Alaska Airlines surprises college student who flew to class three times a week so he could avoid paying rent

Photos courtesy of Bill. Check out that boarding pass sash, W O W!

It’s not every day you commute to class by plane, but that’s exactly what a University of California, Berkeley student did for an entire year to avoid paying rent in the Bay Area. 

Bill, the super-commuter, who asked for his full name not to be shared, said he flew on 238 flights—mostly with Alaska Airlines—spent a total of $5,592.66 (including parking and public transportation) compared to the estimated $20,000 he would’ve paid in rent. 

He says Alaska’s frequency and Mileage Plan made all the difference. 

“With the frequency and flexibility as well as same-day changes, that was the most valuable perk because I could switch to any flights if I wanted to stay longer and hang out with my friends,” said Bill.

“I had a lot of miles from previous mileage runs or credit card sign-up bonuses with Alaska,” he added. When I started planning this commute, I checked, and there were 850,000 miles in my account.” 

During his eight-month graduate program, Bill flew with our crew often and spent a great deal of time in our Lounges—so much so our Lounge team in San Francisco knows his go-to order is: “ginger beer.”

“They call me ‘Ginger Beer’ because every time I go, I just ask for ginger beer,” he laughed.

After catching up on homework in the lounge, he’d then take public transportation to downtown Berkeley and catch one more ride on a bus or the school shuttle to attend his 10:10 a.m. class. He’d take an evening flight home and land in LA about 12 hours later. He detailed his commute on a now-viral post: “I survived living in LA and commuting to Cal by plane over the past academic year to save on rent.” 

Congrats, Bill—you did it!

Bill earned a graduate degree in May from Cal’s Master of Engineering in Transportation and is now in the national spotlight for his impressive commute from LA to UC Berkeley. He’s been featured in USA TodayKTLA and said he’s lined up to do even more interviews in the coming days. 

We got the chance to catch up with Bill to surprise him with a graduation gift from all of us at Alaska to show our appreciation with a unique Flight Pass Pro Subscription service for one year, which will allow him to travel within California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah so he can always lock in the best deal for when he plans his next commute or adventure ✈️

When asked if he’d ever have the chance to do it again, he says he would. And, says he’d choose Alaska over any other airline because of our frequency and Lounges at LAX and SFO—and because we have flight attendants who really care about their customers.

When we found out about Cal student and Alaska super-commuter, Bill, we couldn’t wait to talk to him about his travels and surprise him with a graduation gift of our unique Flight Pass pro subscription for one-year, which will allow him to travel within California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah.

With his new degree and skillset, Bill says he’d love to be part of the Alaska family someday.

“I’m serious; I would like to work with Alaska if I get a chance,” he said.

And we’d love to have him join our team!

Thanks again for flying with us, Bill—see you in the skies soon.