woman-airplane-ticketThe prospect of free travel is so alluring that an entire industry has sprung up around collecting frequent flyer miles. Hotels, rental car agencies, and of course credit cards all offer enticing programs.

While many people enjoy exploiting these programs to their fullest potential, plenty of people become disaffected with mileage programs due to their complexity and constant devaluation.

If you’re one of these disillusioned people, get ready to turn your perspective around. You can learn to earn free travel both with and without using points and miles.
Flying for Free without Frequent Flyer Miles

First, here are four individual techniques that I have found effective for earning free travel without resorting to frequent flyer miles.1. Get Bumped

Airlines have been flying their planes more full than they ever have. The only way that they can achieve this efficiency is by overselling their flights and counting on some passengers not showing up. When they end up with more passengers than seats, carriers are required to solicit volunteers to give up their reservation in exchange for compensation.
2. Take Advantage of Promotions
I recently visited a bicycle race that was sponsored in part by an airline. They set up booth where they were giving away gift cards, worth $10 to $50 off of any flight. They were happy to give me a dozen cards. The next day, the same company had a promotion offering fares starting at $9, and we were able to use the gift cards for the entire cost of a trip including taxes.
3. Find Companion Vouchers

Many companies offer free or discounted companion vouchers. For example, the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Card from American Express (a Money Crashers partner) offers customers a free companion voucher each year. You can apply the voucher to any regular online bookings. The US Airways Premier World MasterCard also offers a similar benefit.
4. Complain

Airline service is less than perfect, to say the least. The companies can’t do anything about the weather or air traffic control, but they’re still responsible for their customer service. You can take advantage of how willing they are to resolve issues by providing discounts or free flights.