...constantly searching to find the best travel deals and places to visit. A never-ending quest for adventure!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

miles...to use them, or not to use them

I have this conflict sometimes about whether or not it's better to burn miles for flights, or just pay for the flights to get the miles that can be accrued for elite status.  What's the point of having miles or points if you're not willing to use them, right?

One nice thing about having them is that if you need to do a last minute trip or have an emergency, airlines like United have standard award availability pretty much open all the time, and flights can be booked as needed (albeit at the steep 50k level).  For 50k I'd rather use them internationally, but sometimes it can't be helped.

My pattern so far on usage has been to pay for fares domestically whenever I travel, along with an occasional international trip that typically pushes me over the elite threshold I need.  The miles that I build up are then ready to be used later for a fun excursion somewhere at low redemption thresholds.  Take for example:

1.  LAX-SIN - there is great award availability right now between Los Angeles and Singapore in United business class in September and October.  A one way business class ticket can be had for only 60,000 miles and $11.40.  That same itinerary at cost would be $7157.50!  0.12 per mile is pretty darn good value.   A similar Delta ticket but in economy would be 80,000 miles and $23.60.  Not very good.

2.  ORD-ZRH - I love Zurich, so I can't help myself from checking flights from all over to get me there. September one way from O'hare to Zurich via Newark on United is popping up availability in First Class for only 67,500 miles and $5...$5275.70 if you were going to pay for it.  Pretty nice!

There are definitely possibilities if you've got the miles banked up.  Happy hunting!

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