A Very Frequent Flyer

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The 15-minute flight between Vancouver, B.C., and Nanaimo (yes, it's where the dessert bar was invented) is one of the most beautiful anywhere but Marc Tacchi may have had enough of it by now. The cargo pilot has made the trip over the islands and bays of Georgia Strait more than 100 times in the last couple of weeks, but not in the left seat. He's been sitting in the back of the Dash 8 in his quest to accumulate a million frequent flyer points on Air Canada's Aeroplan. And he's exploiting a special deal offered by the airline and an anomaly in the points plan to accomplish his goal in less than two months. "I guarantee I'll do it. I can do it easily," he told the Canadian Press. Last month, Tacchi took Air Canada up on its offer of unlimited travel to 100 North American destinations for $3,500 a month. Although the trips to Nanaimo, and also to Victoria, both on Vancouver Island, are short, they earn him Aeroplan's minimum of 500 points. He makes the trip across the narrow strip of ocean separating the island from the mainland at least 10 times a day, up to five days a week. When those flights end in the evening, he hops a transcontinental flight and returns the next day to start over again, sleeping on the plane. In between, he manages to keep his job flying a Boeing 767 cargo jet to Europe once a week. "I fly one day a week overseas and come back. I'm gone 36 hours and that leaves me the whole rest of the week." The million points will qualify Tacchi for about $70,000 CAD worth of travel for the $7,000 spent (and endless bags of sesame snacks, an Air Canada staple, consumed). "I figure a million miles will basically cover my travel for the next three to four years," he said.