5 Ways to Travel Like a Frequent Flyer Without Elite Status

I’ve been a frequent flyer for a while now, but I still travel without having status on some airlines so here are my 5 ways to travel like a frequent flyer without having any status.

KrisFlyer ImageWhat are the Benefits of Being a Frequent Flyer?

The majority of programmes involve the following frequent flyer benefits for their members (this does vary from one to the next of course):

  1. Priority airport check-in
  2. Extra baggage allowance
  3. Priority boarding
  4. Priority baggage handling
  5. Airport Lounge access

This post will look at how to get these 5 things without needing to be a frequent flyer at all, an if you have any tips or tricks feel free to share too!

(1) Priority Airport Check-In

There are some simple ways to avoid queues at the airport that can make your whole travel experience much quicker and simpler.

  • Firstly you can avoid having to check-in at all, airlines like Jestar and Tigeair have services which enable you print your own boarding pass and go straight to the gate (assuming you only have hand carry-on).  I’ve written about Jetstar’s Straight to Gate here and Tigerair’s Direct to Gate here.
  • The second best option is to check-in online and then just do baggage drop at the airline, at least this means you avoid having to do the documentation check.  Most major carriers offer this including Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines.
  • You final option is just to arrive early!  Many airlines actually open their check-in desks 4 hours early – but this is not always the case especially for low-cost carriers and at out-stations (not the home location of the airline).

(2) Extra Baggage Allowance

Even for extra baggage allowance you have a few options.

  • Firstly if you are travelling with friends or family could you spread the allowance between you?  Kids often have a generous allowance that you might forget about.
  • Could you send on your items in another way like personal cargo?  Airlines such as Etihad Airways have personal cargo services (that earn miles!) or even just a regular courier.
  • You should always book your required weight before getting to the airport as otherwise you’ll end up paying excess fees which can be as much as $S30 per kilo!

(3) Priority Boarding

Ok it gets a little tricky here but there are some things you can do to get yourself on the plane earlier.

  • Firstly you could travel in either business class or first class.  This will allow you to get on the plane first along with those that have status.
  • Secondly, some don’t know that they are entitled to priority boarding with many airlines if there are elderly, disabled, or are travelling with kids – check with your airline for details.  British Airways and Singapore Airlines certainly offer this service.
  • Thirdly some airlines (predominantly low-cost carriers) allow you to purchase priority boarding.  From my perspective I wouldn’t as you are guaranteed a seat and it’s not that important, especially on short flights.
  • Finally – just stand at the front near the gate!

(4) Priority baggage handling

How to get out of the airport quicker with priority baggage handling – here are a few ideas:

  • Again you can always book a higher class and then receive priority baggage services, but that isn’t an option for the majority of travellers.
  • Have you thought about travelling without any check-in baggage?  Do you really need it for a two-day trip?
  • Finally are you travelling with someone who has status and the booking under the same reservation most airlines will extend that status to both passengers.

(5) Airport Lounge Access

For me one of the biggest frequent flyer benefits is the ability to go into a lounge in the airport before boarding a flight.  I get to avoid the airport crowds in a place that usually has free wifi, food and some drinks.  The lounges usually have some nicer facilities – restrooms, office computers as well as showers.

Now you don’t need to fly thousands of miles to get these benefits.  There are four ways that you can get the same as everyone else:

  • Become a guest of a frequent flyer, this could be someone you know or even a stranger
  • Pay for entry – many of the 3rd party lounges (i.e. those not owned by airlines) will offer a one-time access pass for a fee.  These can sometimes be the same lounge that the airlines use, most commonly at out-stations (away from home base).  I’ve previously written on Priority Pass which is one such company that offers this type of access for a fee.
  • Sign-up or use a credit card for access.  Many cards do actually offer free access to airport lounges as part of their benefits.  For example the ANZ Travel Card offers free unlimited access to Veloce lounges for cardholders.
  • Pay for entry on the day – some lounges (not airline owned) offer the ability just to turn up ad pay on the day.  But the cost is usually $15USD + for each person and for each visit.

Do you have any great tips?  Please share!