Who enjoys a flight from hell?
You are stuck in the longest queue for a flight EVER, the toddler behind banging his Trunkie incessantly into your ankles whilst mum screams at his elder brother who is refusing to do as she asks. A baby is screaming at the top of its lungs and a group of twenty somethings are bellowing away over zealously at some drink fuelled joke. Sound familiar?
You haven’t even boarded your ten-hour flight to the States yet and already you think it is going to be hell. As you seriously consider running for the train and offloading your bags, a scruffy looking mad professor type ambles past, jumps the queue and leisurely wanders onto the plane. Git, you secretly think…
No he hasn’t pushed in, he just happens to be flying business. He isn’t rich, he isn’t a millionaire, a business man or frequent flier, but he is savvy about travel hacking techniques and that’s why he gets to fly in style far from the stressed mums, drunken holidaymakers and screaming babies. You can too.
This challenge is for those people who want to indulge in a little luxury without paying the luxury price tag to do so. Over the course of the 90-day challenge, you will learn lots of different ways to earn BA miles (and rewards for other frequent flyer programs) which you can redeem for BA reward flights in business class for less than the cost of economy.
I will be covering the UK aspects of travel hacking, but for US based wannabe hackers, Jackie from The Globetrotting Teacher will be on hand to share her extensive travel hacking knowledge. There will also be input from LeAnna of Economical Excursionists who brings additional expertise on the US with a European slant as she is currently based in a small town in Germany.
Between us, we will be providing you with step by step templates to assist you in achieving your goals, whether it be a once in a lifetime trip for your wedding, honeymoon or anniversary, or whether you simply want to take an annual long-haul trip in style. You will also gain access to handy infographics covering key topics which you will be able to return to again and again.
So are you in? If so, we’d love you to get involved on Twitter or Facebook. We have set up a dedicated Facebook group so if you haven’t already joined, pop on over there and request to join. We would love to have you onboard. Don’t worry if you stumble upon this post part way through the challenge, just jump on in and join the group.
Why not let everyone know that you are going for the #TTG4L 90-day challenge by sharing a tweet like the one below?
|‘I’m taking the #TTG4L 90 Day Challenge’ Via @TTGLOBE4L|
Step one – what do I do first?
You may be itching to dive on in and get collecting but let’s take a step back. Why are you here? What made you check out this post, the challenge or Facebook group? What motivated you to find out more?
The most important step for beginner travel hackers is to decide why you want to travel hack. This is especially important in the UK, as travel hacking requires effort. Yes, we are going to help make it easier for you, but you will need to be prepared to invest some time and effort to succeed. For this reason, it is essential you have a clear goal.
By the way, if you are secretly wondering if you have to be rich to fly business class, you may want to check out ‘How to fly business class for less than economy.’ This demonstrates that luxury for less travel is possible for mere mortals.
But back to your goal – I urge you to think about why you are here and download our handy infographic
so you can record this information. For me, it was simple, I didn’t want to fly long-haul in economy class when I could fly business class for less. Whilst I have always loved flying, in economy or otherwise, flying business class is sheer, foot-hopping excitement for me. It’s the best way to start your journey (other than travelling in First of course!).
With a clear goal, you will have a compelling reason to complete the challenges that we will be setting each week and it is these small steps that will help you reach your goal.
Join the conversation
We will often invite you to join the conversation on social media. This is where you hop on over to Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook or another preferred social media channel and share your progress with others.
Think of the#TTG4L 90-day Facebook Group as your support group. Much in the same way that people join Weightwatchers to benefit from the support and knowledge of others in their quest to lose weight, you will be able to share your experience and knowledge with others wanting to become expert travel hackers.
It’s a great way for you to kick-start your collecting and keep you motivated. Plus, I’d love to know how you are getting on!
Why not give it a try now! Jackie and I would love to hear from you.
|‘I want to fly to [enter destination] for less with the #TTG4L 90 Day Challenge’ Via @TTGLOBE4L|
Your Travel Hacking Goals
So let’s start with YOUR goal. Maybe you aren’t sure what your goal is yet but that’s awesome. That means you get to have lots of fun thinking of one. Maybe a trio to Buenos Aires to learn the tango, or to Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro? The world really is your oyster.
So stop what you are doing and complete the following goal statement.
‘I want to travel hack because I want to go to [enter destination] for [enter reason] in [enter date and year]. Without travel hacking, it would cost me [enter cost].
‘I want to travel hack because I want to fly to Sydney in first class for my honeymoon in 2018. Without travel hacking, it would cost me £8,000. ’
I’m not going to go into the psychology of goal setting but there are a few important things to note. Your goal must be specific and it must be time bound. It’s no good saying I want to go somewhere, sometime as that is not going to get you focused. You can see from this example that to achieve this goal would cost £8,000 but what if you could do it for little over a £1,000? That would be pretty compelling, right? That cost saving might be all you need to remain motivated on days when you are wading through credit card receipts and paying bills (yes, I am afraid you do have to pay them off!).
Think big! Get your thinking cap on and start dreaming. Maybe you are getting married and want to kick off your honeymoon in style. Maybe you wish to celebrate your 25th wedding anniversary somewhere exotic. Be clear and your motivation will be high!
You may need to do a quick search on Skyscanner to find out how much your goal is going to cost you before you can complete the last box but don’t move on until you have figured out what your goal is.
If you aren’t sure yet, feel free to jot some ideas down on your handy infographic or get chatting in the #TTG4L 90 day challenge group. I’m sure that travel savvy bunch will be able to help out with ideas. Of course, once you have figured out what you want to achieve, come over to Facebook and share your goal with us.
For the record, I want to go the Cape Town in first class for my tenth wedding anniversary. It’s not until March 2018 but I’m planning now so I have the points in situe ready to book.
Step two – Pick your Alliance
Before you can get your plan underway, you need to do a little strategic research.
I am going to be mainly referencing British Airways throughout the course of the challenge because I am British, based in the UK and therefore British Airways offers the greatest route availability for me (although some of the airline carriers from the Middle East are becoming contenders!).
Secondly, the best credit card (in my opinion anyway) for UK residents is the British Airways Credit card which offers not only the best earnings rate of 1.5 for every £1 spent but also a valuable BA companion voucher (more about that later.
The British Airways programme may however not be the best option for you, particularly if you are not based in the UK, so it is important that you follow the steps below before committing to ensure the greatest chance of success.
- Identify which airlines you fly with
- Cross reference with the free airline alliance infographic to identify the best alliance for you
- Pick your preferred airline within that alliance
- Sign up for their Loyalty Programme
- Repeat for other household members
Let’s look at each of these steps in turn
Identify which airlines you fly with
This is pretty self-explanatory. Being British, I tend to fly British Airways often but may use Qatar Airlines, Emirates, Etihad, Turkish, Delta and United. I would complete box one as follows:
|Which airlines do I use?||Which airlines do you use?|
||Please insert details of your preferred airlines|
Check out the airline alliance
It is much easier to build rewards quickly if your airline is part of an alliance. There are a number of BA partner airlines within the Oneworld alliance, which includes Finnair, Qatar airlines, Berlin Airlines, Iberia, Qantas and many more. The airline alliance infographic gives you a quick overview of which airline belongs to which (yes, sometimes they are a member of more than one).
It is worth noting at this point that some airlines do not belong to a formal airline alliance however they have partner airlines with whom you can earn and redeem points. Emirates Skywards and Virgin Atlantic are good examples of this. The end result is the same but you will only find reference to partners on their site.
|Turkish Airlines||Star Alliance|
You can see that although I am using nine airlines, I only need to be a member of an airline from each of the five alliances/partner groups I have identified. Of course, the question then is do I join British Airways or Qatar Airline’s scheme? (Note: You do not join Oneworld but select one of the airlines within the alliance.)
Whenever you fly with any other BA partner airline within the Oneworld group, you simply quote your chosen airline membership number and earn points once the flight has been taken.
So I now know I need to select an airline from each of the following five partner groups.
1) Open world
2) Star Alliance
3) Emirates Skywards
4) Etihad Guest
5) Delta Skymiles
Pick Your Airline
The question is, which airline club should I join? Do I join British Airways Executive Club or Qatar Airlines Privilege Club?
This is where step three is critical. You will need to do some research on each of the member airlines’ sites to establish:
1) if they offer a branded credit card allowing additional points to be earned without flying
2) what routes they offer. Maybe you would be able to use one airline more than another
3) whether they have any other promotions which would make them more appealing.
In my example, I selected British Airways because of the British Airways credit card which allows me to earn 1.5 points per £1 spent. British Airways also offer a companion voucher for any year in which I spend £10,000 on the card and offer long and short haul route options meaning I am naturally going to fly with them more frequently.
For Star Alliance, Lufthansa is a better option than United for me, because they offer long and short haul options whereas United only offer earning options for long-haul transatlantic flights.
Note: please don’t do what I did and join both. I did this before I started being more strategic with my collecting but it now means I have small amounts in each. It will take me much longer to be able to redeem points from either scheme for business class.
You can use an handy table like this to collate the information as you go.
|Airline||Route Availability||Credit Card||Promotions|
|Long||Short||Do they have a credit card?||Earnings Rate per £1 spend||Charge or Credit card||APR||Sign up Bonus?||Companion voucher?|
|British Airways||Yes||Yes||Yes||1.5 points per £1||Credit||25,000||Yes|
|Lufthansa||Yes||Yes||Yes||1 point per £1||Credit|
So I am sure you get the idea by now…
Step three – Sign up for your loyalty clubs
So, having selected your chosen airlines you are now ready to start signing up for frequent flyer programs of your chosen airlines. So what are you waiting for? You may wish to use the table below to make a note of your membership number, and login details. I’ve popped in an example but I am sure you don’t need it. After all, you are smart – that’s how you figured out there was a better way to travel in style!
|Airline||Member (You or your spouse)||Membership Number||User Name||Password|
There is just one remaining step to take care of this week. You have signed up for your accounts, but have you also signed up your spouse and children?
Providing you all live at the same address, you can add up to six people to your household account thus combining all your points and allowing you to rocket fuel your collection.
Although this may seem like a lot of work, please don’t skip this step as doing this thoroughly at the outset will mean you achieve your dream quicker.
Your tasks this week
So here’s a recap of your tasks for the week:
- Identify your preferred airline alliance
- Identify your preferred airline within that alliance
- Sign up you and your partner and children for their loyalty program
- Record all the details of your frequent flyer programs on the handy infographic
- Share your progress on the #TTG4L 90 day challenge Facebook group or pop a comment below
If you have any queries, you can get in touch below or in the Facebook group. Don’t be shy as Jackie, LeAnna and I really want to help you on your way to more miles. No question is foolish and we will aim to reply as quickly as humanly possible (please be patient as we both have full time jobs but will aim to get back to you as soon as possible).
How about a freebie?
As a thank you for visiting #TTG4L today, how would you like a FREE copy of my E-book? This taster copy gives you some great insight into getting started with airmiles so you will be on your way to business class travel in no time.