'Free-quent' flyer shares tips on how to fly around the world for free

'Free-quent' flyer shares tips on how to fly around the world for free »Play Video
Wouldn't it be wonderful to take 52 vacations in 52 weeks for free, including all the flights and hotels. Scott Ford of Portland, Oregon claims to have done just that.

"I did ten trips to Hawaii last year for free. Tokyo for free, San Juan Puerto Rico for free" says Ford with a smile. "I was walking St. Marks Square in Venice, Italy on Christmas day for free."

Ford claims he has a method that routinely gets him bumped off flights, which in turn earns him thousands of dollars in flight credit he uses to fly around the world for free. He is also earning frequent flyer miles all along the way which he redeems not for flights, but for free hotel stays.

"Anybody can do what I do," says Ford.

And don't think it's all job-related flying. In fact, he says he hasn't held a real job for more than a year.

"I have a job, it's called 'free-quent' flyer," says Ford. "This is my career." He boasts that he's been living off flight vouchers and offers from airlines to put him up in hotels overnight when they need to bump him to a flight the following day. He says his spending money comes from subletting his Portland apartment.

While Ford's story may be hard to believe, the methods he uses to earn his free travel are something anybody can do.

Ford says the keys to a successful quest of 52 vacations in 52 weeks is lots of research and taking advantage of the airline's practice of over selling flights.

The transplanted east coaster arrived in Portland last year on a lark after being laid off from Donald Trump's empire. After being booked on a flight that was oversold, he volunteered to give up his seat and earned a flight voucher worth $200 for doing so. An idea formed in his head.

"All of last year, I bought one ticket in January, that turned into a voucher opportunity" says Ford. He then claims to have parlayed that voucher into being booked into another oversold flight, and earned another voucher. It began a pattern that hasn't stopped.

"Airlines oversell flights so they sell all their seats," says Steve Danishek, President of TMA Travel, a corporate travel agency. "Typically an airline will sell 115-percent of the actual number of seats on the plane."

Airlines routinely bet on no shows. Airlines don't want to leave the gate with any empty seats on board, so airlines have come up with a loss-leader of sorts.

Danishek says airlines figure it's better business to offer flight vouchers worth hundreds of dollars to encourage passengers to take a later flight rather than undersell a flight and have it leave with empty seats.

What Ford appears to have done that most frequent flyers have yet to master, is consistently finding oversold flights. He says he spends hours on the internet looking at flight schedules, especially in and out of an airline's hub city, selecting flights and focusing in on their seat maps.

He says if a flight shows no available seats in coach class but the airline is still selling tickets in coach, that's a great indication the flight is entering into oversold status.

"No seats means dollars signs to me," says Ford. " When I see no seats, I head straight to the airport to get that voucher. I always show up at the airport cause if I'm not there the voucher opportunity is for someone else."

If it were only that easy. Ford gambles by purchasing flights, sometimes up to two weeks out, that he says are routinely oversold.

"I then watch that flight everyday for indications its oversold. If I get to the airport and it's not, I already know the flight numbers for alternative flights I want to take that day for other bump opportunities," says Ford.

He has reached Diamond status on Delta Airlines, his preferred carrier, which allows him to make same day changes without penalties. There may be a good reason for Ford's preference for Delta.

"Delta always plays it close to the edge and so does US Airways," says Danishek. "Those are two of the carriers that have the highest number of bumped flights."

As an alternative, experts suggest purchasing a full-refundable coach fare and use that to target oversold flights. A fully refundable fare always offers the most flexibility. Booking potential oversold flight with a fully refundable ticket allows you to get all your money back in case the flight is not oversold.

What is also key to Fords self-proclaimed success is his frequent flyer status with Delta. Being a Diamond Frequent Flyer, Ford earns free first class upgrades plus double and bonus miles on nearly every flight.

In the first four months of this year, he's already earned 96,000 miles. He needs 125,000 to maintain his Diamond status. He's earn nearly half a million lifetime miles on Delta and most of it he says, is on Delta's dime.

"It's all about maintaining and having that frequent flyer status," says Ford. "It's gold!"

"It's a business game, he's playing it very well and he's playing by the rules" says Danishek. "But it takes allot of time to do what he is doing".

And time is what Ford appears to have allot of. But this is one way someone can turn free time into free travel.

Ford has developed a website called packabagandgo.com where he blogs about his travels and secrets.