Once upon a time, before the Burning Crusade, reaching level 60 meant finally being able to get your hands on the fastest possible mount for the bargain price of 1000 gold (too bad it didn't even fly.) My, how times have changed! For only a fraction of that price, you can now get your very own flying mount with training. Here's how to do it.
Expert Riding Skill
Expert riding is the first level of flying you can train. At level 60 you can learn this skill, which allows you to fly at 150% speed. First you need to find a flying trainer. There are many to choose from, but if you pick one associated with a faction you have high reputation with, you'll receive a generous discount! Stormwind or Orgrimmar are probably going to be your best bet. The expert riding skill costs 250 gold, which can be reduced to 200 g with exalted reputation status (this does not include the cost of the mount, which is trivial in comparison.) You will also need to buy a flying mount, which is available from a vendor located right near the flying trainer NPC.
Flight Master's License
At level 60 you can also get your flight master's license for 250 gold, after learning the expert riding skill. This allows you to use a flying mount in Azeroth: Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms. The Cataclysm expansion is required in order to purchase this skill.
Cold Weather Flying
Learning the cold weather flying skill requires expert riding, and allows you to fly in Northrend. This can be trained at level 68 from a flying trainer for the cost of 500 gold. You do not need a special mount to fly in Northrend; but you will need both expert and cold weather flying training.
Artisan Riding Skill
Becoming an artisan in riding will boost your flying speed to 280%. This can be trained at level 70. The cost is 5000 gold, 4000 if you're exalted with the faction of the flying trainer. You will also need an epic flying mount, which costs an additional 100g.
Master Riding Skill
At level 80 you can learn master riding, which allows you to ride an epic flying mount at 310% speed. While only a small increase over artisan riding, the cost remains the same – 5,000g before faction discount. The good news is you can use the same mount!
Which Flying Skills Do You Need?
While the 150% flying speed from expert riding is perfectly fine for getting where you need to go, the faster flying does have its benefits. Artisan and master riding may seem like a luxury, but the time you'll save traveling from one location to the next is worth its weight in gold! 10,000 gold isn't what it used to be in World of Warcraft, especially if you're level 85. If you spend a few minutes a day selling random loot on the auction house, you'll have the fastest possible flying in no time!