Have the devaluations changed your travel style/plans?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by James K., Dec 1, 2013.

  1. James K.

    James K. Silver Member

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    If you're on this website, there's a good chance that you like playing the game. It's been such a rewarding game for people like us for years, but in 2013 the powers that be told us that it was about to get harder. So next year we see the advent of Medallion Qualifying Dollars on United and Delta, significant devaluations in United, Delta, and Hyatt, the merger of AA/US (and whatever that might bring), and the demise of the DC-9. Okay, the last part shouldn't matter much.

    And so my question is, have your plans changed at all? Are you playing the game differently? I am in two different ways. Number one is that I've given up on the legacy carriers as my primary mode of domestic transport. I love flying Delta, and I love(d) earning United miles, but I'm a schoolteacher who travels with his wife. There's no way the two of us are going to spend 2500$ each on either airline in order to requalify for Silver on one airline, let alone two. So I'm earning the Companion Pass and heading to Southwest. Living near BWI makes this easier, though I'll certainly miss the domestic upgrades and fun aircraft variety. Thankfully I'll have literally thousands of dollars in savings to ease the pain.

    My other change is my hotel points strategy, particularly with Hyatt points. I used to use them exclusively for top-end hotels and aspirational redemptions, but I've changed that plan for 2013. I never spend more than 200$ for a hotel, so it occurred to me that if I use 30k points on (say) the Park Hyatt Milan, I'm only getting a functional value of .6 cents per point. Whereas if I use 5k points on the Hyatt Place Birmingham when it would otherwise cost me 100$, I earned 2 cents of value per point. Now admittedly it's not always that simple: my stay at the Park Hyatt Vendome was an *experience* that I never could have gotten otherwise. I'm not going to give up on the idea of the awesome redemption (Tokyo/Kyoto booked for next summer, albeit before the devaluation) but there's a lot of value to be had in the lower Hyatt categories.

    So those are my changes. Do they make sense? Are you also approaching the game differently any for next year?
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  2. traveltoomuch

    traveltoomuch Silver Member

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    Your changes make sense. I have long used hotel points for quite ordinary properties when cash prices were high -- to me, that seemed like the best value proposition. For your circumstances, walking away from airline status sounds sane. (Clarifying: I love having status on legacy carriers, and I hate telling people to fly legacy carriers when they don't have status, if only because I think having status helps in irrops. I prefer to direct folks who won't get status to JetBlue or Southwest, figuring they offer a better customer experience for the masses. Since you have a firm plan to use Southwest, I see no problem with you abandoning legacy carrier silver status.)

    The game is changing for me, too, but not because of devaluations (as such). The triggering events for me are:
    • Dropping to Gold on UA (from platinum, and from a long history of being 1K), and
    • Hitting 1MM on UA (expected in early-mid 2014), coupled with the spending requirements for status.
    With UA starting to charge me award fees for the first time in many years, my award ticket booking habits may change. There will be fewer speculative tickets issued, and I may try harder to use my AA, BA, US(!), and other miles.

    I also expect to make less of an effort to get platinum or 1K on UA. There will be some temptation since I'll be getting it for two people instead of just one, but the spending requirement means I'll probably wait to see what travel others are paying for before I do any speculative mile runs. If other folks are buying me some expensive tickets, I may still make an effort to get PP or 1K, but I don't see spending $7500 or $10k of my own money for them.

    Edited to remove speculation re: changes in my hotel habits. I'll save that for later.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2013
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  3. moongoddess

    moongoddess Silver Member

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    Your approach seems to make sense to me. You're fitting your game plan around your current travel habits, which is the sensible way to do things.

    I'm shifting away from collecting airline miles and hotel points in favor of collecting more flexible currencies (such as Starwood points and Ultimate Rewards points). I've never traveled enough to have status with anyone, so I've nothing to lose there.
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