Frequent Flyer Fanatics: Scott Keyes
The owner of Scott's Cheap Flights reveals how you can use points to get cheap international flights.
Scott Keyes is the owner of Scott's Cheap Flights, a website and subscription service dedicated to helping travellers get the best flight deals. Although he helps his subscribers squeeze every penny to get the cheapest trips, he prefers to pay for his flights with points.
1. Which frequent flyer program(s) do you belong to?
I'm signed up for about two dozen different frequent flyer programs. That having been said, I credit most of the miles I earn to just two or three different programs, primarily United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Southwest Airlines.
2. When did you first become a frequent flyer?
I started getting into flying when I first began working as a journalist about eight years ago. I wasn't making much money, but because my job sent me on the road a lot, I got the fringe benefit of collecting frequent flyer miles.
I started to read up on how to earn miles quickly and get the most value possible from them, but it wasn't until a year later that I really got hooked. A friend was living down in the Galapagos Islands and I looked up flight prices to go visit. $1,600 return! That was $1,600 I didn't have. But then I remembered about the stash of frequent flyer miles I'd racked up.
I'd never gotten an award flight before so I didn't know what to expect, but when I searched there was a return flight available for just 32,500 miles. I had that! Even walking up to the jet bridge I kept thinking there would be a catch. I thought they would ask me for more money or tell me I hadn't gotten a real ticket or something that made my deal not actually real. It wasn't until I physically got on the plane that I exhaled and realised it'd worked. From then on I was addicted to frequent flyer miles.
3. What's your current points goal?
To never have to pay for an international flight again!
4. What is the best points hack you've ever used?
Using points to get cheap positioning flights. Let's say you live in Melbourne and you've been dying to get to Los Angeles, but flights are $1,500 return. Not good. On a lark, you search for what it costs from Sydney to LA, and it's only $800 return. Amazing! So rather than pay the $150 extra it might cost for a cash ticket from MEL to SYD, I'll use a few frequent flyer miles to cover that portion and set myself up for a cheap overseas trip.
5. Which points mistake that amateur frequent flyers make drives you crazy?
Using miles for anything other than flying is generally terrible value. Don't be tempted by the wireless headphones that cost as many miles as a flight to Europe!
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.