Category Archives: getting started

Some of the first steps to take if you want to maximize your travel and cash back earnings. Basic simple guide to introduce you to travel hacking.

Alaska makes me feel loved as a customer

Status Matching can be fun, if you use it. I used our fabulous and very useful Southwest Companion Pass as a gateway into the world of Airline Elite status.  First stop, Alaska Airlines. I requested a status match from Alaska by sending an e-mail to elite.flyer@alaskaair.com and attaching a copy of my Southwest Companion Pass, a screen shot of my southwest account showing all my miles (which I accumulated from shopping through the Southwest Portal), a copy of my photo id and my Alaska Account number.

In less than a week, I received an e-mail welcoming me to Alaska MVP Gold 75 program! Alaska Gold MVP 75 Card Top

I have never held such a high honor and I immediately wanted to book a flight.  Since I am on the east coast, the options were slim; a trip to Los Angles was in my future.

Until last year, I had not flown on many airlines other than Southwest. Southwest covered my needs, mostly BWI-CMH to visit family.  This flight was the beginning of changing everything about the way I travel, or at least the way I would prefer to travel.

It began upon arrival at the Alaska counter, no line and happy employees greeted me warmly, checked my luggage and I received my first UPGRADE! Seat 4F! I was anxious to find out what happens in the front of the plane.  There is no front of the plane on Southwest so anything was going to be different for me.

I felt like an impostor as I boarded the plane with the other elite customers, I felt like I had pulled off a huge heist and they might catch on any moment.  The seats were more spacious than I was use to, we were offered beverages while the remainder of the passenger boarded.  Alaska Menu

Shortly after take –off  delightful flight attendants presented us with… menus. These are both the menus from our flight out (breakfast) and our return flight (dinner).

 

 

Alaska did not want us to get bored so they loaned us a tablet to watch movies. It was very entertaining and I am very impressed with this feature. So much that I went out and got a table to take on my other flights.  Alaska Tablet 1

After a good movie, I wondered where we were, so I stopped for a bit to take some photos.

 

 

 

bwi to lax on alaskaI think this maybe the Grand Canyon! I’m not absolutely sure since I have never seen it before. Maybe its just how California looks.

We spent five fun days in Los Angeles and headed home, more on that trip later. I hoped the flight home was going to be as fun and I was not disappointed as the gate agent informed us we were upgraded. We enjoyed dinner and a movie on our 5 hour date in the sky.

It may not be such a good thing to go from only flying Southwest to Alaska MVP Gold 75 treatment because following Alaska with American Advantage Platinum can make for a shock.

Dinner began with Salad with Shrimp. Alaska Dinner 1

My husband had the Chicken. Alaska dinner 3

I had the pasta and we relaxed with our tablets feeling like we had just won the lottery, twice.Alaska Dinner 2

Good Bye Los Angeles…..

Heading Home from Los Angeles
Heading Home from Los Angeles

You can research status matching for hotels and airlines at this great web site, Status Matcher. Also, follow my blog and twitter accounts because sometimes hotels and airlines decide to randomly match masses of people for almost no effort and when I find these out I will follow up on here.

Step 3- Hotels

Image courtesy of ahmet guler at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of ahmet guler at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hotel Loyalty Programs

Every hotel, every time! Sign up for these loyalty programs below, even if you don’t stay at them because they often send out great deals that are targeted for members only. For Example: just this week I received a special from Intercontinental Hotel Group/ IHG for their Into the Nights Promo earn 50K points or 2 free nights, simply by downloading their app and staying 3 nights that would include 2 Saturdays and Holiday Inn.  This promo was different for different members. I am the lowest level member and only stayed 1 night at a property this year, yet I was offered this great deal.

Best Western

Choice Hotels

Drury

Hilton Honors

Hyatt Gold Passport

IHG Rewards (Intercontinental, Crown Plaza, Holiday Inns)

Marriot

MLife (Vegas)

Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG)

I will add more loyalty programs as I find them and eventually I will post information about specials. If you have a loyalty program or special that should be added here please let me know.

Remember its FREE to sign up for these…. use your new e-mail you created in STEP 1.

Happy travels!

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Coming this week: Great Hotel Deals, Organizing, Buy gas for 1995 prices?, Which credit card to begin with, and a chance to WIN.

Step 2: Airlines

Image courtesy of khunaspix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of khunaspix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Below are Links to Airline Frequent Flyer Programs I would recommend you begin signing up for.  Even if you don’t use these airlines they will come in handy later because you can earn miles and then BOOK a flight with one of their partners.

Don’t travel much? Who knows, maybe this will inspire you to begin saving for or help you afford that BIG vacation you always dreamed of …. Italy, France, Hawaii?

For Example: If you have British Air Miles you can book your award flight on American Airlines because they are both part of a group called ONE WORLD. More on that later.

It is free to sign up for these….. remember to sign up your spouse and children also… maybe even your parents!

Air France Flying Blue

Alaska Airlines

American Advantage

British Airways, Avios Executive Club

Hawaiian

Southwest Rapid Rewards….  Earn a Companion pass and you can fly a designated companion FREE for a year in the continental US! Much better deal to see all of American than an RV! This is going to go well with your Hotel rewards programs. 🙂

United Airways

US Airways  (merging with American soon)

Virgin

Which airline do you travel the most?

There are many more so if you have some you think I should add just let me know. Later I’ll update you on the best way to use all the miles and points you are going to earn.

Happy Travels