How To Fly For Free: Practical Tips The Airlines Don't Want You To Know


Title: How To Fly For Free: Practical Tips The Airlines Don’t Want You To Know
Authors: Scott Keyes
Edition: 1
Finished Date: 2017-05-11
Rating: 3
Language: English
Genres: Trip
Level: Entry
Publishers: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Publication Date: 2012-10-14
Format: ePub
Pages: 66
Download: ePub

Section 1: how to get free flights

Ch 1: credit card sign-up bonuses

Ch 3: step-by-step guides for 3 types of travelers

  1. one free dream vacation

    • apply for just one credit card
  2. bring a companion or take multiple trips

    • apply for 2 credit cards
  3. many cards

Ch 4: how to 坐下一班飞机来得到bonus (bump passenger)

  • be in the gate area 30-45 minutes before boarding
  • demand money, not vouchers
  • when to pull the trigger

    Airlines will typically start out offering around $250 and then ratchet up the offer by $50 every 5 minutes until they get enough volunteers

    I typically pull the trigger early (usually the first offer, unless I NEED to take this particular flight), but I always ask whether, if they keep ratcheting up the offer, I will get the final offer rather than the initial one. Most of the time they’ll agree.

  • using leverage after you are bumped


    ask your airline to rebook you onto another airline that’s more convenient, confirm you in a first class seat, and/ or give you a hotel room and meal voucher if you have an overnight stay.

the author's experience: bumped. I was once given a $ 500 voucher and a confirmed seat on the next flight — an hour and a half later!

Ch 5: earning elite status in one roundtrip flight

elite status

  • early boarding
  • free upgrades to first class
  • bonus miles
  • waived fees

But unless you travel for business, i.e., travel a lot, you are unlikely to fly enough to earn elite status

status challenges

Ch 6: complaints = miles

The key is to write your complaints in as positive a manner as possible. “It didn’t matter much to me personally that the TVs were broken, but just wanted to let you know for future customers who might care more.” Airline agents have to deal with complaints eight hours a day, so taking a more understanding approach can pay dividends.

Missed connections can often earn you hundreds of dollars in travel vouchers, but only if you ask for it. Delays on United Airlines recently caused me to miss my connection and wait four hours until the next flight. I explained in detail — as

Keyes, Scott. How To Fly For Free: Practical Tips The Airlines Don’t Want You To Know (Kindle Locations 457-458). Kindle Edition.

positively as possible — how inconvenient the ordeal was. Two days later, a $ 250 travel voucher showed up in my inbox. Many airlines keep records of when they give you compensation, so expect to see diminishing returns if you complain often. Still, don’t hesitate to leave feedback when warranted.

TIP: I typically email rather than call so a written record of my feedback exists.

things to complain about

  • something not properly functioning on flight

    • TV
    • reading light
    • headphone jack
    • electrical outlet
    • seat recline
    • bathroom
  • flight delays (especially due to mechanical problems or crew/pilots didn’t show up on time)

  • sitting near excessively rude or loud passengers, especially drunken ones

  • special meal you requested is not available

    • kosher
    • vegan
    • Halal
    • gluten-free


Dear American Airlines, I was sitting in seat 14F on flight AA3689 from DCA to MIA on June 10. The flight itself went very smoothly and the flight attendant did an exceptionally good job.

I just wanted to let you all know that the TV near my seat was broken. The picture color was completely gray and the video frequently cut out altogether. Not a huge deal for me, but just wanted to make sure you all knew for future passengers who enjoy watching TV on their flight.

In general, though, thanks for the great work. I fly AA regularly for business and very rarely have any problems in my travel.




Dear American Airlines, I am writing regarding the 2-hour delay on flight AA4720 from MIA to DCA on June 13. I’ve flown AA for years, both for business and pleasure, and you all generally do a great job making travel as hassle-free as possible.

That’s why I wanted to let you know I was somewhat disappointed with the service on this particular flight, because I know you all can (and typically do) do better. Right before we boarded, the gate agent informed us that the flight was delayed an hour because of engine troubles. That hour then stretched into two as they realized the mechanical problems were enough to warrant switching planes. We finally got into Washington DC at 4: 40pm, over two hours past our original arrival time of 2: 30pm. Unfortunately, the delay caused me to miss an important work meeting. I feel that a $ 250 travel voucher would be an appropriate gesture of compensation. Thank you again for your typically great work as an airline.



Ch 7: bring a companion for free

Southwest Airlines’ Companion Pass


  • the rest of the current year
  • the entire next year

fly 100 Southwest flights or earn 110,000 miles

  • personal credit card: 50,000 miles sing-up bonus
  • business card

Section 2: how to use miles

Ch 8: spending points wisely

using miles to book international trips is far better value than spending them to fly within the continental US

Ch 9: How to fly to additional cities for free

stopovers: when booking award travel, many airlines will allow a free stopover to destination

open jaw on award tickets: fly into one city and out from a different one

  • example

    • fly from Detroit to Rome, then return from Paris to Detroit

American Airlines

  • 1 stopover permitted on international flights, but only on gateway cities as you leave North America (e.g. Los Angeles, New York, or Miami)
  • You’re allowed to combine a stopover with open jaw
  • Can have two open jaws, one at your origin and one at your destination. For example, you can fly from Washington to Paris, then return from London to New York


  • 1 stopover permitted on either domestic or international flights
  • You can use a maximum of 8 segments on a roundtrip award ticket.

    For instance, if you were traveling roundtrip from Detroit to Sicily (with a stopover in Rome), this would be just four segments total (two each way)

  • You’re allowed to combine a stopover with open jaw
  • The distance between your open jaw return leg can’t exceed the distance covered in your initial outbound flight. For example, if you fly from Detroit to Rome, you could return from Paris to Detroit, but not from Moscow to Detroit


  • 1 stopover is permitted on international flights only
  • You’re allowed to combine a stopover with open jaw Can have two open jaws, one at your origin and one at your destination. For example, you can fly from Washington to Paris, then return from London to New York

US Airways

  • 1 permitted on international flights only
  • You’re not allowed to combine a stopover with an open jaw
  • You can use a maximum of 10 segments on a roundtrip award ticket
  • Can only have a stopover in a hub of the Star Alliance airline you are flying. For instance, you would only be permitted to stopover in Copenhagen if you were flying Scandinavian Airlines

    • Current hubs:

      • Adria (Slovenia): Ljubljana
      • Aegean (Greece): Athens, Thessaloniki, Heraklion, Rhodes and Larnaca
      • Air Canada: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary
      • Air China: Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai
      • Air New Zealand: Auckland, Los Angeles, Hong Kong
      • ANA (Japan): Tokyo (both Haneda and Narita airports)
      • Asiana: Incheon, Seoul
      • Austrian: Vienna
      • Blue1 (Finnish): Helsinki
      • Brussels: Brussels
      • Croatia: Zagreb
      • Egypt Air: Cairo
      • Ethiopian: Addis Ababa
      • LOT (Polish): Warsaw
      • Lufthansa: Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf
      • Scandinavian: Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm
      • Singapore: Singapore S
      • outh African: Johannesburg
      • Swiss: Zurich, Geneva, Basel
      • TAM (Brazil): Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia
      • TAP (Portugal): Lisbon, Porto
      • Thai: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Hat Yai
      • Turkish: Istanbul, Ankara
      • United: Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Guam, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, Tokyo, and Washington DC
      • US Airways: Charlotte, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Washington DC

Section 3: planning a trip from start to finish

Ch 11: how to plan a trip step-by-step

  1. The sooner you start, the better, for three reasons:

    1. More flight availability
    2. Give yourself time to meet credit card spending threshold
    3. Give time for points to show up in your account
  2. Check Kayak or Orbitz. Unless tickets there are super cheap, plan to use miles C

  3. heck mileage charts for major carriers to see how many miles trip will cost
  4. Look at current credit card offers
    Here’s how to choose which card( s) you should get

    • Highest number of bonus miles offered
    • Card with lowest or no yearly fees
    • Card with lowest spend threshold to get the bonus miles
  5. Apply! If you aren’t accepted right away, call the reconsideration line after a few days and use the scripts provided in Chapter 1

  6. Confirm with agent when you activate your card what the bonus and spending threshold is
  7. Complete spend threshold — see Chapter 1 for tips on meeting spending thresholds — tracking progress through your credit card’s online account
  8. The next day, call your credit card company and ask them to expedite the points into your account. It usually takes a few weeks to show up, but if you call and ask nicely, sometimes they’ll post your points right away
  9. Consult the mileage charts in Chapter 8 to decide where to go with your miles. Before booking your flight, check Chapter 9 to see whether you can add a free stopover to your trip
  10. Book it! Can usually do by Internet, but consult Chapter 8 for the best way to check each airline’s flight availability

Ch 12: find cheap flights

  • twitter

    • @MilMileSecrets
    • @OneMileataTime
    • @thepointsguy
    • @BudgetTravel
    • @FareCompare
    • @airfarewatchdog
    • @Fly_com
    • @FlyerTalk
    • @JetBlueCheeps
  • speed

    when you see a truly great deal, act fast

  • Friday and Sunday are the most expensive

  • Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday are cheapest