Frequent Flyer Miles are a joke

Aug 8th, 2008, 10:40 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 109
Frequent Flyer Miles are a joke

Does anyone actually get to use their frequent flyer miles? The airlines have raised the mileage thresholds, and to add insult to injury, now charging fees to book a FF ticket on line. I live in San Diego. My mother lives in Saginaw, MI. I can't even get a FF ticket for that flight in the winter, let alone a vacation flight to Hawaii, Europe, etc. The last time I actually cashed in any miles was 1999. I now have 275,000 miles on UA, 150,000 miles on NWA, and 40,000 miles on Continental. Almost every day I get an e-mail advert from one of them about how great their FF programs are. Bull-crap! Useless. I just may start to fly SWA instead.
garybear is offline  
Aug 8th, 2008, 11:44 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 803
Actually, I just used them to book a trip to Florida. Was able to get firt-class, round-trip tickets for 45K on American. I was happy.
andrews98682 is offline  
Aug 9th, 2008, 03:04 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 602
I have booked many trips using Continental miles. Are your dates flexible? I have gone to Hawaii three times using miles. I live near one of their hubs so maybe that makes a difference.
ttraveler is offline  
Aug 9th, 2008, 03:15 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 22,090
Please, stop the melodrama. While it is annoying how difficult it can be to redeem FF miles, I just went to UA website, logging in under our account, and was able to find flights for 3 different RT dates in January on UA San Diego to MBS (Saginaw). Each was for 25,000 RT. Last one I checked was 1/11-1/18. Seems you can visit Mom 11 times this winter with your UA miles.

We just used FF miles for family of 4 Boston-Anchorage and then Vancouver-Boston in June. Booked Thanksgiving flight during "black-out dates" using 50,000 miles for dtr to come homne from college. Have found flights at Christmas for her as well, but have not decided if to use FF miles or pay.

I try to view FF miles as a nice bonus - if I can use them, great. If not, I try not to see them as an entitlement, since I was going to fly there anyway.
gail is online now  
Aug 9th, 2008, 05:27 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 4,870
I've had my best luck booking American FF miles to the Caribbean and using my NWA/Delta miles within the US. There's only been one time that I recall where I wasn't able to use my miles when I really wanted to, and that was a last minute trip from Massachusetts to Mississippi.
ejcrowe is offline  
Aug 9th, 2008, 05:57 AM
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 1,669
I jut used mine to book 2 R/T tix to Cozumel from IAD - w/fees it came to $169 each. Yes, I had to pay something, they weren't entirely free, but that price made my last minute getaway possible. I wanted Biz/First class but there wasn't availability. Oh, well.

I booked online and paid the $25 per ticket, since I'm still new at all this and it was easier for me. But the Delta online booking process looked pretty straightforward and I will use that in the future.

I am thrilled, although I am the type that gets vilified on Flyertalk, as almost all my miles are from my Delta AmEx.

Momliz is offline  
Aug 9th, 2008, 07:44 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,885
I'm in the middle of a difficult 16 segment trip. I used AA miles for business class ticket and so far I have flown to Egypt, Croatia, and Trinidad. I still have Chicago left on the same ticket in December.
I used British Airways, Iberia, and AA so far. I will fly AA to Chicago.

I'm just about to book a South American trip to Buenos Aires and Rio.

No, I don't think the FF miles are a joke.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Aug 9th, 2008, 07:51 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 136
We've used AA miles twice to St. Martin and Continental to Italy and Greece. The Greece trip was this june. We've always planned well in advance though.
Quark is offline  
Aug 9th, 2008, 07:54 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 402
I agree, FF tickets aren't that hard to obtain if you are flexible and patient. Maybe you leave it until too late? Maybe you just needed a rant. Nothing is free these days, so who cares if there is a fee - still costs less than a new ticket. We just used up most of our various miles for flights from Boston to Albuquerque and return from Salt Lake this month (Delta); Boston to Las Vegas, return from Tucson at Thanksgiving (UA); and Business Class Boston to Hong Kong, return Athens/Boston (AA) in conjunction with a cruise in the spring. I see you posted at 2:40AM - maybe you need some sleep. Keep trying.
charli is offline  
Aug 9th, 2008, 09:17 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 41
My experience with CO has been great! I just snagged 2 roundtrip tickets to Hawaii from the midwest for January for a total of 70k miles+$20. I'm happy with that.

You do have to be flexible and ready to "pounce" when they show up.

Also, the live airline phone line is helpful also.

jerryw is offline  
Aug 9th, 2008, 09:21 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,053
I just booked 2 tickets from Oregon to Paris for next summer on Continental. I was flexibile on the dates, but got what I wanted. Each ticket was 75k miles, and the fees for the 2 tickets combined was $169. So yes, we are pleased.

We also just booked a FF ticket for DH for a trip that was not flexible. That was on Alaska and was super easy.
mms is offline  
Aug 9th, 2008, 09:47 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,140
Twenty years ago FF miles were a lot easier and cheaper to use. But, they were harder to earn too. You actually had to fly. The were also probably more expensive to earn (in inflation adjusted pennies per mile).
mrwunrfl is offline  
Aug 9th, 2008, 09:54 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,121
If you compare frequent-flyer miles to S&H Green Stamps, the similarities are eerie.
AnthonyGA is offline  
Aug 9th, 2008, 02:17 PM
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 2,082
Using FF miles are not a BIG joke; but they are a true hassle. Why should a customer rejoice when they "snag" a tix 330 days in advance. It is a major effort to get a routing that you want with the exact day of travel you desire.
The original concept of FF was to reward loyal customers with a perk. It has strayed far from that in today's market.
longboatkey is offline  
Aug 9th, 2008, 02:42 PM
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 1,669
my tickets were not hard at all to get, since they are with my credit card, nor were they hard to redeem. I misspoke when I said I got them online, I got them with a phone call. And, I got the flights that I wanted, on the days I wanted about 10 days before we want to leave.
Momliz is offline  
Aug 9th, 2008, 02:44 PM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 24,109
Using FF miles are not a BIG joke; but they are a true hassle.

This is what it comes down to. You really have to do your homework to get the most value out of them. I will be leaving soon on my second long-haul business class trip paid for with miles, but I would be lying if I said finding the right combination didn't take a fair amount of legwork.

I can understand the frustration.
travelgourmet is online now  
Aug 9th, 2008, 05:47 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 266
You have to be flexible and plan ahead. If you start looking in July for four business (or even coach) class tickets on the same flight to Hawaii, Europe, etc. in August...yes, you will likely be disappointed. I personally have never had a problem redeeming awards on United: I've used my miles to book biz class awards to Japan, lots of international upgrades, domestic tickets as gifts for friends and family, etc. I actually can't think of a time that I wanted to use miles and was unable to, with some flexibility. Most recently, I used 240,000 UA miles to book two business class tickets from DC to Nairobi, via Zurich this November. Yes, I had to do my homework, utilize flyertalk and expertflyer, research all the possible routings to suggest to the UA ticket agents, etc. and book about 300 days out. I can't say I think that's "useless," given that the cost of those tickets if I'd paid for them would have been around $20,000, and even the cheapest coach tickets are pricing around $1600/each ($3500/ea for our exact itinerary).
hlg22 is offline  
Aug 9th, 2008, 06:34 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,895
I've been very successful using my UA miles. I've used them to fly to New Zealand from Singapore in Singapore Air's business class twice in the past two years. I've used them to upgrade from coach to business class from Asia to the US and back twice in 18 months, and I just got word yesterday that my upgrade from coach to business for my upcoming flight from SFO-NRT-SIN cleared.
Melnq8 is online now  
Aug 10th, 2008, 07:35 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 794
Just thought I'd point out that everyone is talking about "saver" tickets. You can get an award ticket any time you want with a "standard" award. Granted, these are enormously expensive miles-wise and a terrible waste of miles, but they are available.
lifelist is offline  
Aug 10th, 2008, 07:55 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 11,334
I did a last minute standard award, first class UA, from ORD to BKK, via NRT. I don't think it was a waste of my miles in the long run. I really wanted to make that trip, and had to decide rather at the last minute. I had the miles... and I used them!! Now, it's gonna take a while to build them up again, but I'm tryin'...
simpsonc510 is offline  

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