Like many business travelers these days I’ve amassed quite a few frequent flier miles. And while I’m not traveling as much as I had just a few years ago, I’m still trying to get as many miles as possible. My credit card earns miles, and I look for special promotions that will get me more.
Do I use these miles for free travel for my wife and me? The answer is no. It has been years since I tried to use any award travel. In fact, the last time I used miles for award travel was for plane tickets for my parents –not for me. I hate to use miles for award travel for the simple reason that when you fly on miles, you don’t earn miles.
I’m part of a small group of frequent flier mile junkies, and because I’m independent of any big company, I often book my own travel. This means there is no accounting person who has to question why I’ll fly on airline A when a ticket on airline B was $25 cheaper. I’ll pay the difference and earn the miles on the airline where I have the most miles, and the highest status. So two questions likely come up. First, why do I do this, and second, what do I do with the miles?
As a business traveler I actually hate to travel. I fly enough that there is little fun in it. And often times my travel means going to cities I never really get to appreciate. Hence I want to make the travel part as painless as possible. One way to make this happen is to travel as much as possible on the same airline or its partner airlines. This way I use my higher status to get through security faster, board the plane sooner and generally do less waiting in lines. That makes all the difference in the world. It is worth paying a few dollars extra over the course of the year.
As to the question of miles, the answer is simple. I hate to travel, so instead of using my miles for a single trip, I use my miles for upgrades. This allows me to typically travel in either business class or first class, definitely taking some of the sting out of travel.
More importantly, I actually factor that my vacation travel will cost more, not less because of my miles. This is because we save miles as much as we can so that when we do jet off on a vacation (something I sadly admit we don’t do all that often because of work schedules) we buy upgradeable tickets. So on vacation we fly business class. Having done this after flying coach for many years we’ve found this to improve our vacation vastly.
Now, of course we can do this because we don’t have children. And we’re tied to the destinations that our preferred carriers go, so while we’d love to see the pyramids in Egypt we can’t do so using miles for upgrades.