Schlappig, 25, is one of the biggest stars among an elite group of obsessive flyers whose mission is to outwit the airlines. They’re self-styled competitors with a singular objective: fly for free, as much as they can, without getting caught. In the past 20 years, the Internet has drawn together this strange band of savants with an odd mix of skills: the digital talent of a code writer, a lawyer’s love affair with fine print, and a passion for airline bureaucracy. It’s a whirring hive mind of IT whizzes, stats majors, aviation nerds and everyone else you knew who skipped the prom.
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. It’s not simply how-to tips that draw his fans, it’s the vicarious thrill of Schlappig’s nonstop-luxury life — one recent flight with a personal shower and butler service, or the time Schlappig was chauffeured across a tarmac in a Porsche. 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. 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. He has a freewheeling itinerary, often planning his next destination upon hitting the airport. Just last week, he rocketed through Dallas, Dubai, Oman, Barcelona and Frankfurt. Yet for all his travel, it would be a mistake to call Schlappig a nomad. The moment that he whiffs the airless ambience of a pressurized cabin, he’s home.
More here – Rolling Stone