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How to Maximize Your Thrifty Traveler Premium Membership

Our top-of-the-line flight deal alert service – Thrifty Traveler Premium – is the best flight deal service on the market. We might be a little biased, but our members are all saying the same. 

That's because we send members both cheap cash fares as well as deals to book flights using points and miles … and more of those deals than any other service out there. That's right: You can get cheap domestic and international tickets, discounted business and first class fares, and even award space alerts like Delta SkyMiles flash sales or a chance to book lie-flat business and first class seats abroad using miles – all for one low price.

Check out some of the best flight deals & alerts we sent Premium members this year!

In fact, it's gotten even better: We just added Thrifty Traveler Premium Hotel Alerts! This brand-new, add-on service also alerts Premium member when they can book top-rated hotels and resorts across the world using points, too.

This service is all about helping travelers fly more (and often more comfortably) for less … but there's no one right way to travel. Still, there are some things you can do to ensure you're getting the most out of a Thrifty Traveler Premium subscription … and getting all the best deals straight to your inbox.


Get Deals from Your Home Airport (& More)

We find flight deals from more than 200 U.S. and Canadian airports – more than any other service. And our Premium members can tailor their flight deal to get alerts from all 200-plus cities, a handful, or just their nearby hub.

Setting your departure city settings is one of the most important things you can do after signing up. Just log in to your Premium account anytime and adjust your filters. My overarching advice: Cast a wide net and pick more than just your home airport. We find flight deals from all airports, big and small … but the more airports you pick, the more flight deals you get. It's just logic.

To adjust your departure airports, just log in to your account and click “Settings” in the top right corner of your screen. You can decide which deals you see in the “Airport Settings” and “Deal Filters” sections. 

Premium app deal filters


In the “Departure Airports” section, you can enter your home airport and any other airports.

Thrifty Tip: Try selecting the *ALL Cities* option and get every flight deal we find. From there, you can fine-tune your preferences based upon which airports you care most about, if you want.


Departure airports Premium


Only want domestic flight deals from your home airport but willing to book positioning flights to bigger hubs in pursuit of an amazing flight deal abroad? We've got you there, too: You can also enter different airports you'd only like to receive international flight deals from under “International Departure Airports.” 

We recommend many travelers add a few of the major international hubs here like New York City (JFK), Boston (BOS), Chicago-O'Hare (ORD), Los Angeles (LAX), Seattle (SEA), and others. Think of the big airports you can cheaply fly to and consider adding them.


thrifty traveler premium airport settings


Let's say, for example, that I want to fly business class to Switzerland this year or next. As a traveler based in Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP), there aren't many business class options for me. But because I added Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) to my “international departure airports” or my “additional airports” settings, I got this sizzling business class deal in my inbox.

For as low as just 63,000 points each way, that's well worth booking a positioning flight to secure a lie-flat flight to the Alps!


SWISS business class


That goes for all of the cities on this list. Like I said: Cast a big net!

Haven't joined Thrifty Traveler Premium yet? You'll come out ahead (and then some!) after booking your first deal!

This same pattern plays out again and again and again: Cheap flight or business class award deals can pop up from almost any airport in the country. The more airports you receive alerts for, the better your odds of catching the deal you want.

Whether you live near a major U.S. hub or a small regional airport, consider adding airports you can cheaply fly to (or quickly drive) to your departure city settings. No matter where you live, we'd also recommend adding at least a few of the major U.S. cities, like:

  • Atlanta
  • Boston
  • New York City
  • Chicago
  • Dallas
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • Washington, D.C.

But depending on where you're hoping to travel, you might want to fine-tune your preferences even more…


The Best Airports for Flight Deals to Hawaii, Mexico & the Caribbean

If you're looking for domestic airfare within the U.S., your home airport should suffice. If your home airport is one of the smaller regional airports, consider adding the nearest hub or the next closest city, too.

Thrifty Tip: If you have a domestic destination you're interested in visiting, choose it as a departure airport and check to see if any deal we feature has an airport close enough to you as well. This could be a crafty backdoor use of our service that could help you find a cheap way there fast.

If Hawaii is on your mind (and it obviously is), there are a few different ways to catch a Hawaii deal in your inbox fast. For one, you should have your home airport checked. We do find nationwide Hawaii flight deals from time to time, and I promise you you'll get it in your inbox if and when prices drop. We watch Hawaii closely.

But if you are looking for other Hawaii flight deal hot spots, set a few of the California and other West Coast airports as your departure cities. These cities regularly see some of the cheapest fares to Hawaii:

  • Los Angeles
  • Oakland
  • Portland
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • San Jose
  • Seattle


Cheap flights to Hawaii

OAK OGG fare

LAX OGG fare


These are three different dirt-cheap fares to Maui (OGG) that we've sent to Premium subscribers in California – and as you can plainly see, some of these fares are insanely low. So if Maui is on your radar and you can fly to Los Angeles (LAX) or the Bay Area, you could be the beneficiary of these insane fares.

If you want a cheap flight to Mexico and the Caribbean, you should look the other direction for the best fares. Instead of California, look hard at some departure airports in Texas, along the East Coast, and down in Florida for the best rates.

This deal to Turks & Caicos (PLS) is the perfect example:


Turks & Caicos


Those are some of the usual suspects that regularly offer cheap flights to the Caribbean. If a place like Turks & Caicos, the U.S. Virgin Islands, San Juan (SJU) in Puerto Rico, or the Bahamas (NAS) are on your radar for a trip this year or next, I'd at least start with Atlanta (ATL), New York (JFK, LGA & EWR), and Miami (MIA).

Miami is almost always the single cheapest airport to find airfare to the Caribbean …. by a wide margin. If you can find a cheap flight to Miami, chances are you'll be able to get to the Caribbean for cheap.


The Best Airports for Cheap Flights to Europe & Africa

Everyone wants to go to Europe, and we can hardly blame you. In just the last month, we found fares like these nonstop offerings up to Iceland (KEF) this summer and fall. 


Iceland nonstop deal


But you don't have to live in one of these hub cities to grab cheap flights to Europe, either. Have 40,000 Delta SkyMiles? Well, you won't anymore after you book a sale like this one flying to more than 12 European cities. 


SkyMiles flash sale


But there's no doubt that some cities benefit from more frequent (and cheaper) Europe flight deals than others. If I had to make a short list of places you should keep on your radar when looking for Europe flights, here's what I would come up with:

  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Miami
  • New York
  • Toronto
  • Washington, D.C.

Here's an example. By making sure you're getting flight deals from New York City (JFK, EWR), you will catch these sizzling fares in your web. 


NYC to Europe flight deal


Thrifty Traveler Premium members get cheap business class fares and award alerts to use points and miles, too!

So keep a few of those East Coast cities on your list if you're looking for a comfortable ride to Europe this year or next.

If you're located further west in the U.S., I would consider adding Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco to your list, as well. While more rare than the East Coast strongholds, those airports are very competitive and will often feature great deals to Europe, too.


The Best Airports for Australia & Asia Deals

Most of these things are pretty intuitive geographically. If you're looking for deals to Australia and Asia, keep your eyes peeled on the West Coast airports to find those deals.




For Australia, I'd recommend the following airports from which airlines offer nonstop service to the land down under, including:

  • Dallas
  • Houston
  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco
  • Vancouver

If Tahiti (PPT), Fiji (NAN), or New Zealand (AKL) are what you're after, airports with those nonstops include:

  • Chicago
  • Dallas
  • Houston
  • Los Angeles
  • New York
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • Vancouver

Destinations like Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines are seemingly more popular than ever … and ripe for fresh flight deals. For any trip to Asia, you need to have these western airports on your list:

  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • Vancouver

With these cities on your list, you'd receive the regular points and miles award alerts we send to Thrifty Traveler Premium members. While it can be tricky to pull off, using points and miles is the best way to get to Australia for a good value, hands down.

Want to fly Qantas business class all the way to Australia? You should! 


Australia biz class


And you can do it from all of these U.S. cities if you have the right points and miles stashed away. 

Haven't joined Thrifty Traveler Premium yet? Sign up now to get deals like this one in your inbox!

Like any destination, cheap flights from your home airport are not out of the realm of possibility. We've found widespread sales to Australia before. Check out this one from just a few months ago.




But by checking some of these western airports into your departure cities list, you're doubling or tripling the number of deals you'll see to help you book cheaper and faster this year or next.


The Best Airports for South America Deals

If you want to fly to South America in 2024 or beyond, there are a few airports that you need to have on your list. I would start with these:

  • Atlanta
  • Dallas
  • Fort Lauderdale
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • New York

South America flight deals come in all shapes and sizes and follow fewer patterns than the likes of Europe and Hawaii. But we find home airport South America deals from time-to-time, including this one a while back with huge savings on flights down to Chile!


Chile flight deal


Dozens of U.S. airports from Seattle (SEA), to Kalispell (FCA), to Aberdeen, South Dakota (ABR) got in on the action in the $500s down to Santiago (SCL), but that's not necessarily the norm. Most South America deals feature a select few U.S. airports, like this sweet Thrifty Traveler Premium deal flying business class instead. 


LATAM business class


In this case, these fares were Atlanta (ATL), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), New York (JFK), or Orlando (MCO). 


Toggle on All Business Class Deals

Whether you're using points and miles or booking a sub-$1,000 fare, the savings when booking first and business class seats can be astounding. That's where arguably the biggest value of our Thrifty Traveler Premium service lies.

If you want to make sure you don't miss a single deal on premium cabin seats, we've made it easy: Just log in to your Premium account and turn on the “Business & First Class from Every Airport” filter!


Business and First Class from every airport


If you're not interested in flights departing from New York, Dallas, or Los Angeles – unless it's a great award deal or ultra-cheap cash fare on lie-flat seats, of course – this is how you do it. That way, you'll never miss deals like this.


Delta ONe unicorn


… or this one to fly Aer Lingus business class to Dublin next year …


Aer Lingus biz class


You can also toggle off all economy deals if you're only interested in premium cabin fares.


Earn Transferrable Credit Card Points

We tell all travelers to stop swiping their airline credit cards day in, day out and to focus instead on earning transferable points like Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Capital One Venture Miles, and even Citi ThankYou points.

For Thrifty Traveler Premium members looking to take advantage of the best points and miles deals we send, it's paramount.

Having a pool of flexible points that you can quickly transfer to the right airline is the difference between booking a great award deal … or watching it sail by, wishing you could.

Take, for example, this alert to fly to Istanbul (IST) in Turkish Airlines business class for just 55,000 miles each way. While you may not have Turkish Airlines miles on hand, you could have easily transferred either Capital One Venture Miles or Citi ThankYou points to Turkish to book lie-flat seats to one of the most exciting cities on the planet.

But if you're only earning American AAdvantage miles? While those are great, they won't help you here.


Turkish business class


Or how about one of the many Delta SkyMiles flash sales? Even if you don't have Delta SkyMiles on hand, you could have easily transferred American Express Membership Rewards points into your Delta account to book a trip to Florida for the whole family. 


Thrifty Traveler Premium Delta SkyMiles flight deal to Florida


Not feeling a trip to Orlando? No problem: That same stash of Amex points could have allowed you to jump on this incredibly rare ANA first class award fare to Tokyo next year for just 55,000 points each way at the time. 


ana first class deal


We could go on and on: We send Thrifty Traveler Premium members several award alerts every single week – and we're the only flight deal service that sends both these points deals as well as cheap cash fares at such a low price. Earning flexible points allow you to be versatile, opening up a world (literally) of opportunities to take those deals and run with them.

Check out our list of the best credit card bonuses available right now!


Book Now, Ask Questions Later

You've built out the stable of airports you want alerts for … but ultimately, booking these cheap flights comes down to you.

We have a mantra here at Thrifty Traveler: The hotter the flight deal, the shorter it lasts. And while it may seem risky to be booking flight deals on a whim, it's really not if you follow the right rules. And one rule is more important than all of them: The 24-Hour Rule.

On any flight that touches U.S. soil – no matter the airline, where you're coming from, or heading to – you can cancel your flight for free within 24 hours of when you booked it and get a full refund. There are a few exceptions for tickets purchased just days before departure but, in general, this is your excuse to book now and ask questions later. If things don't pan out, cancel your ticket and get a full refund.

When I see amazing fares pop-up, I always follow the same playbook: I call my wife to see if she has any interest in the trip. She says maybe. And then I book two tickets because I know I have at least 24 hours to figure things out and cancel for a full refund. Airfare, taxes, and fees – all of it – back onto my credit card. No questions asked.


How to Book Delta Flights With Miles


Follow the Flight First Rule

Booking flights fast is important, but one rule trumps them all: The Flight First Rule.

This is the #1 way to save on travel, and it's exactly what it sounds like. If you lock in your dates, book a hotel, plan a bunch of excursion and then start looking for flights to fit your itinerary, you're going to pay for it.


flight pricing


Flights are often the most expensive portion of any travel itinerary, and they're definitely the most fickle aspect of any trip. The difference between flying on a Wednesday and a Friday could be thousands of dollars. So before you ask for time off work, book that tour, or lock down any lodging, you're going to need to book the cheapest flights possible to save money.

Or just let the Thrifty Traveler Premium flight deals come to you and go from there. 

We've heard it from thousands of subscribers over the years: Letting great flight deals dictate their travels has been the difference between being able to travel once a year or five times.


Use Premium to Build Your Bucket List

Thrifty Traveler Premium is a flight deal alert service, but it's also maybe the best way to build your bucket list. 

I scan the globe looking for cheap flights every day, but I'm still sometimes blown away by the destinations I find and research for our subscribers. I even wrote a list of the places I'd never heard of until I started finding cheap flights for our subscribers. Here's an example:


Mauritius Condor


This flight deal from last year flying the fancy Condor business class took travelers across the Atlantic and all the way down to the dreamy island paradise of Mauritius (MRU) for just 70,000 points each way. That fare put Mauritius – a place I had barely even heard of – firmly on my list for future travel.

When new Thrifty Traveler Premium emails hit your inbox, use them to build out a list of places you want to go. You could even make a separate folder in your inbox to store some of your favorite deals, whether you actually book them or not. It will both help you build a list, and make a tentative budget for future travel.

Here's what my Premium folder of my inbox looks like as I write this. It's a smorgasbord of unreal airfare and points and miles deals.




While some of the deals we send out are rare, many destinations we feature on Thrifty Traveler Premium come around more than once a year. So use your Premium emails as inspiration for future travel.

Even if you're not ready to book that Vienna business class deal or Tokyo AA Miles deal when you got the email this week, you can be ready next time!


Add Hotel Alerts, Too!

You're using your Thrifty Traveler Premium to book dirt-cheap flights and unreal points and miles deals. But what about lodging? 

Thrifty Traveler Premium Hotel Alerts are officially here. For an additional $24.99 a year, Premium members can opt in and start getting alerts to book some of the best properties in the U.S. and across the globe using their Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, or Marriott points – or transferrable credit card points from banks like Chase and Amex. 

We scour the world for award availability at top-rated hotels, brand-new properties, and all-inclusive resorts near and far, sending an alert when you can book them with points. Hotel Alerts subscribers can expect one or two hotel deals a week.


hotel deals hub


This is a new add-on service that's only available to Thrifty Traveler Premium members. Current Premium members can opt-in by logging into their online account and selecting “Hotel Deals” in the main menu. First-time subscribers will see the option to add Hotel Alerts to their plan after signing up for Flight Alerts.

We're just getting started, but we've already sent some sizzling hotel alerts to members. That includes peak season availability at the notoriously hard-to-book Conrad Bora Bora Nui you could book for 120,000 Hilton points, one of the best all-inclusive resorts in Mexico bookable from just 25,000 Hyatt points a night, and a beloved New York City property bookable for just 34,000 Bonvoy points – a third of what Marriott is charging now! 


conrad bora bora nui


Just as with our Premium Flight Alerts, members who sign up now at the introductory rate will lock in that price for life: Even if that price eventually increases, yours won’t!

We helped you book the flights and now we want to help with the rest!


Bottom Line

By tuning your departure cities to the correct airports, you can cast a wide net and catch more deals to the places you want to go. By following the Flight First Rule and keeping the 24-hour rule in mind, you can make quick and flexible bookings and potentially save thousands.

Now, we can even help you find the least expensive ways to book the best hotels and resorts in the world, too!

Plus, every time you get a Thrifty Traveler Premium email in your inbox, it can serve as travel inspiration, filling your bucket list with cost-effective travel goals. That's the key to get you on that dream trip this year or next.


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