Frequent flyer miles have the ability to turn ordinary people into travel superheroes, allowing them to jet set around the world to their favorite destinations for almost free.
Paris, Sydney, Rome…take your pick.
Unfortunately, they are also one of the most misunderstood topics out there. Most of society wrongly believes the myths that surround frequent flyer miles.
But now, it’s time to debunk those myths and pull the veil of secrecy off frequent flyer miles so that more people can start traveling more and spending less!
#1. Frequent Flyer Miles Can Only be Earned Through Flying
This may seem ludicrous to anyone who has started earning frequent flyer miles, but this is exactly what I thought for the first 28 years of my life, and was the reason I never paid any attention to them before 3 years ago.
It’s also the #1 reason that 90% of people don’t take advantage of these wonderful opportunities.
They believe that large amounts of frequent flyer miles can only be accrued by people who travel all the time, and since they don’t travel all the time, there is no point in figuring them out.
WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!
In the last two years, I’ve accumulated over 2 million frequent flyer miles, and only 8,000 have come from flying. That’s right, less than 0.5%.
So how did I earn all these miles? There are many ways:
Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses
Credit card signup bonuses are far and away fastest way to earn large chunks of frequent flyer miles. The best cards will offer you 50,000 miles or more as a sign up, which is already enough for 2 roundtrip ticket in the US and almost enough to fly to Europe.
As long as you keep your credit score high, you’ll be able to take advantage of these opportunities over and over again.
You can also earn miles by using your credit card instead of paying cash or debit. Standard cards offer you 1 mile for every $1 you spend, but some of the better cards, like the Barclays Arriva card, offer 2x points per $1 spent.
By using an online shopping portal, you can often earn huge bonuses for purchases from all types of brands.
For example, I was able to earn 10x points per $1 spent from Nike the other day.
Instead of going to the store and earning 100 points for $10o worth of Nike apparel, I went through the Chase Ultimate Reward Mall shopping portal and earned 1,000 points for the same $100.
Why run out to the store when you can sit in your pajamas and with one mouse click, order what you need.
Throughout the year, there will be various promotions that pop up, both big and small.
Usually, they only take a few minutes to complete, like a survey or a game, and can net you between a few hundred to a thousand miles a piece.
This is a nice, easy way to supplement the large chunks you get from credit card bonuses, spending, and online shopping.
And while flying obviously isn’t the ONLY way to earn frequent flyer miles, you should make sure that you are earning them if you do fly.
All you need to do is sign up for a free frequent flyer account with whatever airline you are flying with and give them your number when buying the ticket or when checking in.
#2. Every Mile You Earn Means That is a Mile You Can Fly
Another common mistake people make is thinking that if they earn 50,000 miles then they can fly 50,000 miles.
Unfortunately, it’s not quite as lucrative as that (but it’s still pretty good). Most airline’s frequent flyer programs operate on a zone-based award chart with fixed pricing.
For example, if you are flying from North America to Europe on American Airlines, you’ll pay 60,000 miles for a roundtrip ticket.
It doesn’t matter whether you are flying a relatively short flight like New York to London or a much lengthier one like San Francisco to Istanbul.
Because they both are going from the North American zone to the Europe zone, they will both cost 60k roundtrip in economy.
A zone based award chart allows you to get some tremendous value from your frequent flyer miles by using them for flights that normally would cost a lot to purchase, such as flights to obscure cities or flights that are longer in length.
#3. Frequent Flyer Miles Earn You a Completely Free Ticket
They say that nothing in life is free, and while this is true with frequent flyer miles, it can certainly come close.
When you use frequent flyer miles to get a ticket, you don’t pay the “price” of the ticket, but you are still responsible for paying the taxes and fees.
The amount of taxes and fees can vary wildly depending on what airline’s miles you are using and what airlines you are flying on.
But once you learn to avoid the fuel surcharge, you can book tickets like one of my most recent trips, a $2.50 ticket to Rio for the World Cup!
No, it’s not free…but I’ll take it!
#4. Frequent Flyer Miles Are Hard To Use
I absolutely love hearing this because it couldn’t be more untrue.
If you’ve met me, you know I’m not a genius, and if you haven’t, take my word for it.
Three years ago, I knew absolutely nothing about frequent flyer miles.
I had zero frequent flyer miles to my name.
And now, I’ve been able to not only earn 2 million miles for myself, but also help others earn well over 100 million miles!
That equates to a lot of travel!
But just because they aren’t hard, doesn’t mean that they are super easy at first glance.
Airlines make frequent flyer miles seem complicated and difficult because it’s in their best interest for people NOT to redeem them.
The less miles people actually redeem, the less money the airline pays out.
Luckily, there are plenty of resources out there that pull the veil of the world of frequent flyer miles and help people to get started immediately.
If you’re looking for all the information you need, jam packed in to one concise and convenient place, you’ll want to check out the Ultimate Guide to Frequent Flyer Miles, which is specifically designed to give you the tools you need to start earning and using frequent flyer miles in less than 3 hours.
That’s a really small price to pay for a lifetime of free travel!
#5. It’s Impossible To Find an Available Seat With Frequent Flyer Miles
While many people have never given frequent flyer miles a chance, there are a number of people who have tried to use frequent flyer miles before and then given up.
And the most common excuse I hear is that they can never find availability.
The simple reason: They can’t find availability because they are looking in the wrong spot!
Admittedly, finding award ticket availability is the hardest part of the whole process, and is the reason that courses such as Frequent Flyer Bootcamp exist.
Frequent Flyer Bootcamp is geared toward people who know how to earn frequent flyer miles, but don’t know the best ways to use them.
And one of the most integral parts of this is figuring out where to look for award ticket availability.
Most people assume that whatever airline they have miles with, they can go to that airline’s website and search for availability.
I have American Airlines miles, so I go to AA.com and search. If nothing shows up, then there’s nothing available.
But they are missing the crucial element of partner airlines, which allows you to fly on many more airlines than just the airline whose miles you have.
For example, if you have AA miles, you’re able to fly on any of the 13 members of the OneWorld alliance because AA is a member of that alliance. And you won’t find all of the partner availability showing up if you simply search on AA.com.
Frequent flyer miles are an absolutely wonderful tool that will allow you to literally travel the world for almost free.
Don’t be scared of figuring them out, because with just a few hours of “studying”, you’ll be given a pay off that lasts a life time.
If you’re ready to start (and why wouldn’t you be?), the first step is to figure out the best miles for you to earn. Then use all the tools at your disposal, from credit card sign ups to online shopping.
You’ll be rolling in frequent flyer miles in no time, and you’ll never pay for a flight again!
Ever wonder what it’d be like to dress up in a 30 pound half yeti/half Chewbacca-like suit and run around in a blizzard with the sole goal of scaring little children?
Or lean out of a tuk-tuk, GoPro in hand, trying not to get decapitated in Bangkok’s crazy streets while getting the perfect shot for a reality tv show?
Now, you don’t have to wonder, because Turner Barr, the man behind Around the World in 80 Jobs, has done it.
And his website is all about showing you what it’s like to have some of the world’s craziest jobs and also helping you figure out how to find interesting jobs (or even just normal ones) all around the world.
Turner will go into detail about how he is able to score these wild positions, discuss the key things that people can do to get jobs abroad and talk about some of his favorite tricks for saving money while traveling.
And of course, he’ll also regale us with a story or two of some of his favorite experiences (more Gluhwein, anyone?).
Imagine deciding to take your twin 10-year-old boys on a trip from the very top of Alaska to the southernmost town in the world, Ushuaia in Argentina.
That’s a lot of fighting in the backseat, bathroom breaks, and “are we there yet’s?”.
Now imagine doing that same trip…on bikes!
Nancy Sathre-Vogel never believed in the oft-repeated statement “once you have kids, your travel life is over” and so she and her family set off on an epic bike trip to shatter that fallacy.
3 years and 17,285 miles later, they did just that.
Nancy recounts their amazing trek in great detail and also gives some incredibly practical advice on the intricacies of traveling with a family, including how to know what’s right for your specific children.
If you’re someone who isn’t interested in family travel, don’t worry, because Nancy also shares some amazing tips on how to stick to a budget when traveling and also prepare your life back home for a long term expedition.
Whether you’re a solo traveler, a couple, or a family, you’re going to want to tune in and hear this amazing story and insanely useful advice.
I wandered aimlessly down alleyways so small my shoulders practically touched both sides. I meandered over canals filled with gondolas, amazed that a city could be built in such a way and that it had stood, practically untouched, for so long.
Venice, where getting lost is the ultimate joy.
3 days later, I was staring at Michaelangelo’s David, climbing to the top of one of Europe’s most amazing cathedrals, and eating my body weight in gelato.
Florence, a city where every street corner is filled with unimaginable beauty.
3 days after that, I was standing in the underground tunnels of the Colosseum, imagining the roar of the crowd and the spectacles that once took place there, and spending my nights staring at the perfect symmetry of the Pantheon.
Rome, an entire world worth of history compacted in to one city.
For many people, a trip to Italy is right at the top of their to-do list, and with good reason. It’s an absolutely amazing country.
But for me, the trip happened much more spontaneously.
And much, much more cheaply.
I was able to fly direct, from Newark Airport to Milan, for $125. Roundtrip. With no hidden fees.
Just $125 TOTAL!
How about when I mention that last year, I flew from New York to Madrid for $225 total.
And while I pride myself on my ability to use frequent flyer miles to travel cheaply all over the world, these trips are something that ANYONE can do.
No magic formulas or tricks.
Just something called a mistake fare.
What is a Mistake Fare?
As you probably guessed, a mistake fare is just what the name implies.
It’s an airline ticket that, for various reasons, has popped up and is priced out for MUCH CHEAPER than it should be.
It’s different than a promotion, sale or off-peak ticket in that this is, you guessed it, an actual mistake.
Why Do Mistake Fares Happen?
Mistake fares can happen for a variety of reasons, but the most common is a technical glitch on an airline’s website.
The $125 ticket to Italy happened because a Norwegian website that sells airline tickets wasn’t including the “fuel surcharge” portion of the ticket in the final price, and so everything was showing up as $500-700 less that it should have been.
The $225 ticket to Madrid happened because a Japanese website was inadvertently giving a discount to every ticket purchased on their website, not just the tickets from Japan to Spain like the original promotion called for.
The important point isn’t really WHY it happens (although nerds like me may be interested) but how to find them and what to do when it does happen.
How to Find Mistake Fares
There are two main ways to learn about mistake fares. One is very easy, and the other is a bit more difficult.
Since they’re much smarter than I am, they’ve figured out a way to build some algorithm that constantly spits out good deals on airfares.
I don’t understand it, don’t pretend to understand it, and am just happy they exist!
Each day, they’ll post a bunch of good deals on airfares. It’s important to realize that most of these are NOT mistake fares, just decent prices for regular flights.
However, when a mistake fare does pop up, they are almost always one of the first people to know about it, and they’ll post it to their site.
I’d highly recommend you check their site out regularly, even for good prices on “normal” tickets and follow them on Twitter.
The other way to find mistake fares is through Flyertalk, the largest online forum for mileage geeks enthusiasts. The “mileage run” forum is where mistake fares are posted.
Warning: It may take a while to understand the “language” of the forum.
If you’re interested, press on. If not, take the easy way.
In addition, every single time I hear about a mistake fare, I’ll make sure to tweet it out and put it on Facebook. Come follow me via Instagram or like Extra Pack of Peanuts on Facebook.
That way, you’ll never miss a mistake fare again!
What To Do When You Hear About a Mistake Fare
Book first, ask questions later.
Yes, it sounds impulsive, and it certainly is, but that’s how you score these types of deals.
Mistake fares do not last long, and sometimes get pulled within a matter of hours.
Once a website sees a major influx in tickets being booked, they’ll get suspicious, and with just a little bit of snooping, will figure out something is wrong. Then, they’ll correct the situation.
If you sit around figuring things out too long, you’ll miss out.
The $225 ticket to Madrid lasted about 10 hours, as did the $125 ticket to Milan.
Also, most airlines will allow a 24-hour window for cancellations, so you are left with an “escape clause” should you book and figure out that you really can’t make the trip.
So take a few minutes (but just a few), figure out whether you can feasibly take advantage of the mistake fare being offered, and then book.
Will My Mistake Fare Ticket Be Honored?
Ah, the golden question.
In the past, many mistake fares were not honored, and tickets were canceled. The people who booked the tickets would get upset, but really, there was no real pressure to honor the tickets.
But now, thanks to the world of social media, airlines, and websites are under much more scrutiny when it comes to honoring these mistake fares. The backlash is incredible, and now people have an open forum for voicing their displeasure.
Thanks to that, almost all of the mistake fares in the past two years have been honored.
So while it’s impossible to say with certainty that each and every mistake fare will be honored, there is probably a good chance that it will.
What Should I Do After I Book a Mistake Fare?
Wait. Take a few deep breaths. Attempt to temper your excitement (which is easier said than done).
And NEVER book your accommodations or make any other plans for the trip until you’re 100% sure they will be honored.
With mistake fares, it can take a while to get a confirmed ticket.
For the $125 ticket to Milan, I waited an agonizing 36 hours before I got a confirmation email.
For the $225 trip to Madrid, it was 2 days of Alitalia Airlines saying “no we aren’t honoring these” until they finally relented and confirmed the tickets.
If you’re feeling obsessive, you can constantly refresh the Flyertalk thread about your specific mistake fare and live and die with each new piece of speculation.
Or you can be much more sane, go about your daily life, and just wait to see what happens.
How Will I Know If My Ticket is Confirmed
Each airline is different, but in almost all instances, you’ll receive an email.
If you get an email with an actual ticket number, then you’re probably good to go. Just make sure to double-check either by calling the airline or by reading the thread on Flyertalk.
Will I Get Bumped From My Flight Or Be Treated Badly By the Staff Because I Got a Mistake Fare?
No one will be able to tell from your ticket that you got a mistake fare. It’ll be the exact same as anyone who paid for a regular ticket.
So no need to worry about any bad blood with the airline or their staff.
Is Buying a Mistake Fare Illegal?
No, not at all. Buying a mistake fare ticket is perfectly legal. Whether they choose to honor it or not is their choice, but you’ve done nothing wrong.
How Often Do Mistake Fares Happen?
There’s no rhyme or reason to mistake fares, and they can happen at any time.
A nice book, a good bottle of wine, and a comfortable reclining chair.
It sounds like a fantastic night!
But instead of sitting in your living room, you’re speeding past some of the world’s best countryside, a moving mural of lush fields, incredible mountains, and amazing seascapes…all while getting to your next destination!
Mark Smith, better known as the Man in Seat 61, paints the picture of putting the romance and relaxation back in to travel by taking trains, an often overlooked form of traveling by most people, especially Americans.
Mark has created the ultimate train travel resource on the internet, and in this episode, he not only discusses why people should consider train travel but gives incredible tips and real-life examples of how it can be more cost-effective and convenient than taking a flight.
As someone who has used Mark’s website innumerable times over the last few years, and because of this, gotten to experience the joys of train travel, I couldn’t be happier to have him on the show. He is absolutely full of incredibly practical and useful information, tons of which he shares today.
Want to know Mark’s secrets for a more relaxing trip, including some of these favorite trips by train?