The Crunch: Planning your travel destination based on the cheapest seats you can find just to save money often leads to unpleasant experiences, but Johnny Jet explains to readers how to travel both affordably and in style. By sharing personal experiences and in-depth reviews, Johnny DisCala and his team teach travelers how to navigate reward points and loyalty programs to unlock deep discounts and premium perks. The Johnny Jet website has become a one-stop destination for travel tips, deals, and resources for planning and booking a trip, helping travelers maximize their savings while enjoying more of the journey.
My husband and I are infrequent flyers, but we do journey east to visit family every year around Christmas. Traveling cross-country during the peak holiday travel season, of course, means expensive airline tickets — especially if you prefer nonstop flights. A few years ago, we decided to save money by booking a connecting flight with a budget airline rather than fly nonstop with our favorite carrier.
Little did we know we were setting the scene for one of our worst travel experiences to date.
At the gate, we learned that the destination airport had canceled all flights due to an impending snowstorm, but the airline assured us they could get into the next closest airport. When we reached our Chicago layover, sure enough, the second flight had been canceled as well. Stranded without luggage, and with every hotel booked for miles, we drove a rental car through a blizzard to a friend’s house before heading on to our destination the next day. It was several more days before we were reunited with our damaged bags. Needless to say, we went back to our favorite carrier the following year.
Inclement weather aside, the savings offered by cheaper seats and budget airlines can sometimes come with a cost — not-so-great service.
Geoff Whitmore, a content manager for the travel website Johnny Jet, agrees.
“If you’re someone who doesn’t travel enough to earn mileage, budget airlines can be the cheapest way to travel, but you have to be willing to sit in a tight seat, be a light packer, and travel by yourself,” he told us. “And many of those airlines also have bad on-time rates and cancellations.”
But it doesn’t have to be that way. By taking advantage of the strategies and tips shared on Johnny Jet, it’s possible to fly with reputable airlines, enjoy the perks, and still save money.
“Personally, my family prefers to fly one of the major airlines. It’s more affordable because we travel in conjunction with our travel credit cards and status,” Geoff said. “If you have a United Airlines credit card, for example, you get free checked bags and lounge passes — perks that make traveling more affordable and enjoyable. And, if you travel often enough, status with the major airlines also improves the travel experience.”
Geoff shared with us a few of his most remarkable adventures, which illustrate the potential of learning how to utilize loyalty programs and travel reward points.
“Just last year, I flew first class to Dubai on United Arab Emirates for 90,000 Alaska Airlines points and $19.50 out of pocket. Then I transferred to Abu Dhabi and flew to London for about 40,000 American Airlines miles and an additional $5 cash,” Geoff said. “But one of my favorite trips was when my wife and I traveled from Dallas to Sydney on a first-class, nonstop Qantas Airlines flight. The taxes were under $10, and we paid about $150 for both of us. That’s a very long flight, so to be able to redeem miles we earned through credit card sign-ups and spending was a tremendous value,” Geoff said.
Created by founder Johnny DisCala, Johnny Jet shares these kinds of personal travel stories alongside resources, reviews, deals, and tips on everything from booking flights to ordering room service. By learning from their experiences, even rookie travelers can plan affordable trips that exceed their wildest expectations.
Business-Class Envy Inspired Johnny’s Mission to Share Travel Tips
Johnny wasn’t always so travel-savvy. As a college student, he thought long lines, cramped seats, sub-par food, waiting for luggage, and other inconveniences of economy class were just part of flying. After a business-class flight to Hong Kong, he caught a glimpse of how comfortable and even enjoyable it could be to fly.
Throughout his career as a recruiter for Marymount College with a 26-state territory, Johnny racked up many more traveling experiences along with an increasing desire to get in on business class traveler perks.
“I was so frustrated, envious, and determined that I decided to observe everything and pose questions to everyone: travel agents, flight attendants, captains, and any frequent flyer I could approach,” Johnny explains on his site.
He soon learned that flying was much like a game. As he continued to travel and learn the “rules,” Johnny became so good at it that he decided to start a friendly competition among friends to see who could accumulate the most miles. After winning, he decided it was only fair to send out an email showing his friends how he did it.
By 1999 — four years later — the email list had 500 recipients, and Johnny realized it was time to create a website that would give his followers a destination for anything and everything related to travel.
“Johnny’s been a travel personality for 20 years, so he’s laid a good foundation of content with tips and expertise on destinations. Over the last few years, he’s started talking more about rewards programs and things like that,” Geoff said. “We try not to be singular in our scope of topics. We want to give them enough resources and content to meet all their travel needs.”
Johnny Jet’s followers stay updated on his latest travels and have access to several categories of travel content — from travel tips and features on popular destinations to travel deals and credit card offers.
The Travel 101 Portal guides visitors to the practical resources they need based on the stage of their journey, the type of vacation they’re interested in, their traveling concerns, and the types of activities they want to do. While the Booking Tools enable users to easily search and compare rates on flights, hotels, transportation, cruises, and package deals from major travel websites.
Johnny Jet combines years of hands-on travel experience with practical resources to help travelers plan their next vacation or business trip.
Best Practices for Loyalty Points, Credit Cards, and Travel Savings
Loyalty and rewards programs have many complexities, yet they remain the best way for business and leisure travelers to get the most value out of airfare and accommodations. Geoff shared some Johnny Jet advice for navigating rewards clubs, co-branded credit cards, and travel rewards.
“We encourage our readers to sign up for all the airline and hotel loyalty programs because it doesn’t cost anything. And you’ll earn more points and get more benefits than if you weren’t signed up for their programs,” Geoff said.
As for reward credit cards, those offered by specific airlines and hotels yield some savings but tend to give fewer points-per-purchase and flexibility with how to spend them.
“For the airline cards, you don’t have to travel much to get the benefits and perks. If you travel once a year on Delta, the annual fee is justified by free bag check,” Geoff said. “Co-branded cards are the best for people who stay at those hotels or travel with those airlines frequently. You want to put your mileage number in a reservation so you earn the most points, but you can pay with a different credit card that allows you to earn more points per dollar. Transferable points are what we recommend going after because you have more flexibility with redemption.”
Other advantages of transferable points include the ability to redeem them at cash value or even book cheaper flights through a partner airline with a more advantageous award chart.
“That’s how I prefer to use all my rewards points — on nicer hotels and premium cabins. I’m not going to pay $8,000 to fly to Europe, but I’ll redeem 70,000 miles to fly to Europe,” Geoff said.
Since these travel savings strategies require credit card purchases and sign-ups, Johnny Jet also stresses the importance of handling credit responsibly.
“We preach that if you don’t know your credit score or have difficulty managing your credit card spending responsibly, you shouldn’t apply for credit cards. We don’t want anyone to get into debt. If you’re paying interest, it defeats the purpose of the points you earn,” Geoff said. “There are tons of sites where you can get your free credit score and report — it has never been easier to stay on top of it.”
For those who manage their credit wisely, rewards programs provide the opportunity to use everyday spending and credit card sign-ups to turn travel dreams into realities.
Helping People Enjoy Dream Vacations in the Travel Market
Since Johnny started his travel site in 1999, the travel climate has experienced many trends — from the types of destinations and package deals with exotic appeal to the types of travel rewards offered by the banking industry.
“It’s still a growing market, but some of the rules and guidelines have become stricter. American Express has a one-per-lifetime signup bonus on its cards, and Chase has the 5/24 rule — if you’ve applied for five or more credit cards in the last 24 months, you’re unlikely to be approved,” Geoff said.
On the positive side, new offers are being introduced every year, especially in the premium travel space.
“Chase Sapphire Reserve came out a few years ago, and other banks have followed suit with premium products, even in the co-branded space. Last year, United and Delta introduced two new no-annual-fee products, and IHG came out with a new card as well,” Geoff said.
But one thing has stayed the same — people are always looking for great deals on travel.
Whether checking out current budget hot spots like Iceland, looking for the best way to use points for a beachy getaway to Bora-Bora, booking the classic 25th wedding anniversary trip to Hawaii, or — in my case — simply looking for a cheaper way to fly home for the holidays, travelers will find Johnny Jet an important first stop in their planning process.
“We just want travelers to come to Johnny Jet and learn how they can maximize their travel budget and experience,” Geoff said.