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Southwest Airlines recently made headlines and achieved Twitter infamy when it ejected director Kevin Smith (of Clerks fame) from a flight due to his weight. Just a few days later, a pilot for Spirit, a division of Southwest, ejected a doctor and his pregnant wife for requesting water before the plane took off.
But airlines restrict passengers for reasons more minor than this everyday – and it’s completely legal and doesn’t turn into a public relations debacle. The reason is: “blackout travel dates,” and people using their frequent flyer miles from the wrong card, with the wrong airlines, fall victim to them all the time.
How do you avoid travel blackout dates? There are 2 ways:
- Rearrange your travel plans to fly around—but not on—blackout dates
- Choose a Rewards cards that offers flyer miles with no blackout dates or seat restrictions
The first method isn’t always possible, of course, but a large selection of cards exist that boast no blackout dates. We’ll explore a few of the best.
But first, let’s talk a little about common blackout dates and how to simply avoid them by flying at different times.
Avoiding Blackout Dates through Smart Scheduling
Blackout dates typically occur around major holidays, including Christmas, New Year’s, Thanksgiving, and Memorial Day, as well as during Spring Break. Sometimes, you can avoid blackout travel dates by flying on the day of the holiday.
If you can extend your vacation past the holiday by a few days, you can avoid travel blackout dates, too. Most people, for instance, need to return to work the Tuesday or Wednesday after Memorial Day. If you can get extra time off (or are self-employed) you can easily avoid these travel blackout dates.
Travel Rewards Credit Cards with No Blackout Dates
Many travel rewards credit cards today boast that they have no blackout dates. However, check with the carrier before you book the flight to make sure their blackout dates do not apply – a double whammy.
Some of our favorite travel rewards cards with no blackout dates:
- Miles by Discover – With no annual fee and a 0% intro APR for the first six months, this card is a great value for frequent travelers looking for a card with no blackout dates. Earn double miles on your first $3,000 in travel and restaurant purchases each year, and 1 mile for every $1 on other purchases. You can also earn double Miles when you buy through ShopDiscover.com. Overall, one of our favorite cards with no blackout dates.
- Capital One No Hassle Miles Rewards – This card is available in two versions, for people with “good” or “excellent” credit. Those with good credit earn 1.25 miles for every dollar, and the “excellent” card gives users one mile for every dollar up to $1,000 per billing cycle, and double miles for every dollar after that. Although the APR is a bit high, there’s no annual fee and no blackout dates or other restrictions for travel.
- Blue Sky from American Express® – With no annual fee, tons of perks for frequent travelers and no blackout dates, Blue Sky from American Express® comes highly recommended by CreditShout. It’s not a conventional American Express charge card, either. Like any other credit card, you can carry a balance. APRs vary based on your credit history.
Do You Really Want to Fly on Blackout Dates?
Keep in mind, when you take advantage of cards with no blackout dates to travel at peak times, you may need to redeem more miles to pay for a more expensive ticket. You’ll also want to book early to be sure you’ll get a flight.
You can also expect crowded airports, a greater chance of delays, and other travel headaches. But if you have to fly during blackout dates, and you can use your Miles to do so, at least you’re not paying cash for the privilege.