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Anyone wondering about fate of their FF miles?

Anyone wondering about fate of their FF miles?

Old Jun 10th, 2008, 01:11 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 205
Anyone wondering about fate of their FF miles?

With all the cut backs and problems airlines have experienced lately due to fuel costs, it seems just a matter of time before award travel will require more miles OR there will be less FF seat room due to parred back flight schedules.

Me, I have 92,000+ miles with Alaska, which partners with American, for one. Right now for 40,000 a person, you can go to Europe off season, Central America, Hawaii, Caribbean.

I'm thinking about making plans. January and February are the months we can get away for two weeks. We'd like to go to Europe, but those aren't the nicest months. Perhaps Central America.

Anyway, how about you? Are you in holding pattern with your FF miles or do you think we better use them while we can?
Giselle is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2008, 01:45 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 23,074
I think it depends on your travel pattern. If one has saved up a long time to get just enough miles for a particular trip, then use it soon before the airline depreciates the miles. You value the mile as a trip, not a monetary amount.

But if one travels quite a bit and collects plenty of miles every year, then one would look at the value of miles in terms on money. In this scenario, the miles in one's FF account are actually appreciating in monetary terms. The 25,000 miles good enough for domestic ticket used to worth about $250-300; today it's $400 or more. Even if the airline raises the mileage requirement 25%, I'm still ahead. So, there's no hurry to use them, unless you think that airline may be going under soon.
rkkwan is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2008, 02:41 PM
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Posts: 205
Excellent break down of the situation, rkkwn.

Me, I don't fly enough to save my miles for when I'm broke, but that is me, others have various needs, such as using these miles to fly business class.

One factor which might not be in your equation is as follows: will the airlines release less seats for FF miles in the coming year and further down the road, thus making it more difficult to get to Rome the month you want to go on your award?

Forgive me for sounding alarmist, I just watched 'Mega disaster: Peak Oil' on the History channel, yesterday!

This got me to thinking, perhaps an airline may suddenly make an announcement such as, you can only use your miles to trade at as of such and such a date. Sorry, our company is dying here.
Giselle is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2008, 03:13 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,885
No guarantee on anything in life, but in this case, your scenario will not happen anytime soon.

FF miles programs are the most profitabale division of an airline.

How do you ask?

Hundreds of business buy 100's of millions of airline miles each year to give out as incentive to their customers. That translates into billion$ upfront cash cow to the airline for something that may/may never be used. There are many people that collect the occasional few miles but never really get to a reward level and either lose interest or just forget.

If the airlines would start tighting awards to some ridiculous 1 or 2 seats per flight, then obviously people would notice and would stop looking at the miles as a good incentive and possibly do business with whoever is the best deal. For example, CCs that are tied to FF programs are not the best deal but people are willing to overlook that as it gives them miles. If they can't redeem these miles they may just go for the best CC program regardless if it's tied to airline miles or not, thus effectively make the CC companies give up their ties to the FF program and stop purchasing the miles. Airlines would lose a great deal of money, money that it's at their disposal long before they actually have to fly somebody, or possibly not fly a particular person at all.

Too great of a scheme for the airlines to lose it.

I agree with rkkwan,

devaluation is already happening but it's not as bad as it seems and in most cases acceptable to the public, but the only time you as a consumer will get screwed is if the airline shuts it's doors one day.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2008, 03:22 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,096
I like to use my miles as quickly as I earn them but I've always done that. I've never been a hoarder so this isn't a change in strategy on my part. Aside from raising redemption requirements, there are other forms of devaluation such as reducing or eliminating award holds, higher/new fees, limiting the number of segments allowed and/or other routing restrictions, adding fuel surcharges, etc. that I find more annoying.
Patty is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2008, 03:29 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,901
I generally redeem FF miles for premium-class flights. Doing this, over the past couple of years, my miles have had a "street value" averaging around US$.05 - $.06 per mile (i.e. divide the number of miles redeemed by the cost of the ticket.)

My favorite route(s) for this, Europe < > South Africa, have seen a big-ish increase in conventional ticket price in the past year or so, but my mileage requirement hasn't gone up, so currently my miles (for my next planned redemption trip) are worth closer to $.07 than they were last year. So for me, that's hardly an erosion of their value; more like a 30% increase.

The point made by AAFF is worth remembering - the airlines wouldn't have FF programs if they weren't profitable. When Air Canada went bankrupt a few years ago they sold off their Aeroplan FF program to private investors. At the time the value of the FF plan as a stand-alone asset was greater than the value of the rest of the airline. They aren't cash cows, they're golden goose eggs.
Gardyloo is online now  
Old Jun 10th, 2008, 03:41 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 101
Very interesting discussion for me. Now I can see why the Award Programs are profitable for the airlines.

One of you who obviously know more than me, can you tell me why BA shrunk economy seat flight accrual for awards to 1/4th their value?

I was quite put out when I found all that flying West Coast USA to London and back garnered me only 1/4 miles actually flown. I never fly anything but economy, as do millions of us middle class and lower.

They must be profiting somehow. Perhaps business flyers make up their bottom line?

Consequently, I will not fly with them again unless it is with an award.
cymbeline is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2008, 03:51 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,885
Apples and oranges.

This discussion is about redeeming miles, not earning,

Just about every airline has some reduced and in some case no miles for some the cheapest fares. That's been true since the day mileage programs started.

How you earn miles is your perogative. If BA program does not work for you, pick an airline that still gives out 100% miles on almost all fares..
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2008, 03:53 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,901
Like many European "legacy" carriers, BA really focuses on its premium class passengers. FF plans and elite status with major European airlines tend to have more to do with lounge access, 2-for-1 upgrades, and so on, rather than mileage accrual and redemption options like American carriers emphasize.
Gardyloo is online now  
Old Jun 10th, 2008, 04:03 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 101
AAFrequent Flyer, well, yes, duh. We without the dough or corporation now go elsewhere. That being said, Gardyloo, it makes sense.

A shame for la gente who just want to cross the pond. But, as la gente are used to, we don't get the non stop, the TV screens at each seat, the free meals. We never asked to lie down like the rich people, but the nonstop was nice while it lasted.
cymbeline is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2008, 04:15 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 23,074
AA, UA, Virgin, Air France and Air New Zealand fly LAX-LHR; while Virgin and UA fly SFO-LHR, and NW flies SEA-LHR. All those can earn you 100% miles, and most have personal TVs on most seats.
rkkwan is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2008, 04:41 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 101
From Seattle, where I live, there is virtually no chance of getting a NW award with my award program, Alaska Airlines. NW gives so few seats to Alaska it is near impossible to match a date.

However, one can always try.

Also, NW requires 50,000 miles to Europe rather than the 40,000 American does, quite a difference when you are counting miles closely.
cymbeline is offline  
Old Jun 14th, 2008, 09:12 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 683
I just booked a trip to South Korea and Japan for two for next April using my Alaska Airline miles on Northwest. The call people on Alaska's partner desk couldn't have been more helpful. I booked each segment at a different time;they told me when to call back for each segment. I got both tickets for 60,000 miles each.
hester is offline  
Old Jun 15th, 2008, 06:24 AM
Posts: n/a
I think the expiration dates are going to inch sooner and sooner, more so for non-elite FF'ers. And they're going to pile on the fees for actually using them (have already started, obviously), again more for the non-elite.

Just have to wait while the non-legacy figure out how enraged the non-elite legacy-airline passengers are going to get at being forced out, and the smart ones will position themselves in the market accordingly.
Old Jun 19th, 2008, 10:25 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 205
Cassandra, I tend to think you are right!

I think any FF change fees will be going up, booking fees, airport taxes and expiration on FF miles. And that will be done to the non elite flyers. As Cymbeline said, BA has cut mile accrual on economy by 1/4 already.

It's not just your buying power with sky miles but the ability to accrue as well as partner choice for spendimg miles.

It just makes sense as fuel costs are so high for airlines.

As far as using them so, if you have a nice travel budget in pocket, you can weather a 25% hike (in line with tickets). If not, after thinking about it, I am inclined to use mine before they raise the rates all around.
Giselle is offline  
Old Jun 19th, 2008, 11:17 AM
Posts: n/a
It didn't take great powers of prediction, but the timing's fun: just got an email from AA announcing "changes" in several areas.

Beginning October 1, 2008, mileage levels will be changing for select AAdvantage(R) award tickets and upgrade awards. This change will not impact the 25,000 mile domestic economy MileSAAver(SM) award. Members may book and ticket any of the current awards through September 30, 2008. On October 1, 2008, the new award structure will apply. For more details:

Also effective October 1, 2008, a nonrefundable co-payment of $150 will be required to claim upgrade awards used with most discount economy fares when traveling between North America and Colombia, Ecuador, Peru or Venezuela. Go to for more details:

Effective June 21, 2008, a $5 USD Award Processing Fee applies per person to award reservations ticketed via AAdvantage Executive Platinum members using miles from their own account and members subject to AAdvantage Award Fees are exempt from the Award Processing Fee. Learn more at:
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