Travel Brainstorm

Travel Vocabulary

AAoA – Average Age of Accounts, or the average age of all the credit accounts available. A good way to keep this high is to never close your no fee cards

Airline Alliance – These are agreements of cooperation between groups of airlines. Alliances offer airlines more flexibility and larger networks, while giving travelers such conveniences as the ability to earn frequent flier miles on a partner program of the airline flown. The three largest airline alliances are Star Alliance, oneworld, and SkyTeam.

App-o-rama – term in the mileage community referring to multiple credit cards on the same day (sometimes up to 5 or 6!). Reasoning: app-o-ramas help consolidate credit checks (two pulls from the same bank in one day show up as one pull), and credit pulls do not appear on the report until the next day (so bank 1 won’t see your credit pull from bank 2 if you apply on the same day). General recommendation is to wait at least 91 days between app-o-ramas

Back-to-Back Ticketing – An airfare booking procedure used by fliers to circumvent high fares from airline’s fare system by purchasing two sets of R/T tickets for either one or two flights, while making use of knowledge that Saturday stays usually are cheaper than midweek R/T flights.

Let’s say you live in Philly, and have two prospective job interviews in Boston; both are midweek ($$$), and they are on two different weeks. So you need to make two costly midweek trips, PHL-BOS. Because you know that Saturday stays usually make a flight cheaper, you can book a trip that leaves PHL for BOS on Monday of Week 1, and returns Friday of Week 2. Then you book the exact opposite trip, leaving BOS back to PHL Friday of Week 1, and returning to BOS Monday of Week 2. However, you go for your first interview on Week 1 using PHL-BOS of the first leg of Trip 1 and returning BOS-PHL of the first leg of Trip 2. Then, for the next week, Week 2, you use the second leg of Trip 2, PHL-BOS on Monday of Week 2, and return on second leg of Trip 1, BOS-PHL on Friday of Week 2. It sounds more complicated than it really is; I tend to have a knack for that.

Baggage Allowance – The amount of baggage a passenger may transport without having to pay extra charges, determined by carrier.

Blackout Dates – Dates where special fares or promotions do not apply, typically existing around holidays, peak seasons, or special events. Many frequent flier programs have blackout dates when rewards may not be redeemed.

Boarding Pass – A Boarding Pass allows you to board a plane or ship or other mode of transportation; however, it should not be confused with a ticket, which is usually just the record in the airline’s system. Boarding passes are usually available about 24 hours in advance of departure. It identifies the passenger, airline, flight number, date, scheduled time for departure, and departure and arrival airports. It may also include boarding time, frequent flier program number, boarding priority, and flight time, among other information.
Electronic boarding passes, or “e-boarding passes,” are gaining in popularity as the paper version slowly fades away; these allow passengers to use their handheld devices, such as phones, as their boarding pass.

Budget Traveler – A budget traveler is a traveler who is budget-conscious; they may stay in economy accommodations or hostels, eat cheap meals, and fly during off-peakseasons, among other things. Budget travelers differ from backpackers in the sense that they may not necessarily be staying for a long period of time, they lean towards budget hotels/motels rather than hostels, and usually their trip is not open-ended.

Bulkhead – A partitioning wall, usually referring to one within the cabin of an aircraft, or perhaps on another mode of transportation; it may be a wall that partitions the cabin from the restrooms, the galley, and between various cabin classes. May sometimes simply refer to a partitioning curtain or screen, in some cases.

Codeshare – An agreement between two or more airlines to share the same flight, though with different flight numbers. A ticket may be purchased on one airline, but the plane may be from a different airline. A way for one carrier to partner up with another airline to increase the places that they fly to. Passengers are allowed to earn rewards in whichever frequent flier program they choose (which is codesharing the flight), no matter the purchasing carrier.

CPM – Cents Per Mile, or the number of cents each mile you earn on a given flight costs. For example, if you spend $200 on a flight that earns 2000 miles, that flight is 10 cpm (20,000 cents / 2000 miles).

Credit Pull or Check (hard and soft) – a credit pull (or check, or inquiry) occurs whenever someone, usually a bank, takes a look at your credit report. Hard pulls, which generally occur when you are trying to borrow money, hurt your credit score. Soft pulls, such as checking your own credit score, or banks offering you pre-approved cards, do not hurt your credit score. Hard credit pulls associated with home or auto loans are all considered as one inquiry as long as they are all done within a certain time frame (I think two weeks).

Credit Score – there are three major credit bureaus that calculate different credit scores for you. The score is a number that tells banks how worthy you may or may not be to receive more credit or loans. Generally a score about 740 is pretty good, 760+ is excellent

Credit Utilization Ratio – The ratio of your debt (money borrowed) to your credit limits (maximum amount of money you can borrow). Lower ratios improve your credit score.

CRS (Computer Reservation System) – A system for reserving and booking seats on commercial flights electronically, as well as storage and retrieval of itineraries. Several airlines own and market such systems, which are used by travel agents. A few include: Sabre (produced by American Airlines), Amadeus, and Worldspan.

E-Ticket – Regarding transportation, especially on airlines, an electronic ticket, or e-ticket, is the digital version of a paper ticket, issued via email, SMS, or MMS. It allows much more flexibility than its paper counterpart, such as remote check-in and the ability for a passenger to use an airport kiosk to check in, for example. An e-ticket must still be accompanied by a boarding pass for entry onto the plane.

Elite Status – general term for status granted by an airline to loyal customers. The more you fly with an airline, the higher elite status they will grant you, and the more benefits you will get. Benefits include club access, bonus miles, expedited check in, etc.

Fare Rule – To differentiate fare levels from one another (F, J, T, etc.), the airlines assign special purchasing rules and restrictions. Generally, the lower the fare, the more restrictions a fare has (such as 21-day advance purchase, Saturday night stay, or non-refundable status).

FBC (Fare Basis Code) – Often referred to as simply the fare basis, it is the letter designation used by almost all airlines to determine fare rules and class. Usually, a fare basis code will be between 3 and 8 digits in length.

Flyertalk – a community of people who love flying, where you can learn a ton of information through sifting through the forums. Flyertalk

Frequent Flyer – Technically, one who flies frequently. However, it has evolved into more of a specific definition, involving a traveler who usually flies in a particular frequent flier program so as to earn rewards on that particular program.

Legacy Carrier – term generally used to refer to the “big four” US based airlines – American, Delta, United, and US Airways (technically, Alaska and Hawaiian are legacy carriers as well). Usually used to differentiate from low cost carriers

Long-Haul – Regarding flights, a relatively long distance traveled; usually international, though a flight from Miami to Kingston would be considered “short haul”. Most consider a long-haul flight to be six hours or more. Shorter flights are termed short-haul and medium-haul

Low-cost Carriers – term referring to all of the US based airlines that started after US airline deregulation. Examples: Jetblue, Southwest, etc.

Mattress Run – Similar to a mileage run, a mattress run is executed when a traveler, who is a member of a hotel chain’s frequent stay program , stays a few nights at a hotel with the sole purpose of bulking up on whatever points the hotel’s program offers. The benefits of doing mattress runs include possible free nights earned, higher status in the program, and more amenities, services, and upgrades offered as the result of the higher status. Hotels typically have offers where guests can earn an increased number of points for stays during these promotions, which are when a lot of mattress runs are undertaken.

Medium-Haul – A relatively average distance traveled; most consider a medium-haul flight to be between three hours to six hours in length.

Metal – refers to who owns the actual plane you are flying on. For example, an American Airlines (AA) flight might have a codeshare with British Airways (BA) flight. The metal you are flying on is whichever airlines’ name is on the side of the plane. So a BA flight on AA metal would mean you have a BA ticket, but the actual plane you are sitting on is owned and operated by AA.

Mileage run – a flight taken for the sole purpose of earning miles, often to achieve a certain level of elite status with an airline. Skilled mileage runners will find deals on cheap fares to minimize their costs (cpm, see above). Most fliers who do mileage runs do so on the weekend, when they have time off of work. Mileage runs are done in earnest towards the end of the year, as fliers scramble to gain the required “miles” needed to ensure the airline status they want for the next year.

Milepoint – another website where points freaks and mileage runners gather to gab about miles, points, and travel. Milepoint

MQMs – Medallion Qualifying Miles, miles you earn on Delta Airlines that will count towards elite status

Off-Peak – Slowest travel season, independently determined; what may be off-peak tourism season for France might be peak season for Australia.

Open Jaw – term used when you fly into one city and out of another. Many reward tickets allow open jaws. For example, I could fly into Frankfurt and out of Munich.

Orphaned Miles – miles in a program that you probably are not going to be able to use or are going to expire without you using them (hopefully a small amount!)

Pax (Pasenger) – Any traveler on a public or private vehicle other than the driver, pilot, or crew and other working employees. Usually refers to a paying customer, but not always the case.

Phantom Award Space – award space that looks available on an airline’s website but actually isn’t bookable. Generally the result of a computer glitch

PNR – Passenger Name Record, or record locator. Technical term for the number/letter code an airline gives you as a reference number when you have a reservation or ticket. You’ll give this to an agent over the phone to talk about your reservation, or plug it into a website to choose seats/check flights online. You’ll usually need the PNR for the metal you are flying on to choose seats on a multi-airline flight

Product – term often used to refer to the seats, service, and amenities in a premium cabin

Rack Rate – The list price of a hotel room before any discounts or promotions.

RDM – ReDeemable Miles. Miles earned on a flight that you can redeem with an airline for other flights

RLN (Record Locator Number) – A unique confirmation number issued by an airline/carrier when a reservation is booked.

Short-Haul – A relatively short distance traveled; usually domestic, though a flight from Boston to San Francisco would be considered long-haul. Most consider a short-haul flight to be three hours or less.

Stopover – Rule on some tickets allowing you to stay in a connection city for more than 24 hours. Useful to visit multiple places on the same itinerary. Example: I fly to Beijing with a stopover in Munich. I could spend 3-5 days in Munich before continuing on to Beijing.

YMMV – Your Mileage May Vary. Generally used for offers and deals that aren’t guarantees. In other words, some people might end up with 10K miles from the offer, while others might end up with 5K. Usually applies whenever a human is deciding how many miles to give you (for example, I call up an airline after a long delay and ask for some compensation in the form of RDMs).