Steve Belkin’s latest plan has made the news.
- New Zealand students are being offered free flights to Europe in exchange for US firms gaining their frequent flyer points.
He said the frequent flyer points, earned through Air Canada’s “Aeroplan” scheme, would be used by US companies to get cheap business-class flights.
Belkin says he is just recruiting the people to fly. Then he finds “employers” in the US who are “basically sponsoring these students to fly”.
The scheme works like this:
* A flyer gives written permission allowing a third party to have access to his or her account and to redeem award tickets. The frequent flyer points are not transferred into anyone else’s account.
* The four round-trip flights in economy class between New Zealand and Western Europe generate enough frequent flyer mileage as well as a series of bonus miles, status miles, promotional miles and unpublished benefits, to redeem three round-trip tickets in international Business Class.
* Students fly Thai Airways to Sydney, then Bangkok, before heading to Europe. They are advised not to check in any luggage, so as to avoid suspicions of smuggling. A letter will be provided by Belkin explaining what is going on to convince officials.
* Thai Airways is used because of its cheap fares and liberal layover rules.
* Flyers are paid US$1000 ($1708) on completion of the trips. Money will be held and paid out by Student Job Search.
So, basically, Steve helps US businesses hire students to fly, and those students give access to their frequent flyer miles to their employer. And by pairing cheap cities along with Air Canada’s rules (which allow top-level elites to redeem premium class travel without capacity controls), it’s possible to fly any Air Canada flight in business class at a deep discount.
Steve has done things like this before, too.