Free Travel 102

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Following last Monday's Free Travel 101 with an "exciting" syllabus full of accumulation and redemption strategies, we graduate to Free Travel 102!

Stopovers If booking a trip through air mile redemption, what airlines don't tell you is you can make one stopover for free. The Catch? It has to be along the continuous line toward your destination. For example, if you're flying to London from Vancouver you could stop over in Montreal for a few days, whereas you couldn't stop in Brazil---that's a little off-course. Two trips in one, bonus!

Loopholes Check out your preferred carrier's mileage reward chart to find discount seasons or low mileage business class upgrades. For example:

  • With Cathay Pacific, 50,000 air miles gets you business class from Vancouver to NYC---an overnight flight you'll *want* the option of lying flat.
  • American Airlines includes the Caribbean in its domestic mileage allotment during part of hurricane season {sept 15 - nov 15}. 25,000 points to the Caribbean is a travel steal, given it 'costs' approx 40,000 - 60,000 miles to get there the rest of the year. Note, the ABC islands are outside the hurricane belt.

Who Else The beauty of airline alliances means {read: most airlines are part of a major alliance} that you don't have to apply your miles to the airline you've used to collect your miles. Using Alaska Airlines as an example, use your Alaska miles on Cathay Pacific and a host of other airlines.

Conversion Finally, maximize your air miles by converting your travel credit card reward points into miles. Warning: this method comes down to math! Most cards have at least one affiliated airline mileage program for conversion of points into miles. For example, TD Visa Travel Rewards Infinite allows you to convert 100,000 credit card points into 25,000 American Airlines AA Advantage miles. If left unconverted, these miles are worth $500 of travel. If you can find a flight that costs more than $500 {before taxes, since you'll still have pay them on a reward ticket} but only requires 25,000 miles, then you're ahead.

Related Free Travel 101 Going The Distance With Your Air Miles

[photo taken by @tripstyler in the Whitsunday Islands]