Merri and I both took our first international flight in 1968. Since then, we have both travelled more than a million miles and have learned a lot about getting the best air deals.
Merri is the grand master at finding low cost..comfortable deals. For example you’ll see below she recently brought our son from London England to Charlotte North Carolina for $17.85…including tax…round trip!
By Merri Scott
In the past, buying airline tickets and trying to use miles for airline awards has been a tricky, mind blowing, frustrating experience.
Today, I find it easy and sometimes even fun!
Gary and I crossed the Atlantic every three weeks year in and year out, and hosted seminars all over the US and the globe…so I’ve been at this business for more years than I care to remember!
Back in the 80s in London, we had a way out Greek travel agent…he once sold us a huge packet of tickets for a string of one day conferences all over the US…Gary loved the price!
But, when I looked at the schedule, well, every other day, we had to return to Detroit…it was LA back to Detroit, then San Francisco back to Detroit, Cincinnati back to Detroit, Chicago, back to Detroit…it was cheap, yes but so horrible that on the last segment as we returned one more time to Detroit, we burst out laughing.
From that day forward, I pay attention before I buy.
Each flight is important and I look at the total number of hours for a trip not just the price.
The Internet has revolutionized ticketing. It is kind of fun on www.kayak.com because they instantly show the number of hours for the duration of each flight. I look at this before I even look at the price. Very important.
But today, I was searching and researching. I saw for a friend a flight to Quito from an airport only 40 minutes away from her usual departure point and saved her $400. You can do a lot of fiddling with the help of websites.
For instance, the calendar pops up on Kayak and lets you see which is the cheapest fare for which day…sometimes all of us can be flexible and when we can…well today for Atlanta to Quito it varied over $300 from day to day…very interesting, quick and easy to spot.
“But Miles, how about miles?” Gary asked. “How easy are they to redeem in this market?”
Miles are far, far easier than in the past. It used to be a weary chore with a representative on the phone for hours asking “What about this date, what about that date, how does Thursday look instead of Friday?” Today, it’s down right easy…and all spelled out on most sites with a calendar….you can spot the best deals quick and easy.
First of all, we don’t ever use miles for ourselves. We try to make our trips tax deductible events so we use our miles for our kids. Also if miles are used for ourselves, it messes up our elite rank. We’re not much for being elitists, but believe me our travel weary bodies dearly love to be upgraded, spread out, relaxed and able to breathe better in business or first class!
For instance, miles on Delta. It is wonderfully simple…just hit the key on the search for reservations. (Always if it is possible on your upcoming trip, check the flexibility box for dates…this can help in lowering the number of miles needed.)
I know an awful lot of people with a great accumulation of Delta miles…us included. When good ol’ Pan Am went out, Gary and I had over 250,000 miles each. We gnashed our teeth for a few weeks, only to be surprised that Delta sent a notice that they would gladly honor our miles. Ah, we swooned and have been loyal for years.
One trouble with all these miles, often there is a black out date or some sort of restriction.
You can beat these problems with one simple step. Just do this, (if it is Delta miles) upgrade yourself (or use the card if you already have it) to a Gold and/or Platinum Delta Miles Amex card. You’ll get a double bonus, earn a bunch of miles as well as get bonus miles for each segment PLUS (and this is a big one) have an automatic key on your delta.com account site. This key is PAY WITH MILES.
You are allowed to pay with miles, money and/or any combination.
Two weeks ago, I bought our darling grandson and his mother a last minute expensive ticket to a holiday event…$20 for the two of them. How? Well, I signed on to Gary’s delta.com account. (He’s a platinum and I’m only a gold!) Those little precious 3 words “Pay With Miles” popped up.
I didn’t need permission on the phone, I could instantly and easily scroll down, choose the number of miles and presto…$20 bucks. “Quick, buy those tickets”, I thought.
Our son came from London for the month in August…and at the last minute…so I perused all the flights/deals and then went to Gary’s account…and those same 3 little words gave me a round trip ticket from London to Charlotte for $17.85…inlcuding tax!
If you use just award tickets, you might be surprised to see an awfully high surcharge as a tax…but these little “pay for miles” don’t have those huge add ons…plus no black outs…just scroll down, click, buy and you got it.
I like this a lot.
For Amercian Airlines, I don’t see any of these options, but I do see a clear cut easy way of judging the amount needed for an award ticket by the days of the month (outbound and return) clearly shown on the calendar. You can see availability and the number of miles required.
I also like this a lot.
Click on the lowest mile day and just buy.
Got Miles? Use them. Head out of the winter weather for the Land of the Sun, Ecuador!
Got miles? Use them to join Merri and me for a course or tour in Ecuador this winter.
Join us in Cotacachi.
Jan. 16-21 Ecuador Spanish Course
Jan. 22-23 Imbabura Real Estate Tour
Jan. 24-27 Coastal Real Estate Tour
Enjoy our chef ad we help at times) for great fresh Ecuador seafood!
Feb. 9-11 Beyond Logic
Feb. 13-15 International Business & Investing Made EZ
Feb. 16-17 Imbabura Real Estate Tour
Or join us on the coast.
See Ecuador’s incredible scenery.
March 8-9 Imbabura Real Estate Tour
March 10-15 Ecuador Export Expedition
March 16-19 Coastal Real Estate Tour
Here is our Ecuador tour schedule for the balance of 2009.
Date Course Couples Fee
May 21-26 Ecuador Spanish Course ($999)
May 27-28 Imbabura Real Estate Tour ($749)
June 12-15 Shamanic Mingo Tour ($999)
June 16-17 Imbabura Real Estate Tour ($749)
June 18-21 Coastal Real Estate Tour ($749)
July 2-7 Ecuador Import Export Expedition ($1,499)
July 8-9 Imbabura Real Estate Tour ($749)
July 10-13 Coastal Real Estate Tour ($749)
Sept. 17-22 Ecuador Spanish Course ($999)
Sept. 23-24 Imbabura Real Estate Tour ($749)
Sept. 25-28 Coastal Real Estate Tour ($749)
Oct. 21-26 Ecuador Import Export Expedition ($1,499)
Nov. 6-8 International Investing and Business Made EZ Ecuador ($999)
Nov. 9-10 Imbabura Real Estate Tour ($749)
Nov. 11-14 Coastal Real Estate Tour ($749)
Better still join us all year in Ecuador! See our entire schedule of 27 courses, tours, mingos and expeditions we’ll conduct in 2009 and how to attend as many of them as you like FREE.
The course fee includes meeting at Quito airport (day before the
course)…transportation (by group bus) to Cotacachi and back to Quito.
Course fee does not include air are. accommodations, food or individual transportation.