When Life is Up in the Air

jim kennedyGeorge Clooney plays a corporate ax man in the recent film Up in the Air. His character jets around the country conducting layoffs for companies and racking up frequent flyer miles in the process. But what would happen if a business traveler extraordinaire found himself the victim of corporate downsizing?

Meet former corporate development manager Jim Kennedy. This 46-year-old California resident lost his job – and his six-figure salary – over a year and a half ago. Kennedy later went bankrupt and fell victim to foreclosure. He now lives out of hotels, paying for rooms with the 1 million-plus airline and hotel points he accumulated while employed.

Loyalty programs are commonly affiliated with airlines, hotels, and credit cards. They award points to members for the purchase of goods and services. Those points can then be redeemed for other goods and services, like airline tickets, restaurant meals and, fortunately for Kennedy, hotel stays.

Getting the most out of the system is easy for anyone willing to learn the ins and outs of reward programs. High-end hotels use up more points than low-end motels and facilities catering to business travelers. Extended stays can cut the per-night cost, as might a supplemental fee. And many rewards programs offer specials from time to time.

Some hotels offer an additional benefit – free breakfast. Kennedy limits his food spending to $5 per day to help stretch the $450 per week in unemployment insurance the state of California gives him. Continental breakfasts, with complimentary muffins and powdered eggs, help.

Using his loyalty points wisely is important, but finding a job is more important still. Kennedy tries to stay in hotels with business services, using their computers and Internet access to send out résumés. He figures he can maintain this lifestyle for another three months before the points run out.

Once grounded, he's not sure what he'll do.

Next: Meet The Guy Who's Really Up in the Air >>

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john mason

Wow. I never made 450 a week in my life and I've worked over 30 years. Some people just don't appreciate what they have.

March 15 2010 at 10:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Ah, America... what a country! We certainly take care of our own, don't we?

March 14 2010 at 1:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Thank you, Willow, for hitting the nail right on the head with your comment. I, with myself and my husband both being college educated, could say to those complaining about how this man is drawing the equivalent of $23,400/ year on unemployment and that you never made that amount of money that you didn't apply yourself in your education and/or your jobs, but I don't know anything about any of you. I do, however, know that we weren't living high on the hog before my husband was laid off a year ago and we weren't in debt, have no credit cards/car payments but we struggle to make ends meet each month for our basic bills, food and a nice honking health care bill each month for our health care insurance - almost as much as keeping a roof over our head each month- since I have multiple sclerosis on unemployment that is slightly higher than what Jim is drawing in California. Until you have walked a mile in someone else's shoes don't judge them. But for the grace of God...

March 14 2010 at 12:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hattie Crabtree

I used to live in the $$$ Huntington Beach area and don't miss it but miss my old friends.My old 3 bedroom how now would sell for $600,000,($700,000 )in a good economy.This Jim guy clearly didn't save and lived " high on the hog ".Too bad he didn't pay his house off.

March 13 2010 at 10:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A 6 figure salary and we should feel sorry for him. Why wasn't he saving for a rainy day. That's the trouble with people in today's society, it's charge and spend as they have to have everything now. With the average credit card debt at around $8000.00 for each family. It's no wonder this country is in trouble. His abuse of his salary and living a high life style is what got him into trouble, not the loss of his job.

March 13 2010 at 10:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to wayne's comment

So quick to judge, to blame...as if you know how he lived his life. Who are you to say if you made that kind of money you would be so frugal, saving every bit you could? Who are you to determine that/if he was in debt? Who are you to decide he was "abusing his salary and living a high life style"? Did you live with him?

Sounds to me like you are bitter. Since he's been unemployed for over a year and a half, perhaps he spent his savings to pay for his house and bills until that ran out. It doesn't say what his status is, perhaps he has children he has to pay for.

Don't be so quick to judge other people when you don't have all the facts.

What is really wrong with people in todays society is that they think they are important enough to judge someone else. Walk a mile in his shoes before you make your snide comments based on little or no information.

And thank God that you aren't in his situation, it could happen very easily. I wonder how you would feel if some inconsiderate nobody spoke about you the way you speak about this gentleman.

March 13 2010 at 11:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I hope you go "gutter broke" from a malpractice suit. These posts advertise your ignorance.

March 13 2010 at 9:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Pam Garcia

My heart goes out this guy, sounds like he is trying to get back into the workforce. One has to take into consideration the life style he was use to, and he lost everything, that would put most people over the edge, at least he is being conservitive. It sounds like a blessing that he had those points built up. I wish him the best. And I am sure he won`t be on unemployment very much longer (God Bless Him) And I mean`t add he has more then I do now, but thats ok, I have a job, and I am thankful for that. I have a roof over my head, food in my mouth and I feel blessed for that. Thank you Jesus

March 13 2010 at 9:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Seriously 450 a week is more than I ever made but I guess compared to what he was making... Anyway, come to colorado! I'll rent you a room for 300 a month!

March 13 2010 at 9:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

if i got 450 a week from the state i would not have to work ever,no wonder california is broke,what luck try feeding 3 kids and pay rent on 250 a week i make,come on calif get off your lazy ass.

March 13 2010 at 9:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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