My Mom called me and asked about booking a flight and then asked if she should call the airline. And this is when I knew that my advice might be helpful. Let's start with some simple areas for this first post.
- Always get the points. Always.
- You should choose a hotel chain and few airlines to fly.
- Earn cheaply and burn expensively.
Let's start with the first one. Everywhere you stay or airline you fly will have a rewards program. Take the points. Most of the airlines you will fly are part of an alliance, meaning you can earn your preferred miles no matter what carrier you fly. For example, say you have American miles. American is part of the OneWorld Alliance. You find a great flight to Australia on Qantas, who is also part of the OW Alliance. You can give your American Airlines Advantage number when booking your Qantas ticket, and your miles will automatically be deposited in your AA account.
Secondly, try and stick to a few chains or airlines. I understand that every once in awhile, you will find a fare that's way lower than others. In that case, take the fare, but get the points. However, a lot of times, you'll find that the flights are generally around the same amount. In that case, you should book with your preferred airline. Most people simply take the cheapest flight, even if the other airline is $12 more. This is the reason that you don't get meals in flight anymore, or that your knees are in the back of the seat in front of you. Spend the extra few bucks and get the miles, so you can sit in the front of the plane.
The purpose of getting the miles or points is twofold. First, to gain elite status, which all airlines and hotels have, and will usually get you upgrades to first as well as free checked bags, hotel suites, free internet and expedited security lanes at airports. This last one is really a huge perk, especially if you fly out of a busy airport. These miles can only be earned by flying. The second purpose of getting miles or hotel points is to spend them on flights or rooms. And to really go all out.
Never spend miles on a domestic flight. Please Jesus.
Unless that flight is for a funeral and is $700, then its okay, but if a flight to Detroit is 50,000 miles in coach and a flight to Amsterdam is 100,000 in first, then make the smart move and save for the great flights. This is where credit cards come in handy. We'll cover that later.
I'm trying this out. Feel free to leave comments or questions. Next we'll look at how to find a flight or hotel.