✈️ How to hack dynamic pricing

✈️ How to hack dynamic pricing

Estimated read time: 4 minutes and 54 seconds

A South African game preserve has started using AI to track its rhino population in order to combat poaching issues. Gotta love technology! Read more about it here.

Good morning from sunny Kaunas, Lithuania. I decided to come up here to the great European north to enjoy some PROPER weather. I’m talking maximum 65 degrees on a sunny summer day. It’s great.

You non-Canadians might disagree though…

Anyway, today I’ve got two GREAT travel hacks to share with you, so let’s get after it:

  • ✈️ How to hack dynamic pricing

  • 🏨 A new way to get free Marriott Gold status

  • 🖼️ Meme

✈️ How to hack dynamic pricing

When you hear the term “dynamic pricing,” you probably shrivel up into a little ball to wither and die like a slug that’s been freshly salted.

And you should… dynamic pricing is evil.

…or is it…? 🤔

You see, there are two sides to the dynamic pricing coin. Sometimes, it can actually work in your favor. And I’ll tell you how.

First, let’s define the term.

Dynamic pricing is when an airline or hotel program decides the cost in points based on the cash cost.

If the hotel is more expensive to buy with cash, the points price will also be more expensive, and vice versa when priced lower.

This is in contrast to the “good ol’ days” where programs used award charts that kept points pricing stable. Some programs, mainly Hyatt, still use these charts.

Hyatt is one of the few programs that still uses a fixed award chart

The big example I want to tell you about today involves Air Canada’s Aeroplan, since I used this exact hack for my flight tomorrow. However, the principle works for any program.

Aeroplan uses an award chart for partner airlines and dynamic pricing for Air Canada flights.

This means that if you use Aeroplan points to book flights with Lufthansa, for example, the pricing is fixed based on the distance. If you fly Air Canada, it fluctuates.

But what happens if you have a ticket that combines both partner AND Air Canada flights?

Well… that’s where things get interesting.

Take a look at this award chart for Aeroplan. It shows the pricing based on certain distances, differentiated for Air Canada vs. partner flights.

Aeroplan award chart for flights between North America and Europe

So let’s say you want to fly from Frankfurt to Montreal in business class because you’re a fancy pants. According to the chart above, the flight should run you 60,000 points using partner airlines, or up to 160,000 points if Air Canada flights are involved.

If we run a quick search, we’ll see that… well… I’ll let you see for yourself…

Sample booking on Aeroplan’s website

As you can see, the price of the flights above are 67% higher than their “maximum” possible price, according to the chart. So we know that Air Canada is not trustworthy.

But this isn’t news to us.

The good news is that the award chart can also lie in your favor. For example, what if we tack on a flight before the itinerary above and fly from Helsinki to Quebec City instead?

Holy cow… that’s a sweet deal

As you can see, the flight price, in business class, goes DOWN, despite the total distance getting longer. 

Since this new itinerary is over 4,000 miles, it should technically be a minimum of 70,000 points to fly, or up to 180,000 points since it involves Air Canada flights.

In this scenario, dynamic pricing is working in your favor.

Now I’m not suggesting you fly out of your way to Finland in order to save a ton of points and fly business class… although that’s exactly what I’m doing tomorrow, and this is the exact ticket I booked. 🤗

But here’s what I will say:

When searching for flights, don’t take the search results or award charts at face value. Try mixing things up and adding on flights before or after your actual origin or destination.

If you can take a train to a city a few hours away and end up flying business class for 13 hours and SAVING points in the process, it could absolutely be worth it.

Now in theory (and this is totally hypothetical), there is another way you could hack this…

Let’s say you want to fly from Frankfurt to New York on Singapore Airlines’ amazing 5th freedom route. You look up a ticket on Aeroplan, and it will cost you 60,000 points in business class.

But then you run a search for Frankfurt to Ottawa, Ontario VIA New York, and it costs just 45,000 points because of this dynamic pricing situation…

While on your “layover” in New York, maybe you accidentally miss your flight to Ottawa, and decide to hang out in New York.

Oops… looks like you just got a flight from Frankfurt to New York for 45,000 points instead of 60,000. 🤷🏼‍♂️

Again, this is purely hypothetical…

So, as you go forth into your travel hacking journey, just be aware that there are ways to use dynamic pricing to your advantage. If you have the flexibility to get a little creative, you can have a lot of fun playing around with this.

🏨 A new way to get free Marriott Gold status

Many of you know that the easiest way to get hotel elite status is by opening the right credit card.

Some co-branded cards offer top-tier elite status for said brand, while other cards (like this one) offer multiple elite statuses just by holding a single card.

Well, I’ve got good news.

A card that many of you know and love has decided to join in the fun and offer Marriott Gold status, though with some fine print.

I know… it’s exhausting…

The offer is in two phases, as follows:

  1. If you hold this credit card, you can register to get three months of Marriott Gold Elite Status for free.

  2. If you complete three paid nights within three months of registering, your Gold status will be extended through February 2025.

And there are a few other details to be aware of:

  • You must be a current cardholder in good standing to be eligible.

  • You must register (online through your card member benefits page of the bank in question) by September 30th, 2023.

  • The three-month window to complete the required stays begins on the day you register for the offer.

So is this worth doing?

UMMMMMMM… Yeah… you could say that. Yeah…

Three months of free elite status for doing nothing is always a no-brainer. Even if you don’t have three paid stays lined up but just want to enjoy the benefits of elite status on one or two nights, it’s still worth it.

However, three paid nights over three months is also not a huge lift at all…

For example, I have a stay coming up in September at this hotel in Kuala Lumpur, which only costs $38 per night.

At that rate, it would only cost $114 to essentially “buy” Gold status for almost two years, which isn’t half bad.

Obviously, crunch the numbers to make sure this offer makes sense for you. But if you have this card, you might be able to get some nice benefits on your next few Marriott stays, which is not a bad perk at all in my book.

🖼️ Meme

That’s all for today, folks! I hope some of you are able to use your newfound knowledge of the dynamic pricing enigma to your advantage.

Only Email Recipients can participate in polls.

Take care and see you all tomorrow.


Mike Dodge
Head Writer, Daily Drop

54.8985° N, 23.9036° E

Back to blog