Is It Worth It To Accumulate Frequent Flier Miles?

Are Mileage Programs Obsolete?

Author: The Traveling Professor/Wednesday, March 8, 2017/Categories: Save on Airfare, Travel Tips

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I used to use my accumulated frequent flyer miles to do the following:

  • Redeem for domestic and international flights on One World (American, British Air, Finnair, LAN, Iberia and several other partner airlines) partners.
  • Upgrades on American Airline international flights.

Over the years, I have seen mileage requirements increase, payments for using miles increase, and on top of it, the availability of reward flights has diminished so dramatically, I have to ask myself if frequent flyer miles have any significant value any longer.

Right now, I have over 500,000 miles banked and have American Airlines "Platinum" status.

I recently tried to redeem my miles for a flight from Hartford to any airport close to Pensacola, FL for a trip over 4 months away.  Normally, the cost of a "MileSAAver" flight would be 12,500 miles each way.  But for these flights, again, over 4 months away, are at least 30,000 miles each way.

I recently tried to redeem miles for a non-stop flight from JFK to DUB (Dublin).  If I purchased the flight without miles, the cost was $679 for a coach seat.  When I attempt to redeem miles, the airline does offers seats at 30,000 miles each way (the base MileSAAver rate is 20,000 miles).  In addition, the only routing options are through London even though PLENTY of seats are available on the non-stop flight.  Why do they do this?  Because the mandatory taxes and fees of flying through London are $460. PLUS they require routing through different airports in London.  Why would anyone use 60,000 miles to connect through London, having to change airports on the return, to save about $220?

Try upgrading an international flight from coach to business class with miles.  I haven't found availability on any flight I have been on in years.  Plus the additional fees and miles are prohibitive (about $350 each way).

So, the airlines are doing their best to discourage those who are earning all these miles from using them.  I have to ask, are all these "free" miles worth it?  Is it a scam?

What's the alternative?  Well, tune in for my next blog post and find out.

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