Flying around the world on business used to have its perks because you could collect miles and use them for trips with the family. This was designed to reward their customers for being loyal, not just shopping around for the best fare. But today a form of mile madness seems to have taken over.
But let’s go back to the beginning. The entire airline miles phenomenon started in the early 1980s with Pan Am and the Clipper Club. Most airlines quickly followed suit as it was such an effective marketing program. Back in the day using your miles never seemed to be a problem.
But oh how things have changed!
Finding reward seats in today’s world is like panning for gold dust. Airlines release a scattering of seats 364 days out and so unless you have top tier status it is almost impossible to get several seats together if you’re traveling with the family.
On many carriers you often have a little more luck if you can travel on short notice. Booking is often easier in premium classes within 72 hours of a flight especially with airlines like British Airways and Cathay Pacific. But it’s still not like it used to be.
The Scourge of Devaluations
The Trend with most American carriers is to now offer any time awards which are usually more than double the cost of what they used to be. This to me is simply a points grab and a way to decrease the valuation of miles.
On top of this, almost every airline in 2015 and 2016 has increased their mileage requirements.
American Airlines used to offer a one-way First Class USA to Asia-Pacific for only 62,500 miles but that has now increased to 105,000 miles and for an anytime award it’s double that.
The net result is that collecting miles has lost much of its appeal as it is very hard to earn and burn them. What was called the “greatest marketing campaign in history” seems to be gutted every few months.
There are still perks to getting actual flown miles credit and becoming a top tier loyalty member as this helps with upgrades, change fees and lounge access. But collecting miles has become far less valuable. These days many road warriors buy tickets based on schedule, convenience and price rather than the accrual of miles.
But It’s Not All Bad
Many airlines allow you to buy miles and often offer them at discounted rates at various times of the year. This way you can actually put a price per mile on the value of your ticket.
American Airlines had a large discount throughout August, discounting them by over 30% while adding a bonus. However even if you bought miles at that discounted rate a flight to Asia would have still cost about $4,000 in Business Class because of the redemption levels.
This proves that you have to be prudent and do the math. In this case you can often find an airline which sells tickets for this price and still allows you to earn qualifying miles. As an example, Cathay Pacific for the month of August was selling Business Class tickets from the US to Asia for $3,000 to $4000.
Daniel Green, the Model Cook is a Celebrity Chef known for his healthy approach to food and living well. With TV, books, magazines and live appearances, Daniel spends his time helping fans to cook better, feel better and live better. He’s also an avid traveler and a self-confessed Foodie.