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I figure this would be a fun one-off post on how I got free airfare from Allegiant several years ago. I don’t know if this trick will work again down the road for a different company or contest due automated software that runs social media contests. But, I was pretty proud of this one.


Back around 2010 I didn’t have much in my bank account saved. I was making enough in poker to keep afloat. It was also around this time where I was getting homesick since it was about 9 months after I moved to Nevada from Michigan.

So I did what everyone would so, try to find the cheapest flight round trip to my destination! It didn’t matter if it was Delta, AA, Southwest, or any airline for that matter. All airfare would have been $500 round trip not including luggage.

I was pretty bummed. Eventually, in the deep space of Google (maybe Facebook? It’s been awhile), I came across this page.

Free Airfare Contest

Sorry for the terrible quality, the page doesn’t exist anymore.

I couldn’t believe it. There was an actual contest that was still active to get two free roundtrip airline tickets. At first, I kind of scoffed at it, but then I looked at the details.

All About The Details

This was a contest that was based on reaching a fan count benchmark.

Alright, that’s nothing out of the ordinary. Most raffles are set up similar where after a certain time period, a winner is announced.

In this case. The winner wasn’t random.

As a matter of fact, the rules said:

After Allegiant hits 20,000 fans, a code word will be released on the Facebook fan page.

  • Submit the code word + legal name + address + phone number to their email
  • The first 5 entries will win

Whoa! Hold the phone, now give me the phone. Not only is this contest not-randomized, not dependant on a compelling story, but instead it’s a contest of speed?!?

  • If it were random: Odds would be 1 out of 20000 (0.005% chance of winning).
  • If it’s based on speed, perhaps 1 out of 10 at worst? (10% chance).

Now that’s a type of contest I’m all about.

Devising a Strategy

I caught wind of the content around mid-June. At the time they had about 12,000 or so fans. So I decided I would start seeing how many new fans were added daily.

On average it I noticed they there were gaining about 1500 or so fans a week. So I predicted that they would reach 20K fans around mid-July. While I did still keep an eye on it daily, I didn’t want to obsess over it until it got around 18,000 fans.

My plan to get an edge over other people was the I created an email draft of the following:

  • Name/Address/Phone/Contact Email.
  • I left an extra space for the code word.

Really, it does sound pretty simple. So whenever the facebook page hit 20K fans, I can quickly copy/paste the codeword in my email draft and hit send immediately.

There would be no way for me to botch the speed of the email, but it would still be dependant on when the code was pushed out.

All About The Timing

My prediction was pretty spot on in regards to when they would reach 20,000 fans. It was right in the middle of July.

Fan number 19,900 came at around 7:30 pm. I kept refreshing Facebook because back then feeds weren’t automatic #only90skidsremember. At 8:45 pm they reached 20,000 fans!

Then I refreshed…and refreshed…and refreshed…for about an hour straight. Once it got past 9 pm a lot of people were complaining about the lack of urgency on the contest. I didn’t want to stop refreshing in case they posted.

Content Salt

The struggle is real

So I began browsing all of Allegiant’s old post. Out of the hundreds of posts throughout the past year (09/10), none of the social media posts were after 4 pm. Even crazier, the earliest they ever posted was 8 am.

It was obvious to me that the person who was in charge of social media at the time was probably at home sleeping without having a single thought of the contest.

Early Bird Gets the Worm

I figure it was a pretty low risk to go to sleep and wake up around 7:15 am. My logic was that the social media person would be waking up soon, likely have received a text from the higher-ups to say “POST THE CODEWORD”, they would post it from home for my best chance for free airfare.

Low and behold: At 7:49 am.

Allegiant Contest

I immediately copy/pasted the code word and sent that bad boy out within seconds.

About 30 minutes later I received an email to say that I had won! (Unfortunately, I deleted the email a few years ago.)

I received two round-trip vouchers so I was able to visit home twice that year. Overall the contest saved me around $1,000 in free airfare. I didn’t make much in 2010, so that alone probably attributed to 8% of my income that year.

Can You Do The Same?

In my experience, there are so many companies out there that prefer to do contest that doesn’t want bother using automated software. That means you can increase your odds if you are patient and wait for the right opportunity.

  • Find contents/giveaways with a low volume of participants
  • Increase the likelihood of winning if the results aren’t random
  • If you can predict patterns you can save time by not waiting during downtime
  • Scumbag Protip: You can always type in “giveaway” or “contest” on Twitch or YouTube (sorted by newest) where people have giveaways for gift cards, gaming equipment, and swag. Enter those contests for the greatest chance of winning.

What are your tips to increase your odds in contents? Even better, what contests have you won?


Free Airfare Case Study