Those who spend more time in terminals than Tom Hanks (and like it that way) are in good company on Flyertalk.com's free discussion boards.
Like site founder Randy Petersen -- touted "the most influential frequent flier in America" by The Wall Street Journal -- its users are hard-core travellers who average 18 flights a year. Not surprisingly, they want to make the most of both their air miles and the places they go.
The site's claim to be "the world's most popular frequent flier community" just might be true: the "travel buzz" forum has 159,000 posts, a "miles buzz" discussion draws 130,000 comments, and while Canadian posts are generally overwhelmed by those from the United States, Air Canada has 205,000 entries.
Established about five years ago, Flyertalk.com continues to introduce new features, such as a book club and blogs by travel experts. But this is still a blockbuster bookmark for the points-obsessed. Whatever airline you fly, there's a discussion group here on how to earn the most miles, as well as cash in on them wisely.
Some topics are concentrated on those so addicted to travel that they take short flights just for the points they can earn (called "mileage runs"). Such passengers not only understand what DEL-LHR means, but know that a deal on that flight path pales next to the one on LHR-PVG. But the site isn't all in frequent-flier code. Discussions also touch on gay travel, tips for women or those trekking with children, how well iPods fare in the skies, and the last thing you do when you leave a hotel room (steal as much soap as possible?).
Transit junkies also share their views on destinations from Toronto to Tokyo, dining around the world, and even the saffron installation in New York's Central Park. Some folks may even hook up in the real world, too. "I'll be in EZE Jul 24-26 and again Aug 1-2. Anyone wanna meet?" writes "Psychocadet" from Brooklyn.
This site is all talk, with its blue layout focused on lists of discussion threads. There is the odd graphic or burst of yellow, though, to keep jet-setting wheeler-dealers feeling sunny about their chances of snagging that last cheap jump to Spain.
Getting around the website is a lot easier than finding your way through Toronto Pearson's new Terminal One (or through any airport, for that matter). The home page provides straightforward links to hot new chat forums and drop-down menus offer easy access to site features. Some threads could use better descriptions, however -- it can take a bit of scrolling to figure out what all the chatter's about.
If Oprah can do it, why can't those obsessed with where to find the best coffee at JFK or the fluffiest towels in Bangkok? Flyertalk.com's book club covers hot new guides on travel deals, an inside look at airports' unexpected attractions (apparently Heathrow has a golf studio offering lessons from pros), and novels. Randy Peterson himself reviews Up in the Air, centred on a man trying to accumulate one million frequent-flier miles.
Most site visitors are dedicated to taking advantage of travel companies' marketing ploys. Why then, would they buy a branded tee from the site merchandise page? And what kind of message would a Flyertalk.com mug send about what you do all day at your desk anyway?
Then again, their sweatshirts might come in handy in chilly departure lounges.
This is a must-click for anyone who dreams of that elusive aisle seat, getting bumped into business class or earning triple points on a one-way ticket to anywhere.