Flying for cheap or for free will require a little research and education. Inform yourself about the best deals out there and how to accumulate flight miles that could result in a free or discounted trip will be worth it. There are sites out there like the “Points Guy” or “FlyerTalk” that devote time and information on how to score free points. Anyone can become an expert at accumulating airline points; you just have to know what to do and where to look. Having access to the internet is mandatory. Here, you can begin your research, look at a few sited to see how other people are accumulating points, and to check the best airline fares to book. Let’s begin!
Start the Search
First, a little research on several different travel sites will be the beginning step. Sites like Priceline, Expedia, Travelocity, and Kayak all have search menus where you can entire your search criteria, time frame, preferred airline, and more. When searching for flights or scheduling a trip, try to be flexible with your dates. This allows you to avoid flying during peak times which cost a lot more. Where are you flying to? Check the airport you are arriving at for your final destination and see what airlines fly into that airport. Smaller carriers might be available that are less expensive. Are you unsure about researching? Consider using a travel agent. Their job is to find what you want for the best deals, and they are good at their jobs, especially if you’re flying internationally.
Collect Flyer Miles
Once you know how to search and are comfortable with seeing and acquiring several different travel options for your trip, it is time to figure out how to gain those frequent flier miles. One way to get flyer miles is to pick an airline you love and use them continually, even if other airline rates come in lower. If the airline has a rewards card get it. Delta Airlines, for example, have a Delta SkyMiles card with American Express. IF you choose Delta as your carrier of choice, apply for the card. Signing up will automatically get you lots of free bonus miles, and using the card gets you free checked bags as well as double miles on airfare that you book. If you do not want to use one single airline to earn miles, that is ok. Instead of using an airline credit card, try the generic travel rewards cards instead. Cards like the Chase Sapphire card or Capital One Venture card have travel perks when you use the card. Watch for travel rewards cards or research what may be the best for you, a particular airline travel card or a general travel rewards card to help you earn those miles that can result in free flight.
Earn A Free Flight
You can fly for free! Earning your first free flight may be easier than you think. If you have a good credit score and minimal debt you are in luck. If you have too many credit cards, this option may not be for you. Opening a new credit card when you have massive amounts of credit debt will only hurt your chances of scoring a free flight. Start with an airline credit card that is offering a sign-up bonus. Often the sign-up bonus is thousands of points which will put you well on your way to getting a free flight. If you do not want to open a new card, sign up for airline’s miles programs. (You can do this for hotels too!) Make sure to enter your member number anytime you book flights so you can get the miles added to your account. Companies such as American Airlines, Delta, Southwest Airlines, United, and JetBlue all have rewards programs to sign up for.
The generic rewards cards can earn you point even if you don’t travel. Using your travel rewards card on everyday purchases earn you miles or points with the specified airline. Large purchases or purchases by a particular date also help rack up the miles. Use caution and make sure you can pay the balances each month. For example paying for tuition, daycare, or a mortgage payment can help earn lots of points or miles, then just apply the payment to your credit card. This is an easy way to acquire thousands of miles a year with little to no effort. Instead of sending your payment directly to the business, you are charging it to your travel rewards card and then sending the payment to your card instead.
Upgrades Can Happen
Upgrades from Economy seating to first class can happen, especially if you’ve been a loyal member to one airline (or several depending on how many miles you have with them.) People that pay upfront for a first class ticket are actually few and far between. What happens is, is as the flight fills up, passengers are chosen to give these first-class seating upgrades to. If you have a lot of miles or rewards with the airline and appear in one of the top tiers of the tier system, the upgrade will most likely be offered to you. For example, Delta has a tier system that determines what status all the passengers that fly with them are in. Passengers who travel the most with that airline have reached a certain status like “silver” or “gold” member will be the first pick for the upgrade. The tears trickle down from who flies the most or has elite status with an airline to how much was paid for a ticket, to weather delays and how long a passenger may have been waiting and stranded and so forth.
Sometimes airlines overbook flights and often make announcements with incentives if any passengers would be willing to give up their seats and take a later flight. Sometimes this can include hotel compensation, flying vouchers that can equal large amounts towards your next airfare, and much more. If you’re flying out and have some time on your hands, consider this possibility. Book an early flight to depart, and if the scenario were to arise that puts you in the position to take the later flight you can do so, and earn free flights, vouchers, or other offered compensations for your trouble. This is yet another option to help fly for cheap, or free in some cases.