Top 10 Travel Gift Ideas for the Frequent Flyer in Your Life

by on December 15, 2010 · 1 comment

in Travel Industry

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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).

2)      Noise canceling headphones. I love my simple $161.95 Bose OE headphones, but if you want a true noise canceling, go for the $299.95 Bose QC15

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) 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, 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).

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  • Joseph Linaschke

    A few more gift ideas/alternates from another frequent traveler…

    1) iPad is a fantastic gift, as noted above—but if your traveler already has an iPad, how about iTunes gift cards to buy books and rent movies to read and watch on those long flights? The iPad is nothing without internet access or books and movies loaded on it, so stock your flyer’s iPad with content. You can just get a gift card (easy), but if you know your flyer well, you can actually gift a specific movie or entire TV show series (to own, not rent unfortunately), music album or I think even audiobooks as well. AFAIK you can’t gift iBooks.

    2) The Flip is fun, but personally I think the iPhone is far more useful. Granted it’s a bigger commitment, but… it shoots movies—even in HD—and you can actually edit them on the iPhone with the iMovie app, and upload them to YouTube directly from the iPhone. Pretty slick. Try that on a Flip!

    3) Noise canceling headphones are great, but they do take up quite a bit of space. A few years ago I switched to in-ear sealed headphones from Etymotic , and never looked back. They offer a variety of products that include a variety of tips (foam tips seem to make the best seal, OR go all the way and have custom molds made for your ears—a gift certificate at the local audiologist to take the impressions for your frequent flyer will be VERY well received). Ety makes headphones with microphones for iPhone users, and their top-end models are used by professional musicians as in-ear monitors. Top notch product, and they wrap up small enough to fit in your front pocket.

    4) On the low-tech and fashionable side; scarves! ThePointsGuy has pointed out before that emergency row exit seats (preferred and accessible to most frequent travelers) are usually quite cold. A scarf can make a huge difference in comfort, and can be very fashionable, too!

    5) An extra power supply for their laptop, iPod, cell phone, whatever… does your traveler go digging under the desk every time they take a trip to disconnect the power supply to one of their devices? Pick up a second one for their travel bag. Not a sexy present, but dead useful. Be super sweet and put an “I love you” not on it so they think of you every time they plug in :) (obviously this doesn’t apply to everyone… LOL)

    -Joseph @travel_junkie

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