The Three Ways I Can Fly

Commercial air travel has been a very large part of my life.  My dad works for an airline company, and ever since I can remember, my family has enjoyed using his flight benefits. It’s how we’ve been able to visit our family members across both coasts, the Philippines, and Canada. With some new circumstances and now striving to be smarter about earning miles, I now have a few methods at which to travel via air.

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Non-Revenue Standby

This method uses my dad’s flight benefits. Employees, employee family members, and employee guests can fly using this method by taking an available seat on a flight. Using this benefit places me on the flight’s standby list, which the airline processes according to priority. Because I’m no longer a dependent still in college, I can still fly using my dad’s flight benefits but at the lowest priority (guest/buddy pass). Because of the priority I now fly at, it is no longer “free” for me, but the cost I have to pay is still severely less than normal fare. The cost is determined by several factors including distance, route, and whether international or not. The cost also gets deducted from my dad’s paycheck, but rest assured I reimburse him, haha.

I’ve used this method to spend many weekends visiting places, especially where I have family. Lately, I’ve been highly considering this method for epic day-tripping, mostly inspired by how my parents flew from Dallas to New York recently just to eat at a Filipino chain restaurant. Then fly back. Same day. Whoa.

This has been my standard means of air travel for forever. I just miss the days when it didn’t cost me anything at all.

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Paid Fare

With this method, I pay actual cash monies to purchase a plane ticket for a guaranteed seat. I suppose this is most everyone’s common way of flying, and if I fly this way, I’m often in awe of how I’m not waiting to have a seat on the plane when I pass through security.

Because of my involvement at my Catholic parish, I’ve been able to travel with paid tickets on pilgrimages in the past several years to such locales as Washington D.C. and Rio De Janeiro (chaperoning has its perks!). But those are not frequent occurrences.

However, due to recent circumstances in my career, I’ve been able to go on international business travel recently. Granted, it’s my company’s money that I use for paid tickets, but I’m just now starting to appreciate buying plane tickets on my own and not necessarily for business or chaperoning.

I think this will be my least used means of flying because of its cost.

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Frequent Flyer Miles

Again, because of recent circumstances in my career, I’ve flown for international business. Needless to say, I’m also enrolled in airline frequent flyer mile programs so I can accumulate miles and points. This method uses those earned miles/points to purchase a plane ticket. The only cost associated with it is the redemption of miles and paying taxes, if applicable.  Even with paying the taxes, the plane tickets cost significantly less than full or discounted fare.

The art of earning frequent flyer miles intrigues me because it is indeed an art. But since I’m still a rookie at it, it’s just a hobby for now. Through the process of going on international business travel and earning miles, I’ve taken an interest to travel hacking. One aspect of travel hacking is the seeking and implementation of ways to maximize earning points for travel. If I can play my cards right, I can pull off free flights and free hotel stays by using miles and points.

I imagine that this will be my second-most frequent means of travel for now because I went to and from Japan eight times in 2015. That’s a lot of miles. And hotel stays. Hotel staff recognize meI’m just waiting for Japanese Customs to remember me.

As a side note, flying non-revenue standby absolutely does not entitle me to any of the benefits of being a frequent flier traveler. In other words, my current Executive Platinum AAdvantage status means absolutely nothing when I fly nonrev standby. Sometimes I think it’s cool to be that guy with the AAdvantage Executive Platinum status but gets to board last and not receive a free snack on board because he’s nonrev standby. Oh well. Such is life. Years of standby flying has taught me to appreciate not having perks.

Between these three ways of flying, I have quite the arsenal to travel wherever.

Now to just learn how to freeze time or earn vacation days at a ridiculous rate so I have the time to actually go somewhere. But of course, there’s always the epic day-tripping… 😉

-JD

AAdvantage Cards // Boarding Area