Explore ALL your options when booking Award flights. Pull up the route maps for airlines in your alliance and look for the obscure/unusual, and then check availability. Never trust a phone agent to help you find a creative award routing. Do the legwork if you want to find that dream trip, and be flexible.
I’ve called to book basic reward trips with availability easily found just to have the phone agent say they can’t see it. Then I read off flight numbers and they suddenly see it too.
However remember that any frequent flier points or rewards earned by most cards are wiped out when you use them for foreign currency or international transactions performed in US dollars with a non-US merchant due to the 2.7% Amex or 3% fee on many reward Visa or MasterCards. Non-US merchants include international airlines and points.com
If you get 1 point per dollar and a point is worth less than 3 cents you aren’t really helping yourself internationally. Do the math and determine which, if any, card is worth it for your earning. Maybe you are better off with a card with no forex for that trip.
Keep everything in one family: Hotel stays, credit card usage, car rentals, airlines. Always ‘take the points,’ never the gifts.
I can buy cookies and water on my expense account. I can’t, however, expense 1000 hilton points per stay so I go with points over cookies.
If you have miles that are about to expire, it’s usually pretty easy to extend them my purchasing something small (preferably something you would have purchased anyway) in the airline’s online mall.
My mom thinks I buy her flowers because I love her…
Don’t always choose the frequent flyer program of the airline you fly on. Check their alliance partners, another program may be better suited to your needs and wants.
Not all programs in an alliance are created equal. I fly US Airways a lot, but credit to United. Even though United has StarNet blocking they are still a better choice for me in terms of promotions and other options.
If you are a student or under age 26, use sites like student universe for cheap fares. Also if you are a college or graduate student, enroll in college plus and get 10,000 free United miles after you graduate!
Read the fine print. I think for a while some airlines (Northwest I believe) didn’t credit miles for student universe tickets.
Use car rentals (which often earn pitifully small miles bonuses) to reset the clock on expiration of miles accounts in which you lack activity. This works not only for mile accounts in your name, but for family members too: the rental companies report only the FF account number you give them, and not the renter’s name. I’ve used this many times without a hitch.
I’ll take your word for that.
Save your boarding passes. After your travel is finished, check your frequent flier account for the miles you traveled to show up. Once they do, you can toss the boarding passes.
Stay on top of it because no one else will!
Come to the Ann Arbor Art Fair DO this July 24 and 25th. You’ll get great tips. Details in CommunityBuzz forum on flyertalk.com.
Learn from the best
At least once in your life, go for a airline mileage run to get status. Go somewhere, just for the sake of going, someplace you’ve never been, wanted to see, just for a day.
A weekend isn’t really a weekend if you didn’t spend at least an hour in every time zone of the contiguous US
Do not sign up for the email communication when you sign up for the loyalty programs. And they will send email offer you miles/points for signing up.
Delta likes me to resubscribe all the time. Unsubscribe for a while, then they’ll invite you back and if you stay subscribed until X they’ll give you miles. Put that on outlook or your google calendar and unsubscribe.
Use RSS feeds and SMS alerts on your phone from favorite travel and deal websites to ensure you see the best points deals and promotions that you can take advantage of while you are traveling.
Everyone should RSS my blog
To help roll with the punches of limited availability for award tickets, keep in your mind a list of places you’d like to visit, and when those hard-to-find award seats to a place on your list pop up, book the trip and go. Picking a specific date and a specific destination and *then* looking for award tickets is a recipe for disappointment and frustration.
If only it could be easier. My tip to this is never to tell people you’re going somewhere until it’s booked. Don’t tell the whole world you’re saving up miles for a trip to Egypt if great availability to Thailand comes up at a good time.
When dining out with a group of friends and the bill comes on one ticket they always choose to pay cash. I take all their cash and then pay the entire bill – along with my portion of course – on my credit card simply to get the miles.
Which means don’t go out to dinner with Flyertalkers too often
Don’t be afraid to check costs of adding additional legs (and miles) to your flight! I wound up paying a lot less by adding 2 more stops to my cross country trip, gaining me segments and EQM!
Those miles do add up quickly!
When you have a lousy experience with an airline, CONTACT the airline immediately; often you will receive double miles or at least courtesy miles. And if you don’t, you’re not being descriptive enough!!
Even comments not requesting compensation may get compensation, but if that is your goal, clearly spell out what you think you deserve. There is a difference between “I thought your hotel was lousy!” and “I was disappointed with my stay at your hotel due to X. I would like compensation of my room rate or xxxxx points” Check Flyertalk for what is appropriate compensation for your situation.
At Christmastime, do all your shopping online for FF miles! I’ve racked up lots of points this way and have traveled to Europe and California using my FF miles.
Not just Christmas. Don’t forget any excuse to send flowers. FTD and other florists pretty much give away miles.
If you only travel a moderate amount, make every hotel stay one night and then switch hotels for the next night. This is the quickest way to elite levels at the hotel chains. The hotels always require less stays than nights to reach elite levels, so by switching hotels nightly; you can earn elite status with just 2-3 stays per month.
Also do this during promos like the Hilton one right now where x stays = a free night. Some chains make this easy by putting several hotels a block apart or even adjacent.
Try and sketch out your years travel at the start of the year. This lets you calculate your flight miles goal and predict when you’ll reach it. You can then estimate when you’re likely to reach your goal and look into other methods (hotels, car rentals etc) to speed things along.
That’s all for now folks! Thanks to everyone for the great tips.