TravelStories Episode 23: A Pilot’s Perspective

From the spectacular cockpit views to gaining status at hotels, a pilot’s travel experience is quite different from ours as a commercial traveler. Today, we’re shifting gears and gaining valuable travel insight from a pilot’s perspective. Brandr is a Navy Reservist and commercial pilot, as well as an avid miles and points nerd. We discuss Brandr’s benefits as a pilot, what his typical international trip looks like, how the weather and turbulence affect his flight plans, and the wonderful innovation of modern aircraft technology. Then, our guest explains how his experience as a pilot influences his travel decisions, how to become a commercial pilot, the wonderful things he’s seen from the cockpit window, and the ins and outs of both Navy and commercial pilot processes. We also speak about the importance of raising awareness around the mental health of pilots, how the 757 compares to the 767, the travel adventures that Brandr is looking forward to the most, and why he insists that hoarding points and miles will do more damage than good. 

Key Points From This Episode:

  • [00:16] A warm welcome to fellow points-and-miles nerd, Navy Reservist, and pilot, Brandr.
  • [01:13] Brandr’s professional background and how he developed his passion for miles and points.
  • [05:45] Whether he gets any status or benefits from traveling as a pilot.
  • [07:40] How he chooses to bid routes and how his international trips typically play out.
  • [13:20] Weather, turbulence, and other occurrences that affect his flight plans.
  • [17:30] The evolution of aircraft technology.
  • [19:16] How Brandr’s knowledge as a pilot has influenced the way he travels.
  • [19:45] The travel benefits that are available to active duty military and reservists.
  • [22:30] Discussing what it takes to become a commercial pilot and how Brandr did it differently.
  • [27:00] Weird and incredible things that he has seen from the window of his cockpit.
  • [29:07] What he likes and dislikes about being a Navy and commercial pilot.
  • [32:50] Deeper insight into Brandr’s status and how they change as a non-rev passenger.
  • [35:02] Using Horizon Air’s recent incident as an example of why pilot mental health matters.
  • [37:46] The Island Hopper and other adventures our guest is looking forward to.
  • [41:02] Unique travel stories from his Navy flying missions.
  • [44:03] Comparing the flying experience of the Boeing 757 versus the 767.
  • [49:40] Brandr’s advice for other miles and points nerds.


“I have a job as a pilot but I’m still very much in the points and miles community.” — Brandr [01:40]

“My goal is to try to keep the crew and the rest of the passengers safe, and hopefully have the seatbelt sign mean something. But I don’t fear that turbulence [will] damage the aircraft.” — Brandr  [17:00]

“The military is still very much a viable way to get to the legacy airlines, but it’s certainly not going to be the quickest. If military service is not something that you feel deeply called to, it’s probably not the best way; there are quicker ways to do it.” — Brandr  [24:14]

“Pilots are human, and what I think we really need to do is get serious about pilot mental health.” — Brandr  [35:45]

“Just use your miles – I see how all the programs just continue to devalue; there’s so much points inflation. Just find a great redemption that works for you and do it. Don’t wait for the perfect redemption because that may never come.” — Brandr  [49:57]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

U.S. Navy Reserves 

Navy International Program Office  



Horizon Air

United Airlines 

American Airlines

The Milenomics Podcast Network

Thomas Kim on X

Trevor Mountcastle on X

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