Last month， Ben Schlappigs Instagram page showed him jetting out of Beijing， dining on coffee and cake in Germany and marveling at the Los Angeles skyline from the top of Mulholl and Drive. While the pictures suggest that the 25-year-old is on some extended vacation-he is not. This is his life and job.
Last year， when Schlappigs lease ended， he packed his entire life into a few suitcases and started flying around the world full time， using his expert knowledge of airline reward programs to fly at practically no cost at all.“Im very fortunate in that I do what I love， ”Schlappig said in an interview with RollingStone. “An airplane is my bedroom. Its myoffice， and its my playroom.”
Schlappig is part of a community knownas “Hobbyists，” who have been out smarting the airlines on their own reward programs fordecades， using their frequent flyer statuses， credit card incentives and mistakes in airline ticketing algorithms[運算法则] to get them free tickets around the world.
Its a community New York born Schlappig has been a part of since he was 13， when he discovered the Hobby website Flyer Talk and started learning the tricks of the trade on the sites online discussion boards.
Never having really fit in at school， Schlappig spent a lot of time online mastering the art of the Hobby and within a year started spending his weekend flying across the country on back to back flights， never even leaving the airport， to stack up thousands of frequent fly ermiles.“It was an interesting hobby，” his dad Arno said. “I said， Hey！ Keep it up. Its better than smoking pot.”
When his lease ended in April 2014， he packed all of his belongings into a few black suitcases and started traveling the world fulltime. He estimates that he spends about six hours a day in the sky， and when hes not flying， he lives in five-star hotels wherever he chooses. While not having a permanent city to call home would make most crazy， Schlappig says the closest place to his home is an airplane cabin or lounge， though he does admitto sometimes getting lonely. “The world is so big， I can keep running，” Schlappig says.“At the same time， it makes you realize the world is so small.”