Our FTU Signature Event Speakers each bring their own passion of travel to their sessions.
We invite you to learn more about each of our speakers, and how their expertise will advance your knowledge of travel, loyalty and rewards.
Live and Let’s Fly
Matthew is an avid traveler who calls Los Angeles and Frankfurt home. Last year he traveled more than 200,000 miles by air and has visited more than 100 countries over the last decade. Working both in the aviation industry and as a travel consultant, Matthew has been featured in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, BBC, Fox News, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, Al Jazeera, Toronto Star, and on NPR.
Studying international releations, American government, and later obtaining his law degree, Matthew has a plethora of knolwedge outside the travel industry that leads to a unique writing perspective. He has served in the United States Air Force, on Capitol Hill, and in the White House.
His Live and Let’s Fly blog shares the latest news in the airline industry, commentary on frequent flyer programs and promotions, and detailed reports of his worldwide travel. Matthew can be reached at [email protected].
Make Travel Hacking Great Again
Mike can trace his aviation geek and travel enthusiast roots to early childhood, when he’d travel cross country several times a summer on family vacations. Most of his travel is domestic, and he is not one to pass up a good flight deal. When Mike isn’t at the airport waiting for a flight, he can often be found at the spotters park at MSP, photographing the nonstop parade of Delta CRJs passing through.
Mike started a local meetup group in the Twin Cities metro with several dozen members who meet up monthly. He also runs a travel hacking slack open to anyone from total noobs to seasoned travelers redeeming millions of miles a year. Find him for more info on either, or get in contact with Mike at [email protected].
Freelance Travel Writer
Kyle is a freelance travel writer with contributions to Time, the Washington Post, MSNBC, Yahoo!, Reuters, Huffington Post, MapHappy, Travel Codex and many other media outlets. He is also cofounder of PenAndPassport.com. He focuses on using miles and points to provide a premium experience for his wife and daughter.
Lee Huffman is a former banker who now writes about early retirement, credit cards, travel, and other personal finance topics. He has been writing at BaldThoughts.com since 2012 and freelances for other websites like RewardExpert, ChooseFI, and Johnny Jet. Lee enjoys showing people how to travel more, spend less, and live better through the power of credit cards and travel rewards.
Lee recently moved to Nashville from Southern California so he could travel more with his kids. He launched the We Travel There podcast in September. On this weekly 30-minute podcast Lee interviews local experts from around the world to uncover the best things to do in their city.
Charles Hagedorn III
Seattle Travel Hacker
Charlie Hagadorn is a long time AvGeek and experienced points and miles nerd. He is based in Seattle, Washington, and his airline of choice is Alaska Airlines on which he maintains MVP Gold 75K status.
Joe Cortez covers travel rewards for NerdWallet. He has spent the last six years following aviation, travel insurance and travel rewards for several online journals — all while trying to save on his own vacation. When not on airplanes, Joe is often found on golf courses, in game stores, or poring over award charts to find deals.
Airline & Hotel Loyalty Consultant
As a publisher and global speaker on hotel & airline loyalty programs, David is focused on developing strategic solutions for loyalty programs, and is passionate about the critical link between loyalty strategy and the customer experience. Find out more at catchitloyalty.com.
Carly is a freelance travel writer that takes her daughter Lucy along on her journeys, stamping passports and making memories. She has contributed to Huffington Post, MapHappy, Travel Codex and PenandPassport.com. You can also find her over-sharing photos of Lucy on Instagram by following @LucyGoesTo and @AnotherBabyMaybe.
Credit Card and Travel Journalist
Jason Steele is a journalist who specializes in covering credit cards and award travel. Jason’s work is well known within the community of travel rewards enthusiasts as the Senior Points and Miles Contributor for The Points Guy and for his contribution to other outlets on the subjects of airline rewards and family travel. And as one of the nation’s leading experts in the credit card industry, Jason is frequently quoted in mainstream outlets, and his writing has been featured at Yahoo! Finance, MSN Money, and Business Insider.
Using his expertise in earning and spending points and miles, Jason and his family travel around the country and across the world, consuming tens of thousands of dollars worth of award travel each year. Finally, Jason’s writing on the subject of travel is further enhanced by the fact that he holds a commercial pilot’s license.
US Credit Card Guide
Xiang, known as physixfan in the hobby, is a physics PhD student in California. As the pay for a PhD student is low while the desire to fly back to the home country is high, he became a credit card enthusiast to fly for free. He built USCreditCardGuide.com to help people in a similar situation since 2014, and now it has become the go-to place to check the best credit card deals for many.
Yansong is the owner and creator of Cashback Monitor. He started Cashback Monitor as a side project, which eventually turned into a full-time job. Cashback Monitor’s growing popularity among frequent traveler communities inspired Yansong to become a travel enthusiast himself. Yansong developed unique features in Cashback Monitor solely for frequent travelers.
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