacific Flight 807 bound for Hong Kong, he's passing out a couple of hundred dollars' worth of designer chocolates to a small swarm of giggling flight attendants.
The six suites in this leather-bound playpen of faux mahogany and fresh-cut flowers comprise the inner sanctum of commercial flight that few ever witness. " exclaims one, and soon Schlappig is ordering champagne for everyone.
In the past year, since ditching the Seattle apartment he shared with his ex-boyfriend, he's flown more than 400,000 miles, enough to circumnavigate the globe 16 times.
It's been 43 exhausting weeks since he slept in a bed that wasn't in a hotel, and he spends an average of six hours daily in the sky.
One of the fundamental steps a Hobbyist can take is choosing an airline to compete for top-tier loyalty status; Schlappig chose United.