Maximizing number of trips

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by FlyingBear, Jan 17, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. FlyingBear
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    FlyingBear Silver Member

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    After a recent blog-battle of whether using miles for 1st/business class flying or just economy class is better, I tried looking around the blogosphere that focus on the latter. Admittedly, I didn't try too hard, but just about anything I read about redeeming miles has to do with high "value" redemptions for 1st/business class.

    I understand why people try to do that, but from a personal perspective, I would like to get more trips per number of miles. I am at a point where I have a decent number of miles waiting for my wife and I to use, but relatively limited amount of advice on how to maximize them. Any recommendations of your own or on sources that cater to cheapskates like me are highly welcome!
     
  2. Jimgotkp
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    Jimgotkp Gold Member

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    I would go for First if you were already highly considering Business since the redemption differences aren't significant like CO's award chart. As mentioned on a new thread, booking O/W award tickets are the way to go if you have the option to do so imo. The #1 advice for you is to decide on a place to go to then looking up availability ASAP since your options on the flights would be limited.
     
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  3. daemon14

    daemon14 Gold Member

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    I think the reasoning behind "Use your miles for Business or First Class" is because the price of Economy class nowadays doesn't warrant the usage of miles if you are trying to obtain elite status (which really does make traveling so much better -- I travel for only personal and leisure travel and have had elite status on the airline/alliance I fly 90% of the time for the past 3 years. It really makes a difference if you're an Economy flyer).

    You might find a 50K round-trip reward to Europe for a ticket that is $1000, which means your valuation per mile is 2 cents. However, there are credit cards that offer better cash-back rewards than that, which means that you're actually losing out on better rewards. Not only that, but if you spend that $1000, you'll receive a certain number of elite qualifying miles that you are missing out on a mileage redemption ticket.

    If you are looking at maximizing trips with miles, I'd look at off-peak awards ... American and US Airways offer them - AA only in coach for Hawaii, parts of Asia, southern South America, and Europe; US Airways in coach and business for South America, Caribbean, and Europe. Those can really maximize the number of trips you have.
     
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  4. Steven Schwartz
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    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

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    I'll beg to differ with some of my esteemed co-writers. It is a VERY personal issue and there is no right or wrong. If you would rather have two (or three) Coach trips, that's not a crazy idea. I fall into the group that looks at points as a way to experience things I would normally not be able to. Last year, we flew First Class on BA to Tel Aviv and First on Lufthansa to Paris. I'm certain there were people paying for these flights and the total would be over $50,000! Way, way out of my league. But I'm lucky enough to generate a lot of points thru my business spending and I get a major kick out of the experience. If money or points/miles were tighter for me, I would absolutely care more about getting more trips rather than more luxury. And, my friend, only you can decide what is more important for you and your wife. And anyone who thinks they can judge YOU based on value per mile is caught up in their shtick - not yours! In the end, either way it will be Bon Voyage! But that said, I would NEVER us BA Avios miles for Coach to Euope (edited to add 'to Europe') as the fees are so high that there is absolutely no value whatsoever (see, I CAN be judgemental!).
     
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  5. miles and smiles
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    miles and smiles Gold Member

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    I definitely try to maximize the number of trips I can take. I'm not opposed to using some extra miles for first on a long flight as I am 6'2", but my flights are domestic and mostly a couple hours or so. Some airlines offer discounted award flights - USAir credit card holders get a 5000 mile discount on award flight and every quarter AA publishes a list of reduced mile awards (also for its credit card holders).
     
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  6. TheTravelAbstract

    TheTravelAbstract Silver Member

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    @FlyingBear. I like to stretch my miles for all of their value too. I have not yet redeemed them for any Biz or 1st class travel. At this point in my flying career I would rather take more trips with my miles than have that one amazing 1st class experience.

    But that doesn't mean I don't want to or don't aspire to do it one day.

    I even like to use points+cash payment options to stretch even more trips out of my miles.

    Not if you can book oneworld metal with low fees; LA, JL and AA.
     
  7. Jeff the Wanderer

    Jeff the Wanderer Silver Member

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    I have a couple of posts on my blog that actually came about because of all I was reading about this debate. I have two trips coming up this year that I used miles to redeem for international coach tickets because it allowed me to take the whole family with me instead of spending the extra miles for just myself and my wife to go in Business or First Class. The trips are to Paris in April and to Santiago/Rio in June.

    If you want to give me an idea of what types of miles and quantities you have available, I will be glad to take a look and see what advice I can give you. If you want, I will even make it an example blog post so that others can see the results too. I am a firm believer that everyone should decide for themselves what their miles should be used for. In fact, I recently also redeemed 7500 Avios for a ticket from PHL-ORD. Sure, I could have bought the ticket, but I had extra miles sitting around and it was more important for me to reduce the cost of the weekend.

    Let me know if you want some additional help with the subject.
     
  8. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    For me, when I can book a Y fare at 1/3 of the upgradeable fare that earns 1.5 miles, it's worth it to fly Y since I could do two more trips for the same money.

    It also depends on timing....if it's last minute and it looks like I'll be in a middle seat, I'll spend the $$ to upgrade or go straight into J.
     
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  9. Sweet Willie
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    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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    Because travel has been on my own dime for quite awhile now, we rarely use miles for J or F, and if there is a J or F ticket, I'll normally give it to my wife (as she has limited vaca time) and I'll fly in Y with all our luggage to the destination either a day early or earlier in the day, that way when the Mrs deplanes, we are all ready to go as I've usually unpacked all the luggage in our hotel by then.

    I'd look for any off peak booking with miles, for instance:

    US Air offers a few destinations at certain times of the year where fewer miles are required for award travel.

    I recall using my AMEX MR points for Y to Ireland from the US. One had to purchase 4 Y tickets (exact same itin for each ticket) but the redemption was 10k or 15k less per ticket than a saver award, the Mrs & I convinced a couple of my buds to come to Ireland with us and I charged them 20% below the cheapest Y fares we could find to Ireland to create a win-win. I don't know if Amex still offers this deal.
    Amen !!
     
  10. Steven Schwartz
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    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

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    This is one post I can assure you my wife will NEVER see!!! You are the man and I'm sure your wife made up your Milepoint handle!
     
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  11. Sweet Willie
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    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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    I can assure you that you are not alone and under penalty of death I'm not allowed to mention this to other men's wives:D

    My wife (like most wives I assume) still does much more for our household than I do, so for her to get J or F for a few hours or more, I get a husband bonus point multiplier that kicks in, makes life a whole lot of fun, happy wife happy life.
     
  12. FlyingBear
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    FlyingBear Silver Member

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    I managed to lose my own thread for a day :) Thanks for all the response! BTW, all my miles are accumulating in United.

    Not really considering, since I think the marginal difference still adds up over trips.

    That's certainly the biggest consideration for most people. In my case, it is mostly irrelevant, as I accumulate my miles through business trips. For the expense side of things, I rotate 4-5 CCs to maximize return, typically cashback plus Chase Freedom for points/miles/cash. I realize not everyone is in the same boat, but there is a good number of business travelers around.

    Very much the same here and the experiences I aim for are outside the planes :) I think some people are indeed swayed by the value of getting super expensive tickets for next to nothing and just a few years ago I would too. At this point of time, I simply don't see anything in higher class cabin that will make flying considerably more enjoyable versus having miles left over for an extra trip.

    With all the mentions of airlines that are not United, I am wondering if I am putting things in the right baskets! I am not that tall, but I certainly was not even considering that as a need for some. Limited viewpoint, so to say :)

    Have not gotten to redeeming yet, so was not aware that airlines do that. I do like using it for hotels, as that sometimes is by far the highest valuation of points.

    Thank you for the offer! Once we get to the point where we actually know where/what is happening, I will most certainly need more guidance. From your post, I also wonder if it would make sense for bloggers talking about trip redemptions to make comparison, i.e 150k for business class for certain route would've been 90k for economy class. I think that would allow for a better marginal valuation of the benefits of higher class.

    Just ran this by my wife, she didn't care for it enough (whew!). That said, that can be a compromise, especially since I have a status with the airline that can potentially get me upgraded.
     
  13. Toula
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    Toula Gold Member

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    I'm with Steven, it's different strokes for different folks. Personally I assign no value to my miles or redemptions. We only redeem points for J or F on international flights. For us it is all about the experience and quite frankly as we are in our late 40s we feel it's our time to enjoy these vacations however we choose. Also it is easier for us to justify premium redemptions because there is only the two of us to get tixs for.

    If we are flying domestically in the US we normally purchase our tix and go economy. We find any flight of 5 hours or so to be tolerable in Y. If we had squillions of points we would probably use points for F domestic but we don't so the choice we make is to save them for something we really want and would not willingly pay for out of pocket.
     
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  14. Steven Schwartz
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    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

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    1. If you feel that way in your 40's, I'm sure it will get even more intense when you're in your 60's like we are!

    2. In terms of domestic First, don't know where you live but if you are served by AA, you will find that accumulating BA miles and using them for AA domestic can be amazing. I wrote in another thread that yesterday I redeemed BA miles for AA flights from NY to Toronto. Had to go First Class as they had better times available. Chose to pay more cash and use fewer points but my two First Class tickets were 18,000 miles and about $340 - less than one coach ticket. If the Coach flights worked, it would have been half. Unfortunately, we're 24 minutes to Newark and over an hour to LGA but it's worth it - especially for a long-haul.
     
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  15. Toula
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    Toula Gold Member

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    We are based in SJC so AA is horrible out of here and not a lot better out of SFO which would take us an hour or so to get there.

    We are going to relocate back to Australia to live by the end of the year so figure all those Avios points will be good for domestic redemptions seeing our families live on opposite sides of the country.
     
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  16. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    I still take a decent number of trips in coach, even on redemptions, though I also try for C/F in some cases. A couple high value Y trips I've done recently include Yellowknife, Canada; the Canadian Maritime Provinces and City Hopping through Europe (I'm actually in MUC wrapping that one up right now). In each case the cash value of the ticket put me in the 6+ cpm range (though I'd never actually pay those rates for the flights) so I was getting a very solid RoI on the miles.

    When my wife and I are traveling together we will also often do coach one way and business the other, stretching the life of the miles just a bit to get more trips out of them.

    And I'm usually pretty good about reporting on the in-flight experience regardless of cabin, though that's less exciting generally for me anyways so those posts aren't quite as common. I definitely have an interesting collection of hotel reviews as my tastes there run very much towards the budget/value side of the equation versus the full-service/western branded options.

    At the end of the day, if the value makes sense to you then you're doing it right. Certainly consider the opinions of others when building your basis for making the decisions, but only you can actually decide if the value is right for you.
     
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  17. Pirate

    Pirate Active Member

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    We are of similar minds. Domestic, we go coach, resist the temptation of using miles to upgrade.

    We are empty nesters, so we do value the Bus Class long haul flts ever since we tried it in 1986.
    Ultimately it boils down to personal circumstances and likes. The skipping the lines at check in and boarding plus the lounges make it worthwhile, especially during IRROPS.

    If you can get SWUs (as many will after the recent MRs), it is doubly good , buy cheap RT to say China, hopefully get double miles if you have status or airline promo.....
     

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