As I write this, it has been precisely one 12 months to the day since I began right here at Thrifty Traveler. I’ve coated Southwest’s historic meltdown, issues getting passports, and all the information and tips vacationers must journey extra for much less.
However whereas serving to vacationers over this previous 12 months, I’ve modified how I journey, too.
I’ve put what I’ve discovered from my Thrifty Traveler colleagues into motion, touring extra – for a lot much less – than ever earlier than in 2023. I’ve booked flights on airways I would by no means even heard of, used new tricks to save on airfare, discovered methods to get way more worth out of my bank card factors and airline miles, and flew enterprise class for the primary time … however not at enterprise class costs.
As I sit right here, prepared to show the calendar to 2024, I’ve bought one other nice 12 months of journey already ironed out for subsequent 12 months. Listed below are 4 issues you’ll be able to be taught from me to do the identical.
Transferring My Factors to Save on Flights
I used to be no stranger to utilizing factors and miles. For years, I would been racking up factors and miles from my on a regular basis spending on my *chase sapphire most popular* and *enterprise x* and redeeming them for flights by their respective journey portals. It is indisputably the best method to fly totally free (or practically free).
This 12 months, although, I have never used my financial institution’s journey portal as soon as. As an alternative, I have been reserving my flights for fewer factors by profiting from the banks’ airline switch companions, sending these factors to airline packages to guide flights for even much less.
In March, I am taking a weekend journey to Chicago … however Delta was charging greater than $400 or 39,000 SkyMiles for a roundtrip flight from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Chicago-O’Hare (ORD). Appears excessive, proper? Particularly for a two-day journey. I knew I might do higher.
Earlier than forking over any SkyMiles (or money), now I at all times test to see if I can get a greater deal reserving my Delta flights by Virgin Atlantic as a substitute. As a result of whereas I am unable to switch my Chase or Capital One factors to Delta, I can ship each straight to Virgin Atlantic.
Even after a current award fee hike, I might nonetheless guide these Delta flights for simply 15,000 Virgin Atlantic factors roundtrip. That is lower than half of what Delta was charging!
I simply transferred 15,000 Capital One Enterprise Miles to Virgin Atlantic and booked these flights.
Whereas the flights I would like may not at all times be accessible to guide by an airline companion, it is at all times price at the very least checking to see if I can save myself some factors and miles.
Learn extra: Flights Caught at Excessive Costs? Observe These Steps to Save
Reserving (& Rebooking) Enterprise Class Flights for Fewer Factors
Previous to this 12 months, I (like most individuals, in all probability) had by no means flown worldwide enterprise class. Subsequent 12 months, I have already got a number of enterprise class flights on the books – all booked with factors and miles.
I used to be targeted on saving up my hard-earned factors and miles to take extra journeys – I did not care about flying within the entrance of the airplane. And I nonetheless do not … for probably the most half. However over the past 12 months, I’ve discovered it is doable to make use of fewer factors reserving enterprise class seats than financial system. Now there is a sentence I by no means thought I’d write.
If you have not already heard, I am planning a visit to see Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour in Europe subsequent summer time. Flights are normally fairly dear throughout that point only for financial system, so I used to be on excessive alert for enterprise class award offers that line up with my journey dates. First, I noticed this:
These Aer Lingus enterprise class seats to Dublin (DUB) have been 60,000 Avios every approach in the course of the peak summer time season. Due to a killer 30% switch bonus from Chase to Aer Lingus on the time, I solely wanted to switch 93,000 Final Rewards factors to guide these one-way flights for myself and my fiancé. It was a simple alternative: We’d be beginning our Euro-trip flying lie-flat to the Emerald Isle.
We have been booked, however I used to be nonetheless preserving my choices open in case a good higher deal got here round. That is as a result of I discovered one other precious lesson this 12 months: reserving flights with factors and miles affords much more flexibility than reserving with money. Many airways can help you simply change an award flight, and even cancel it utterly and get all of your factors and miles again.
So when this Thrifty Journey Premium flight deal hit my inbox, alarm bells went off.
Simply final month, Qatar Airways added the power to guide JetBlue flights utilizing its Avios mileage program. And for a short window, you can use it to guide flights to Dublin (DUB) in JetBlue Mint Suites for as little as 30,000 factors every approach!
After a fast name telephone name to Aer Lingus to cancel my current flights, I had all these Aer Lingus Avios again in my account. However as a result of Aer Lingus and Qatar are each a part of the Avios mileage program, you’ll be able to switch factors from one airline to the opposite. It took just a few additional steps, however I used to be in a position to switch these Avios over to British Airways, then once more to Qatar.
Flying throughout the ocean in JetBlue’s improbable enterprise class … for simply 38,750 factors every? It does not get higher – or cheaper – than that. And since I acted quick, I booked them earlier than these charges doubled!
A 12 months in the past, that sort of factors and miles redemption appeared far too difficult to tug off – and possibly it nonetheless would have been if I needed to discover the award availability by myself.
However armed with a mixture of Thrifty Traveler Premium alerts, helpful guides from my colleagues, and my newfound data of airline switch companions, I had our new, cheaper flights booked in lower than half-hour – and greater than 42,000 miles to place towards the subsequent journey.
Letting the Flight Deal Decide My Journey
For years, my journey planning course of regarded like many vacationers’: Select a vacation spot, journey dates, then seek for and guide flights. Whether or not I knew it or not, that nearly at all times locked me into overpaying for flights.
However 2023 was completely different. It took me on certainly one of my favourite journeys – a spot that wasn’t initially in my journey plans – as a result of I adopted the Flight First Rule.
Here is the way it works: Guide a budget flight first, then put the opposite items in place. Being versatile with my journey dates and ready for a flight deal to return to me saved me a ton on airfare this 12 months – one of many largest prices of journey.
When this Thrifty Traveler Premium deal popped up in my inbox in Might, I instantly despatched it to my pal with the message “Ought to we…?” The 2 of us had studied in Santiago, Chile in school, however I hadn’t thought-about going again there any time quickly.
However this flight deal compelled my hand. Lengthy-haul flights to Chile sometimes value nicely over $1,000, however with this deal, I might get right down to South America for practically half the value. After utilizing Google Flights to zero in on the most affordable dates, we rapidly had a weeklong journey on the books for mid-November.
To high it off, American provided me the choice to improve from my center financial system seat at the back of the airplane to enterprise class on the best way residence … for simply $300. It was a no brainer: I took the cash I saved on the unique flights and purchased myself a lie-flat seat on the 10-hour, in a single day flight again to the states.
Paying Extra for Most important Cabin Fares … to Save Extra!
Whereas I virtually at all times keep away from funds airways (as a Minneapolis-based traveler, I am a loyal Delta girlie), I’ve at all times been tempted by the most affordable fundamental financial system fares. Who cares if I am unable to decide my seat or change my flight totally free?
Effectively, now I do. Here is why: If costs ultimately drop in your flight, you’ll be able to rebook and pocket an airline credit score for the distinction. That is not an possibility with fundamental financial system fares, at the very least not with out forfeiting $99 or extra of what you paid. With a fundamental cabin fare, that flexibility is free.
For a visit to Portland this previous summer time, I booked a nonstop, roundtrip Delta flight…for $628. It was painful, however I did not have a lot of a alternative since I used to be flying there for a race and my dates have been set in stone. However I paid a bit extra to guide a fundamental cabin ticket – and set a Google Flights value alert to maintain monitoring my flights in case costs dropped.
Lo and behold, just a few weeks later, I bought this e mail alert.
Since I had booked a fundamental cabin fare, I rapidly canceled my unique flight, bought a Delta eCredit, used that eCredit to rebook my flight on the decrease fare, and pocketed the distinction. Whereas I did not get my a reimbursement, per se, I did get a credit score for the distinction that I can use for one more journey down the road – saving myself somewhat cash on future journey.
Typically it is sensible to guide a fundamental financial system fare. However now, I virtually at all times guide at the very least a fundamental cabin flight.
Learn extra: Flights Caught at Excessive Costs? Observe These Steps to Save
From studying methods to switch my bank card factors to airline companions to reserving flights for much less to flipping my course of for planning journeys, I’ve modified the best way I journey since I began at Thrifty Traveler one 12 months in the past.
And due to the following pointers and tips, I’ve already bought greater journey plans for 2024.