Airlines and hotels have made it so hard for the average travel enthusiast to decipher between points, miles, rules, sales, upgrade eligibility and other common needs that we need power tools just to compete. Here are five online resources which will turn you into an expert travel "hacker", and by "hacker" I really just mean someone who knows how to score great deals and seats...
Good For: Upgrades, Finding Availability Using Miles, Seeing How Many Cheap Tickets Are Left.
Hate searching for upgrades or seats using miles, constantly checking back to see if things have changed? Don't do it! Expert Flyer is one of the most powerful tools on the internet for searching paid fare availability, upgrade availability and even receiving notifications when and if the flight you want using miles or to upgrade becomes available. One search and done.
Good For: Searching Flight Deals, Finding FREE Stopovers, Changing Currency for Savings.
The ITA Matrix is arguably the most powerful search tool out there for finding great flight deals. You can search a month at a time, with varying lengths of stay to maximize your results. If you click the "rules" when you find a ticket, you can also learn about the ability to add free stops in, adding destinations for nothing. You can also change which currency to pay in to see if it creates major ticket savings!
Good For: Cheap flights, Business Class Deals, Airline Specific Questions.
This is literally your one stop shop to find error fares, business class deals and perhaps most importantly, every frequently asked question about every airline. If you google your favorite airline and Flyertalk, you'll likely be taken to a master thread, which covers everything from how to upgrade, to why you can't select a seat online. If you want cheap economy deals, head to THIS Flyertalk page, if you want amazing business class deals, head to THIS Flyertalk page. If you need a tutorial on just what some of the coded language means, head HERE.
Good For: Finding Out How Many Miles You'll Need On Any Airlines For EVERY Flight...
Lots of people collect miles, very very few know which miles to use and the best ways to use them. Miles.biz allows you to search for any departure and destination and will show you how many miles almost every airline will require for that flight. if you're figuring out where to transfer your credit card points, or which airline to focus your mileage earning with to save up for an epic free flight, this is your place to start planning. It's free!
Good For: Organizing your points and miles, keeping track of expiration dates and balances.
Imagine opening your wallet and just seeing an endless sea of different currency, loose change and notes. Award wallet takes all the clutter and complication out of all your loyalty programs by putting all your info on one page. You'll see your mileage balance with each program, elite status and even expiration dates. When it comes time to use miles, you know where to find literally everything...
Kayak Price Alerts (BONUS)
Good For: Sitting Back and Waiting For Great Airfare Deals You Can Use...
There's a lot that goes into the science of "the perfect time to book airline tickets". Most of it is bullsh*t, and some of it is pure luck, so to maximize your chances, the best move is to put a price tracker out there, working for you while you sleep. You can set a price alert on Kayak by logging in, entering a search and signing up for an alert. You can say... I want a ticket to California on XYZ dates for $250 and if the price goes that low, they'll notify you so you can book!