Frequent Flyer Tips from the Pros

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Anyone that’s ever traveled on an airplane knows what a stressful and uncomfortable experience it can be – from waiting in long lines at the airport to being squashed into a seat in economy class.

On this page we’ll discuss airport lounges (and how to get in them), getting ‘elite status’ and buying/spending Air Miles (aka frequent flyer points), as all of these things can help to make traveling a more comfortable and enjoyable experience.

1. How to Get Into an Airport Lounge when Flying Economy Class
One great way to make your time at an airport a lot more comfortable is to go to the airport lounge while you’re waiting for your flight.

The problem is that these luxury lounges are usually reserved for business class passengers, meaning that most people never experience the benefits of them.

What most people don’t know is that if you’re flying internationally (even if you’re flying in economy class) you are allowed to access a large majority of these lounges.

For more information on airline lounges and how they work, check out this article.

Frequent flyer miles

2. How to Get Elite Status
Getting elite status offers you a whole new series of benefits when flying (such as free flight upgrades and priority check-in).

So how do you get elite status?

The ‘easiest’ way to get elite status is to fly one million miles with one airline.

This might sound like a lot (and it is), but the benefits are amazing. Something that most people don’t realise is that once you get elite status with one airline, it is possible (and fairly easy) to get other airlines to give you automatic elite status (in an attempt to get you to fly with them).

But isn’t there any easier (and faster) way to get elite status?

Star Alliance (and their 27 airline members) offer their members ‘gold elite status’ for flying a lot less than one million miles.

For more details, check out this article.

3. When You Should Buy Airmiles
Some airlines will occasionally offer you the opportunity to buy frequent flyer points, and there are times when doing so can actually save you a lot of money (e.g. allowing you to fly business class for less than a quarter of the usual price).

The problem is that these offers aren’t always favourable, so how do you know when you should buy airmiles and when you should steer clear?

Ever seen those promotions about buying frequent flyer miles and wondered if it was worth it? Well there are some promotions (often with US Airways) where buying miles can save you big bucks and help you to fly business class overseas for as little as $1,000, a bargain since most business class fares cost $4,000-$7,000. Read about exactly when you should buy miles and when you should steer clear here.

Ramsey Qubein of Airfarewatchdog.com has this to say:

“Typically, it is advised to value each mile at two cents when redeeming them for award travel.”

Obviously this will change with inflation, but it’s a good starting point. Ramsey also offers this advice:

“Buying miles to spend on mileage tickets that are not the traditional “saver” priced awards is a major no-no.”

4. How to Cash in Your Airmiles when you’re told a Flight is Full
It seems that as the popularity of frequent flyer miles grows, airlines are intent of making it harder for you to use them (especially if you’re looking to fly at popular route).

Tim Winship from Frequentflier.com has this to say about booking airline seats even when the airline’s website tells you there aren’t any available:

“The airlines have done a masterful job of training travelers to make their bookings online. And for paid tickets, that works fine. But when redeeming frequent flyer miles for free tickets, the airlines’ booking applications often show no award seats available for your chosen route on your preferred dates of travel. At that point, many would-be travelers just give up and opt to either buy a ticket or stay home.”

This is an all too familiar case for many travelers. Tim continues:

“The alternative: Pick up the phone and call the airline’s reservations center. A reservations agent can often successfully book an award trip that couldn’t be booked on the carrier’s website, using alternative routings or a mix of airlines to circumvent capacity bottlenecks. Or they can sometimes exercise their authority to bypass capacity restrictions that limit award availability. Res agents have the expertise and tools to do what you cannot do.”

One thing to remember, however, is that when you book over the phone (as opposed to online) you will probably have to pay a service charge (usually around $20 extra), so keep this in mind.


Related posts:

  1. A Beginner’s Guide to Picking Up Airmiles (a.k.a. Frequent Flyer Points)
  2. The Best Ways of Getting Around – Transport Tips




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