Travel

THE VERY FREQUENT FLIER

Marc Tacchi’s out to rack up a million points in two months. And keep his job.

REBECCA ECKLER October 24 2005
Travel

THE VERY FREQUENT FLIER

Marc Tacchi’s out to rack up a million points in two months. And keep his job.

REBECCA ECKLER October 24 2005

THE VERY FREQUENT FLIER

Marc Tacchi’s out to rack up a million points in two months. And keep his job.

REBECCA ECKLER

Travel

WHAT’S A LAZY MAN to do when his girlfriend gets sick and tired of him sitting around the house doing nothing? Instead of putting more time into his job or getting a hobby, Marc Tacchi decided to transfer his butt from the couch to an airplane seat.

The 30-year-old has even caught Hollywood’s attention in the past couple of weeks, thanks to his stunt in the sky. The Vancouverbased Tacchi took Air Canada up on its offer of a North America Unlimited Pass, which costs $3,499 a month and allows unlimited travel to more than 100 destinations in North America. Tacchi is now flying about 7,500 miles a day, attempting to rack up one million frequent flier points in two months.

“It’s not a terrible amount of work,” he says from the Maple Leaf Lounge at the Vancouver International Airport, before boarding a flight to Victoria. The offer took effect Oct. 1; since then, he’s been on more than 46 flights, accumulating almost 50,000 points in the first week. (By press time, he’d flown more than 72 flights—over 75,000 miles.)

Tacchi is used to being on a plane. A professional pilot who works for an air cargo company, he flies a Boeing 747 to Asia or Europe once a week. “I usually only work 36 hours a week,” he says. “Which leaves me the rest of the week free.”

Because he already had Air Canada Super Elite status, Tacchi gets 2.75 points for every mile he flies. So if he logs 7,500 miles a day, he really earns more than 20,000 points. Which means that, to get to the million mark, Tacchi needs to fly only about 300,000 miles, something he says he’ll be able to do easily. (The remainder he’ll earn through bonus points.) One million points would be enough for 10 round-trip executive-class flights to Australia. Tacchi says he’ll probably use his points to fly to Thailand first.

For now, he spends his days taking the “short trips,” going back and forth between Vancouver and Victoria and Vancouver and Nanaimo, which gives him a minimum of 500 miles a flight. In the evenings, he takes red-eyes, flying to Toronto or Montreal, usually using his upgrade certificates to fly business class, getting back on a plane for Vancouver after he lands.

This very frequent flier has everything figured out. All he brings on the plane with him now is his laptop, an iPod, a wallet-size camera, and a notepad with his flight times. “I read about one book a day, and that’s kind of getting costly,” he says. “There are no movies on my day flights, but they’ve been playing March of the Penguins on the night flights, and I’ve certainly seen enough penguins to last a lifetime.”

Other than that, he says, he’s not getting bored with flying. “In between flights, I usually have a half-hour to get myself a drink, shower (all the Maple Leaf lounges have “really nice” showers, he says), use the Internet, make some telephone calls. Everything I do at home, I can do in the lounge, but it’s free,” he says. And there has been a surprising upside to his project. When he began, he weighed in at 220 lb. “I’ve lost five pounds,” he says proudly.

This, he says, is a result of ordering the “special fruit plate” for meals (who knew?). It’s only one of the many things Tacchi discusses on his blog, “The Great Canadian Mileage Run 2005.” “I have received many emails asking me about the fruit plates,” he writes. “I have received even more coveting glances from seatmates. The gentleman next to me last night offered to buy it from me!” Tacchi is also a fan of the pot roast and mashed potato meal.

Amazingly, Tacchi is not the only one to have taken up Air Canada’s offer, which was available only for two weeks in September. “There’s Damian, also from Vancouver, Bob out of Toronto, and Dave from Burnaby,” he says, naming his new pals. “And we’ve been on the same flights occasionally.”

All this airtime has made him an expert. His tips? “Definitely bring a pillow for night flights. It makes a world of difference. And don’t carry on the kitchen sink. If the bins are full, it’s going to be under the seat in front of you, taking up your available room.” While Tacchi might not admit it, his blog suggests he’s getting a bit cranky. In one of his most recent postings, he uncharitably describes a seatmate’s non-stop chatter, and mentions he can’t wait to get back to the solitude of being in the cockpit. But in the meantime, there’s that relationship to think about. “It took a little bit of convincing for my girlfriend to let me go through with this,” he says. “But it’s motivated self-interest for her. At the end, she’ll know she can take premium flights with me. I figure I’ll get three years of vacations out of this. The only thing she has to do right now is make sure she gets me to the airport on time.”