We travel for all kinds of reasons, whether it’s to spend time with family, to work, or to go on vacation. With the expected swell in traveling, it would be a good idea to discuss another important facet of traveling that is seldom discussed. We already know what to pack when traveling, but a lot of people are missing out on the wealth of benefits that can be reaped by signing up for an airline’s frequent flyer’s program.
Frequent flyer programs have been around for a while, and almost every airline has them. These are free rewards programs that allow you to accrue points whenever you fly. If you gain enough points, then you can use them to get perks such as free tickets for international or domestic flights, upgrade your seat to business or first class, get access to airport private lounges, hotel stays with partnered hotels and some airlines also allow you to cash in goods and services on their online shops!
You can also use them to lower the costs of flights by paying partly in miles and cash.
Through these programs you are supposed to accrue points based on how many miles you’ve flown, but many companies, such as Delta, American and United have started to shift away from this model to one where you gain points based on how much you spend on your ticket, in order to gain more revenue.
According to a chart by Skift, this new model favors people who travel short distances but pay more on airfare when it comes to gaining points. Therefore, it’s important to research how your airline awards them.
You can also earn them from airlines that have the new model by signing up for a credit card that’s partnered with them, many of which offer sign-up bonuses, and gain miles by using it when you buy groceries, go out to eat, etc. There are also hotels that allow you to transfer hotel loyalty points so you could also gain miles through hotel stays.
If you are super close to having enough points to redeem something but don’t quite have enough for it, a lot of airlines provide opportunities to buy miles.
Some other things to be aware of and research before deciding on a specific program is whether there is a minimum number of miles that need to be flown before you can start earning. Another thing to be aware of are blackout dates, which are dates when travel rewards or promotions aren’t available and are usually during peak travel seasons. Also, make sure to check the policies in regards to when miles expire, which can be between two to three years but varies.
Many airlines also have partnerships with each other, allowing you to gain and use your miles across various carriers! The three major partnerships are: SkyTeam (which is the one Delta is a part of!), Star Alliance and One World. So if you join a frequent flyer program, such as Delta’s, then you could accumulate miles through Delta and then redeem them with another airline in their alliance, such as Air France.
Overall, it is a good financial decision if you do decide to sign up for a frequent flyer’s program, but as with any decision, it is very personal and you should consider things such as: how often you fly, how much you pay for flights and whether the perks are worth it to you? But considering Atlanta is home to the busiest airport in the world and also hosts Delta’s headquarters, it might be worthwhile to look into.
Again they are free to sign up for so if you are planning on travelling, then it makes sense to start gaining perks and benefits that you would otherwise miss out on!