Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Secrets of FREE and Cheap Flights

The sites
When you search sites like Expedia, Travelocity and Webjet, you do not always get the cheapest flights. I have a lot of people ask me how I manage to get around so much. Well it's a combination of cheap tickets and FREE flights. Yes I flew 3 free flights last year, (Vancouver to Puerto Vallarta - First Class United; Cancun to Vancouver - Economy United and Munich to Vancouver - Economy United). I will get into the free flights a little later.

Through my travels I have discovered a few tricks to enable me to travel to all corners of the earth and sometimes staying in 5 star hotels for next to nothing. As well as using all those common sites, there are 2 main database I use. WHICHBUDGET has a really easy to use interface, simply type in the city you want to leave from and the city or country you want to go to. In many instances when I am travelling/backpacking I do not really care which city I fly into as long as it's thereabouts in the region. This is fantastic way to save money. ATTITUDE TRAVEL has a list of many discount airlines not included in your expedia searches. 

Discount airline pitfalls
Pay attention when booking with discount airlines, Ryanair is by far the cheapest airline offering flights like London to Hamburg for 10€ but the airports are further away. Ryanair's London departure is Stansted, a 46 minute and 23€ train journey from London. Hamburg Lubeck, the arrival airport is a 65 minute 10€ bus ride from Hamburg, Ryanair also charge 15 to check a 15kg bag. Just a word of warning, all up, your 10€ flight could set you back 58, do the research before you book. It may suite some but not others.

Free flights
To get free flights it's as simple as ABC. 
a) Sign up for a Frequent Flyer program, preferably this will be linked to your credit card. 
b) Make sure you claim EVERYTHING you purchase related to the Frequent Flyer program, this includes rental cars, hotels and shopping. 
c) When booking your flights especially long haul ones it may be advantageous to purchase the flight that is more expensive but one that belongs to your Frequent Flyer program. A $150 more on a $1500 may sound a lot, but when you may get a free flight out of it, it's pennies.

An example is when you purchase your flight on a say an American Express card on a $1500 flight, you will get 2250 points/miles (many Amex cards now offer 1.5 miles for spend). You then take your flight, which for $1500 would probably give you 15,000 to 20,000 points/miles. During your stay you rest your weary head at a couple of nice hotels, ie Hilton, Marriott and rack up another 2,000 points/miles. At this point you've probably got a return ticket from Melbourne to Sydney or a one way ticket to Thailand. 

Follow these disciplines and you are well on your way to getting some free flights. Well it's never completely free, you always have to pay for taxes, fees and admin charges.

Feel free to comment and add your travel tips.

On my next post I will go into details about getting cheap accommodation. 


cheap flight to bali said...

Really amazing. Maybe nobody knows that "free flights" exist. Nice article. Good job!

Keen Poon said...

Just little tricks to get them easier...they are there for the taking, people have to be smart about and take it!

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I agree with the post. The technology to do something like this is almost science fiction. Please tell me this is a bad dream and it'll go once I wake up again.

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