12 countries
12 martial arts
12 months

Item: Golden Ticket


I've got a golden ticket! This video is all about my favourite travel accessory: my frequent flyer card. Why is it my favourite? I'm getting lazy and stuck up! I hate waiting in endless lines, getting stuck in security transfers, paying for internet, buying over priced food, and trying to take a nap on one of those benches with the arm rests... where you have to get creative if you want to lie down...

The short and sweet is, I like airport lounges, I like free flights and I like free food. 

They also have a lot of services. If you have any questions you can talk to the people at the front desk and they'll be extra polite and seem like they actually care about you and your business. There are departure times listed on the wall monitors. There are business centers, places to rest and showers (sometimes massage chairs!) 

You can also take a travel companion. I've always wanted to pick up a random person on the same flight and take them to the lounge. I've never done it but intend to do so soon. I THINK it'll work. 

I'm FAR from rich, but I do like to travel a lot. One of the reasons I can is because I try to travel smart and on a budget. My frequent flyer miles have been a huge part of that budget travel plan. In fact, more than half of my tickets for this Street Fighter World Tour trip are paid with Aeroplan and United Mileage Plus points. So for the people who keep asking, "Phil, what the hell? How do you fund all this?" There's one ingredient. Travel smart!

Before I get into the links and all the crazy details to start you on your journey to find the perfect frequent flyer plan, think about some flights you've had recently. You can get those flights credited to your account (the one you're going to make)! Some airlines credit your account on tickets up to a year old. 

Okay, lets start.

1) How often do you travel? Do you think you can qualify for silver or gold levels? If you qualify easily you should look for an airline you fly with often and you probably could look for an airline with amazing service, like singapore air, korean air, anything from the middle east. If you only travel once in a blue moon, you'll be wanting a plan whose miles do not expire. Aeroplan miles expire every year if you don't keep flying. If you're in the middle, you'll want to look for something that has a low requirement to qualify for silver/gold? i.e. Aegean.

2) What's more important to you, free flights or lounge/perks? If you want cheap free flights look for an airline that still doesn't charge you for fuel tax. Although these are "free" flights, you are still responsible to pay for some fees and taxes. A ticket that would cost me about $40 on United can cost around $300 on Aeroplan. But when I signed up, Aeroplan had better perks, especially the 35000 mile gold requirement. And, they didn't charge the gas tax. They have now changed it to 50000 with gas tax.

3) Who do you fly with most often? For the most part, airlines require you to fly a minimum amount of miles with their airline if you want to qualify for anything. Aegean doesn't.... for now. If you're never going to fly with them, it's probably best to avoid that program.

4) Although these are loyalty cards, you do NOT need to be loyal. I have a card for each major alliance. A cheap flight is a cheap flight! Get them anytime you fly! You never know when you'll use them.

Now for the links. 
First check out one author's take on getting Easy Star Alliance Gold for Life with Aegean Air. This may become outdated in the near future. I have no idea how Aegean is surviving with this program.

Here's a link to Star Alliance. The partner airlines are scrolling on the right.
Here's a link to Sky Team. Look for the partner airlines at the bottom.
Here's a link to One World. The partner airlines are at the top.

Get a feel for which ones you'd fly more often. Then start researching their plans! I read a lot on the Flyer Talk forum when I first signed up. They have answered pretty much every question regarding frequent flyer programs ever. 

Do some good work figuring out which one you join, because you're a little stuck after you've started. The reason is, transferring points from one account to another is HORRIBLE. So you'll have to start back at the beginning if you want to change later.

After this trip I'm switching up to Aegean! Good Luck! Tell me how it goes!

Dec 12 2012 00:00:00