Tips for Flying on a Budget

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When I started my first company, traveling to key events seemed vital to our success. In the years since then, I have made it to some events and missed others. The ones I was able to attend gave me inspiration, drive, and brought new friendships.

So it's a no brainier to fly out to major events each year right? Like many before me, the joy quickly dissipates when you see the flight prices. I remember my first flight from Wichita, KS to Santa Barbra, CA was close to $600 round trip. I have heard horror stories of $800+ domestic flights too. There are some great options that can snag you $150 flights or less, but they usually end up a one way, or between popular cities. Over the years, I have found some neat tricks to save you big bucks or even pay for your trip.

Three Tips to Save on Flying

  1. Be Nice.
    Unfortunately I know this because I have been mean before. Don't worry, I act like Buddy the Elf in airports now! The moment you get snippy with a gate agent, or anyone in charge of your future travel plans, get ready for cramped seats and long layovers. The bittersweet truth is most people are rude or don't even pay attention to these people, which means kindness and a little bit of love goes a long way.
  2. Just Ask.
    On my flight earlier today, I sat next to a man we'll call John. He shared with me his experience trying to get out of Wichita after the bad weather we had. He had been delayed overnight, pushed back from a 6:30am flight, to an 11:00am flight, then to the 4:30pm flight and he still won't get home until midnight. At this point I thought his frustration may take over and he would go on a rant, but calm as can be he said, “I actually don't mind the delays.” Then he proceed to explain that in all the overbookings by the airlines, they were required to pay him for his missed flights. I actually saw the notice when I checked in this morning, $150 was the offer to go on standby. Turns out, he asked what kind of compensation he could get and due to his itinerary he was offered the option of a voucher, or a check for $914. Asking can gain you little things that make your flight so much smoother. For all you tall folks out there, ask the ticket agent about bulkhead seating. Exit isles are almost always more now, but on our last flight to Australia, we got bulkhead seats for $15 round trip. With the same legroom as an exit isle seat, it's just as roomy. When you compare that to a $180 change for exit isle seat one way it's a ripper of a deal!
  3. Explore the Frequent Flyer world. There is an underground hobby community of people who play the Frequent Flyer game. The principle revolves around using your good credit and responsible spending habits to rack up miles and hotel points from credit card sign up bonuses. My most recent example is 2 Domestic Round trip tickets for $99. These tickets came with a Southwest credit card signup offer. The way it worked was like this:
  • Spend $2000 in 3 months – This was easily done with our normal business expenses.
  • Pay $99 annual card fee – It's good to note there are cards out there without these fees.
  • Pay off the card each month as usual – Make sure to be diligent about not taking on interest. If you don't have the $$ don't spend it. We choose to use all our cards like debit cards. Easy as that, once we fulfilled the card requirements, 50,000 miles were posted to our Southwest account. That's our round trip tickets to Showit United 2015! It's a fun hobby, but certainly not for everyone.  Before I started I researched a lot. I suggest you do the same. The two best websites I found on this are FrugalTravelGuy and FlyerTalk. What's been your best travel fare?

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