Tag: travel tips

What are air miles and how do they work?

What are air miles and how do they work?

Travel for free with your everyday purchases and get great benefits being a frequent traveler. We’ll take a look at what an air miles plan is, who can participate and how you can start earning points for your next trip.

What is an air miles plan?

Air miles are a program created by major airlines, which allows travelers to earn points -by miles or kilometers, according to each company’s policies- every time they buy an airline ticket or make a purchase with their credit cards.

The miles or points you accumulate are themselves worth something. Once you’ve accumulated enough miles, you can redeem them for airline tickets and other benefits such as upgrades on your flights, hotel stays, car rentals, among others.

How to participate in an air miles plan?

Each airline has a different plan, but they all agree on one thing: To earn as many miles as possible, you must make purchases with your credit card. The two modalities that exist are:

  1. Directly with the airline: You accumulate miles in a frequent flyer account every time you use the services of the airline. It is the most convenient option for people who travel frequently.
  2. Through the bank: You get points with your credit card every time you make a purchase or payment. Then you can exchange points for miles in the airline associated with the plan. It is the most convenient mode if you are not a frequent traveler.

If you’re not a frequent traveler

After air travel, one of the main sources for miles are credit cards. If you are not a frequent flyer, you can earn miles with your credit card’s loyalty program without becoming a member of the frequent flyer program. Most banks have an agreement with an airline or a group of partner airlines. Almost all airlines have a frequent flyer program.

For this you must make sure that your bank has an agreement with an airline or group of airlines, and that this agreement will be convenient for you.

Each card and airline has a different mile earning system. In addition, even if your bank offers this plan, it is possible that your credit card doesn’t have it activated right away and all you have to do is request it. You can do so through the internet or through the phone, by contacting your bank. If you are not a member of any airline, you will get a frequent flyer account instantly so you can earn miles every time you make a purchase with your credit card. The amount of miles is calculated differently depending on each bank.

You can earn miles with your everyday expenses, each time you make a purchase or pay for a service. Credit cards are one of the most practical and useful ways to accumulate miles in the frequent flyer programs of airlines, because you can do it without even getting on a plane while taking advantage of the payments you make in your everyday life.

We also recommend you to keep an eye on the special promotions that often vary according to the partnership the bank has with the company at any given time. Some banks only provide such benefits to their select clients.

Tips to earn miles with your credit card

  1. Before acquiring a credit card, find out what are the current promotions regarding air miles plans, and how long do those promotions last.
  2. Check if they award points with any type of purchase or if there are any restrictions. And if you have multiple credit cards, make sure to do most of your purchases with the credit card associated with your miles plan.
  3. Check the expiry date of your miles. The accumulated miles will expire after certain period of time if your account is inactive. Don’t forget to read the terms and conditions of your miles plan.

If you are a frequent traveler

If you are a frequent traveler, you’ll be able to take advantage of all those hours of flight, and you’ll earn miles with each purchase of airline tickets. Within frequent flyer plans, you can also earn miles with the purchase of goods and services in any of the companies associated with your airline, by staying in certain hotels or renting cars in certain companies.

But for this to work, you must first become a member of a frequent flyer program of any airline. Most airlines have a frequent flyer program. Choosing the best program depends on each person and their customs when traveling. However, it is advisable to choose an airline that, from your place of residence, offers flights to a wide variety of destinations. Please note that miles can not be transferred from one frequent flyer program to another, so to earn miles it’s important to always travel with the same airline or group of partner airlines, in order to centralize in a single account all of the miles you earn.

You can sign up by entering the website of your preferred airline. Most frequent flyer programs allow you to register on their websites and the registration is usually free. Remember that enrollment in such programs is per passenger; therefore, if all of your family is traveling, you must register each person separately. There’s no need to be a citizen of the country to which the airline belongs.

Once you have entered your data, you will receive a membership number and password. You are now ready to start accumulating miles!

As a member of a frequent flyer plan, remember that you can earn miles with the expenses that you make with your credit card. Your credit card must have an agreement with the airline or group of airlines of which you are a member.

Iran Air A300-605R_fly_tickets_miles_shahram shirkhani
Image courtesy of Peter Russell at Flickr.com

Redeem your airline miles

Once you’ve accumulated enough miles, you’re ready to redeem them. The main objective of those who accumulate miles is to redeem them for free airline tickets. But the miles can also be used for upgrades or as part of payment of a ticket.

The vast majority of frequent flyer programs also allow you to redeem other products or services such as hotel accommodations, magazine subscriptions, car rentals and all kinds of objects. In this case you should evaluate what is best for you, if you spend your miles on certain products or services or whether it is preferable to continue to keep your miles for future trips.

These 6 helpful tips will make your long flight better

These 6 helpful tips will make your long flight better

A couple of decades ago, air travel was a luxury and passengers enjoyed a first class service, with comfortable and spacious seating and of course, delicious food. Unless you travel in first or business class, today you’ll see yourself locked in a cabin with minimal space, while trying your best to get comfortable as you endure a long flight.

If you are about to get on a long plane ride, follow these tips in order to make the experience as comfortable as possible.

  1. Dress comfortably

Traveling might seem glamorous, but being comfortable is way better than being fashionable. Wear clothes that are not too tight, because during a long trip you can feel bloated. If you are a woman I would not recommend wearing a skirt or dress, since you won’t know what position you’ll have to adopt in order to sleep.

Use layers. Maybe the day is warm, but on an aircraft the air conditioning is always high; wear a blazer for cover as the blanket, if there even is one, might be very thin.

As for the shoes, you should consider two things: they should be easy to put on and take off, as they may ask you to take them off when going through security, and they must not be tight, because if you take them off during the flight, you will have to place them back on your swollen feet.

  1. Choose your seat well

Many airlines let you choose your seat while checking in or buying your ticket. If your flight is not very long, -less than 5 hours- and you want to rest, I recommend you going to the bathroom just before boarding, not drinking many liquids and choosing the window seat. Nobody will bother you so you’ll be able to sleep.

If you have a long flight, you will definitely have to stand up, either to go to the lavatory or stretch your legs. If you want the benefit of leaving your seat without disturbing anyone, and letting no one wake you up, choose a corridor seat in the middle column.

Almost all planes that make transcontinental flights have three types of columns: left, middle, right. The middle one has no window, but it has its benefits.

It is true that the emergency row seat has more legroom, but it is not easy to get. In addition, it cannot be reclined.

  1. Food

On a long trip, most airlines will offer several meals. If you have special dietary requirements, let them know in advance, either by phone or through the website of the airline. Those who need special meals get served first, but be warned: unless you ask for the children’s menu, it might not be the best.

In economy class, you get two choices: chicken, beef or some kind of pasta. Never choose the pasta, since when it is reheated it does not usually taste well. Something similar applies to breakfasts: never order the omelette, since reheated eggs are unpalatable and there is always a risk of contamination in foods containing egg.

When choosing what to drink, it is important to stay hydrated. Instead of choosing beers and soft drinks, water will be better and it will help you recover faster when descending. A coffee for breakfast is recommended, but don’t expect the best quality.

My recommendation is to take something with you; a snack that you like, because you don’t know when you’ll be hungry, it can be cereal bars. This is especially important in flights of 3 to 6 hours in length, when they can not offer you much to eat.

  1. Sleeping

Sleeping on a plane is quite an art. You must overcome the discomfort, noise and light: Before traveling, buy an inflatable neck pillow (they are cheap and simple to store), a good mask to avoid light, and earplugs. In many airlines you get these last two items, along with a light blanket (which will be insufficient, so take a jacket or sweatshirt) and a small pillow. I recommend using it for the middle part of your back, which is unsupported in the aircraft seat.

Stand up and walk every few hours, you’ll avoid potential problems and stretch your body. You will need it.

If you need to go to the bathroom, do it after eating, but before the trays are withdrawn. People usually go en masse once this happens, so use that moment.

plane_flying_aviation_shahram shirkhani
Image courtesy of Kevin Morris at Flickr.com
  1. Entertainment

Charge your electronic devices and carry in them enough entertainment for the flight: books on your tablet, movies and games, and the same goes for your smartphone. In most aircraft you’ll find USB ports for charging your gadgets.

If the plane has individual screens, it is a good idea to watch a movie before going to sleep.

  1. Before landing

Shortly before landing, people will again go en masse to the bathroom. Since you’re smarter, do it an hour and a half before landing. You can cool off with wet towels. Do not use the water from the plane’s lavatory.

Put on some deodorant, comb your hair a bit and if you want to brush your teeth, ask for a glass of water from the stewardess. Remember: never use water from the sink.

You have arrived at your destination, healthy, safe and, above all, rested, and not crazy after spending hours locked in an aircraft. You’ll thank me when you return from your next trip.