A few weeks ago, I started hoarding miles and points from different airlines and hotel programs through credit card spend. My AoR went pretty well and the miles and points did start pouring in. While I am enjoying the process and the miles are coming in thick and fast, I am stumped by what to do with those miles. With the spend bonuses, the actual spend miles, my personal flying miles and other bonus you get from various sources, I have enough miles to buy myself some free flights.
Question is, do I want to have one flight in 2B (Business Class) or 2 flights in 22B (Economy Class).
Let’s do the math- a free ticket from EWR to DEL in United will set me back by 40,000 miles if I fly economy. That’s 16.5 hours in a Boeing 777 with a 31” seat pitch clubbed with 18” inch widths, 4.0 recline and the economy class service (source: Seatguru.com). Add an additional 20,000 miles, and now I have a flat bed with 20” widths, 76” pitch and the full blown business class service. A return flight this way would set my back by a total of 40,000 miles, which is good enough for another free economy ticket. While this may not seem much, but when this is multiplied in favor of 10 return business flights anywhere in the world, it boils down to this – do I want to visit a few places in style or do I want to a few more places in the regular way.
|Photo source: CNN travel - Cathay Pacific Gallery|
The question is not for those who have been in the game for years and years and those who churn and burn a million miles an year and travel all alone. They probably don’t care. But for people like me, who are relatively late to the game, have to spend miles not just on self but also on our family members sometime, trying to play the game where the bonuses are dwindling and the rapid devaluation of the miles is only making matters worse, it’s a huge dilemma.
I gave this considerable thought and reached the following conclusion for my own purpose – I can do a bit of both. I have BA miles to burn, but they charge huge surcharge on their redemption tickets, specially the one’s flying out of LHR. So why not use my BA miles, when I fly BA on a paid fare, and use it to upgrade myself to business class. On the other hand, United miles, the best of the miles out there have little surcharge on them, so should use them to buy coach tickets for a vacation. So what if I am in coach for a vacation. Won’t be my first time in coach and won’t be my last for sure. The idea is to use them as fast as I earn them. With the speed at which miles are being devalued, they are best spent now than later. And it takes a lot more time to earn miles for 2 people flying to-fro in business class than coach class. And isn’t that the whole point of earning miles – using them up and not saving them for that flight of fantasy that might never happen.
But what works for you? How do you prefer spending your miles?