OK, gang, here are the other half of my tips for maximizing your frequent flyer benefits for 2013. Make the most of as many of them as you can. Some people seem to spend their every waking moment working on the best FF deal they can find. I presume most of my readers are not in that category, so use the tips that you have the time for. And above all, have fun doing it!
6. Fly as much as you can in the first quarter of the year. After the holidays and before spring, everyone tends to hunker down. This is the least traveled period of the year. Fares are cheapest from about the second week of January to the start of Spring Break in March. Mileage runs are easiest during this period, plus it is a great time to go get some winter sun by turning your mileage run into a weekend vacation. Look for flights that are 4 cents per mile or lower. That is the holy grail of the FF mileage run. This will be very hard to find during the summer or holiday travel periods.
7. Subscribe to http://theflightdeal.com. I really like this service that daily sends you lists of flights that price out at 6 cents per mile or less. These can give you great tips for a mileage run or a quick vacation. Just remember to pull the trigger quick as the deals can disappear very quickly. Even if you cannot take advantage of a specific deal, they may make you aware of a fun run to try at another time. Then you can keep an eye on that route through checking www.ITA.com or your own airlines website.
8. Get the Veterans Advantage Card if you fly United. If you spend more than $1200 on UA in a year (and qualify), get this card. The 5% savings on any UA fare can’t be beat. The card has a whole bunch of other discounts and savings which are useful, but the UA discount alone is reason enough to sign up for the card. It beats any CC discount/ rebate out there.
9. Read everything you can. Read all the Boarding Area blogs that interest you. Visit Milepoint and Flyertalk forums and lurk on the boards that pertain to your airlines/ hotel chains. Don’t be afraid to post your own questions or ideas (Milepoint is more tolerant of beginners than FT). Keep an eye on the Mileage Run boards to jump on a cheap fare, just make sure you pull the trigger quickly as they disappear fast. For those beginner FF, I strongly suggest the legendary Randy Peterson’s book The Official Frequent Flyer Guidebook which you give you all the basics on FF. Plus, this gives you something to read on your flight!
10. Socialize. I can’t stress this last tip enough. Attend a DO or just make a FF buddy (yes, this can include your spouse like I have done). The exchange of ideas with a like-minded (and possibly more experienced) FF enthusiast is not only educational, but a lot of fun. Even if you just exchange war stories of great flights or exotic places you visited, you will learn and have a great time. You will find that these discussions inspire you to copy great trips others have taken or take advantage of credit card deals that you were not aware of. There are so many aspects to this hobby and an ever changing array of details since airlines and credit card companies offer something new on a daily basis. I have made a lot of great friends in this hobby and look forward to making many more.