Save up to 60% on Business and First Class International Air
Strategies 6 & 7 might
get you free lounge passes as well as discounted business
and first class travel.
3 of a 3 part series - click for Parts
Update - the MileSpy program no
longer exists, but if you can find alternate ways to buy miles
for less than their value to you, you should still pursue such
opportunities with alacrity.
The other suggestions remain
valid and valuable. Good luck on your quest for the best
value international premium cabin travel.
Special Bonus Strategy :
Frequent Flier Mileage Purchase Deal
Here's a wonderful end of
year bonus that can enable you to buy frequent flier miles at
less than 1c per mile! Strategy 5 in part two of this series
showed how frequent flier miles can get you the cheapest
possible premium cabin tickets, even when you're paying 2.5c-3c
a mile - here now is a chance to buy miles for less than half
the normal price!
There are two ways you can
do this - the easy way and the cheap way. The easy way is to go
MileSpy website and have them do it all for you. They will
sell you the miles at the slightly increased rate of 1.5c per
mile in return for taking care of the all the somewhat
convoluted paperwork. I have spoken with one of the two owners
of this company, and have also received high praise of them and
their service from Mileage Guru Randy Petersen; they seem to be
reputable and reliable, and by charging the miles to your credit
card, you retain the ability to dispute the charge for up to 60
days if you don't get what they promise.
Alternatively, if you want
to jump through all the hoops yourself, you can go directly to
the Radisson GoldRewards site, where they have a special
promotion making miles available for as little as 0.9c/mile
(plus you get valuable magazine subscriptions essentially 'for
free' as well!). Details about how the program works are
Randy Petersen's excellent website (as well as on the
Note that this special offer
is only available through 4 January at the MileSpy website, or
through 31 December through Radisson directly.
This is a wonderful deal and
the MileSpy people report that they are being deluged with
people buying as many as a million miles at a time! At these
prices, it is no wonder, and if you think you have any chance of
valuably using the miles, I urge you to join the stampede!
Strategy 6 : Get Help from a
Okay, to a lot of you
internet mavens, an 'old fashioned' travel agent may seem
exactly that - old fashioned. But if you can find a good travel
agent, you'll find that they remain just as invaluable today as
they ever have been when it comes to saving you money and
helping you with your travel plans.
Here are a couple of
examples how travel agents can uniquely help you.
First, they can guide you
through the 'consolidator/bucket shop' minefield. Although many
companies will claim to be consolidators, the 'true'
consolidators are companies which deal exclusively with travel
agents, not direct to the public. Anyone that sells direct to
you is just another discount travel agency (just like a so
called 'direct to the public wholesaler' or factory outlet) in
any other industry.
True consolidation, via a
travel agent, is available for business and first class fares as
well as for coach fares. I recommend you negotiate with your
travel agent how much they will keep as commission, up front, so
that there are no misunderstandings. It seems fair that they
should earn $100 a ticket as a minimum, and perhaps more
depending on how special the saving that can be shared between
you. Expect a consolidator ticket to be sold to the travel agent
for generally 20% up to sometimes as much as 50% below the full
published fare (discounts vary depending on your itinerary and
In addition, sometimes there
are other special 'hidden' deals that airlines discreetly
release as a way of secretly discounting their published
business and first class fares. For example, if you are looking
at traveling to the South Pacific on a business class fare, it
may be cheaper to buy a package holiday from a specialist travel
company and then get a non-advertised upgrade to business
class than it would be to buy a business class ticket by itself!
You'll never find this anywhere on the internet, and if you
called the major airline involved in this directly, they
wouldn't/couldn't sell it to you, indeed their general phone
reservations staff don't even know it exists! Such deals are
only available through travel agencies.
Second, sometimes travel
agents can lean on their airline sales representative to get you
a courtesy upgrade, or perhaps they might have some upgrade
coupons in their office that they are saving to give out to a
special VIP client of theirs. You might be too small to be a VIP
in the eyes of the airline, but you still might be plenty large
enough to be a VIP for the travel agency.
Sometimes (although not
nearly as often as used to be the case in the 'good old days')
you'll find that the travel agency can help get you upgraded,
either with some sort of upgrade coupon or just by putting some
comments in your computer record asking the airline to consider
you for an upgrade if one comes available. I always have such
comments ('CIP' or 'VIP' OSI tags) put into my reservations, and
infrequently but occasionally I'll get a courtesy upgrade or
some other special treatment from the airline.
A travel agency can leverage
their own importance to an airline with your own importance to
both them and the airline, and also, the travel agency can 'call
the airline's bluff' better than you can. If you've got a
switched on travel agent, she (or, much less commonly, he) can
sometimes work miracles for you.
Strategy 7 : Negotiated Fares
direct with the Airlines
Yes - believe it or not, the
airlines can also be your 'friend' as well as your sometimes
seeming adversarial enemy!
If your company is spending
perhaps $100,000 a year or more in business and first class
travel, then you should see about getting a direct contract with
a preferred airline or airline alliance. (Note that a 'direct
contract' will usually still allow a travel agent to make
arrangements for you - you're not necessarily cutting them out
of the loop).
You can realistically expect
such a contract to give you anywhere from a 10% up to a 30% and
higher discount off your travel costs.
In addition, some companies
report success in negotiating 'upgrade' contracts whereby you
pay for one class of travel and get upgraded to the next class
of travel- sometimes on a space available basis and sometimes on
a guaranteed basis. This can represent as much as a 50% or more
saving off the regular premium cabin fares!
Also, you should ask your
airline representative for one-off help with upgrades and also
for upgrade coupons, passes to their membership lounges, and
just about any other perks that the airlines have available. If
you don't ask, you're much less likely to receive!
Read more in Parts 1 & 2
Be sure to read the other
two parts of this series for more strategies, including a
strategy that will get the airline offering you discounted fares
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28 Dec 2001, last update
15 Oct 2013
You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.