A short while ago I decided to take a weekend trip to LA to visit a friend and do a little sightseeing. Until then, I’d only ever driven to LA. If you’ve ever done the drive, you know it’s not a pleasant experience. Refusing to torture myself yet again with a four-hour Friday afternoon drive – in a car with manual transmission, no less – I immediately explored other options for heading north; I could hop on a flight from San Diego or Carlsbad at a wallet-emptying $300-400, or I could check out the oft-overlooked travel beast-of-burden known as Amtrak. At $74 round trip on the train, it was a pretty easy choice.
If you’re fortunate enough to have friends or family in the airline industry, you may be familiar with the concept of “Buddy Passes” – virtual flight coupons airline employees can give to friends and family, and allow for travel on a standby basis, nearly free of charge. Often, the only cost to the passenger consists of the taxes and fees of the flight itself plus a service charge determined by the individual airlines. This means one-way flights could conceivably cost no more than what you have in your wallet right now. That said, it’s important to be prepared for your Buddy Pass travel by knowing what to do before you get to the airport.
Recently, Virgin America announced they’re offering to match their Elevate Silver and Elevate Gold statuses to the fliers who hold premier or elite status on United, American, and Southwest Airlines. This happens every now and then when an airline wants to attract new frequent (read: business) travelers whose loyalties and non-discounted fares often make up the majority of a carrier’s revenue on any given flight.
A while ago, Dave wrote about how he got to Europe for under $30. In business class, no less. Color me jealous. Unfortunately, I’m not as quick with my mileage accrual as is Dave (no miles-earning credit cards in my wallet), so I have to pay a fair bit more for my trans-oceanic journeys. There’s a positive in all this low-fare hunting, though; in my attempts to save money, sometimes I get to finagle two vacations into one. All that’s required is a little flexibility in your schedule and a tiny sense of adventure.