Who doesn’t want to fly free? If you’ve ever dreamed of flying in the jump seat, you may be disappointed to learn it’s only available to pilots and other crew members, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still get a free ride. If you’re always looking for ways to save on travel, here’s how, but keep reading to learn much more.
Get Yourself Bumped
Airlines have been flying around in the sky fuller than they’ve ever been. The only way they can manage it is by overselling their flights and making sure their bookings are at near 100 percent. As you might expect, not all people make their flights, with some cancelling last minute. This is bad for the airline because it means they can’t fill a seat and thus lose money. At the same time, they can’t put everyone in a seat if they’re overbooked and everyone shows up.
When flights are oversold, the airline will offer incentives for passengers to volunteer to wait for the next flight. In cases where passengers are bumped from their flight involuntarily, they may be able to claim compensation from the airline.
When you book your next trip, identify trips that are likely to be overbooked and thus ripe for the bump trick. These are flights usually to and from major business locations. And, they’ll be destinations at the beginning and end of the work week, when everyone wants to get home to see their family.
On the day of your trip, pack light and don’t check bags. Airlines look for passengers who are able to change plans quickly. If you’re checking bags, it’s a complication. If you don’t have any bags, you can be bumped easily enough.
Get to the gate early and talk with agents and ask if they’re looking for volunteers. Airline staff know what you mean, and you’ll be put on a list if they need to ask for some people to bump.
If no one is available, or if they’re not looking for volunteers, then make sure you grab a seat nearest the counter so you can quickly get to an agent looking for any volunteers.
Take Advantage of Promotions
There are many sponsored events where gift cards are the prize. Try to attend as many of these as you can throughout the year. They typically are events like bicycle racing and such. And, event sponsors will set up booths where they give these cards away. They’re usually happen to give you a dozen or more of them. The next day, the same company may be offering fares starting at a very low price. Almost too low. And, you can use those gift cards to pay for the entire cost of your flight, even with taxes.
You have to be vigilant with this tactic because the promotions come and go very quickly. If you’re not fast, someone else will snatch up the deal. And, sometimes, you don’t get to choose where you go. There may only be a flight to a specific location or destination.
To get gift card giveaways from the airlines, sign up for their newsletters at these sporting events.
Find Companion Vouchers
Some companies give away free or discounted companion vouchers.
But, they do it through credit card offers. So, if you sign up for a credit card, you might end up getting a free travel voucher every year. Be on the lookout for any fine print, however. Sometimes, the credit card will require you purchase and book through an obscure travel agency, and the agency might have fees not disclosed in the credit card agreement.
If you’re not careful, you might end up paying double what the normal price is before you can get a “free ticket.” Other restrictions on third-party vouchers include blackout dates and some capacity restrictions. The most valuable and legit voucher offers are the ones offered directly by airlines.
Jane Morgan is an avid collector of points, be it on her weekly grocery shop or the air miles she gets when flying. She writes about the best ways to spend points and collect points.