More road warriors using frequent flyer miles to get by

living on frequent flier miles
living on frequent flier miles

When the Orange County Registerrecently broke a story about a former road warrior who is using his hotel and airline points to put a roof over his head, fellow frequent fliers quipped in an online forum that he's living out a "curiosity" for many -- on how long and well they could live off their well-tended collections of points.

Then CNN picked up Jim Kennedy's story last week, underscoring the harsh realities of prolonged unemployment, and prompting many who are away from their homes more often than they are in them to reconsider why they are saving those points anyway.

With airlines and credit card companies offering more ways to earn more points, racking them up has become somewhat of a national pastime in some circles. As documented by George Clooney's road warrior in "Up In the Air," more often than not saving as many points as possible becomes a sort of game unto itself.

But for travelers like Kennedy, who lost their six-figure jobs during the ongoing economic downturn, the game is now to spend those points wisely in order to survive. Kennedy, who tweets about his struggle to find a job using the screen name HomelessThomOC, lost his job as a corporate developer in 2008.

Since then, his Newport Beach condo's been repossessed and he's moved all his belongings into a storage unit in Orange County, Calif. Today, instead of jetting off to meetings and staying in upper-class hotels, Kennedy now finds himself shopping around for lodging that requires the fewest amount of points -- and offers free breakfasts.