Thursday, May 16, 2013

Why do I play the miles game?

My friends usually role their eyes when I start talking about what they "could" be doing with airline miles. There he goes again... "Miles blah blah, points points, bonus something-or-other, FREE!" Dare I say "Credit Card" and the suspicious looks really pile up. 

People know my wife and I travel a lot, but they probably also think we spend a bunch of money doing it. Ok, travel and money inevitably go together and no trip is ever "Free," but we can certainly stretch our dollars. 

I would like to share some our successful travel redemptions to give you an example of how small and big the rewards can be in this game. 

1. Short Haul British Airways Award - SFO - SEA 7500 Miles + $30 One Way
When my mother was sick and about a 1000 miles away, I wanted to visit her as often as I could afford to. Last minute flights from San Francisco to Seattle can range between $200-$300. When I couldn't book in advance, I often relied on miles to make the trip possible. For just 7500 miles one way or 15000 round trip and a $30 booking fee, I was able to fly on Alaska Airlines direct flights on very short notice.

2. Cross Country American and United - SFO to MIA/FLL 25000 miles + $10
Cruises have become one of our absolute favorite ways to travel (more on that later), but most of cruises we enjoy depart from Florida. Ticket prices can vary widely, but we would expect to pay about $350 for a flight. Finding award tickets on the dates you want can be a pain sometimes, but luckily, United and American, both offer one way awards at half the price of a round trip. Add in the airline partner flights, and you have even more options. For special occasions, 25000 miles one way gets you into First Class, or American's International Business Class with angled lie flat beds.

3. North America to Europe in Business Class - SFO to CDG to LHR to SFO 100000 Delta Miles +$250
Our first real venture into premium, dare I say "Freemium" travel. Our Delta miles secured us business class on Air France to Paris, where we were allowed a stopover for several days before continuing on in Air France to our destination of London as well as our tickets in Delta Business Elite with fully lie flat seats (as close as Delta gets to First Class). The total cost of the flights would have been approximately $7000 each, but if we were to fly economy, it would have been about $1500 for all the flights. 

I'll have to save our latest and most caluable redemption for another post, and perhaps my first ever "Trip Repot" as we try out Internatioinal First class for the very first time.  

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