Frequent Flyer: Traveling with Chad Kerley

Battling in-flight boredom? Try writing rap lyrics to kill time, like this San Diego BMX rider does.
BMX rider Chad Kerley does a barspin to manual on a stair ledge
Chad Kerley Frequent Flyer © Joey Cobbs/Red Bull
By Joey Cobbs

Chad Kerley has been on the leading edge of progression in BMX since turning pro a few short years ago. Whether he's cutting in and out of back alleys in Barcelona while filming the most technical clips imaginable or dropping in for one of the largest contests of the year, Chad is always on point and always doing it with a smile.

Thanks to his insane talent and upbeat, genuine attitude, people just can't get enough of him. He’s been invited to travel the world for filming trips, contests, or just to jam with locals, and with all that traveling comes an insane amount of downtime in airplanes, airports, cars and subways. We caught up with Chad to ask about his experiences flying across the globe and how he deals with all the hours actually getting there.

Red Bull Bike: What’s your local airport?

Chad Kerley: San Diego International Airport.

Total number of frequent flyer miles you have:

Currently on my United app I have 147,462. Last year I had around 230,000 miles.

Have you ever cashed any in for anything?

Yeah, I used them to go on a sick vacation to Cabo last year.

Portrait of BMX rider Chad Kerley
Chad Kerley © Joey Cobbs/Red Bull

What countries have you flown to?

Countries that I actually went to and stayed in would be Brazil, Argentina, China, Japan, Taiwan, Estonia, Finland, The Netherlands, England and Spain.

Have you brought any souvenirs back from any of those countries?

Yeah, just the usual little gift accessories.

What’s your favorite place you’ve flown to so far?

Barcelona for sure. The spots and the weather are so good.

Simone pulled out the new Subrosa video and we got caught up watching the whole thing while our flight boarded and left.

What’s a place you still want to go?

I've heard way too many good things about Australia, I gotta get out there. I'm trying to chill on a dope beach for sure!

Do you have a favorite airport?

Not really, but the San Diego airport gets nicer every time I go. I also like it because I’m really stoked to be there when I’m going on a trip, and I’m really stoked to be back after a long trip.

Have you ever flown first class?

Yeah, it was dope! More room, better treatment, and they hook it up with food!

BMX rider Chad Kerley does a nose manual to barspin on a stair ledge
Chad Kerley, nose manual up to barspin out © Joey Cobbs/Red Bull

Do you prefer aisle or window?

Window, so I have something to lean on.

Peanuts or pretzels?


How do you kill time on the plane?

Listen to music, try to sleep, watch movies, and sometimes I like writing raps. I’ll just play an instrumental and type some stuff down on my phone in my notes.

Do you do anything different to kill time on long layovers?

I might walk around the airport and check stuff out, or spend some time in the food court.

Is there anything (besides I.D./passport) you always make sure you have with you when you fly?

Phone, wallet, headphones, laptop, sweater, chargers, and I try to get sleeping pills for longer flights.

If you had to give one piece of travel advice, what would it be?

Apply for the frequent flyer miles, they add up quick!

Has anything scary, funny, or weird happened on any of your flights?

One time we were flying into SD and got sketchy so the plane took back off without touching the landing to circle around for a rebate. And one time a skater on the back of the plane was smoking one of those electronic cigs and got yelled at by a flight attendant.

Have you ever missed a flight?

Yeah, my first time missing a flight was on a Nike trip going to Baton Rouge (watch the video above). Dennis [Enarson], Garrett [Reynolds], Simone [Barraco] and I were waiting for a connecting flight, and Simone pulled out the new Subrosa video and we got caught up watching the whole thing while our flight boarded and left.

What would make flying better or easier for you?

First class on every flight! Especially international flights.

Follow Chad and Red Bull Bike on Twitter for more.

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