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Miles to go before I reap

A traveller phobic about redeeming frequent flyer miles shares her hoarding experience.

india Updated: May 26, 2010 01:44 IST
Andrea Sachs
Andrea Sachs
Hindustan Times

It’s irrational, I know. Frequent flier miles exist for my benefit, to treat me to a well-deserved vacation, a bonus prize for being such a loyal traveller. And yet I still fear them. I don’t fully trust myself with them or them with me.

I, dear friends, am a redeemophobe. I have all the symptoms. I crept out of my cave of denial last week, around the time my parents returned from Turkey, a trip “paid” fully with miles. For some phoned-in analysis, I contacted Walter Brown, a clinical professor of psychiatry and human behaviour at Brown University. I learnt that my condition is not pathological.

“Collecting things is an innate element programmed in our brains,” Brown said, pointing to rodents that store food they never eat. “Face the phobia,” he counselled.”

Due to a recent policy change, airlines now nullify miles after 18 months to two years of inactivity, compared with three years previously. I spent most of a day calling airlines, inquiring about my balance. It was eye-opening. In the past 24 years, I have earned a whopping 1,45,843 miles, enough for a first-class trip to Asia, the Middle East or Northern Africa. Or I could, er, hold on to them for just a little bit longer...

Washington Post-Bloomberg

First Published: May 25, 2010 16:46 IST