Video: Air Travel Hacking – Understanding & (Ab)Using the Global Distribution System
“In the recent years air travel has become a commodity and generally cheaper thanks to good access to booking engines over the internet. This presentation introduces the attendees to basics of air travel booking systems. The main part is spent on showing shortcomings of the online systems. A more direct access to the booking systems thanks to the Internet allows to search for programming errors and mistakes alike which can be abused for cheaper or better travel. Numerous problem sources in the Global Distribution Systems (which are the backbone of air travel bookings) are outlined and a few ways to exploit these are shown, namely the ‘fuel dump’ concept which effectively removes some of the surcharges which make up a major part of the ticket price. This video allows you to gain enough insights to start searching for your own ‘error fares’ and get involved in the fare searching community.” Presentation by Hendrik Scholz.
Hat tip: Ikvliegveel.nl
Last weekend, a number of TravelMagic enthusiasts joined me at Holiday Inn Express Mechelen for a mattress run (= staying at a hotel with the sole purpose of collecting loyalty points). By status matching to IHG Rewards Club Platinum and signing up for all IHG Rewards Club promotion codes, we managed to score up to 33500 bonus points!
Pic: Several TravelMagic enthusiasts earned 33500 bonus points for their first stay!
On top of these bonus points, we also earned two qualifying nights for The Big Win offer. We used the IHG 2-for-1 rate (select Partner Rate 2×1) to book our weekend stay which was €76 for two nights (Friday till Sunday). We weren’t 100% sure if our second night would qualify for The Big Win offer, but can now confirm it did! In my case, it was my second saturday night stay using my father’s account, resulting in 10000 extra Big Win points. After two stays (3 nights, incl. 2 Sat nights) ‘my father’ now earned a total of 50,252 points! Breakdown: 2652 standard points + 36500 bonus code points + 11100 Big Win points.
Pic: Two Saturday nights booked via IHG.com resulted in 10K extra points via The Big Win
One more night and my Big Win challenge will be complete, netting me another 39000 extra points!
Pic: The colorful pool at Crowne Plaza Antwerp (copyright Pandox hotels)
Want to join the points bonanza? Sign-up for The Big Win, status match to IHG Rewards Platinum and register for all promotion codes. The next TravelMagic gathering will be on Friday Nov 29, 2013 at Crowne Plaza Antwerp. See you there?
Update Oct 29, 2013: This offer is no longer available.
As a follow-up on my post Status Match: Hotel Elite Status For Free, here’s a link for instant Le Club AccorHotels Platinum status. It might expire very quickly, so sign-up while it lasts! Note: This offer is valid for new accounts only. You’ll need to sign-up using an email address which hasn’t been linked to a Le Club AccorHotels account before.
Top tier elite status at all Accor (Sofitel, Pullman, Mercure, Novotel,…) Best Western and IHG (InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, …) hotels in 10 easy steps!
1) Request a sign-up link for Le Club AccorHotels Platinum status via LoyaltyLobby.com
2) Logon to your Le Club AccorHotels Platinum account and make a screenshot of your status. (example)
3) Create a Best Western Rewards account (or use your existing account)
4) Email email@example.com something like this:
I would like to status match my Best Western Rewards membership level with my Le Club AccorHotels Platinum level.
Best Western Rewards Account Holder:
Best Western Rewards Account Number:
Current Competitor Elite Level:
Le Club AccorHotels Platinum
Card No XXXXXXX
See attached screenshot. Thank you.
5) Wait for the Best Western Rewards Diamond Elite upgrade confirmation email.
(this may take a few days)
6) Create an IHG Rewards Club account (or use your existing account)
7) Logon to your Best Western Rewards account and make a screenshot of your status. (example)
8) Email firstname.lastname@example.org something like this:
Please status match my IHG Rewards Club account #XXXXXXX with my Best Western Diamond status (#XXXXXX, see attached screenshot).
9) Wait until IHG Rewards Club confirms your upgrade to Platinum Elite status.
10) Enjoy your top tier elite benefits at all IHG, Best Western and Accor Hotels!
BONUS: CLUB CARLSON GOLD STATUS FOR FREE!
1) Create a Club Carlson account (or use your existing account)
2) Take a screenshot of your IHG Rewards Club Platinum status
3) Email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
I would like to status match my Club Carlson account XXXXXXX with my Platinum status XXXXXX at IHG Rewards Club (see attached screenshot)
Thank you for your consideration.
4) Wait until Club Carlson confirms your upgrade to Gold status.
5) Enjoy your Club Carlson Gold elite benefits at Radisson, Radisson Blu, Park Plaza and Park Inn hotels!
Back in Feb 2013, Turkish Airlines published an error fare between Warsaw (WAW) and Kuala Lumpur (KUL) via Istanbul (IST). For a short period of time (less than 48h), you could book a roundtrip in business class for just €638. This was ~€2100 cheaper than the regular business class fare. My ticket to Kuala Lumpur for Nov 2013 should have priced €2800 but due to the error I was able to save €2162. On top of the cheap fare, I’ll also earn ~18000 status miles with Lufthansa Miles and More. As with most error fares, this one too required a positioning flight. I had to book an additional roundtrip Brussels – Warsaw which was €155 with LOT Polish Airlines in economy class.
At the time of booking (Feb 2013), I had no idea which places I was going to visit in South-East Asia in November. I’m quite familiar with Kuala Lumpur, as I’ve been living there from Nov 2007 till June 2008 for a short-term expat assignment. I also recently visited KL on my way to Fiji in Jan 2013. So no stopover in KL this time and straight to one of my favorite countries: Thailand. Lufthansa has an A340-600 fifth freedom flight between Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok with cheap business class tickets. I paid €232 for a business class roundtrip KUL-BKK-KUL, which was only €100 more expensive than economy class and will earn me 2380 status miles.
After a night of sleep in Bangkok, I’ll continue my journey to a country I haven’t visited before: Laos. I chose Luang Prabang as destination, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Luang Prabang International Airport is served by a handful of airlines which results in high airfares. My return trip BKK-LPQ would have been €269 on a revenue ticket with Bangkok Airways. After some research I came across this deal with the Japan Airlines Mileage Bank loyalty program. Only 5000 miles for a round trip Bangkok – Luang Prabang with Bangkok Airways. I didn’t have 5000 JAL Mileage Bank (JMB) miles, so I had to be creative. I read on Ben’s blog the SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) hotel loyalty program offered 1:1 transfers to JMB. With only 1500 SPG points in my account, I had to buy the remaining 3500 for €90 ($122). The purchased points posted instantly, allowing me to transfer 5000 SPG points to JMB. It took 3 days for the miles to post in my JMB account. I booked the award over the phone and found the agents at JMB very helpful and friendly. 72€ in taxes and fees were added to my award, so I ended up paying €162 (+ 1500 SPG points which I had in my account) instead of €269. Not a huge saving (~€100), but still worth the effort.
Pic: Bangkok Airways Cabin Crew – Check the funny safety demonstration video!
After my visit to Laos, I’ll head to Phuket for a relaxing vacation at the new Pullman Phuket Arcadia Naithon Beach. My Bangkok (BKK) – Phuket (HKT) roundtrip with Bangkok Airways was €99. Total cost of my 12 flights (incl. 6 business class) = €1286.
Update Oct 12, 10PM: A number of readers reported they have experienced issues with a previous bonus points promo of MeliaRewards. See the ‘Attention’ section for more details.
Sometimes, it might make sense to buy miles. Lufthansa Miles & More sells miles at 0,024€ a piece, which is way too expensive. They also have a buying limit of 12,000 miles per year. However, now and then, there are some great deals to buy miles.
Imagine you’re not interested in collecting hotel loyalty points. Still, you want the pay the lowest price for your hotel bookings. What’s the minimum effort you should make before finalizing a hotel booking? Read it here!
Pic: IHG Rewards Club membership cards: Club, Gold and Platinum
Last week, I published a post with all known IHG Rewards Club bonus codes. I decided to put them to the test and registered a new IHG Rewards Club account for my father. Last weekend, I did a mattress run at nearby Holiday Inn Brussels Airport and today the results came in. Not every promotion code worked, but most did. What would have normally been a 987 points stay, turned into a 22,487 points stay thanks to the bonus codes! I also earned Gold Status thanks to promotional code 1038. (new!)
Pic: IHG Rewards Club – Account Activity after a 1 night stay using all bonus codes.
I value IHG Rewards Club points at $70 per 10,000 points, which is the cheapest price you can buy them at using the points + cash trick. This stay earned me around $150 in points which I can redeem for 4 free nights using the PointBreaks offer. Staying 2 more times at two different IHG brands (total of 3 nights) will complete my The Big Win offer, netting me another 50,000 points!