Snagging Prime Dates With Frequent Flyer Miles

Like a dog trying to kiss its own reflection in a pond, using frequent flyer to fly when and where you wants can leave you wet and unsatisfied.

Employing a trick gleaned from Peter Greenberg, author of “The Travel Detective” Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter John Ewoldt was able to actually cash in his miles in a manner he found pleasing.

How the gambit works, after the jump…

First, try to book a seat using frequent flyer miles. If you get it, great, enjoy your complimentary roast flying pig. If not, take the first available seat, even if it’s for days or even weeks later. Then show up at the airport with your e-ticket on the date you really wanted to fly on. Ask to get on a flight that day.

Make sure to keep track, though, as your choice date arrives near, of available coach seats. If none are available, this stratagem’s success is slim. Once you arrive at the airport, ask for your ticket change. The reporter was successful, though Northwest dinged him for $50 each way, which was still about $350 cheaper than what he would have normally.

You also have to be up for some pleading and begging if the situation gets tight but Greenberg reportedly has never an airport disappointed in this method.

Anyone else try this? Or wanna, and tell us how well it works?

How frequent flier found way to spread his wings” [Star-Tribune] (Thanks to Jennifer!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. mschlock says:

    This just made the must-pre-plan-everything control-freak section of my brain implode.

    Seriously, there are people in this world who don’t mind packing up their stuff on some random date and closing up their house and going to the airport and standing in line without actually being reasonably sure they’ll actually make it onto an airplane that day? Golly!

    I mean, who will take care of the cat?

  2. ModerateSnark says:

    No matter how big your smile and how short your skirt, getting your wrong-date free tickets moved up to your secret-real-pre-planned date must be tougher when you’ve got two carry-on dogs with you.

  3. Morgan says:

    ModerateSnark must be drunk on the sense of power he’s gotten from being in the best comments section for two weeks in a row. He’s just spouting gibberish now.

  4. RandomHookup says:

    It’s actually a kind of Dada approach to commenting. Moderate has moved beyond us onto a new plain of commentary.

  5. TedSez says:

    Dear Evil Minions,

    It worked! We’ve finally made our system so difficult to use that passengers are begging to hang out at the airport all day and pay us an extra 50 bucks just to be allowed to spend their miles. And they actually seem to think they’re getting away with something! Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!

    — Your Evil Airline Frequent-Flyer Director

  6. John says:

    Now, I mostly fly business only type flights, Detroit to St Louis,
    Detroit to WDC, but those flights in the last couple of months have
    been FULL, unless I flew on Sunday evening. Forget it, if you don’t
    have a seat, you’ll be hanging at the airport, doing the sucker dance.
    And without a valid boarding pass you can’t even wait at the bar for a
    seat to open.

    Take it from the Frequent Flyer(TM), this is not smart advice.

  7. Jeff says:

    “Sucker Dance” — that’s rich.

  8. I’ve never tried this with a free ticket, but I can tell you that when I had some difficulties during a trip to NYC last year and had to return early, I was able to go to the airport (LaGuardia) and ask the airline (Northwest) that I be allowed to fly back right now (Monday) instead of my original return date (Thursday). They charged me $35 to change the tickets and put me on a flight departing in an hour. I was pleased.

  9. ppk30 says:

    I have to say that I have flown on many frequent flier tickets and will only subscribe to the program that American Airlines offers. I’ve always been able to get the dates I need. If for some chance you can’t, book a date and then you can change the ticket as many times as you want for no extra charge (as far as I’ve encountered). I once decided I wanted to leave a vacation a week early and called that morning and was on a flight that afternoon, no questions asked, no charges.

  10. Amy Alkon says:

    This tactic is great for men who bring one small overnight bag with a suit and a toothbrush for a week in Europe.