Biking and Eating for Airline Miles

One of the highlights of riding to Montauk last weekend was stopping at Tully’s Lobster in Hampton Bays for a lobster roll. Growing up in California, I am relatively inexperienced when it comes to lobster rolls, as it’s not as much a thing as it is out here, so I can’t tell you if it’s the best lobster roll in the Hamptons. All I know is that I like what I like, and I like the Tully’s roll a lot.

Tully's Lobster Roll

Another bonus to stopping there for lunch, aside from not having to fight hungry and tired cyclists for scraps at the depleted rest stop in Westhampton, was that I earned airline miles for eating there because the Backbay Grille, the restaurant operation at Tully’s, participates in the Rewards Network dining program. A few friends of mine are really into earning miles while we eat, and we each have stories about getting that surprise email informing you that you dined at a participating restaurant a few days.

That’s what happened to me. I had to have a conversation with myself to figure out where I earned these miles:

Where on earth is the Backbay Grille? Did I really eat there on Saturday?

But I rode to Montauk on Saturday….

Oh, right!

As a VIP member, I get five miles per dollar[1]. My twenty-dollar lobster roll, with tax and tip, earned me 118 airline miles, which puts me 1/169th of the way towards a domestic economy-to-business class upgrade. All I had to do was ride almost as many miles on my bike, 101.8 miles apparently, which makes riding for airline miles a pretty terrible deal.

And if that calculation is not bad enough, because I was cycling, I was primarily eating for energy. I don’t want to know how much I paid per calorie.

  1. In the halcyon days of the dot-com bubble, it used to be ten miles per dollar.  ↩

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