A hassle-free free flight
How frequent flyers can get those coveted summer seats
May 29, 1997
Web posted at: 4:31 p.m. EDT (2031 GMT)
(CNN) -- Ah, summer! The season when the weary business traveler dreams of cashing in those hard-earned frequent flyer miles for a trip somewhere sunny, somewhere fun, somewhere exotic ... just somewhere!
|How to get frequent flier summer seats:
Fly mid-week to mid-week to avoid weekend blackout dates.
If you can't get a seat, try again later.
Unfortunately, it's generally the hardest time to find free seats. Many airlines have blackout dates in their frequent flyer programs that go into effect in the summer. But all is not lost for the frequent flyer; it's possible to get around those blackouts, and, experts say, it will be easier to find free summer seats than it has been in years.
"Florida and southern California are typically sold out, but this year, due to increased capacity, there are still seats available," says Randy Petersen, of InsideFLYER Magazine.
Petersen says that because more business travelers are redeeming miles for upgrades instead of free trips, there should be more seats available for free flights than in the past six or seven years.
There are still hitches. During the summer, there are more blackout days than during any other season. For example, most U.S. carriers forbid free weekend travel between the United States and Europe during summer months. But if you fly mid-week to mid-week, you can often finds seats available, and no problem with blackout dates, according to Petersen.
And if at first you don't succeed in getting the itinerary of your dreams, try again.
"If [the airlines] have seats they haven't sold yet, they'll put them back on the market for free seats," says Petersen, "so try early or try late."
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