Tier Point Runs for beginners

So you reckon you’d rather like to earn status with your preferred airline to get priority security and boarding, unlimited lounge access, complimentary champagne, and a shiny metallic card to allow you to sashay past other passengers?  This week, I’m offering a crash course in attaining status and building your frequent flyer habit!

Don’t go direct, when you can do multiple hops – When my husband and I went to Honolulu for Christmas, we didn’t take the most direct route. Instead, we took 6, rather than 2 flights, and maximised the airmiles and status mile earnings.  In that 3-day trip, we renewed our annual top tier status with OneWorld alliance. And we earned a return London-New York trip in business each.  Studying the points earning with your preferred airline will help you earn more status & and air miles faster.

Mix it up with the airlines in your alliance – Our most recent status earning tier point trip involved 3 airlines, 14 flights, 6 different aircrafts and 8 different airline configurations.  If you pick wisely, you won’t be tied to earning miles with a single airline – be creative, double back on yourself and make sure that you involve the various airlines that codeshare with your airline or are part of the same alliance.  It makes it much more fun, and you get to try different hard (seat, plane, airport experience) and soft (service, food, crew) products.  The unexpected makes it much more interesting!

It’s all about positioning – If your preferred airline is based in France, don’t assume the best fares will start in France.  We start many of our trips in Ireland, Norway, Germany.  It’s because our UK airline wants to attract overseas visitors, so they offer much cheaper prices to travellers starting outside the UK.  Sure, you need to do a “positioning” flight to get yourself to Dublin, Oslo, Berlin to “officially” start your tip, but you can often save 50% on the cost of your flight by starting away from your home base, so it’s particularly worth it for long haul travel.

Ask an expert – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: before you make your first booking, spend plenty of time during the web and reading up on what others have done.  My personal recommendation is Flyertalk.com forums.  You’ll find some great lesson & horror stories to help you take your first big step.  Tight connections, lack of baggage transfer, difficult airport security and airlines that are slow to issue tickets will equip you with the right info to choose your first trip.  Be cautious, make your life easy, and take a baby step. In this way, you’ll gain confidence and learning from others’ successes and mistakes.

Timing is everything – You may feel you’re ready to set of this weekend on your first adventure to achieve status with your airline, but hold on!  For a start, many weekend may not be the cheapest time – and rather than just taking a flight for the sake of it, maybe you could combine it with a few days in a new destination. We tend to look for patterns – Christmas is a great time to travel, as is mid-Winter.  When are people NOT travelling and the airlines are looking to offer bargains?  Take your time to research those mile-earning trips.

We’re just back from a London – Bucharest – London – Helsinki – London – New York – Phoenix – Philadelphia – London – Helsinki – London – Bucharest – London weekend break.  Sounds tough but in fact it’s so much fun – it took us a long time to build up the knowledge and skills to do such trips at rock bottom prices with maximum miles earning.  Will we be giving up such plan? Absolutely not!

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