You Can Lead a Horse to Water…Many AFF members take pride in finding the best travel deals and optimising their frequent flyer points. But many say that they struggle to help friends and family members who don’t share the same passion for our hobby. There are countless stories of members who’ve tried to help, only to find their advice has fallen on deaf ears.

The world of points and miles is full of rewards. Learning how to take advantage of it can help you to get much cheaper flights and upgrades. But it’s a complicated game. Many switched-on frequent flyers say their friends and family are often jealous of their luxurious travel adventures. But few will actually follow their advice.

Many of us try to help others (I am talking here about family / friends – not AFF’ers) with travel matters. Because we have learnt many lessons and want to really help. But such attempts to help the ignorant almost invariably end up as a loss.

This week, juddles tells of an attempt to help a family member who is travelling to Colombia. juddles has flown to South America countless times and knows the many tricks and pitfalls well, so tried to help out.

I gave her endless advice and support. I instantly halved her travel costs by suggesting such things as getting a ticket to Bogota, and a second ticket to hop from there to Medellin, rather than the extreme pricing that a single ticket all the way would get. . I told her online airfares are a complex thing, and that they often defy logic. I explained how in the modern era it was as cheap now on this route to book via the actual airline as via third parties, and that this was much safer if things went awry. I spent hours looking (as any decent AFF person does  ) and handed her the best way to do this – book direct with QF to get to BOG, and get a separate ticket within Colombia for the BOG-MDE.

She was all set up to do this, but I had to disappear for a few days. When I got back online, I saw an email from her. She has decided to book through Flight Centre. AAAAAAAAAARRRRGGGGGGHHHHH

Other members have had similar experiences when trying to help friends and family members to use frequent flyer points or get a good travel deal.

I seldom give advice these days. At best people don’t follow it anyway, and at worst it becomes your fault if anything doesn’t run 100% smoothly.

maccaisking once helped a parent to find a return flight to China in Business Class for $2,500. But this parent then went behind maccaisking‘s back to a travel agent, who booked him in Premium Economy for almost double the price. This travel agent also charged more than double the normal price to assist with his visa application.

I shed a little tear just thinking about it.

HOWEVER, he gained happiness via reduced stress in doing this, as he felt more secure going through what he considers a reputable business instead of having the bookings made directly with each vendor. Whilst my happiness comes through getting the best return for the smallest outlay, we each, and in particular the older generations, have different stressors in life, and for him overseas travel to countries where he will struggle to communicate are high on the list. He also had one of his transfers no show, meaning he needed to use a cab, and Flight Centre organized a refund for him, so I guess he got some of the cost difference back!

While many of us enjoy planning our own travel, some find it stressful and are happy to pay a bit more to delegate this to a travel agent. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, and there are many excellent travel agents out there. But you can often get better deals by using frequent flyer points or tricks like splitting up the trip into separate tickets – something travel agents aren’t necessarily able to help with.

As the saying goes, you can only lead a horse to water…

You know the saying, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink! I too am surprised when friends/colleagues end up booking even the most simple things through Flight Centre (eg return trip to USA).

Have you tried to help friends and family with using points, and were you successful? Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Dealing with / advising family and amateurs :/


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]