Learn the names of airline personnel that are in contact with the most. If you use the same airline at the same airport, take time to acknowledge the personnel. Taking time to know them, will make it more pleasant. The contacts you develop may help you with problems and could result in free upgrades.
When airline personnel are helpful, consider sending a letter of appreciation to the carrier. Many companies reward employees who receive "Orchids" type letters from happy customers. Keep it brief. Too much might be too much ! Some comments could be considered a breech of policy by management. State how their helpful and professional attitudes have encouraged you to further use their airline.
Join the airline’s "VIP" club. There are costs involved. You must determine whether it is worth it or not !
Joining the Airline’s frequent flier program. This is not only a good way to work your way to a free ticket, better seat assignments, class upgrades, but also to keep informed of special programs. You’ll also gain leverage when dealing with the Airline’s customer service department if you ever run into a problem. You can start collecting miles with your next flight.
You may also find that you’ll be able to collect miles with your hotel and rental car reservations. Some credit cards are connected to frequent flier programs and you can receive miles for any charges placed on those cards.
Usually they have membership fees and sometimes minimum travel requirements. Don't spend the money if you don’t travel often. Programs vary as to what is included. Check the benefits. A few airlines have multiple levels of membership. Check the entry level first. Also determine where the clubs are available (on the routes that you fly ?) A frequent flier will gain the most benefits. Below are some of the perks offered by airline VIP clubs.
A shorter check-in line. If you need help, you’ll get it first.
The best opportunity for first class or other upgrades.
Less likely chance of being bumped.
In case of cancellations or delays, a member will be at the top of the list for priority handling.
A special private waiting area, usually the club itself. You can enjoy comfortable seating and can use the business services available.
Special deals offered to VIP club members.
The possibility of a more generous luggage allowance.
A more attentive Customer Service agent, in the event of a problem.
Check the fine print. Be sure that you follow the rules completely or you could loose your privileges. Always keep boarding passes until the account shows points credited for each flight. Remember to pose the following questions to an avoid unpleasant surprises.
What is needed to earn points ?
Do other airlines or travel vendors contribute mileage to your frequent flier program ?
What are the minimum points credited for short flights ?
Is there an expiration date on points earned ?
How rigid are the blackout periods for using the rewards ?
Does the airline clearly inform you in the event of a change in the rules ?
Are there restrictions on the number of passengers that can use mileage on a particular flight ?
Are you allowed to share your rewards anyone ?
If so, what is the process ?
Can I use my rewards on international flights also ?
What are any other limitations imposed the use of your rewards ?
Not necessarily. Membership can be rewarding, but don’t get too enamored of the program. Never overspend for tickets just to gain mileage or points ! A free ticket is supposed to be free, not subsidized by previous "non-bargain" purchase. Always shop for the best fare, regardless of mileage awards. Join several programs to be able to have flexibility, earn miles and still be able to find the best prices available.
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