Worth trying to use Miles for short trip?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by SuperW2, Jun 10, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. SuperW2
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    SuperW2 Silver Member

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    SJC/SFO -> San Diego

    Going to Conference in San Diego end of Aug. Thinking about flying the family down so they can hang out by the pool/beach while I'm "working". Coach Flights are $200-$250 ea, looking to see if worth using miles to fly down instead.

    AA/BA (Avios) can get me to LAX, but almost no availability for LAX->SAN the couple day window we want to travel. United wants 25K a ticket, which seems high. I have Chase UR Pts, but debating if would 70000 UR Points to book 4 Coach tickets... I'd rather use those for a bigger trip.

    Thoughts on the use of miles for short trips?

    Alternative is driving, but it took 13 hours the last time we drove it, and with 2 younger kids, was a LONG drive!.
     
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  2. JetsettingEric
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    JetsettingEric Silver Member

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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but avios for partners are charged per segment unless ba flies the route and the ba rate will apply.

    In my opinion, It's not worth the extra cost for the lax/san segment. I would fly to lax using avios, and drive to san. Just be mindful to avoid rush hour traffic.
     
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  3. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    A $250 ticket is cheap and not generally something you would benefit greatly from spending points on, unless cash is tight or your points are fixed-value like southwest or jetblue.
     
  4. SuperW2
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    SuperW2 Silver Member

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    Thanks...cash not tight, I'm just cheap :) ... figured the $1000 I didn't pay for Airfare for could goto Seaworld, Legoland, Nicer hotel, etc.
     
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  5. Bobtray

    Bobtray Silver Member

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    I vote for spending the cash.

    Avios are great for 1 segment short haul type redemptions, but in this case, that only gets you to LAX, which is still a long, traffic filled way from SAN. I am guessing your family would enjoy the trip much more without the extra drive.

    Have fun either way.
     
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  6. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    I'm with you. The drive is pleasant if you avoid rush hour, and that is not difficult to do. besides there are lost fo nice things to do along the drive down to San Diego. I have done that a good many times myself, even when the flight would have been free.
     
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  7. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    If the extra cash opens up more opportunities for you now, or you don't have a more lucrative use planned for the points, then you can certainly get value out of them now. With that said, at the say $250 price of the tickets vs 18k avios, 25k ua miles, ~18k UR points you only get around a penny a point in value. The points cost is pretty high relative to the cash cost, or the cash cost is "cheap", relative to points cost, which is how I generally view it. If more travel, especially long-haul or to more expensive destinations to fly to with cash, is on the horizon, then it may make sense to save the points for that. If you have more points than you know what to do with and would rather have the 1k in-hand today, that's a valid option too. Whatever gives you what you see as the most real value at the end of the day is way to go.
     
  8. miles and smiles
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    miles and smiles Gold Member

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    It depends a lot on how easily it is for you to acquire points/miles versus cash. For me, points/miles are much easier to acquire than cash (I'm retired).
    I say do whatever feels best for you. And don't worry so much about dollar value. If you're happy, it's a good deal.
     
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  9. marcwint55

    marcwint55 Gold Member

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    KEEP THE POINTS !!!
     
  10. jwsky
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    jwsky Silver Member

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    Here is a thought. Can you use Avios for Alaska Air? They have direct flights to San Diego from Monterey and Fresno. Driving to Monterey would be much more pleasant than driving through any part of LA.
     
  11. Flying Bat

    Flying Bat Silver Member

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    I would burn the Avios, how much is this, 4500 points p p? It's a steal.
     
  12. Toula
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    Toula Gold Member

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    As ex residents of San Diego we regularly make the trip from SJC. Have to say if you want to fly it is an awkward flight to get as the only airline that goes direct from SJC is Southwest.

    Personally what we tend to do, and what I think would work best for you would be to drive. When we can we break the trip up, go down the 101 stop in Santa Barbara overnight then make an early start the next morning to get thru LA before the worst of the traffic hits.

    Take into account if you do fly you will then have to hire a car. Having your own car means you can throw in all that extra crap. If you don't do the Southwest route, it will probably take you close to the same amount of time to fly by time you drive to the airport, get there a couple of hours early, hang around LAX blah blah blah.

    I vote for the driving.
     
  13. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    Twice that each way, if they want to get all the way to San Diego. The Montery to San Diego option would be 4500 each way, lowest published fare is 80 bucks each way before taxes. Whether ~1.8-2 cents per Avio is a steal depends on your perspective. Cheap relative to other points options for sure, but not necessarily amazing value in place of cash. Cheap if you are winding down your avios balance or have avios to spare, very expensive if it takes away enough from your stash to put you below the threshold for a major desired award.
     
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  14. Majikow

    Majikow Silver Member

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    The additional drive on the end is a bummer, but as long as you time it right, the traffic isn't all that bad. Plus, if you aren't in a huge hurry and you can take the coastal highway a bit, some of those towns on the 101 between LA and SD are really nice (Carlsbad, Del Mar, Cardiff).

    Using the BA Avios is a great redemption in my mind (I just booked 2 flights r/t to Chicago and got almost 4 cpm and was ecstatic). Yes, it's not int'l business class, but if you are getting 2-4 cpm in value, that's still pretty good. You gotta go with what works for you and makes the most sense.
     
  15. jetsetboy

    jetsetboy Silver Member

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    I say unless you're going cross-country, are absolutely swimming in miles/points, or the airfare for your itinerary is ridiculously expensive, it's usually not worth using the miles. $200 - $250 is quite expensive for SJC-SAN, however imo, to redeem an award for such a short trip would be a waste of miles that can be used to much greater benefit elsewhere. Personally, besides Alaska and Hawaii, I never redeem miles for a domestic ticket, but that's just me.;)
     
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  16. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    use UR for SWA points?
     
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  17. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    At that point I'd just pay the $250 and fly straight to SAN.

    Dealing with the rental car and driving I-5 is a PITA. Not worth the $50-ish in savings IMO.
     
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  18. SuperW2
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    SuperW2 Silver Member

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    I just looked that that option... I only have 3000 SWA points now (rarely fly), but for the 4 of us, would be a total of 42,716 SWA Rapid Reward Pts... I could Xfer 39K UR to SWA to have direct SWA Flights from SJC (+$20 fees), with decent travel times... I have about 150K UR Points (between the Wife and I)... seems like a potentially better choice than trying to make AA/BA work to LAX and renting car, etc even though I'm up over 200K BA Avios Miles.
     
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  19. jetsetboy

    jetsetboy Silver Member

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    Since you mentioned that money is not the issue, why keep torturing yourself with all of those calculations? Stop being cheap! Just pay the money and let your family actually enjoy the trip.:p
     
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  20. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    What sort of travel do you anticipate spending your UR points and Avios on? I find it helpful to have a specific type of award in mind when valuing points.

    If you and your wife want to jet off somewhere in business class together, spending the avios now could drop you below that threshold, although you could backfill with UR. If you're planning to use them to travel as a family domestically, you will not find dramatically better values so just burn away.
     
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  21. DTWBOB

    DTWBOB Silver Member

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    Have you thought about taking Amtrak, you'd have to change trains in LA, but it's a great ride and one your kids would never forget.

    DTWBON
     
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  22. MDDCFlyer

    MDDCFlyer Silver Member

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    You got very good advice from everyone.

    However, I think your question is wrong - it is not about the distance, but about the price. The question should be whether it worth spending miles on a cheap flight - and putting it like that, the answer would be no (for me at least).

    Distance is only an illusion when it comes to miles (apart from the fact that there are other means of transportation which could be easily employed negating the need for a flight). Some short distance flights are extremely expensive (East Coast to Canada for example), and some long range flights are extremely cheap (Transcontinental flights for example). The calculation should be based on value (i.e., price) not distance (again, apart from taking into consideration the alternative means of transportation).
     
  23. jetsetboy

    jetsetboy Silver Member

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    Excellent post!
     
  24. SuperW2
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    SuperW2 Silver Member

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    We have nothing planned after this for the rest of this year. We are going to Chicago at the end of July/Early August, already paid for with Avios miles for the family. With twin 7 year old girls we don't travel much/at all while they are in school, we don't travel without them (unless I'm traveling alone for Business). So I'm sitting on a few hundred thousand miles between the different programs with no real expected big trips. The wife and I don't "jet off somewhere" alone, and almost all of my mile accumulation has been for "family travel", which is an added challenge getting 4 Award Tickets to the places we want to go when we want (Maui for 10 days last July was our last "big" miles paid for trip)

    Even next year, nothing huge planned...possibly an East Coast (Washington DC/NYC) trip, and the wife wants to take everyone to Paris, but that might be a couple years out still.
     
  25. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    For family/coach travel, you may get a bit better value here and there, but not dramatically so. This is already likely a "better" value than Chicago (and really the best value is whatever lets you do the most that you want to do. not necessarily the biggest extravagance). Absent a planned use of Avios in place of high-cost tickets (say cross-border to canada, international business, or flying to some out of the way little airport with high fares), this is a great use, as long as it fits your desired itinerary. The drive to monterey and fly option sounded appealing, much more so than the fly to LAX and drive one.

    I wouldn't typically redeem for low-cost tickets, although short-haul avios do make it at least competitive. I'm also only redeeming for 2 people, and we are aiming to make regular big trips up front, so our priorities are different. It sounds like it could make sense for you, as long as you're getting an itinerary you like. If you can buy exactly what you want but can't redeem for it effectively, it may again make sense to just go out of pocket. Sounds like a short-duration trip where maintaining your ideal schedule will have notable value.

    I (purchased and) redeemed 25k skypesos for a flight to save my sister an 8 hour drive home for christmas. "Short" trips can be great redemptions, whether it's about delivering value you wouldn't otherwise get or putting more money in your pocket when it matters.
     
  26. SuperW2
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    SuperW2 Silver Member

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    I decided to to the SWA transfer from UR... I couldn't find any awards on the Monterey->San Diego flight, and since I don't have any "big trips" upcoming and accumulate UR points at a pretty good clip, I decided to go that direction. The $1000iish I'd pay for the 4 tickets will pretty much cover the rest of our trip expenses for the week. Thanks to everyone to took the time to respond to this thread.

    I will comment that it's difficult to give or take advice since everyone's situation is different between income, point balances, travel goals and plans, etc. With our focus solely on family travel (at least for another dozen or more years when our kids still want to travel with us), what works for us might not for others and vice versa. I do appreciate getting all kinds of feedback and why I really like this board and talking with some of the incredible folks on here!

    Thanks All and happy traveling.
    SW2
     
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