You're enjoying a backyard BBQ when the conversation turns to the latest Prius and its miserly approach to the pump. "You want to talk miles?" you shout, beer in hand. "Try 100,000 on American - I'm Executive Platinum, baby!"
You are a frequent flyer program elite, alright. You may also be a travel burnout.
The symptoms aren't always obvious; it might take a little digging on someone's part to learn your phone features more airline apps than you've got friends on Facebook. Or that your first child isn't named Richard in honor of your father-in-law, but for Virgin founder Branson (and you keep picturing the kid with a silver goatee).
If any of the other following scenarios apply - then you, my friend, are a travel burnout for sure. See the simple scoring key at the end.
Top Ten Signs You're a Travel Burnout
1. You promised the kids a dog so you visit the local pound. They fall in love with a stocky, jowly pup, but you exercise your veto, stating, "Sorry, but Delta quit transporting all snub-nosed canines as checked-baggage back in December of 2011, and that includes this English Bulldog." As the kids cry, you head for home.
2. The spouse pulls a pan out of the oven for the school bake sale, and you grow maudlin. "Why oh why did Frontier drop its freshly baked chocolate chip cookies?" you ask sadly. "Now I've got to pay three bucks for a puny bag of potato chips."
3. Just then, Uncle Elmo pops into the kitchen for a Heineken. "That would cost you five bucks on Southwest," you say. Elmo responds, "Not so fast; I've got an unexpired drink coupon." Then your son Richard comes in looking for a soft drink. You and Elmo chorus, "Three bucks on Spirit!" Burnouts know all the fees.
4. You reach for a cookie but the spouse slaps your hand. "Do you want to get too-fat-to-fly?" You indignantly remind her that you can still get both armrests down. "But what about that excess-tissue overflow below which encroaches on your seatmate?" You decide that from now on, you'll only fly those new 320 planes with wider seats which Airbus specifically designed "in response to requests from airlines who say travelers' expanding size has become a major headache." You then eat the cookie.
5. Later, forced to "go out and get some exercise" you take young Richard to the zoo but everything reminds you of the airport. Your son sees kangaroos, but you see Qantas. He admires a lynx but all you can think of is Frontier's 'spokesanimal' Larry. You notice a listless ape and think, "If only he had an American Tourister bag to toss around." It also occurs to you that most people think the old TV ad featured Samsonite luggage. "Pretty ironic," you muse, "since Samsonite eventually bought out the other brand." Burnouts know all this stuff.
6. On the way out, you run into an old friend who notes how tired you're looking, "Like you've got a couple of 50-pounders under each eye." You then rattle off the checked-bag fees of several airlines while noting you only travel with a carry-on. "Except on Allegiant or Spirit," you mutter, "since they charge up to $100 for onboard luggage." Your friend hurries away.
7. You stop off at McDonald's, forgetting all about the spouse's too-fat-to-fly warnings. "Obesity be darned," you think cheerfully. "Besides, Mickey D's had a higher American Customer Satisfaction Index ranking than the airlines, overall." This is true; the fast food chain scored 73 out of 100, versus 67 for the airlines, though JetBlue garnered an impressive individual 81 score.
8. While at the airport, you relax by studying airline regulations in the 'contacts of carriage'. "Would you look at that," you murmur. "Virgin America actually has a rule requiring all passengers to wear 'both top and bottom apparel'."
9. Back at home again, you change into your pajamas and the first thing that comes to mind is a TSA 'strip search'. "Good thing I'm a member of PreCheck," you say proudly. "I get to keep my shoes on."
10. You decide to relax and watch an old movie, but you find the X-Men film vaguely troubling. "Funny how that Sabretooth guy looks an awful lot like Richard Branson." Then off to bed where you'll count planes idling on the tarmac until you fall asleep.
How did you score on the burnout scale? The key: if one or more of the above applies to you, you're a bigger burnout than a flight attendant facing down a planeload of angry passengers who've been idling on the tarmac for more than three hours and are demanding food and water and permission to use their iPads.