8 Travel Hacks Even Frequent Fliers Don’t Know? Yeah, Right…

hen I saw 8 travel hacks even frequent fliers don’t know as a headline for a video produced by Business Insider, I had to look and see exactly what I did not know — even though I am not exactly the most frequent flier in the world…

…but I watched the video — and thought to myself, “Oh, come on…give me a break!” What frequent flier does not know about most — if not all — of them?!?

The video — produced by Jenner Deal, with “original reporting” by Sophie-Claire Hoeller — was posted on Thursday, July 23, 2015; so it was posted only three weeks ago.

Here is the video; and as there is no text, I will simply summarize the “8 travel hacks” — I dislike using the word hack — below, along with my commentary…

1. Book Two One-Way Flights to Save Money

Rather than booking a return airfare at once, you can possibly save money by purchasing two separate tickets; but because they are not part of the same record locator, you could encounter possible increased difficulty with problems or issues not inherent with booking a round-trip flight — such as missing flight credit on one segment: “…but I flew on the outbound flight…” may not cut it.

Ensure that the money — or frequent flier loyalty program miles — you save when paying for your one-way flights is worth the savings versus any potential problems or issues you may encounter later on during or after your travels.

2. Special Meal = Faster Food

You would have already known this if you read my trip report pertaining to my first flight as a passenger aboard an airplane operated by Etihad Airways, which was posted on Saturday, February 28, 2015.

Keep in mind that receiving your meal faster does not necessarily mean receiving your beverage faster, as I found out on every flight on which I was a passenger of Etihad Airways.

3. Book Tickets With Y or B Booking Codes

Really? You can request an upgrade if your economy class ticket is booked with a Y or B booking code? Wo-o-o-o-oowww.

What the video neglects to tell you is that you most likely paid dearly for that economy class ticket, as a Y or B booking code are usually the most expensive airfares in economy class; and they are typically unrestricted.

In fact, there have been reports by frequent fliers on forums such as FlyerTalk and Milepoint of unrestricted economy class airfares which are actually more expensive than restricted premium class airfares; so if you are willing to live with certain restrictions, you might want to put a few extra minutes into researching restricted premium class airfares to see if you will actually save money over the unrestricted economy class airfares.

The booking codes in business class can vary by airline; but they are usually referred to by the letters C or J.

Although not as prevalent these days, when you experience irregular operations by an airline and a new boarding pass is printed for you on a different flight, your new boarding pass may have a Y booking code printed on it despite the class of service you originally booked; and if that is the case, you could be eligible for an upgraded seat on that flight.

4. Book Non-US Airlines

The amenities may indeed be better when flying as a passenger on an airline not based in the United States; but customer service can negate the experience when things go wrong.

A small example is that I still have not received my frequent flier loyalty program miles for some of the flights on which I was a customer. I am still working on that.

By the way, I have never had a problem procuring a full can of orange juice upon request whenever I fly as a passenger in the economy class cabin of a legacy airline based in the United States; and there have been numerous times where I received a full can of a non-alcoholic beverage without asking.

5. Understand Code-Shares

The advent of more frequent travel loyalty programs becoming based on revenue instead of distance flown indeed means that you must understand code-share arrangements between airlines more than ever, as the relationships between partner airlines have become significantly more complex…

…but then, frequent fliers already knew about the discrepancies pertaining to code-shared flights for many years. As one example, readers of The Gate rightfully had issues with this article written by me on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 called Code-Sharing of Flights: Beneficial or Deceptive?

6. Economy Ticket Lounge Access

A lounge at an airport can offer an oasis from the mayhem in the terminal and the crowds at the gate — and yes, you can get food and beverages as well as other amenities — but only you can decide whether paying for that access is actually worth it. What if the lounge does not have food which you like? What if the lounge itself is crowded? What if you do not have much time before your flight and the lounge is inconveniently located in a different terminal at the airport?

With some lounges offering access for as much has $50.00 for one visit, if you are going to be at an airport for several hours, lounge access might be worth $50.00 to you; but be on the lookout for access to lounges as low as $15.00 for a visit — such as with this offer I recently highlighted.

If you have more than several hours to spend until your next flight, consider leaving the airport and going into town — depending on transportation options and other factors, of course.

More often than not, you can save money by purchasing a meal and a beverage at a restaurant within the airport — or better yet, bringing your own to the airport, if that is possible — and finding a quiet corner somewhere to relax in the airport. Gates which do not have a flight departing for at least a couple of hours are typically relatively quiet; and some of them usually have a television with sound if you want to pass the time that way.

Also, more and more airports are equipping gates with complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access and free charging stations for portable electronic devices; so even if the Internet is slow, you can still keep yourself entertained with your portable electronic device to pass the time.

Depending on your interpretation, the meaning of that last sentence seemed to come out differently than I intended…

7. Clear Those Cookies

FlyerTalk members were furious when television station WCCO — also known as CBS Minnesota — reported greater than three years ago that Delta Air Lines allegedly charged its SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program members higher airfares than customers who do not have — or do not log into their — SkyMiles accounts at the official Internet web site of Delta Air Lines.

Worse is that the discrepancies with airfares have been going on since at least 2009.

Sure, clearing your “cookies” from your browser could fool the official Internet web site of the airline from “remembering” you and attempting to charge you a higher airfare — if you do not mind also clearing the history of other Internet web sites visited, which can prove to be more of an inconvenience.

Here are some tips to prevent yourself from being overcharged for airfare:

  • always use multiple tools to determine my airfare. Although it is in dire need of being updated, the tools may be found in the Mileage Run Tools, Part 2 discussion on FlyerTalk.
  • Also, know your airfares. On certain routes, I know the range of airfares very well and can spot a deal quickly. If you find what appears to be a great deal, ensure that there is no “fine print” in the terms and conditions of the sale that negates the deal.
  • Ask! Ask! Ask! Post a discussion on FlyerTalk or Milepoint — if one does not already exist — in the pertinent forum about whether or not the airfare which you found is a good airfare and get feedback from fellow members who are more than willing to assist.
  • If you decide to call the reservations center of the airline and do not get the answer you want, thank the reservations agent politely, hang up and call back. You would be surprised how often a different reservations agent will give you a preferable answer to your request.

8. Skip the Cab Line

Although you will find no lines for taxi cabs at the departures area of an airport, there are airports which do prohibit the hailing of taxi cabs at the departures area and instead require that you go to the arrivals area instead.

I rarely take taxi cabs to get to where I am going. I will usually either rent a car or take public transportation — depending on convenience, cost and efficiency — and somehow, I survive.

You can also consider using a service such as Uber or Lyft, if the airport permits those ride-share services. I have never used either of them; so I cannot comment on them.

Summary

I really have no issue with Business Insider publishing these eight tips of information, as they can be useful to someone who did not already know about any of them; but to add “even frequent fliers don’t know” to the title is nothing more than pure “click bait” — pure and simple. One read of such Internet web sites as BoardingArea, FlyerTalk and Milepoint will handily prove otherwise.

Whether or not you are a frequent flier, how many of these tips did you already know? Better yet — which of the information I wrote in this article did anyone at Business Insider not know until now?

You will never read about me considering myself as an expert on frequent flying; and you have taught me a lot in the nine years since The Gate was first launched. Do you have anything to add to the advice and information given in this article?

I know you do. Please post what you have to say in the Comments section below — and thank you.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

3 thoughts on “8 Travel Hacks Even Frequent Fliers Don’t Know? Yeah, Right…”

  1. Captain Kirk says:

    Yeah with the title including the term “travel hacks” I read it and fell for it. Nothing said was groundbreaking. I knew all of the points mentioned. I am sure some people benefited from the article but in all reality I agree it was a misleading title written to entice clicks, nothing more.

  2. Greg says:

    Hi Brian,

    I will have to disagree with this statement.

    “but customer service can negate the experience when things go wrong.”

    As a somewhat frequent traveler to Asia for work I find almost every aspect o f the experience to be superior on non-Us airlines (with the exception of Philippine Airlines which is just pathetic garbage as a product) .

    I normally fly Korean/EVA/Asiana for my current company. My previous company was exclusively Northwest (before the merger) and there is no comparison…. If I was flying inter-Asia I would always choose Cathay and it goes without saying it leaves any US based airline in the dust.

    Cheers!
    Greg

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      …as you should disagree with that statement, Greg.

      Perhaps it was not my best choice of words; but I used the word can to indicate that it is possible — but not definitively always probable — that there could be a trade-off between the superior product and service offered by certain airlines versus the customer service should anything go wrong.

      Even though I visited Manila almost a year ago, I never flew as a passenger on Philippine Airlines; and avoiding it was probably a good idea, according to your experience…

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