Frequent Flyer Fanatics: Kris Brankovic
This full-time frequent flyer has already used points to book first class flights to Thailand, Europe and North America for 2018.
After he was bitten by the travel bug as a teen, Kris Brankovic developed a penchant for points that would eventually become his career. Now a full-time frequent flyer who shares his points tips on his blog The High Life, he is truly a traveller living the dream. We had a chat with Kris about how he boosts his points balance on everyday spending and how he's used his points to book three international first class flights for 2018.
1. Which frequent flyer program(s) do you belong to?
I have more airline loyalty cards in my wallet than I care to admit, but my go-to programs are Qantas Frequent Flyer, Velocity Frequent Flyer, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and American Airlines AAdvantage.
I’m very loyal to Qantas when flying domestically, but for overseas trips I like to mix it up. That’s where the other programs come in. It’s easy to accumulate points in all of them and they give you access to airline partnerships and alliances that span the world.
For example, Singapore Airlines is a member of the world’s largest alliance, Star Alliance and I can earn KrisFlyer miles through credit card spend or by transferring over Velocity Points. With American Airlines, I can purchase miles in its frequent flyer program to redeem for cheap(ish) business and first class seats with several top airlines.
2. When did you first become a frequent flyer?
I joined Ansett’s frequent flyer program in my late teens ahead of my first big solo trip overseas... and then promptly lost all my points when the airline went under a few months later. It was a painful experience for a cash-strapped uni student who’d just been bitten by the travel bug!
I got back into travel and collecting points more seriously in my late 20s and haven’t looked back since.
3. What's your current points goal?
My current goal revolves around spending points so I can enjoy new experiences in the air. I still haven’t tried some of the region’s best business and first class products, which both as an avgeek (aviation geek) and a blogger simply isn’t right!
I’ve just finalised my 2018 travel plans and will be jetting off to Thailand in April (in Emirates first class and Singapore Airlines business class), Europe in June (in Etihad business and first class and Singapore Airlines business and first class), and North America in September (in Japan Airlines business and first class and Qantas first class).
4. What’s the best points hack you’ve ever used?
For earning points, it’s shopping for personal and household goods online via the Qantas Mall or Velocity eStore, where you can earn up to 10 points per dollar during promotional periods. With access to dozens of retailers – including many big online players – it’s a convenient way to shop while at the same time boosting your points balance.
For spending points, it’s flying around the world in business class for 280,000 Qantas Points (plus taxes and fees). Known as a "oneworld award", you can fly up to 35,000 miles (which is a lot), with up to five stopovers and 16 individual segments. This is hands-down one of the best uses of Qantas Points, though booking it can be tricky. You can read a "how to" guide on my blog.
5. Which points mistake that amateur frequent flyers make drives you crazy?
There are so many! Not collecting points on everyday spend to start with or using points for low-value redemptions like appliances or (even worse) allowing points to expire.
I usually advise points enthusiasts to have a specific travel goal in mind and then dedicate themselves to it. But even if travel isn’t on the horizon for you, it’s still a good idea to build a points nest egg. After all, you don’t want to wake up one day with the urge to travel but only the means to do it in economy!
finder's Frequent Flyer Fanatics series features frequent flyer and rewards experts from Australia and around the world. Check back every Wednesday for our freshest Frequent Flyer Fanatic and the latest points tips.