Confused about redeeming FF miles

Sep 17th, 2008, 11:51 AM
  #1  
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Confused about redeeming FF miles

In 2006, I was able to fly for free to Japan, but that was with using Visa Reward miles rather than frequent flier miles. Because the ticket was purchased with Reward Miles, I was able to accrue those miles onto my United FF account. I'd also flown United to Hawaii and Thailand previously and have been adding miles with my United Visa card, so I now have more than enough miles to go just about anywhere I want.

I've never used FF miles before, so I'm not really sure what to do or how it all works. I've read several people say that they use their miles for upgrades. Does this mean they purchase their economy ticket and then use their FF miles to upgrade to Business or First Class? If one does this, are the trip miles still added to their FF account?

Is it difficult to actually use FF miles? From what I've read, it seems like some people have had no problems while others have had horrible experiences. I suppose it all depends on which airline, where you're going and when, right?

If I have enough miles for two people, could I redeem them for two people? Or are my miles just for my use?

Is there some magic formula to determine whether it's better to just pay for a plane ticket yourself or try to redeem your FF miles? For example, if I could fly RT to SFO for less than $200, it seems like it would be better to just pay for the ticket than redeem 25K (?) miles for a ticket.

I know that I could probably wade through the airline's information, but I'm hoping for more straightforward answers here.

Thanks!
jlaughs is offline  
Sep 17th, 2008, 12:58 PM
  #2  
 
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I've read several people say that they use their miles for upgrades. Does this mean they purchase their economy ticket and then use their FF miles to upgrade to Business or First Class? If one does this, are the trip miles still added to their FF account?,

Yes to the first question but with UA there are certain restrictions (I believe). You have to purchase a certain higher fare in order to upgrade.

Yes to the second question.

Is it difficult to actually use FF miles? From what I've read, it seems like some people have had no problems while others have had horrible experiences. I suppose it all depends on which airline, where you're going and when, right?

If I have enough miles for two people, could I redeem them for two people? Or are my miles just for my use?


Not really. In most cases the miles will get you a ticket. The best way to do it is to call UA. The agent can check all their partners which I don't think can be done on line.

You can redeem the miles for as many tickets as you want, for as many people as you want.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Sep 17th, 2008, 01:00 PM
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For future reference, you can book a ticket for anyone with your FF miles - you do not even have to fly with them, nor do they have to be related to you.
gail is offline  
Sep 17th, 2008, 01:10 PM
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I have been member of AAdvantage for the last 15 years as well as member of the old TWA program for many years prior to that (the TWA miles were rolled into the AA account when AA bought TWA). I have never had a problem redeeming miles for tickets but the secret is to be flexible. You may not be able to fly on the exact day you want and you may have to extend your trip a day or two to get the seats.

Thanks to those miles accrued through many long and grueling business trips over the years my wife and I have flown free to Europe many times, Central America, Canada, all over the US. Maybe we have been lucky. We are very happy and satisfied customers of American Airlines and the AAdvantage program. We are also frequent fliers on Southwest and find their Rapid Rewards program to be very nice as well and very generous with seats.
Reisender is offline  
Sep 17th, 2008, 01:20 PM
  #5  
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One more question -- if you fly on a FF ticket, do you earn miles for that flight?
jlaughs is offline  
Sep 17th, 2008, 01:27 PM
  #6  
 
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"One more question -- if you fly on a FF ticket, do you earn miles for that flight?"

NO.
freeman0819 is offline  
Sep 17th, 2008, 01:50 PM
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NO no miles accrued for a free seat
Reisender is offline  
Sep 17th, 2008, 02:22 PM
  #8  
 
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People who can't get flights are the one who:

- must fly on a particular day;

- must fly on one particular flight;

- will not make connections or use a partner airline;

- only rely on the website and will not pick up the phone (funny, as FF programs precede the internet, but nobody was complaining about having to use the phone then)

The rule about earning FF miles is simple. You earn FF miles for the fare you pay money for. If you use FF miles, you don't earn any. If you pay for a coach seat but is upgraded (with miles or by elite status or by luck), you get FF miles for that particular fare code you pay for, not where you end up sitting.
rkkwan is offline  
Sep 17th, 2008, 08:04 PM
  #9  
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Thank you everyone! I think I have a better understanding now of how FF miles work. Now to plan where to go...
jlaughs is offline  
Sep 20th, 2008, 06:59 AM
  #10  
 
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To answer your last question, my threshold is $400 for a 25K reward. I am probably on one end of the spectrum which is why I have so many miles hoarded. I am saving up to actually try for the first class upgrade to Europe which is costly for two people. Also, I love having miles available in case I have to make a late last minute trip. Then, a $200 ticket can have turned into a $400 ticket and I will use my credit card acquired frequent flyer miles which is more flexible because the seats are not restricted. They buy you up to $400 fare on any airline and you just pay the overage.
ncounty is offline  
Sep 20th, 2008, 08:52 AM
  #11  
 
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I'll add one more:

People who can't get flights are the ones who need to go to a popular place at a peak time.

If you insist on going to Hawaii over the Christmas holidays, you'll have more trouble finding FF seats than you would at, say, this time of year.
Jeff_Costa_Rica is offline  
Sep 20th, 2008, 11:09 AM
  #12  
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Is August typically considered "peak" time? I work at a school, so August is my vacation time.
jlaughs is offline  
Sep 20th, 2008, 11:43 AM
  #13  
 
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Upgrade awards on discount economy tix on United domestic flights are available M,H,Q,V,W,S,K,L or T fares. I think that is the same as (or very close to) saying "all published fares". Every rock bottom fare that I've purchased at united dot bomb has been one of those fares.

Upgrades on discount economy tix on United international flights are limited to M or H fares (the most expensive discount economy fares).
mrwunrfl is offline  
Sep 20th, 2008, 08:21 PM
  #14  
 
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August is often a peak period because of school holidays, but it depends on where you want to go.

Another option to consider if you can't use your FF miles for an August holiday to a popular destination is to use your FF miles at another time of the year for another trip you need/want to make, and then use the money saved from that trip to put toward your August trip. For example, when I lived in Toronto, I often used miles to fly home to Vancouver to visit my family. This is often quite an expensive ticket if you use $ but there was reasonably good availability for tickets because there are so many daily flights on this route. Having saved $ by using miles for a "must visit family" tri, I could then spend the $ to fly to a destination (e.g. Caribbean) where it was harder to get a seat with frequent flyer miles.

Similarly, I was unable to get a ticket with miles on a convenient date for an upcoming trip to Curacao, but I plan on redeeming some Thank You Points (obtained through Citi and flights) to obtain Marriott gift cards to reduce the cost of our hotel by $300.
frogoutofwater is offline  
Sep 21st, 2008, 12:40 AM
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<Is August typically considered "peak" time?>

Depends...

In most of the US and Europe, yes. In Australia and New Zealand, definitely not.

Where do you plan to visit?

Melnq8 is offline  
Sep 21st, 2008, 01:01 AM
  #16  
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I don't have anywhere specific in mind for the time being. I just didn't really understand how FF miles worked.

Thanks!
jlaughs is offline  
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