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UC Berkeley grad commuted by plane to not pay Bay Area rents

Bill, who declined to reveal his last name, began working as a transportation planner after getting his undergraduate degree. As a planner, his job is to make the transportation system better for all of us.

He probably never thought his degree would help him plan his own life.

Last year UC Berkeley accepted him into its one-year master’s program in engineering, but the thought of paying an average of $3300 per month for rent in Berkeley did not appeal to him.

“So last year I had this crazy idea of living in LA and commuting to school by plane just to avoid expensive rent around campus (and Bay Area in general),” he shared on Reddit.

KTLA is the first media outlet to document his journey.

One year later, he has survived 238 flights to be at school every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and an occasional Tuesday or Thursday for meetings.

He documented his journey on Flyer Talk. In all, he says he spent 1283.90 hours flying back and forth from LA to Berkeley. That includes time on the freeway to get to the airport and time on public transportation to get from the San Francisco International Airport to Berkeley.

“This is probably one of the craziest things I’ve done, and I’m glad I planned it out, executed it, and never gave up. As a 26yr old, my body still allows me to do something crazy like this,” he said on Flyer Talk.

Bill flies so much he managed to snap this photo of himself in the cockpit of a plane
Photo from Bill

He said he spent $6189.76 on all his flights. That’s a tremendous saving over the $3300 monthly rent he would have had to pay or even half that if he found a roommate.

The total cost does not include the points he used for being a frequent flyer on both Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines.

“I booked all my tickets for Fall 2022 back in April and May 2022. Then I booked all my tickets for Spring 2023 back in Nov 2022. Most tickets were booked using Alaska miles or Southwest points, and I rebook them during sales to further cut down the cost,” he said.

He also said being a frequent flyer gave him lots of perks like same day flight changes without penalty, giving him added flexibility.

“It’s crazy, isn’t it? But if you ask me is it worth it? The answer is definitely YES. My friends told me the biggest difference between them and me is they will think about some crazy stuff and that’s about it, but I will actually do it.”

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