#1 Join the airline loyalty program(s)
If you know you’re going to be shuttling around one particular region for a while and/or using a particular airline for more than one flight, it is often well worth joining that airline’s rewards/miles programs (particularly if it’s a Middle-eastern or Asian airline).
Doing this often makes you more likely to receive upgrades, better online seating options and preferential treatment (however minor!) when you fly with that airline. It took us less than a year including 1 business class round trip (great value route which I’ve shared in the forum) and a couple of single economy flights to get enough points for a free return flight back to the UK from Dubai, plus reaching Silver status with the Emirates Skywards program
#2 Find the discount airlines
Not sure which budget airlines fly the route you’re looking for? Air Ninja lists all budget and discount airlines that fly the route you’re looking for.
#3 Pick the best airline
If you’re searching for fares and you get a choice between Macedonian Airlines or Air Algerie and have no idea which airline to go for, use the Airline Quality site to check out the airline first.
#4 Don’t overpay for your airfare
If you’re trying to figure out just when to buy your air tickets, use Farecast to determine whether the price will rise or drop if you wait. You can also use Yapta which alerts you if prices drop – and also helps you claim a refund credit if the price rises once you’ve purchased.
#5 Check in online 24/7
Check Me In enables you to check in online for your flight immediately after you’ve purchased your tickets. Very useful if your internet access is limited or online check in starts in the middle of the night and you want good seats.
#6 Always get the best seats
One of our first stops whenever we book a flight is always SeatGuru. If you’re on Twitter, make sure you also follow @SeatGuru for additional support, requests and updates. If you check in online and are a member of the airline loyalty program, you should stand an excellent chance of getting the seats you want.
#7 Ship your luggage ahead
A useful service if you want to ship any luggage ahead or if you have any excess baggage or awkward sports items you want to take with you.
#8 Make full use of airport lounges
If you, like us, run your business on the move then being able to use airport lounges is a godsend. Free food, free drinks and usually free wireless internet access make a 6 hour layover not only bearable but also productive. There are typically 4 main ways to gain access to airport lounges:
- By flying in business or 1st class
- By being at least a 2nd tier member of an airline’s reward program
- By having a Priority Pass card giving you access to lounges worldwide
- By paying a one-off fee
#9 Make use of airport arrival services
Some airports have excellent arrival services (such as the Marhaba service in Dubai) which can help you sort out visas, whizz you through immigration and customs and generally be a useful resource if you’re arriving in a strange, new country or you’re arriving during a peak period.
#10 Travel with receipts & documentation
If you have a fair amount of expensive equipment with you (laptop, camera, iPod, iPhone etc.), be sure to carry the receipts with you whenever you return to your home country (if you purchased them there, that is). This will help prove you left the country with these items and ensure you don’t have to pay duty on them whenever you return.