Darren Booth—author of the popular "Frequently Flying" blog, who began his life-long passion for travel as an airline intern before becoming an expert in elite travel—has died. Booth, a former CNBC.com blogger, was 41.
"Darren was ill for many years," his mother, Sharon, said in an email to CNBC on Wednesday. He "did experience some periods of remission, but he is now at peace and free from pain."
Booth died Saturday, according to a blog post authored by his parents, Sharon and Larry Booth. No cause of death was given. "We are so saddened and grief-stricken," they wrote on "Frequently Flying."
"He felt so honored to be part of the blogging 'family,'" they wrote in the post, and offered thanks to readers, pro and con. "Flight and travel were his absolute passion."
You had me at jumpseat
Booth was born in Skokie, Ill., and grew up in suburban Chicago near O'Hare airport. He pursued his love for flight and travel right out of college. He graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, based in Daytona Beach, Fla., in 1994 with a bachelor's degree in Aviation Business Administration and Airline Management, according to his resume.
Also during the early '90s, Booth landed one of his first travel jobs, at the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. He maintained operations databases, monitored air traffic control operations and performed field inspections.
Booth also was a flight dispatch intern for United Airlines in 1993. He tracked and reported flight performance and was allowed to fly jumpseat on United flights.
In the late '90s, he worked in various roles for Newton Square, Pa.-based Apple Vacations, which offers travel packages. While managing operations and rolling out new products for the online travel portal, Booth learned first-hand about navigating travel's dizzying array of choices—expertise he would later share as a travel blogger.
Transition to writing
In late 2010, Booth launched his well-read "Frequently Flying" blog, an extension of his passions for flight and travel, Sharon Booth said.
Darren Booth was inspired by other travel writers. As he detailed on his "Frequently Flying" blog, "I would be remiss if I didn't mention my inspirations for starting this site: Mark Ashley at Upgrade: Travel Better, Matthew Klint at Live & Let's Fly, Ben Schlappig at One Mile At ATime and everyone at FlyerTalk."
The blog offered tips and analyses on airlines, hotel and travel industry news and reviews. Booth attended key travel industry events on how to accumulate and maximize frequent-flier points.
Booth extended his audience through his @FrequentlyFlyin Twitter handle, which amassed more than 4,500 followers. He actively Tweeted and engaged with his audience, sharing his inside tips.
Travel in coach? Never!
On a personal note, I had the opportunity to work with Darren as his news editor when he joined CNBC.com in early 2012 with the launch of CNBC's "Road Warrior" blog.
His passion and detailed knowledge of the industry were apparent immediately. He patiently educated me and our audience on how to best manage mileage programs. For example, he wrote about mileage runs, which are used to qualify for coveted elite frequent-flier status on carriers. He flew more than 100,000 miles a year, "just for the fun of it," according to his website.
Booth's motto was: Travel in coach? Never!
He dove into his new CNBC.com blogger role with relish. It was fun collaborating as he navigated industry officials for on-the-record comment. I envisioned him placing an imaginary black hat, with an old-fashioned "press" card tucked inside the crease, on his head.
But my favorite memory of Darren by far was his particular enthusiasm for airline amenity kits for elite fliers. He was an avid collector and enthusiastically shared photos of the kits, detailing the merits and inventory of each one.
His blog specifically featured amenity kit reviews—complete with a 7-point scale scoring system. "1.00 is 'awful' and a top score of 7.00 is 'exceptional,' " he wrote. From "soft" earplugs to a "high quality, full size" toothbrush, no detail went unnoticed.
His last tweets, a day before his death, were about amenity kits.
Booth also documented vintage airline seat maps. "I'm very much a nostalgic #avgeek," he proclaimed.
"We take comfort in knowing that his final trip at the end of November into December was to his beloved Australia," Booth parents' said in the blog post. "And so we wish our dear son much 'love and light' on his final 'flight.' "
—By CNBC's Heesun Wee. Follow her on Twitter @heesunwee.