How to Plan a Successful Itinerary to Europe

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I've covered the basics of how to save money on flights to Europe, so now we get into more advanced territory. In this article, I talk how to pick flights that aren't just cheaper but also more convenient, enjoyable, and less likely to face travel disruptions due to weather and other issues. Previous Installments:  Coach Getting Too Pricey? Check out Business Class to Europe Pick the … [Read more...]

How I Got an Upgrade by Paying $3 More

ExpertFlyer Upgrades

It's easier than you might think to improve your upgrade chances for a small additional cost. But you have to be paying attention. Book the wrong fare and you can see your chances greatly diminish. That's one reason I wrote my introductory series on ExpertFlyer. Introduction to ExpertFlyer: Fare Rules and Prices Introduction to ExpertFlyer: Finding Availability and Constructing … [Read more...]

When Delays Strike, Keep Moving or Die

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Last weekend saw some awful weather in Dallas. I was on trip to visit family in Abilene, TX, and it was probably the worst position to be in. A large thunderstorm sat between these two cities for a few days without moving. Although we made it there alright and Abilene wasn't much affected, the regional jet flew just 20 miles south, treating us to an awesome view of continuous lighting strikes. The … [Read more...]

ITA Matrix Isn’t Dead Yet! You’re Just Using It Wrong

ITA Matrix search prompt

Last week The Points Guy criticized ITA Matrix as a useless tool for finding airfare. I have a bit of a reputation to stake on ITA as it continues to be the biggest driver of new search traffic to this blog. I want to believe it has a few years left before it gives up the ghost, and a recent update to version 3 hopefully suggests that all is not yet lost. But I won't deny that it has had … [Read more...]

Save Miles with Short-Haul Awards on Four Major Airlines

Alaska intra-state awards

Yesterday I discussed the importance of utility: What can you do with your frequent flyer miles? In addition to flexible routing rules and one-way awards, another useful feature of some loyalty programs is discounted award prices for shorter routes. This isn't as obvious as it seems. Paid fares are always priced in response to supply and demand, not operating costs. There is no real reason why … [Read more...]

Discounted Miles from the Two Most Useful Loyalty Programs

United bonus miles

Lots of people will tell you that currency with such and such loyalty program are worth a certain amount. Maybe 2.5 cents for SPG's Starpoints, or 1.5 cents for British Airways' Avios. But value is about more than just "cents per mile." Utility. That's what I consider most important. What can you actually do with those miles? My dad was frustrated because he couldn't find any British … [Read more...]

Award Maps for 13 Frequent Flyer Programs

United

Most airline frequent flyer program redemptions are region-based, so you pick your origin and destination and look at an award chart to determine how many miles the ticket should cost. But there are often times when this involves a lot of back and forth. Which program should you use? What region is Dushanbe in? What’s Asia 1 vs. Asia 2? Agents sometimes don’t have a good understanding of … [Read more...]