As noted by other reviewers, Nicholas Kralev was a diplomacy reporter for several years, and flew all over the world on the newspaper's dime -- but newspapers haven't been the most thriving businesses over the past several years, so he had to make the most of a modest travel budget. And he doesn't like flying coach. So he learned the ins and outs of airfares, frequent flyer programs, upgrades, bonuses, and began to think strategically and methodically as he planned out his travels. His travels also earned him a regular travel column in the Washington Times.
Kralev has left the Times and has been offering paid seminars at which he teaches techniques for getting the most out of travel for the least amount of money. And having been teaching these seminars for a year, he's now written a book. It's less expensive than a seminar, and this way it fits your schedule. You should buy it.
The book is broken down into three sections: booking tickets, the trip itself, and making the most of frequent flyer programs.
In section one, across six chapters, Kralev offers the best introduction to airfare construction and searching out the best airfares that I've ever read. And I write a popular travel blog that's been recommended in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, so I'm no slouch on this stuff.
The book isn't for everyone. You might be happy going to Kayak, Bing, or Hipmunk and booking whatever itinerary pops up and looks the cheapest. If that's you, and you're good, then the book may not be for you.
If you want to be more advanced than that, really understand how airfare and travel works and how to use that knowledge for your benefit, then it's a worthwhile investment.
Kralev takes you completely through looking up the cheapest airfares, understanding the rules of the fare, and finding flights that (1) match those rules and (2) have inventory available at the lowest price. He explains concepts like same-day confirmed changes, standby, coach airfares that offer confirmed upgrades to first class, and married segments.
In walking you through how to use this information to book the best flights for you -- whether that means the cheapest flights, the flights with upgrade availability, or the flights that will earn you the most miles -- he gives great examples.
In the second section, the book takes you through buying your tickets, making changes to your reservation at the lowest cost, handling irregular operations (weather, mechanical, and other delays and cancellations), and obtaining compensation from an airline for your inconveniences.
The final five chapters are all about using frequent flyer programs: choosing the right program for you, making the most of airline alliances, obtaining elite status (by flying and by other means) and the benefits of status, the ins and outs of upgrades both domestic and international, finding airline award seats.
The book is a good read, a technical subject but written by an experienced journalist who has been there/done that and who has spent the last year teaching others to do it to through paid seminars. Frequent flyers looking to learn to get the lowest airfares and get the most for their money will find this book to be money well-spent.