Friday, 10 February 2017

Are the Airlines Losing Millions to This "Cheap Flights" Loophole?

Guest Post By James Pankaew
On her husband’s 40th birthday, Summer Hull took her and her husband on an around the world trip. Starting in Houston, they visited Amsterdam, Istanbul, Maldives, and Singapore. They flew business class and paid almost nothing in flights.
Brad Wilson took his wife, four year old daughter and one year old son to Disneyland. The flights for four family members, plus the cost of luxury hotels, would have normally been over $5,000. He paid just $1.10.
David Weliver took his family of four from Portland to Texas for a wedding. In cash, those flights would have cost at least $2,000. They flew for free.
These are just some of the many Americans who are figuring out the airlines’ systems and using it to get free flights.
People Have Been Outsmarting the System for Decades
There have always been those who’ve figured out loopholes that let them get discounted flights.
For years, savvy travelers have known about strategies like:
  • Buying flights on the foreign version of a website to get lower prices (for instance, Mexico’s expedia.mx instead of expedia.com.)
  • Booking flights at peak travel times, then deliberately getting bumped to a later flight in exchange for free flight vouchers.
  • Booking a 2-leg flight and skipping on the second leg. Instead of booking from San Francisco to Atlanta, book from San Francisco to Nashville with a connection in Atlanta. Get off the plane at Atlanta and save $200.
These loopholes - and many others - have allowed smart travelers to save hundreds on their flights over the years.
However ...
While Older Strategies Can Save You Hundreds, New Strategies Yield Practically Free Flights
“We want people to be able to use these strategies not to fly for free but to control your experience,” says Glen Hauenstein, president of Delta Airlines. Yet that is exactly what passengers all over the country are doing.
People like Summer, Brad and David aren’t unique. Thousands of Americans from all walks of life have figured out how to leverage loopholes in the airline industry to book “nearly free” flights.
And while the airlines would love to shut down these strategies, their contracts with key partners prevent them from doing so. Although they can’t shut down these tactics entirely, airline executives like Delta’s Glen Hauenstein have made an effort to make it more difficult to take advantage of these loopholes.
Fortunately, a travel writer has created a video detailing the step by step process anyone can use to book virtually free travel using these strategies.
How “Free” is “Nearly Free?"
While these strategies can get your actual airfare waived, you’ll still need to pay for:
  • Taxes billed by the airports,
  • Fuel surcharges (needed to fly the plane,)
  • Taxes levied by local governments
In total, these costs usually come out to between $5 to $25. Naturally, compared to the normal ticket price of $400 (domestic) or $1,200 (international,) these taxes and fuel charges are a steal.
In other words, using these strategies, you’ll be able to book flights like:
  • New York to Spain for $17
  • San Francisco to Peru for $5.25
  • Miami to Thailand for $12
  • Austin to Los Angeles for $6
To learn more about how you can use these strategies to book “nearly free” travel for yourself and your loved ones, just watch this short video.


Sources:
bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-03-04/airlines-really-don-t-want-to-upgrade-people-for-free
viewfromthewing.boardingarea.com/2012/01/07/how-to-use-hidden-city-and-throwaway-ticketing-to-save-money-on-airfare/
mommypoints.boardingarea.com/2015/01/06/introduction-trip-around-world-points/
moneycrashers.com/get-free-flights-travel

Monday, 2 January 2017

Passing time in Marbella

I've been a bit quiet for the last couple of weeks. I'd like to say that there's a good reason for this but honestly, I just don't like the 'festive' period. However, New Year means new motivation so I'm back!

Statues complete with typical Spanish graffiti

After my short visit to Marbella (I still need to tell you about my crazy AirBnB experience) I arrived at the InHouse hostel in Marbella where I've been hiding for the last two weeks. This is another HelpX host and the work is basically being a night porter. I start at 10 pm, do an hour or so of ironing, hang around watching tv or looking at facebook till about 2 am so that I can help any guests or do any late check-ins. After that, it's off to bed and the land of nod in the hope that no one rings the bell.

I have daytimes free and there's another volunteer so we take turns doing 3 or 4 nights each. With a small allowance for food and a kitchen in the hostel, it's really not a bad deal. There are plenty of interesting guests around to speak to and I had a very pleasant time bringing in the New Year on the roof terrace with some wine and a small group of friendly guests.

View from the terrace of InHouse Hostel


I've been working very hard on my Spanish spending at least 2-3 hours on the computer every day, talking with guests and going once a week to a language exchange at a local bar. This is a great weekly event which I found on MeetUp.com and is more than just an excuse to have a few drinks. It's organised by a local Spanish guy and is attended each week by a mix of Spanish, British and other nationalities. We speak in a mix of Spanish and English so everyone gets a go at sounding like a dafty!

My Spanish is definitely improving. When I first arrived at InHouse hostel I couldn't understand a single word that the cleaner, a local Marbella girl, was saying. She talks very fast Andaluz which is the notoriously difficult to understand local dialect of Andalucia. Two weeks in and I'm slowly starting to make some sense of her verbal gunfire! I've got another month here so if I can understand a bit more of what she's saying by the end of January then I'll feel like I've succeeded.

Lady waterskiing in Marbella


Other highlights over the last couple of weeks have included a karaoke bar (no, I didn't sing), excessive meat consumption at an Argentinian restaurant (vegetable for the rest of the month), finally breaking the ancient iPhone and getting a new handset with a Spanish number (so shiny) and I've grown a beard (every travelling male has to go through this phase, right? Also, it's fashionable at the moment). With all the free time that I will have while here, I plan to visit the surrounding villages, head into the mountains, spend a day in Gibralter and perhaps head back to Malaga for a couple of nights to visit some of the places that I missed while I was there.