Welcome to Free Flyer School
Below are dozens of tutorials that will teach you how to earn travel points, how to redeem travel points, how to use Canadian Free Flyers, how to get cheap or free accommodation as well as tons of other useful tips and tactics for a life of travel. The tutorials are always updated when new information emerges so you will always be “up-to-date”. Don’t forget to check out the FAQ and deal-alerts as well!
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In this section, you’ll be learning about Canadian Free Flyers, what to expect from this course and what travel hacking is. We’ll also go over credit scores and how travel hacking effects them.
In order to redeem miles for your dream trip, you’ll need to earn them first. In this section, you’ll learn the variety of methods for earning miles.
In this section, you’ll learn how to get the most out of your hard-earned miles. From stopovers to open-jaws and everything in-between, you’ll know everything you need to know for making your dream trip a reality.
Flights are the main attraction of travel hacking but you’ll still need a place to stay when you get to your destination. In this section, you’ll learn how to “hack” your way to cheaper hotels as well as ditching hotels altogether and opting for one of the many different accommodation options such as couchsurfing, Airbnb, and house-sitting.
In this area, we’ll go over the main “VIP” tips of the travel hacking world. From airport lounges to different reward flight search engines, we’ll be adding tips to make your experience even better.
Although it’s small now, it is growing. Membership perks consist of discounts on a variety of travel goods.
Membership Perks offers travel-related products and services at a special Canadian Free Flyer discount.
TRAVEL HACKING QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Do I need to worry about losing my points?
You don’t need to “worry” about it but yes, points do expire. The most common expiration date is one year of no activity. This means that if you have Aeroplan points and do not use them for one year, they could expire. However, all you need to do is earn one point or spend one point to keep accounts active, so it isn’t that difficult. On another note, airlines have gone bankrupt in the past, which would make your points worthless. Not much to do about this but the best advice I can give is: Don’t hoard points for years and years. I know it’s kind of cool to see a frequent flyer mile balance skyrocket but it’s best if you actually use your points once you have them.
What if there are no reward seats left when I want to fly?
This can happen, especially when flying in high season or during holidays. In this case, you can either choose another place to visit, a different departure time, or try to fight it. I have heard that you can usually win if you choose to fight it but it can take some time and perseverance. Go back to the steps I laid out in “Redeeming Miles” and make sure your agent has looked as hard as he can at the many different options. If all options fail, just hang up and try again. You’d be surprised how many different answers you’ll get with different agents. This works in all industries – not just airlines. Keep in mind, your best chances of seat selection is more than three months before the departure or within the last month. Three months is better. If you know well in advance of your travels, you can also book up to 330 days in advance!
One last thing. Consider different destinations that are close to where you want to go. For example, you’re flying to New York for Christmas. This is probably a busy time to go. However, maybe you can find a different city in the state of New York that isn’t as busy, fly there and then take a bus or a cheap domestic flight to where you have to go. Get creative!
What about Westjet?
Westjet is a budget airline and does not have a good reward system in comparison to Aeroplan. They only offer “Westjet bucks”, which can only be used for Westjet. If you fly Westjet, collect them. Why not? But Westjet is simply not worthy of “travel hacking”. It’s just not a valuable enough system and without any partners, trips are limited. The airline itself is popular among Canadian travellers but personally, I only use them if there is a great deal on a particular flight. I would much rather focus on the many amazing reward programs out there and use Westjet only when I truly need them.
What happens if I forget to give my frequent flyer number when purchasing a flight?
Surprisingly, even after you fly, you can still call the airline and redeem the points – but it can be a pain in the ass. Make sure you have a copy of your boarding ticket on hand. With Aeroplan, I have actually received miles without the boarding ticket but you still need to know the exact times of your flight and the flight number. Also, this may not always work and you need to request the miles as soon as possible. Try to remember giving your number at the beginning. It’s a much easier process.
Can I use awards for one-way tickets?
This depends on the airline you are using but generally, yes. Aeroplan recently changed and made their system better for one-way rewards. A one-way reward is now half the points of a return-trip. This makes sense but it wasn’t like that a few years ago. A return-trip within Canada or the USA is 25,000 but a one-way is just 12,500! American Airlines actually uses one-way ticketing as their default. So generally yes, one-ways work. If the airline doesn’t offer a one-way, book a return-trip anyway with the return portion far in advance. Maybe you’ll need it after all and if not, just don’t show up. Note: Stopovers and open-jaws are not permitted on one-ways.
Can I give miles to people?
No, not really. There are systems out there like points.com that allow you transfer but you will LOSE much of their value. You CAN donate miles, usually by calling the airline and talking to them about it. They work with charities and will put those miles to good use. Much better than letting them expire. Another method is booking a flight for someone using your miles. Check with the airline first as some allow this and some don’t. Best to check with the carrier you’re using.
Should I sign up for more than one specific alliance carrier?
It totally depends. If you want to keep things simple, just sign up with one carrier from each of the three major alliances. For example, sign up for Air Canada Aeroplan and you now have access to the Star Alliance. However, as you get more involved in travel hacking, you may start to see other deals for United Airlines, which is also a member of the Star Alliance. In order to earn points with them directly, you would need a free rewards account. At that time, you can sign up for one. In the beginning, stick to one from each alliance and wait for a promotion to come out before signing up for another. you’ll be notified with deal alerts anyways.
What do I do if I don’t see points added to my account?
Wait a few weeks as it can be slow at times. If it seems something went wrong, call the airline. It always helps to hang on to the boarding pass or have a copy of it. If it’s with a promotion or a credit card, call whoever is responsible and explain your case. Most companies are great at handling these sorts of issues.
Can I combine miles between different accounts?
No. If you have 10,000 points with American Airlines and 15,000 with Air Canada, you can’t combine the two and have 25,000 points. You need to earn 25,000 points in each one (or whatever your goal is). The only programs that allow you to transfer are some credit card programs like American Express Rewards. Amex allows you to transfer to other programs such as Air Canada Aeroplan on 1:1 basis. Hotel reward programs also allow transfers at times but that’s because you’re transferring to an airline and NOT to another hotel. You can also use your points in one program to book on a partner airline. For example, you could use Aeroplan points (member of Star Alliance) to book a reward with United Airways (also a member of Star Alliance).