“I’ve always been a traveler,” Gilbert Ott tells me as we begin our conversation. The Conde Nast Travel writer and creator of the website God Save the Points attributes his present career to a Delta napkin embossed with a plug for a points program. Seeing it at the time, he thought, “Wow. That’s something I should know.” He was eleven.
Traveling extensively for tennis in his youth and as a professional in the music industry, Ott learned the ins and outs of air travel. He also learned how to get killer deals. Now, he travels over 150,000 miles a year, or four times around the world — always as inexpensively as possible with maximum upgrades.
As we approach peak holiday travel, Ott made time to talk with us about his site, cheap flights 101, and inexpensive destinations. The basics you learn in this post are a good foundation to build on. You’ll be one step closer to making your dream trip a reality.
What was the impetus to start the website?
It’s actually a nice thing. My wife is a tennis player, and when we first met she was living in New York, working in New York. She decided she was over that and moved back to the UK before we had been dating for long. We decided that we liked each other. I’d go see her in the UK, and we obviously hit it off. We’re married now. But, for that year, we did long distance, so I was flying to London as much as I could, burning through pretty much all of my savings at that time. She was doing the same thing. This was all in economy. Deals really mattered; when we traveled really mattered. And when you’re trying to go every month, you really see the various pricing differentials, and you start to pick up on ways to save.
That was the impetus. That was like, “Oh, shit. This is my potential future here, and I have a very strict budget of whatever is in my savings account, and I would like to be able to keep doing this as long as I need to.” At the end of the year, I think she said to me — I will not verify this —”You should just write about this stuff so other people can benefit.” She seemed to think that I knew more than any of the people at the airline we’d be on the phone with or dealing with. So, that sounded like a good idea.