Have you ever wanted to fly to your dream destination but felt guilty about spending so much money on a plane ticket? No one can blame you if you do, especially given how expensive airfare has become these days. A recent report shows that the average cost of roundtrip domestic flights in the U.S. is $330, which is already a lot of money.
The cost of a flight can break the bank, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on your travel plans altogether. What if we told you there are proven ways to get free flights and airfare?
You don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to travel the world anymore. All you need is a little bit of creativity, resourcefulness, and ingenuity…or this tip-top list to point you in the right direction!
Whether you’re a savvy traveler or just getting started, there are plenty of ways to help you save on your next flight. Read on to learn ten different ways that you can earn a free flight.
Proven ways of Scoring Free Flights
1. Earn Miles or Points by Using Your Preferred Airline Frequently
Do you have a preferred airline that you always fly with? If so, that’s great news! One of the best ways to get free flights is by being a loyal customer of your chosen airline.
Most airlines have reward programs that allow you to earn frequent flyer miles. They offer a rewards program where you can earn points or miles every time you fly with them. You can then redeem these points or miles for free flights or other perks, such as free upgrades to business or first class.
Different airlines have different policies regarding the frequent flyer miles you earn, but they will mostly award you miles based on your plane ticket’s cash price. Some options include:
United Airlines MileagePlus Program
United Airlines has a MileagePlus program that allows members to earn 5 miles for every dollar they spend on qualifying tickets. However, if you’re a premier member of the program, you can get a bonus and earn up to 7 points.
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
Some airlines, like Hawaiian Airlines, will allow you to earn miles based on the distance you travel. You earn 1 mile for every 1 mile you travel. You can also get miles bonuses if you fly first and business class or hold elite status.
Transfer Points From Preferred Airline Partners
It’s also possible to earn points by flying with one of your preferred airline partners. For instance, you can earn Hawaiian miles if you book your JetBlue flight using your HawaiianMiles member number. Your job is to research the airlines that partner with your preferred carrier to ensure you don’t miss an opportunity to earn points.
See Related: Southwest vs Spirit: Which Airline is Better?
2. Use an Airline’s Credit Card for Your Everyday Purchases
Your preferred airline may partner with financial institutions to offer co-branded airline credit cards. This credit card allows you to earn points or miles every time you make a purchase. You can earn enough airline miles for free plane tickets to your dream destination.
This is where you put your research skills to the test by finding and selecting an airline credit card that gives you the highest number of free miles, given your spending style. Some of the best options include:
American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card
If you’re a frequent grocery shopper and prefer American Airlines, you can choose the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card. This card will allow you to earn two miles for every dollar you spend on groceries. Even better, you will earn two miles for every dollar you spend when making American Airlines purchases.
United Airlines Explorer Card
Are you a fan of dining out? The United℠ Explorer Card could be the best credit card for you because it gives you two points for every dollar you spend on dining. You can then use these points to redeem free United Airlines tickets.
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Dining
If you prefer Southwest Airlines, you will want to check out the Rapid Rewards Dining program. With this program, you can earn points every time you dine at one of their partner restaurants.
You will earn three points for every dollar you spend as long as you remain subscribed to the airline’s email communications. But if you opt out, you will only earn a point for every two dollars you spend at the participating restaurants.
Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card
And if you’re looking to get the best of both worlds, that is, when you cook at home and eat at a restaurant, sign up for the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card. It will give you two SkyMiles for every dollar you spend making purchases at U.S. restaurants and supermarkets.
The tip here is to think hard about where you spend most of your money and look for an airline credit card that offers bonus miles in those categories. You should also consider the annual fee for a given credit card and go with the one that fits your budget.
3. Leverage Credit Card Welcome or Sign Up Bonuses
Are you looking for a faster and easier way to win flights free? If so, you should focus on credit card welcome or sign-up bonuses. These promotional offers allow you to earn many points or miles after meeting the minimum spending requirement within the first few months of opening a new credit card account.
Some of the best options include:
Alaska Airlines Visa Credit Card
Alaska Airlines offers such signup bonuses through its Alaska Airlines Visa credit card. The Bank of America issues the card, allowing you to get one extra free airline ticket when you buy one, for just the taxes and fees.
You also get 40,000 bonus miles. To qualify for this offer, you must make purchases of $3,000 or more within the first three months of opening your account. Depending on how you redeem your miles, this bonus is worth $400 to $700. The annual fee is ridiculously low at only $75.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
With the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, you get 2 miles for every dollar you spend. You also get a signup bonus of 75,000 miles (worth $750 in travel credit) after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of your account opening. This card has an annual fee of $95, but it’s all worth it, given your huge bonus.
4. Earn Points Using a Non-Airline Credit Card
Some financial institutions, such as Citi, Capital One, American Express, and Chase, offer general rewards credit cards that allow you to earn travel points that are not affiliated with any particular airline.
You can redeem the points on your travel credit card for a free flight on the booking site of the card’s issuer. Some issuers will allow you to convert the points into bonus miles on your preferred airline. Still, others will let you redeem your points for a statement credit that covers your hotel or flight costs.
For example, American Express offers the American Express® Gold Card. You can use the card to earn three points for every dollar you spend on airfare booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com., four points at US restaurants, and four points on grocery purchases.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® card gives you three points for each dollar you spend on travel and dining. You can use your points to book free flights with Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, and British Airways through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal.
5. Take Advantage of a Companion Ticket
Do you often travel with a partner or a friend? If so, you should take advantage of a companion ticket. A companion ticket allows you to get two tickets for the price of one and is usually offered to those who have reached a certain number of points or miles.
For instance, Delta Air Lines offers a domestic economy class round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express card.
The certificate is valid for one year and allows you to bring a travel buddy on a domestic flight at no additional cost, excluding taxes and fees.
The Southwest Airlines Companion Pass is one of the best companion tickets on the market. The Companion Pass is valid for an entire year, and you can use it an unlimited number of times. You only need to pay taxes and fees for your companion’s ticket.
To qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass, you must earn 125,000 qualifying points and fly 100 one-way flights in a calendar year. You can earn points by flying with Southwest or using a Southwest Rapid Rewards® credit card.
See Related: Ways to Book an Around the World Ticket
6. Take Advantage of Airline Promotions and Sales
Most airlines have promotional offers and sales from time to time. They do this to attract new customers and keep their existing ones happy. This is good news for you because you can get free flights or cheap tickets if you know how to take advantage of these deals.
You can find these promotions and sales by signing up for the mailing lists of your preferred airlines or following them on social media. Another great way to stay in the loop is to sign up for a reliable travel deal site. Some of these sites include:
Scott’s Cheap Flights
Scott’s Cheap Flights is a subscription-based service that alerts you to flight deals from your home airport. All you need to do is select the airport you want to depart from, and you’ll receive notifications whenever there’s a cheap flight. We use Scott’s all the time – frankly, they’re awesome.
You can also use Skyscanner to set up a price alert for your desired flight. Skyscanner will notify you via email or push notification as soon as the price drops to your target amount.
You can also use Skyscanner to find the cheapest airfare for your desired destination. With Skyscanner, you will select where you want to travel and get recommendations on which airlines offer the best price. While the flights you find on Skyscanner may not be entirely free, they will be very cheap. Skyscanner is another one of our top favorites.
Momondo is a flight search engine that helps you find the cheapest flights by comparing prices across different airlines. You can use Momondo to find cheap flights on almost any airline. Momondo will give you an overview of the available flight options and available prices, so you can decide which flight is best for you.
Jack’s Flight Club
Jack’s Flight Club is a subscription-based service that sends you email alerts when flights get extremely cheap. When you sign up with Jack’s, they’ll get busy and find you the cheapest flight deals, including discounted flights, error fares, and hidden offers. By joining Jack’s Flight Club, you’re assured of an opportunity to explore the world on any airfare budget.
7. Get Bumped
If you’re wondering how to get free flights with no strings attached, being bumped from your flight is the answer. It’s not uncommon for airlines to oversell their tickets because they know that not everyone will show up. If all the passengers show up, the airline will have to put some of them on a later flight because it will be dealing with an oversold flight.
Some mechanical or weather-related problems can cause delays, forcing the airline to reroute some passengers. When these scenarios occur, the airline may ask some passengers to volunteer to accommodate those with urgent travel needs. This is where you come in.
If you voluntarily or involuntarily get bumped, the airline should compensate you and rebook you on the next available flight. This compensation can be free flights, vouchers, or cash. The compensation you receive depends on the airline and how inconvenienced you are by the change in travel plans.
This may not be the most ideal situation, but it’s a great way to get free flights if you’re flexible with your travel plans. So if you’re not in a hurry to get to your destination, getting bumped can be a great way to get free flights. Just ensure you’re not connecting to another flight because the airline is not obligated to compensate you if you miss that flight.
See Related: Must-Know Pieces of Advice for Booking Flight Online
8. Participate in Airline Contests and Giveaways
Another great way to get free flights is to participate in airline contests and giveaways. Many airlines run social media contests where they give away free airline tickets or vouchers as prizes. To increase your chances of winning, ensure you’re following the airline on social media and that you’re active on their platform.
Note that we’re not recommending you spend hours trying to win one of these contests. But if you’re already active on social media, why not try your luck? It costs nothing to enter, and you could win free flights.
You can also try your luck with online travel magazines and websites that often have contests for free flights. These contests are usually open to anyone, so you don’t necessarily have to follow the airline or website to enter.
9. Get Employed in an Airline-Related Job
Getting a job in the airline industry is one of the best ways to guarantee free or discounted flights. From flight attendants and pilots to airport security and ground crew, there are many different types of jobs that will get you free or discounted airfare.
Of course, getting hired for one of these jobs is not easy. But if you’re already employed in the airline industry or looking for a career change, this could be a great option. You will have an opportunity to tour almost every country while getting paid for it.
Once employed, you can also take advantage of employee discount programs. These discounts are not always available to the general public, but they can save you a lot of money on airfare. So if you know someone who works for an airline, ask about these discounts.
See Related: Best Travel Jobs to Make Money
10. Shop Through an Online Shopping Portal
Most airlines have some kind of online shopping portal where you can shop at your favorite stores and earn miles or points for your purchases. So if you’re serious about earning free airline miles, you shouldn’t make online purchases without going through one of these portals first.
Wondering how these portals work? It’s pretty simple.
The airline has partnered with certain online retailers, and when you click through the portal to make a purchase, the retailer pays the airline a commission. The airline then gives some of that commission back to you through points or miles.
So, instead of going directly to your favorite merchant’s website, you go to an airline’s shopping portal and find the online retailer you want to buy from. You will simply earn points through the airline’s shopping portal instead of shopping directly from a store’s website.
So which airlines offer these shopping portals? You can start by checking out the following:
British Airways Executive Club eStore
This platform is available to members of the British Airways Executive Club. When you shop through this portal, you can earn Avios, the British Airways Executive Club currency.
The amount of Avios you can earn depends on how much you spend and which retailer you buy from. For example, if you purchase Apple products, you earn one Avio for every dollar spent. When you shop at Macy’s, you get 5 Avios for every dollar you spend.
Delta SkyMiles Shopping
This is the shopping portal for members of Delta’s SkyMiles program. You can earn SkyMiles when you shop at over 1,000 online retailers, including some major ones like Adidas, Lenovo, Nike, and Backcountry. Other than redeeming the miles you earn for free international flights, Delta SkyMiles American Express Card members can redeem their miles by buying items from selected merchants available in the SkyMiles Marketplace.
The miles you earn differ from merchant to merchant. For instance, when you buy Lenovo products, you earn 1.5 miles per dollar and 3 miles for every dollar from Adidas.
American Airlines AAdvantage eShopping Mall
This is the online shopping platform for American Airlines AAdvantage program members. You can earn AAdvantage miles when you shop at over 1200 online retailers, such as Shutterfly, Giftcards.com, Nike, Disney, and Apple. The miles you earn depend on your spending and the retailer you’re buying from.
For example, if you shop at Adidas and Backcountry, you can earn 5 AAdvantage miles for every dollar spent. But if you purchase items from Shutterfly, you’ll earn 1 mile for every dollar you spend.
11. Leverage Multi-Stop Award Tickets
If you want to earn a free flight, one way to do that is by using multi-stop award tickets. With this type of ticket, you can make multiple stops on your trip without having to book separate tickets for each leg of the journey. You will also have an opportunity to tour a bonus destination for free.
An example of how this works is if you’re flying from New York to Los Angeles. Instead of booking a non-stop flight, you can book a multi-stop ticket with a layover in Chicago. This way, you get to tour two cities for the price of one ticket.
This can be a great way to rack up miles because you essentially get credit for flying multiple segments on one ticket. And the best part is, you don’t have to pay anything extra for a multi-stop ticket.
To take advantage of multi-stop award tickets, you can start by using Jack’s Flight Club to search for when it’s cheapest to fly to your desired destination. Then use Google Flights to find out if your desired itinerary qualifies for a multi-stop award ticket.
Simply enter your origin and destination cities and select the “multi-city” option. If there are any multi-stop flights available relevant to your destination, they will be shown in the search results.
12. Pool Your Family’s Miles
Do you often travel as a family? If so, you can pool your family’s miles to redeem a free flight. This is a great way to earn a free flight because you have more miles to work with.
To do this, simply create a family account with the airline you often fly with. Once done, you can add your family members to the account and start pooling your miles through the frequent flyer programs.
For example, let’s say you’re an American Airlines AAdvantage program member. You can create a family account and add your spouse and kids to the account.
Then, the miles will be added to the family account whenever anyone in the family flies with American Airlines. Once you’ve accumulated enough miles, you can redeem them for a free flight.
This option is vital because, in most cases, people forget that their kids count as passengers onboard. Therefore, they fail to ensure that their kids earn miles as long as they pay for flights.
Final Thoughts – Travel More with Free Flights and Airfare
Now that you know how to get free airfare and flight tickets, you have no excuse not to travel more! Remember to take advantage of all the opportunities that allow you to earn free flights and travel hacks. This way, you can travel without breaking the bank.
Start planning your next trip today and see how much you can save!
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