Tag Archives: Free First Class Next Month

Free First Class 2014: You Can Earn Miles Doing Anything

This is the ninth post in a monthlong series. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flyer miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go.

I’ve already talked about the big ways to earn miles:

To me, these represent the best ways to earn the most miles, but you can earn miles doing almost anything.

I’ll highlight a few ways in this post, and the rest I’ll tell you where to find.

  • How can you earn 50,000 miles by opening a brokerage account?
  • What constantly updated forum tells you the best mileage earning opportunities?

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Free First Class 2014: Shopping Portals

This is the seventh post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flyer miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go.

Most major airline and credit card loyalty program have a shopping portal. For instance, google “United shopping” and the first link is to the United Mileage Plus shopping portal.

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Shopping portals allow you to earn huge amounts of miles by making your normal online purchases through your favorite online stores. Just by starting at the portal and using its link to your favorite online retailer, you can get extra miles for your purchases.

The process for earning miles from portals is simple.

  • How do portals work?
  • How can you earn miles by shopping online exactly as you already do?

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Free First Class 2014: Earn Miles from Flying

This is the sixth post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flyer miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go.

The last few posts were about earning miles from credit cards, which is how I earn 90% of my miles. Folks who fly frequently for business or the occasional paid ticket for vacation should know the basics of earning miles from flying.

There are five takeaways that I want to impart so that you know

  • when you earn miles from flying
  • how many miles you earn from flying
  • and what choices you need to make about where to credit the miles earned

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Free First Class 2014: Transferable Points Basics

This is the fifth post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flyer miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go.

Transferable points programs are loyalty programs that allow a person to earn points that can be transferred to several different airline or hotel programs. The three most important transferable points programs are:

  • American Express Membership Rewards (MR)
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR)
  • Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Starpoints

Transferable points are extremely valuable for the two types of flexibility they offer.

  1. All three major transferable points programs have partners in all three airline alliance, which means you can book award space on over 60 airlines if you have Membership Rewards, Ultimate Rewards, or Starpoints.
  2. You can use one transferable points account to top off several normal airline or hotel accounts that are just short of dream redemptions. These top offs are the highest value use of points since they take you from not having a dream redemption to having one.

I focus a lot on earning transferable points, and I am very happy when clients of my Award Booking Service come to me with transferable points.

  • How can you earn each type of transferable points?
  • What are the transfer partners for each type of transferable points?
  • What are my four strategies to maximize transferable points?

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Free First Class Next Month 2014: Best Current Credit Card Offers

This is the fourth post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flyer miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go.

There are currently some huge sign up bonuses that folks new to the miles game can pick up.

I’ve categorized some of the best offers below, but before applying for any cards, I recommend checking out my Introduction to Travel Credit Cards from yesterday.

I also recommend getting a Free Credit Card Consultation instead of picking cards on your own. It breaks my heart when people come to my Award Booking Service with the wrong miles for the trip they want. There’s no reason to Make the Biggest Mistake in Our Hobby.

  • What are the best cards for beginners?

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Free First Class Next Month 2014: Introduction to Travel Credit Cards

This is the third post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flyer miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go.

If you’re new to miles and points, you could easily open credit cards today with sign up bonuses totaling more than half a million miles and points.

There are other ways to earn miles and points, but none is as easy, quick, and cheap as opening up travel rewards cards. I’ve earned over 90% of my lifetime miles and points from credit cards, mostly from their sign up bonuses.

A startling amount of fun I’ve had in life has been the direct result of trips taken with miles earned from opening a credit card and meeting its minimum spending requirement. I don’t want to over-sell credit cards, but I don’t want to under-sell them either. They are the bread and butter of this hobby.

Today’s post will be one of the longest of the entire Free First Class Next Month 2014 series because I want the entire introduction to travel credit cards to be in one place.

  • How do travel credit cards affect your credit score?
  • How can you get three free credit reports per year?
  • What are the three things I look for in a credit card?
  • How do I double my miles with business cards?
  • How long do I hold my credit cards?
  • What about annual fees?
  • Will you ever run out of credit card bonuses to get?

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Free First Class Next Month 2014: Signing Up For Travel Loyalty Programs and Award Wallet

This is the second post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flyer miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go.

In just a few days, you’ll be earning hundreds of thousands of frequent flyer miles, and you need a place to put and track them. Below are the bare minimum airline and hotel programs that Americans should be members of, and as you get more involved with the miles game, you’ll probably sign up for more.

By signing up for these programs, you’ll be able to take advantage of most major miles promotions, and you’ll be able to fly domestically and internationally for pennies.

Each program should just take a moment to sign up for, so don’t skip any even if you’ve never flown the airline. Trust me that they all have a lot of value. For instance, you might not expect that British Airways is often the best program for domestic flights within the United States.

If you already have an account, then try to sign into it, so you can figure out your account number and password. Write down your user name or number and passwords all in one place because you’ll add them into your new Award Wallet account today.

  • What airlines and hotel programs should you join today?
  • What is Award Wallet and why should you join it?

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Free First Class Next Month 2014: The Beginners Guide to Frequent Flyer Miles and Points

This is the first post in a monthlong series. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flyer miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go.

Frequent flyer miles are your ticket to travel more, better, and cheaper.

Mastering frequent flyer miles, hotel points, and credit card programs truly is life changing, so I am revising and updating my Free First Class Next Month series for beginners, which I first ran in March 2012.

Frequent flyer miles from travel credit cards have allowed me to visit nearly 50 countries at the age of 27, with enough miles left over to go anywhere in the world tomorrow if I wanted to. I pay less for these trips than you probably did for your last vacation, and I’m usually flying in Business or First Class.

First Class

When I say “First Class,” I’m not talking about those slightly wider seats at the front of the plane you see as you board your flight to Cleveland. International First Class means your own fully flat bed in your own enclosed suite while being waited on and served fine foods and wine.

My suite in Emirates First Class. My personal mini-bar pops up. The seat turns into a flat bed, and a few minutes after taking the photo, I took a shower eight miles high.

I’m not writing this to brag. I’m writing because my techniques are very easy to repeat. For instance, MileValue’s Rookie Alli went from having no frequent flyer miles to flying in a fully flat bed internationally in just four months.

She used to fly economy like you.

Luxury is attainable with frequent flyer miles, and it usually costs far less than a paid ticket. I flew in Cathay Pacific First Class for the miles I had gotten for opening one credit card plus $43 out of pocket. Do you have $43?

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More Travel

I know for many people luxury travel is not the goal. They just want to get their family on vacation or to visit grandparents, and they don’t have the money in the budget for these trips. These techniques can also help a family travel for peanuts. I recently described how a family of four could fly to Europe for only $274 total!

What’s the catch? You’ll have to learn a few things and open the right credit cards.

In this series, I’m going to be showing you the tricks that experts use to fly in First Class anywhere in the world for pennies. By next month, you’ll be a pro at earning frequent flier miles for doing things you already do and redeeming them for dream first-class vacations you thought you could never afford.

In addition to frequent flyer miles, I’ll be teaching you about how to find incredibly cheap cash fares and hotels, so that you’ve got a full arsenal of ways to travel cheap or free.

If you have two minutes a day, you can enjoy Free First Class Next Month! Bookmark this page, and check back tomorrow when we take the first step to Free First Class Next Month. Or better yet, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts

Forward those emails to your friends, so they can also learn and become your travel companions.

For those who can’t wait until tomorrow, here is a link to every post in the last series. This series will follow roughly the same topics.

Free First Class Next Month: Table of Contents

  1. The Beginners Guide to Frequent Flyer Miles and Points (Introduction)
  2. Signing Up For Travel Loyalty Programs and Award Wallet
  3. Introduction to Travel Credit Cards
  4. Best Current Credit Card Offers
  5. Transferable Points Program Basics
  6. Earning Miles from Flying
  7. Shopping Portals
  8. Manufactured Spending
  9. You Can Earn Miles Doing Anything
  10. Keeping Miles Active with Dining Programs
  11. Redemption Options
  12. Airline Hubs, Alliances, and Award Search Engines
  13. Basics of Redeeming American Airlines Miles
  14. Basics of Redeeming United Miles
  15. Basics of Redeeming Delta Miles
  16. Basics of Redeeming US Airways Miles
  17. Basics of Redeeming British Airways Avios
  18. Basics of Redeeming Alaska Airlines Miles
  19. Basics of Redeeming Southwest, JetBlue, Virgin America, and Frontier Miles
  20. Basics of Redeeming Singapore, Aeroplan, Flying Blue, ANA, Lufthansa, and Korean Miles
  21. How to Book Complicated Awards with Segment-by-Segment Searching and Wikipedia
  22. How to Pick the Best Seat with Seat Guru and Trip Reports
  23. How to Find Cheap Flights and Mistake Fares with the FlyerTalk Mileage Run Deals Forum
  24. Basics of ITA Matrix to Find Cheap Flights and Fuel Surcharge Info
  25. Status
  26. Cheapskate Lodging with Hotel Promos, Hostels, airbnb, and CouchSurfing
  27. Name Your Own Price on Priceline to Save Hundreds on Hotels
  28. Cancelling Cards
  29. The End

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Free First Class Next Month 4.0: How to Use SeatGuru to Pick the Best Seat and Flight

This is the twenty-second post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flier miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go. Previously How to Use Wikipedia and Kayak for Award Searches.

Today I’ll be explaining a tool I use every time I book a flight or research an award to ensure I get the best seat possible, seatguru.com. SeatGuru is an online compendium of airline seat maps.

Along the left top of the site, hold your cursor over Browse Airlines. Select from the list.

How do you use SeatGuru to snag the best flights and seats?

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Free First Class Next Month 4.0: Wikipedia and Kayak.com

This is the twenty-first post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flier miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go. Previously Using Expert Flyer to Redeem Delta and American Airlines Miles.

In an ideal world if you had United miles and wanted to fly to Phuket, you’d go to united.com, type in your dates and find your trip. In the real world, often no award comes up, and you have to be creative. How can you get creative with what possible routings exist?

For me, the two best places to get routing ideas are kayak.com and wikipedia. If a client for my award booking service says he wants to go from LAX to Phuket, Thailand with United miles, I don’t instantly know all the routing possibilities.

My first thought would be that the last leg will probably be Bangkok to Phuket on Thai Airways, since I’m sure such a flight exists. But I want to know all the possibilities to figure out the best routing in terms of duration, layover quality, and airline quality.

How do I use these two free services for better flights?

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Free First Class Next Month 4.0: Using Expert Flyer to Redeem Delta and American Airlines Awards

This is the twentieth post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flier miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go. Previously Using Delta.com to Redeem Delta Miles.

Expert Flyer is a paid service–$100 per year, $10 per month, free for a five day trial–that I use frequently for several distinct purposes.

Expert Flyer provides at least some award search capability on all these airlines.

I find Expert Flyer incredibly useful for Delta award searches because it shows Delta partners Aeroflot, Aerolineas Argentinas, Air Tahiti Nui, China Southern, China Eastern, China Airlines, and Saudia among others.

To perform an award search, click Awards & Upgrades on the left side after signing in.

Type in the departure and arrival city. You can also type in the connecting airport city if you want to limit the possible routings the search will produce. I am generally searching segment-by-segment for direct flights and leave that blank.

Select an airline and the classes for which you want to see award space. Pay close attention to the names. The correct fare class will usually be named something simple like Award or Classic Award.

You can select just one date if you are searching oneway or input two dates for a roundtrip. Next to each date you can specify a search of up to +/- 3 days, which is a full week search.

I usually select Direct/Non-Stop only, although that is not possible for Alitalia searches. The next screen will show results for your search, broken down by cabin. For some airlines, Expert Flyer will display 0 if there is no space. For others, it won’t show the flight at all if there is no space.

This search shows great Boston to Rome space in economy and business class on Alitalia in October.

To book on Delta, you would note the flight number and date and go to delta.com, since Alitalia was added to delta.com recently. I usually write down the fare code–the letters associated with the award space, in this case Z and U–because some agents don’t know how to find space without them.

The above search result shows one of Expert Flyer’s annoying quirks. A Boston to Toronto to Rome itinerary was returned that includes a flight on Air Canada. Air Canada isn’t a Delta partner, so there is no way to get on that itinerary. Results like that are why I prefer to search segment-by-segment on Expert Flyer.

Beyond Delta partners, ExpertFlyer is also useful for American awards on non-oneworld partners El Al and Air Tahiti Nui.

Should You Pay for Expert Flyer

Expert Flyer charges $10 per month for its premium package, $5 per month for its basic package, or $100 per year for its premium package. I have the annual premium package. The basic package only allows 250 award searches per month, which is far fewer than I do for my Award Booking Service.

This page compares Basic and Premium. If you click on Premium, you will have the opportunity to start membership with a five-day free trial.That means you can try out the service for free and see if it’s worth the money to you. Or you can use the service strategically for one award-planning session then cancel. Just remember to cancel within five days to avoid your credit card being charged.

I also use Expert Flyer for several other things like searching MPM, finding published fares, and setting award space alerts, which I explained in a previous incarnation of Free First Class Next Month.

Free First Class Next Month 4.0: Searching Delta.com to Redeem Delta Miles

This is the nineteenth post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flier miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go. Previously Using qantas.com to Search for American Airlines Awards.

Delta.com is a frustrating, broken piece of junk, but it’s the first place to start when looking for award reservations with your Delta SkyMiles on flights operated by Delta, Air France, KLM, Virgin Australia, Alitalia, or Korean.

On the Delta.com home page, type your departure and arrival airports into the flight search box. I always search one way on Delta.com searches because it is so bad at pricing awards that I don’t want to give it the chance to try adding the outbound and return’s cost.

Make sure to check the boxes that says Book award travel and My dates are flexible.

What are the other tricks to searching Delta.com? What are Delta’s routing rules?

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Free First Class Next Month 4.0: Searching Qantas.com to Redeem American Airlines Miles

This is the eighteenth post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flier miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go. Previously Using BA.com to Search for Awards.

Using qantas.com for award searches can help you get maximum value from your American Airlines miles. American partners with the oneworld alliance and several non-oneworld partners. Unfortunately oneworld award space searching is fragmented, and I use aa.com, ba.com, and qantas.com.

I’ve described how to use aa.com and ba.com for award searches:

Now I’ll explain how and when to use qantas.com.

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Free First Class Next Month 4.0: Searching BA.com to Find oneworld Award Availability

This is the seventeenth post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flier miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go. Previously Using AA.com to Search for Awards.

Knowing how to use ba.com is crucial for making award bookings with British Airways Avios and American Airlines AAdvantage miles.

Why? ba.com displays award space for more oneworld partner airlines than does aa.com. That means you often need to search ba.com even if you are redeeming American Airlines miles. For instance, ba.com is a great place to search space on Cathay Pacific before calling American Airlines to book with American Airlines miles.

How do you search BA.com?

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Free First Class Next Month 4.0: Using AA.com to Search for Awards

This is the sixteenth post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flier miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go. Previously Using United.com to Search for Awards Using United and US Airways Miles.

This post presents the basics of using aa.com for award bookings. It is not a comprehensive guide to booking American Airlines awards. For that, start at the Five Cardinal Rules of American Airlines Awards.

When to Use aa.com

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