How to Get Free Flights Really Fast and Easy 
I love flying and I love airports!
My love for flying grew even more once I learned how fast and easy it was to start flying for free! It really doesn't matter which airline you prefer to fly with.
The quick and simple trick how to get free flights is to join your preferred airline's loyalty program and get yourself a travel rewards credit card.
Since doing just these two things, I have flown for free roundtrip from Detroit to St. Louis, Charlotte, Richmond, Atlanta, New York, and Salt Lake City-- all within the past two years. Six separate nonstop flights and I paid virtually nothing* for airfare.
There are other things you can do to get free airline tickets, such as becoming an employee of an airline. We'll first go over some of these other effective strategies too.
Next, and this is the best part of the article: I'll reveal the names of the loyalty programs for every major airline, the unique perks of those loyalty programs, the best credit card for that airline, and the individual credit card benefits!
Finally, to make the best of your air travel experience, you need to familiarize yourself with trusted traveler programs so you can get through airport security in less than 60 seconds! By the end of this article, you'll know which program you specifically need!
All these tips work for both domestic flights and international flights.
This article honestly was one of my favorites to write! Ready to start traveling like a pro and score yourself some free airline tickets? You'll feel like a badass, believe me!
* Aside from paying like $11-12 for some miscellaneous Delta Airlines fee, yeah, the flight was effectively free.
For 2024, how to get free flights really fast and easy
Let's get started with the general strategies how you can start flying for free, regardless of your preferred airline.
01 // Earn airline miles by joining your favorite airline's loyalty program
From this moment forward, you need to stop using websites like Expedia, Booking.com, and Priceline. Forgive my harsh language here: these websites are sh*t and when sh*t goes down, you'll get sh*tty customer service from someone in Asia trying to pass themselves off as a native English speaker.
Cut these middlemen companies out. They're only for people who don't know what they're doing or people who rarely travel.
For reference, I will use the words "miles" and "points" interchangably throughout the article. The same goes for the phrases "loyalty program", "frequent flier program", and "rewards program".
Getting free flights, regardless of your preferred airline, starts with you booking with that airline directly. In fact, you should also and always follow this advice when booking hotels and rental cars: book directly with the company.
It's not enough though to just book with the airline directly. You need to join the airline's loyalty program. Signing up for these programs is free and there is no subscription fee!
Joining these loyalty programs comes with other amazing perks, such as priority boarding and additional free checked bags! I especially am fond of the priority boarding since it's far less likely you'll be asked to check your bag.
Once your trip is complete, you will earn airline miles. You are usually granted a small number of airline miles per dollar spent. Eventually, you will have accumulated enough miles to where you can use those miles to "pay" for your next flight(s).
How many miles will you need before you get your first free airline ticket? Tens, if not hundreds of thousands.
If that sounds like it'll take you a long time, perhaps several years, to earn that many points, there is something you can do to speed up the process, which is...
02 // Put everyday purchases on a travel rewards credit card
Flying is not the only way you can get miles. You can earn miles every single day when you pay with a travel rewards credit card. Your morning coffee, groceries, gas, spur-of-the-moment Amazon purchases, streaming service subscriptions, really... anything can help you get more miles!
You don't have to do a lot of research on finding the best credit card for travel either. Turns out, the airlines make it easy for you by offering credit cards with them directly.
The miles are awarded to you after you make the purchase. There is no requirement that the credit card balance needs to be paid in full, for instance, to get the miles.
Like any line of credit, obtaining these cards is contingent upon approval, so if your credit score isn't looking so hot, you'll want to increase that first. I got my first travel credit card with a score around 650 back in 2020.
03 // Take advantage of the credit card's sign up bonus
All of the airline credit cards offer you a sign up bonus. The sign up bonus is you earning a large number of miles after spending a certain amount within the first three months of opening the credit card.
For example, if you fly with Hawaiian Airlines and you get their Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard®, you can earn an additional 70,000 bonus miles if you spend $2,000 within the first months of opening the credit card.
Especially if you fly domestic, 70,000 miles can go a long way! It can get you probably 2-3 roundtrip flights!
If you don't think you can spend that much within three months, here is something I did: give someone you trust who will pay you back access to the card and charge all of their expenses to the credit card, as well.
While the credit cards provided by the airlne are typically considered good cards, all credit cards charge interest on outstanding balances. Do your best to pay off the balances in full (or as close to full as you can) to avoid interest.
04 // Become an employee of an airline
Looking for a career change? Consider working of an airline!
Whether your new role is that of a flight attendant, ground crew, or working in a corporate office, one of the undeniably best perks of working for an airline is the ability to fly for free!
This awesome benefit usually extends to spouses and family members, as well.
How to get free flights on...
Time for the best section of this article! I will describe how you can start flying for free on every major airline. The airlines will be listed in alphabetical order.
Since we're going through these airlines in alphabetical order, we're kicking off the list with Alaska Airlines.
In December 2023, it was announced that Alaska Airlines was going to buy Hawaiian Airlines.
To start flying for free with Alaska Airlines, you will want to join their loyalty program. The name of their loyalty program is Mileage Plan ™. Joining this program is free.
Once you join the Mileage Plus ™ program, you will earn one mile for every dollar spent. The math can't be any easier! If your flight from, say, Seattle to New York City cost you $430, you earned... 430 miles!
"But wait, Michael! I heard Delta gives you 5 miles per dollar spent!" Yes-- this is true, but with Alaska Airlines, you will be able to redeem your miles sooner than with Delta.
The reason why is something I call the "multiplier". I've written about this before in my article comparing Amtrak to flying.
When I did a search for a roundtrip Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to New York in September 2023, the cost was $429. When I changed the search to give me the price in miles, it was 12,500 miles. Dividing 12,500 by 429 gives us roughly 27. With Delta, their multiplier is about 80.
Here's the simplest way to explain what these numbers mean: on Alaska Airlines, assuming you could fly that same route at the exact same price, you would have to fly it 27 times before you get a free flight whereas on Delta, you would have to fly it 80 times before you get a free flight.
So, you'll be able to redeem your miles pretty fast with Alaska Airlines! To get free flights with Alaska even quicker, apply for their Alaska Airlines Visa ® Credit Card.
This card has a downright incredible amenity: if you travel with someone else, like a friend or partner, their ticket will cost just the taxes and fees of your paid ticket! To take advantage of this, you must book the ticket on the Alaska Airlines website (see why we're never using websites like Priceline again!?).
Last, after you are approved for the credit card, if you spend $3,000 within the first 90 days, you will get 40,000 bonus miles. On Alaska Airlines, just 40,000 miles can go a long ways!
Fliers whose preferred airline is American Airlines should join their AAdvantage® program. Whenever you purchase a ticket from American Airlines or their several partnered airlines, you will earn 5 miles per 1 dollar spent. Quick example: if your flight costs $600, you will earn 3000 miles (600 x 5).
One distinguishable feature from other airlines that American Airlines offers for some flights is their Mileage Multiplier.
With the Mileage Multiplier, you will pay around just 3 cents per mile plus a federal excise tax of 7.5% to earn even more miles for your flight. If you forget to trigger the multiplier during booking, you have the option to activate the multiplier up to moments before departure.
For an even higher boost, apply for the American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp® Mastercard. Presently, they are running a promotion if you spend only $500 within the first three months of opening the card, you will earn 10,000 bonus miles. There is no annual fee.
This travel card grants you 1 mile per 1 dollar spent. Grocery stores will award 2 miles per 1 dollar spent. You will also begin accruing 1 "loyalty point" with American Airlines per 1 dollar spent as well.
Loyalty points differ from miles. In a nutshell, loyalty points do not help get free flights. You can trade in loyalty points for flight privileges such as seat upgrades and preferred boarding.
American Airlines miles do expire after 24 months of inactivity. This is why getting the credit card mentioned above is so valuable. As long as you keep spending on the card, the 24-month counter resets itself. Last, there is no cap to how many miles you can earn.
For readers based in the UK and looking to earn free flights on British Airways, sign up for their Executive Club. It is free to join.
I must admit-- of all the loyalty program names in this article, British Airways has the fanciest sounding name!
British Airways addresses their points/miles as "Avios" and "Tier Points". The percentage of Avios and Tier Points you earn depends on which class you fly. There is a breakdown of that on the airline's website.
To get Avios and Tier Points even quicker, get their British Airways Visa Signature® Card.
You'll earn 75,000 Avios if you spend $5,000 within the first three months of opening the card. An additional 25,000 Avios will be awarded if you spend $20,000 within the first twelve months of opening the card.
Delta Airlines is my preferred airline and the airline I fly almost exclusively. From their high quantity of nonstop flights, selection of amenities on the flight, and remarkable customer service, there's no surprise the airline consistently ranks #1 with customers.
Unlike the budget airlines, like Spirit or Frontier, Delta has the reputation of being a more expensive airline. So, it'd especially be nice to learn how to get free flights on Delta, wouldn't it?
The first step for you to do is to join their Skymiles® program. There is no membership fee to join. From the moment you're a Skymiles® member onward, you accumulate 5 miles for every $1 your Delta flight costs. Quick example: if your flight costs $600, you will earn 3000 miles (600 x 5).
How many miles will you have to acquire before some flights are free? Take the cost of your next flight and multiply it by 80. So, in order for a $300 flight to be free, you would need roughly 24,000 miles (300 x 80).
The higher multiplier is one drawback to Delta. With other airlines, such as Alaska Airlines, you'll be able to redeem your points sooner because they have lower multipliers.
To make haste on your progress, apply for the Delta Skymiles® American Express credit card.
When I was approved for my Delta Skymiles® American Express card back in June 2020, I earned 90,000 bonus miles for spending $3000 within three months. Similar signup promotions exist in 2024.
Do you go to Starbucks often? If you link your Starbucks® Rewards account to your Skymiles account, you will earn 2 miles per 1 dollar spent everytime you spend money at Starbucks!
For every purchase on the card, you usually gain 1 mile per 1 dollar spent. However, some merchants, such as grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants will give you 2 or even 3 miles per 1 dollar spent.
One slight downside to the Delta Skymiles® American Express credit card is the $250 annual fee.
Last, your miles will not expire and there is no cap on how many miles you can earn.
Like Spirit Airlines and JetBlue, Frontier Airlines is among the budget airlines who pride themselves on low fares.
But, hey, the best low fare is 'free' so to start flying for free on Frontier Airlines, sign up for their loyalty program named Frontier Miles ℠. Signing up for the program is free.
Frontier (and jetBlue) has a rare ameninity with their loyalty program that most other airlines don't: you and a group of up to eight other people can pool your miles together! This feature is called Family Pooling. The members of the pool do not have to be biological family members.
One person in the pool is designated as the "head". Members who are eligible to be the "head" must hold a Frontier World Mastercard (more on that in a minute) and have "Elite 20k" status. To join a pool, you must be invited by a "head" and have a Frontier Miles ℠ account.
With up to eight others in your "family", even infrequent travelers can earn the privilege to fly for free if their "family" has accumulated enough points! One thing to note though: only a "head" has the power to redeem the miles for anyone in the "family".
For every dollar you spend on a plane ticket, you will earn one mile. The math can't be easier! If your flight is $186, you will earn 186 miles.
As if the Family Pooling feature isn't incredible, wait until you hear this next one: Frontier Airlines has a subscription model program where you can fly unlimited for a small fee! Sounds amazing, right? Check out their GOWILD! ALL-YOU-CAN-FLY PASS ™.
At the time of this writing, Frontier is offering their first month of the GOWILD! ALL-YOU-CAN-FLY PASS for free after you pay a small enrollment fee of just $49.
What is the cost after the first month? It will vary depending on the package you select. You can get a package that is month-per-month, seasonly, or annually. Their monthly pass is only $149 per month. Yes. $149. Per. Month. You can fly as much as you want during that month.
However, one thing I do feel obliged to mention is that Frontier Airlines does have "blackout dates". These are dates you can't use your monthly membership to fly. Some months will have more dates than others.
Last, as I mentioned earlier, you'll want to get the Frontier World Mastercard. You'll earn 50,000 bonus miles if you spend only $500 within the first 90 days of opening the card!
Typically, purchases on the card will get 1 mile per 1 dollar spent, however, some purchases on Frontier's website can earn you as much as 5 miles per 1 dollar spent. Qualifying restaurants will earn you 3 miles per 1 dollar spent.
Fliers whose preferred airline is Hawaiian Airlines will want to join their HAWAIIANMiles program. The program is free to join.
In December 2023, Hawaiian Airlines was purchased by Alaska Airlines. This means points earned on Hawaiian Airlines can be applied to Alaska Airlines and vice versa.
One facet to the loyalty program of Hawaiian Airlines that's different from all the other airlines in this article is Hawaiian Airlines gives you an option to purchase miles directly, without having to fly.
For every mile you fly, you earn one point. The miles never expire.
As for the travel credit card, Hawaiian Airlines customers will want to apply for their Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard®. Spending $2,000 within the 90 days of opening the card grants you 70,000 bonus miles. The annual fee is $99.
Additional perks of the credit card are two free checked bags and a one-time 50% companion discount.
Once upon a time, jetBlue was partnered with American Airlines. This meant that if you earned points on a jetBlue flight, those points could be transferred to fly on American Airlines and vice versa. However, as of July 21, 2023, this is no longer the case.
jetBlue customers will want to join their TrueBlue program. The program is free to join. You earn 3 points per 1 dollar spent except on Blue Basic fares, where you earn 1 point per 1 dollar spent.
Like Frontier, jetBlue has a points pooling program called... yeah, Points Pooling. jetBlue allows you and up to seven other members to pool their Trueblue points together whereas Frontier allows up to eight. However, being a leader of a pool is much easier than with Frontier-- anyone with a Trueblue account can start a pool.
As to who can redeem the points in jetBlue's Points Pooling, it can be the leader or anyone the leader designates authority to.
To rack up the points even quicker, apply for the JetBlue Plus Card. You can earn 70,000 points if you spend $1,000 and pay the annual fee within the first 90 days of opening. Purchases on the card grant you 1 point per 1 dollar spent; some may get you as high as 6 points per 1 dollar spent.
Customers who prefer Southwest Airlines should sign up for their Rapid Rewards ® loyalty program. It is free to signup.
Where Southwest shines is the number of points they give you per 1 dollar spent. Flying "Business Select" will get you a whopping 12 points per 1 dollar spent! Regular fares, a.k.a their "Wanna Get Away" fare, gets you 6 points per 1 dollar spent.
Southwest has the potential to give its fliers the most points.
For even more points, be sure to get the Southwest Rapid Rewards ® Priority Credit Card. You can earn 50,000 points after spending $1,000 within the first 3 months of you opening the card. The annual fee is $149.
One unique feature of this credit card is you can earn points on the anniversary of you opening the card. For simply keeping the card open, you'll earn 7,500 points!
In general, like most travel rewards credit cards, you'll earn 1 point per 1 dollar spent. Everyday purchases such as rideshare apps (Uber, Lyft), Internet/cable/phone services, and partnered hotels/rental car companies will earn you 2 points per 1 dollar spent.
As of January 2024, Spirit Airlines is the only airline I've shared my experience about on this blog so far.
For air travelers on the tightest budgets, Spirit Airlines is a popular choice. To start getting some of those cheap flights for free, join their Free Spirit® program.
Spirit outshines most other airlines by giving its fliers 6 points per 1 dollar spent on airfare. This ties Spirit with Southwest's "Wanna Get Away" fare. Of the airlines in this article, Spirit ranks second in just terms of how many points you earn on a flight.
Spirit customers may also benefit by joining the airline's Spirit Saver$ Club. For a 24 month membership, you will pay $129.90. This special club guarantees you will get Spirit's most discounted price on flights.
Spirit does offer a travel awards credit card: the Free Spirit® card. Currently, you will earn 60,000 points if you spend $1000 within the first three months of opening. Most everyday purchases on the card earn you 1 point per 1 dollar spent but some merchants, like select restaurants and grocery stores, will give you 2 points per 1 dollar spent.
The card's annual fee is waived the first year and is $79 for all following years.
Your Spirit points will expire after 12 months of inactivity. To prevent this from happening, get the credit card I listed above. As long as the card is open, your points will not expire. There is no cap on the points you can earn.
For those fliers who prefer to fly United Airlines, join their MileagePlus program.
Just like Delta and American, you will earn 5 miles per 1 dollar spent on a United Airline (or their partners) ticket. Quick example: if your flight costs $600, you will earn 3000 miles (600 x 5).
If you don't have enough credit history nor good-enough credit to get a travels awards credit card, then you're in luck with United! Start earning miles when shopping at various retailers (online and brick-and-mortar) by downloading their MileagePlus Shopping℠ extension for Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge.
The next show you watch on Hulu? Your monthly subscription just earned you miles! The extension allows you to search if a company is amongst their 1100+ partners. The amount of miles you earn per 1 dollar spent will vary from partner to partner.
Here is where United really shines: download their MileagePlus X app. Whereas Delta and American offer, in some cases, double miles per 1 dollar spent, United will award you up to 4 or 5 miles! Again, the merchant you spent money with does have to be partnered with United, but some companies that participate in MilePlus X include Uber, Starbucks, WalMart, and Domino's!
If you have a good credit score, apply for one of their travel awards credit cards. For instance, if you're approved for the United Quest℠ Card and spend $4000 within the first three months, you'll earn 70,000 miles. If you add this card to the MilePlus X app, you will earn even more miles for using the credit card on top of what the app already gives you!
Miles with United never expire. There is a limit of 75,000 miles you can earn per ticket but there is no cap on how many total miles you can accrue.
Other useful info...
Trusted Traveler Programs
Basically, a 'trusted traveler program' is where members can get through airport security far quicker than most travelers, because these members have been pre-screened and deemed to be not a flight risk.
No-- these programs don't help you get free flights, but the reason I decided to include them in this article is, if you're saving lots of money by flying for free, you might as save yourself a lot of time!
I will quickly go over three of these programs: TSA PreCheck®, Global Entry, and NEXUS.
If you only fly within the United States, then only get TSA PreCheck®. It only takes a few weeks to get approved and it costs $85 which lasts up to five years.
If you fly international, even if just once in a while, then get Global Entry. It takes a bit longer to get approved for Global Entry and it costs $100, but this also lasts up to five years. One perk of Global Entry: it automatically includes TSA PreCheck®.
If you travel between the U.S and Canada, then only get NEXUS. Currently, NEXUS is taking over a year to get approved for. However, not only is NEXUS cheaper than both TSA PreCheck® and Global Entry (just $50!!), NEXUS includes both of these programs as well for no additional charge.
Doesn't getting bumped get you free flights?
Yes. Suppose the airline accidentally overbooks your next flight and offers customers a $1,000 voucher to give up their seat. Sure, $1,000 could make one or two of your next flights free but this article was for you to get it quickly and easily!
Chancing it that your next flight will be overbooked is not worth it. Even if this happens, who's to say that you'd have the time to give up your flight?
Wow-- this might be my longest but most thorough article to date!! You may have been surprised, as I was, learning about the different benefits between the airlines!
Frontier, in my opinion, was the most mindblowing. Not only can you pool points with up to eight different people but you can also pay a monthly subscription with the airline and fly as often as you want! I think more airlines (nudge nudge Delta) should look into offering this.
Spirit and Southwest both offer their customers the most points per dollar spent. And with Southwest's travel rewards credit, you'll earn points every year for simply keeping the card open!
United does a great job at helping those fliers with less-than-ideal credit scores to quickly rack up points.
Follow these tips for your favorite airline and you'll see that in likely as little as three months, your next flight(s) will be free!
Thank you for taking the time to check out my article on how to get free flights really fast and easy! Are there any airlines you'd like to see covered that I didn't include? Feel free to contact me!
Thank you for reading! Like... seriously. So many people just skim sh*t and don't read anything past the headline. You're one of the good ones!
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