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Want to go somewhere with your miles and can’t find the availability? Do you have a bank of frequent flyer miles and unsure how to redeem them?
This is where my expertise comes in. I help travelers redeem their points and miles the most effective way, no matter what their itineraries look like (and I help make those for them too).
How I Got Started
It started with a passion for frugalness and travel. The intersection of these two areas had me scouring forums and sites daily to learn about earning and redeeming miles/points to subsidize my travel costs. By being an airline miles collector, my friends turned to me for questions related to miles and if I didn’t have the answers, I’d search for them – allowing me to learn more about the miles and points system.
Additionally, one of the forums announced a meet up in Chicago, which I attended in its inaugural year. It was at that seminar where I learned of people offering an award booking service One of the notable ones was Gary Leff’s service, which I thought was a neat idea. I wanted to offer a similar service, but I didn’t want to crowd the space. Essentially I wanted to differentiate myself in this niche.
What’s my offer?
Gary has an unsurpassed knowledge for redeeming frequent flyer miles for first class itineraries. So needless to say, he caters towards clientele that want to redeem miles for premium class itineraries. These types of itineraries cost thousands of dollars if one were paying out of pocket, thus one could justify paying several hundred dollars for a service that Gary offers.
Now, there are some travelers that don’t care for the in-flight experience of flying up front as much as their final destination. Simply because they don’t have the required miles to fly up front, or they’re perfectly happy flying economy to make use of their miles for another trip. These folks can either: do the research themselves or pay for a service.
That’s where I want to differentiate myself. I help people save time by finding all the flights with availability, but doesn’t warrant the specific knowledge of redeeming miles for first and business class seats like Gary offers.
How much I make?
I currently charge $80 to make an itinerary up to two people in economy class, or $150 for two people in business class. I’ve been fortunate enough to network with people to allow some guest posting, thus getting some business.
Pros and Cons
- The rewarding feeling when you receive a big “thank you” from clients to help make a trip possible.
- Learning rules about different frequent flyer mile programs
- Making extra cash
- Taxes and Fees that it costs to redeem miles doesn’t make it cost effective for an economy class award redemption, thus obviating my service.
- Dealing with hold times and poorly trained agents.
How you can become a Frequent Flyer Mile & Points Redemption Specialist
Each frequent flyer mile program has different redemption and routing rules. Needless to say, the learning curve is fairly steep. The good thing is that there’s an overwhelming amount of information on the internet for anyone to start.
Studying the rules and terminology is not necessarily the best way to start, though. Instead, start by helping friends/family members make award redemptions so that one can become familiar with how the process works and the airline hubs/etc. The more and more you do it, the more familiar you’ll become with the terminology and booking codes.
The best analogy I can make is: if you’re trying to learn Photoshop, you’re certainly not going to start by reading an instruction manual from page one. Instead, you’re going to use the book as a reference guide and refer to it when you’re trying to figure something out.
The key to success is to deliver results so that your service spreads via word of mouth.
- Mile Point – More user friendly and a lot more friendly towards newbies
- Flyer Talk – More mature; larger network value, thus trivial questions may not be answered as courteous as the previous site.
One of My Success Stories
A recent redemption was from a woman who was redeeming miles for an 8-week long trip to Bangkok from North America with her daughter and husband. The plan was for her and her daughter to fly to Bangkok together, and then have her husband meet up at a later date. All three of them would then fly back together to North America. The problem they were having was that the airline agent couldn’t book them on the same flight back because she couldn’t find the three seats available. It was important for them to be flying together, so that’s when she contacted me and relayed over her situation.
I noticed that the agent didn’t take advantage of routing rules that this airline permitted, which allowed a stopover en route or returning from her destination. I explained the possibilities of what she could do with a stopover. She consulted her family and expressed a desire to stop in Istanbul on the return flight home if it was possible.
The end result: I found flights that had availability for her entire family with a stopover in Istanbul, thus breaking up a long journey home and visiting a historic city.
It’s rewarding to receive e-mails like this from her:
Mike Choi is an avid traveler and blogs about his travels at thefitworldtraveler.com. With his knowledge of traveling and frequent flyer miles, he runs a frequent mile redemption shop at iflywithmiles.com helping travelers redeem their miles.
[Photo by Vox Efx]