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If you are a procrastinator like me, you haven’t done any of your Christmas shopping yet. I’ve personally been too busy mileage running, but now that I’ve qualified for Delta’s Diamond status, I can start thinking about gifts. Several readers have emailed me asking for gift suggestions for the frequent flyers in their life, so here are some of my ideas.
1) Lounge membership. Any frequent flyer should know the real secret to travel (beyond elite status) is having lounge access. Not only do you get a quiet place to wait for your flight, but also a bevy of other benefits, which depending on the lounge can include free alcohol, snacks, wifi and most importantly- veteran agents that can be extremely useful in times of irregular operations. You know when a million people are lined up at the ticket counter waiting to be re-accommodated after a flight cancellation? Most frequent flyers are either in the lounge (or their cell phone’s) getting VIP service.
Yearly lounge membership varies, but is usually around $450, but individual passes and 90 day trials can be purchases on some airlines. Delta even has a current promotion: 5 day passes for $99, which is a pretty good deal. For more information on each lounge click here: Air Canada, American, Continental, Delta, United, US Airways. You can also get a Priority Pass, which gives access to a number of lounges, including Continental, United and US Airways. Just make sure the giftee doesn’t already have lounge access (which is automatically given to Delta Diamonds, for example).
3) Airline gift cards. It may sound silly, but I’d much rather have a Delta giftcard than one for Starbucks.
AirTran (promo: get 1 credit for every $100 in gift cards purchased) American, Continental, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, US Airways, Virgin America
4) IPad. The quintessential in-flight entertainment for the world traveler. I still don’t have one, but I hope that changes soon! (hint hint)
5) Medallion Qualifying Miles. If you have a Delta frequent flyer in your life and also want to make a year end donation, think about making one in their name to one of three charities. You will get a tax write-off and they will get up to 15,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles, which will help them get elite status this year and if they already have achieved it, Delta has rollover, so they will start the new year with a jump start to coveted elite status. Details here.
6) Expertflyer.com membership. This site membership gives access into upgrade and award space on American, Delta (upgrades only), United and Air France (among many more). If your frequent traveler flies those airlines frequently, they may love this service which will help them search for flights with the most upgrade space and set alerts when those seats open up.
7) A subscription to Inside Flyer magazine. The holy grail of mileage deals and promotions (besides thepointsguy.com, of course).
8) Tumi luggage. I’m a personal fan- it’s durable and never goes out of style. Luggage style is a personal choice (like fashion), so make sure you get a piece that goes in line with the traveler’s persona.
9) Flip video camera. I really want one of these (another hint, hint), especially so I can start uploading video content of my travels here. These are a low-cost way to capture your best travel moments.
10) And if you need to give a gag gift, go wild from the SkyMall. Gadling writer Mike Barish posts a wacky SkyMall item every Monday, so check out his past posts for inspiration. There are some real doozies (like the Skyrest Travel Pillow- not a hint, hint).