Photo: Image courtesy of Elliott Kroll
New York attorney Elliott Kroll knows his way around an airport. The elite status flyer reached million mile status on American Airlines in 2008, and he’s only a few years away from achieving the same feat on Delta.
“Being a million miler has made me a better traveller because I’m familiar with the airlines and the airports,” he told Business Insider.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, he avoided the madness of La Guardia airport by taking flights from Los Angeles to Indiana to Boston, and then driving all the way to New York. What else would you expect from someone who’s spent the past 35 years of his life flying from JFK to Europe to Asia to the Middle East?
Kroll has some pretty strong opinions on how consumers bungle their travels, so we asked him to share his tips on how they can improve and get to gold status faster. Read on:
Pick an airline you like and stick with it. It pays to be loyal, which Kroll learned early on as an American Airlines flyer in the early aughts. Once he realised how many miles he’d racked up in 2005, he made it a point to book AA flights whenever he could, unless it was out of the way. By 2008, he was a million miler. And even when other airlines merged, he still managed to keep his miles because he was loyal (see: TWA to American, Western to Delta and Northwest to Delta.)
Check the airline codes. Nonstop and direct flights mean two different things in the airline world, so make sure you know which is which. A nonstop flight will take you from Point A to Point B, while direct flights go from Point A to Point B to Point C. The latter type of flight grants more miles than the former, so check with the airline or use ITA Matrix to make sure your code is the right one.
Don’t overlook opportunities. Rentals and hotels are two easy ways to rack up frequent flier club miles, says Kroll, so take the time to check if either one is participating in your frequent flier program. Expedia and Hotels.com are two places to look. “If you travel a lot, just pay attention to it,” Kroll says.
Know when to check carry-ons. If you’ve got work to do, are flying Business or First class and carrying less than 3 oz. of liquid, don’t check your bag, says Kroll. The same goes for people flying in or out of smaller airports, which tend to have fewer issues (and theft) than larger ones like JFK. If you’re flying in coach class, consider checking your bag since the overhead bins tend to be smaller.
Give yourself time. “Security is more aggressive than it was in the past and the check-in procedures aren’t easy,” said Kroll. “You really need to get there way in advance so you’re not rushing to the gate and your seat.”