You might have seen several blogs and some of the frequent flyer forums get all excited earlier this week when SkyTeam was offering ~$1,400 business class fares from the West Coast to Spain for summer travel next year. Based on the hype about it, you would think this was a can’t miss opportunity and several bloggers advised not to use miles when fares were this “low” because you would be getting poor value from your miles. The crux of their argument came down to the fact Delta charges 125,000 miles roundtrip for business class travel to Europe from the US so the value per miles was a paltry 1.1 cents per mile. Granted, award space is tough to find from the West Coast but it’s not impossible. In fact, earlier this week I booked a family of four business tickets to Vienna through my Award Booking Service.
While purchasing those flights for $1,400 a pop works for some, one of the main reasons people get involved in this game is to save money (in this case thousands of dollars) on their travels. For that family of four, I mentioned above to buy these flights would cost $5,600…that’s quite a significant amount of money! Even for a couple, this still works out to be almost $3,000. I know I don’t have that much free cash to blow on flights and I can’t imagine too many people are eager to pony up $3k-$6k for their family to fly to Europe, especially if there are actively involved in this game and are collecting miles for this very purpose. If you are flushed with miles, I can’t understand the desire to pay thousands for flights unless you are also flushed with excess cash too.
Now don’t get me wrong – that was a phenomenal fare for business class from the West Coast as economy flights can cost that much for primetime summer European travel. Additionally, you would earn a boatload of miles for the flight and if you are on the threshold of elite status, the elite qualifying miles earned could be quite valuable. I get all that but to advise you shouldn’t use miles when fares are this low, is a poor generalized statement.
The main takeaway from this jumbled, somewhat ranty post: Don’t let others dictate to you what is a good award redemption. Use miles in ways that work for you. If it saves you cash and allows you to take a trip you otherwise wouldn’t be able to take, than you’ve made a good redemption, even if you “only” got a penny per mile. End Rant.