How To Start Travel Hacking: Fly for Little or Nothing - Even in First Class!


Some people can enjoy their seats in the first-class because they are smart, a.k.a not paying for the luxury seat. But, wait, is that possible? Yes! Enter the world of travel hacking to score rewards flights and free first-class upgrades on most of your flights. Here’s how to start!

1. Get The Best Deal on Every Flight

Pretty basic introduction but worth a million, and everyone can do this.

Optimize your search on Online Travel Agency or Travel Search Site. We’d like to recommend you to start your search for a flight with Kayak that could search multiple travel sites for the best fares. The other OTAs you could look to are Expedia and TripAdvisor. If you were going for international flights, you should check out Skyscanner and Momondo. Another good site is Priceline, which is the best way to score unpublished fares and hotel rooms.

PS: You need to be FLEXIBLE. Save hundreds of dollars by expanding your options for alternate airports or avoiding peak business travel times.

More tips:

  • For international destinations, the best way you can do is go to the airline’s foreign website and check their airfare in local currency. You might be surprised if it’s cheaper!

For instance, search for instead of You might have to do some conversions; then, you must consider whether your credit card will charge you a foreign transaction fee or not. Check it here to see some travel cards that won’t charge you.

  • Check your destination airport to see all the airlines that fly there.

Do some more research won’t hurt your pocket! There might be some smaller airlines that cost less but don’t show up on the aggregator sites. For instance, flying from New York to Continental Europe may cost less if you fly to London then switch to a low-fare airline to hop from London to your destination city.

2. Collect and Use Frequent Flyer Miles

This is where the fun begins.

Years ago, I picked an airline (Delta Airlines) to fly, and it offered many routes from my city. So I became loyal, choosing to fly Delta whenever possible even if the ticket was $50 more than the competitors.

At the same time, I got Delta’s Affinity Credit Card––the Delta SkyMiles Card from American Express. After signing up, I got bonus miles that worth almost enough for a free flight. In addition, the card comes with other perks, such as free checked bags and double miles on the airfare I booked.

You can check many travel rewards credit cards that come with free points when you get started here.

The other benefit from these cards is how the points you earned accelerated each year. For example, the platinum card of Delta’s gives you a 10,000-mile bonus when you hit a certain spending threshold. If you fly enough each year on the same airline, you can obtain an elite status or known in frequent-flyer lingo and get a complimentary first-class upgrade.

HOWEVER, for someone who cannot commit to one airline, these airline credit cards aren’t the best deal.

The general travel rewards credit cards offer more rewards per dollar spent. The airline cards have annual fees and higher-than-average interest rates, which is why you should never, ever use these cards if you can’t pay the balance in full each month.

3. Upgrade to First-Class for Free!

Here’s how it works, and you need to know what’s behind it. First, only a few people would purchase first-class tickets. Second, a few days or hours before the departure flights, the airline begins awarding unsold first-class seats to passengers with elite status. This will might bounce you to get into the top list of getting an upgrade. The other factors are the weather delays and the amount you spent on your ticket.

“It’s luck of the draw, but I’ve gotten first-class upgrades on 50% to 60% of my Delta flights. Including some long hauls from Las Vegas to Boston––Since I became a Silver Medallion member 3 years ago.”

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