I need to remember this when "valuing" FF miles

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by Jenny & Curt, May 26, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. Jenny & Curt
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    Jenny & Curt Gold Member

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    There are so many blogs and discussions about the true value of Frequent Flyer miles, points, etc. I, for one, am sometimes paralyzed at a checkout counter trying to figure out whether that 1/2 gallon of milk should represent 4 United Miles or 5 BA miles or 20 Chase Freedom points or 4 SPG points. This last couple of months, though, a couple of experiences my son has had have reminded me that it is not always objective or easy to value them. Sometimes, what is valuable is simply that you DO have them if something untoward arises. First incident Dear Son (a West Coast US-based academic) is planning to attend a conference in Europe in early fall. His funding does not pay for the flights, and they were very expensive. 60,000 Delta miles later, he's registered for the conference, budget intact. Yes, a Coach redemption is not for everyone, but it allowed him to be someplace that paying for a ticket might have put out of his reach. Just a bit later, he was confronted with another problem: He had a complicated routing for some conferences and academic work, which was paid through work. Unfortunately, a loved one had a personal crisis. My son (of course, just a General Member with his airline) felt very much that his presence was needed, and called the air carrier for a re-schedule and re-route. It was close-in, and would have cost about $1900, so he called me for advice. End result: Drop a leg (save $300 but pay $150 rebooking fee), use AA miles (10,000) for one leg (cost $75-ish), use UA miles (12.5K) for one leg (cost again $75-ish). So, about even on the money, 22,500 miles spent to save $1900, and he was able to be with his friend during a crisis. (Priceless?)
     
  2. Steven Schwartz
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    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

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    You made such a wonderful point and one we often forget when we get caught up in the "game". I've also been fortunate to help out in a crisis and it meant a whole lot more to them than it meant to me.

    Years ago, I wrote a thread on FT about an amazing family vacation we took in Spain thanks to points. One of my conclusions was that while everyone is trying to pin down the exact value of points and miles, "How do you compute the value of a vacation you would never have taken but for the points? How do you value creating life-long memories for you and your children?"

    And by the way, my oldest is also a college professor - I know just where you're coming from!
     
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  3. miles and smiles
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    miles and smiles Gold Member

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    Calculating value only in money is usually foolish in my book. For me, happiness is the only true and lasting value. Money is just a tool.
     
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  4. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Last July, one of my nephews was getting married in BOS area and it was big deal for the whole family, as we saw it as an opportunity to also have a reunion. Then I got a call from my older brother, the father of the groom, that our sister who lives in SFO area had told him that she would skip the event. I got on the phone to find out what was the issue. After speaking with her for a while, I gathered that she was financially strapped and could not afford the TRANSCON ticket. I hung up, determined to surprise her, just saying it would be a real shame not to have her join us. I then immediately went to work and quickly booked a round-trip for her with miles in E+, and emailed her the info on the E-ticket with a note saying that we could change the travel dates and times if those that I had selected did not suit her. She did, in fact, want to change one date: her return date, as she saw this as an opportunity to spend some time with family (including her son and his family) back east. Like you said: "it meant a whole lot more to them than it meant to me." But it did mean a lot to me to see how happy she was to be able to make it to the wedding/reunion, and to have the opportunity to spend time with family that she had not seen in a long while.:)
     
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  5. kyunbit
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    kyunbit Silver Member

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    That was a gem of a quote!
     
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  6. Global Explat
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    Global Explat Silver Member

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    Totally agree. I like to think of a mile portfolio as diversifying the set of possibilities for ticket purchases. Sometimes I'll pay cash, but sometimes miles can remove the pain of a "forced" ticket purchase.

    My best example to date- when my wife (apparently) went into labor last year in New York. I was in London, and absolutely needed to get to NYC the same day. Biz class tickets for cash would have required a small mortgage. Even economy class tickets, last minute, were priced at very painful levels.

    I searched for award tickets, and, unbelievably found low level biz class availability on delta, departing in a few hours.

    If I hadn't been mindlessly trying to accumulate every type of mile or point available, theres no way I would have ever earned ANY Delta miles.....
     
  7. Steven Schwartz
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    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

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    Now that is a quote I love. You've just summarized what all of us do for a hobby!:p
     

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