Frequent Flyer Miles are a joke

Aug 10th, 2008, 10:08 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,153
Carol, I think you got a good value for your miles, better in some ways than a saver award. You paid a premium, for sure, for first class. But you got the travel dates that you wanted, on booking dates of your choosing (last minute, not 300 days in advance), and you didn't have spend hours of research on routes, etc.

A business class ticket from LAX to BKK leaving tomorrow and returning two weeks later costs $7500. Spending $7500 gets me that ticket. Spending 200,000 miles, a standard award, gets me that ticket. Spending 90,000, a saver award, does not get me that ticket.

The 90,000 mile saver award is not worth $7500.

A large part of the price and value of that ticket comes from the flexibility of purchasing it when you want for the dates you want.

If I had time this morning I would compare the UA business class to Europe sale fare to a regular fare. The sale fare might be closer to the value obtained by a saver award. The sale fare and saver awards have a couple of things in common: it is not something you could count on getting, and you might not get the dates that you want.

I agree with other though, that getting awards - domestic U.S. in F or economy (including Hawaii) and international economy - is not that difficult IF you ae flexible. International premium saver awards (from the U.S.) have recently become even harder to get from UA.
mrwunrfl is online now  
Aug 10th, 2008, 11:09 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 8,586
<<Why should a customer rejoice when they "snag" a tix 330 days in advance.

I'm thrilled to get a ticket 330 days in advance, and I plan our trips early to do so. We always know when spring break is (the week before Easter), so we know when that trip is, no big deal.

We flew PHL-Munich and then ZUR-PHL this summer with FF tix, 50,000 miles each. it wasn't the most convenient itinerary (one stop v. non-stop) and the tickets cost $100/each with fees and taxes. But when those tickets would have cost about $1,000 each, I'm not complaining about that charge!

We got 4 tix to Costa Rica for 45,000 miles each for next spring. Those fares are about $750 for the regular price ticket. Great deal, I think.

I am trying to get to Seattle for next summer, and am having problems using USAir miles, but United has a ton of availability. USAir seems to have stopped offering any miles on its direct flights (out of PHL).

We have been to Europe (2x), St. Thomas, SF, Colorado (several times), and San Diego all using miles.

garybear - you have a ton of miles, so you could double up to get a seat on the flight you want. I would have a field day with all your miles!
karens is offline  
Aug 10th, 2008, 11:11 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 403
Good luck with using your miles. I have found you just have to know the rules and use them to your advantage. I just booked SAN/AMS and CPH/SAN for next summer using my UAL miles, by calling them up. Yes, I had to pay $25, but that's the only way to get an open jaw ticket... with taxes, I paid $50. I don't travel for work, so my miles are accumulated from credit card use and mypoints, etc. It can be frustrating, but so worthwhile if you can work it to your advantage. Good luck!
Andeesue is offline  
Aug 10th, 2008, 12:25 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,912
For what it's worth, I've never booked an award ticket or upgrade a year in advance - there's just no way I can book that far out. I usually book a couple of months in advance and I've always gotten saver awards, never standard.

Just learned that my miles upgrade on one leg of tomorrow's flight (s) from DEN-SFO-NRT-SIN is on a different flight than I was originally ticketed on, therefore it's a different flight than my spouse, who's traveling with me.

United has also advised me I'll have to pay $75 for the flight change, which I didn't even make. Seems someone at United put me on two separate wait lists, for two separate flights, and the one that cleared wasn't the one I was booked on.

Unusual circumstances for sure, but I'll happily pay $75 to fly in Business class on a 10.5 hour flight, even if it's a different flight than my spouse (our flights now leave about 90 minutes apart, but we'll meet up in NRT).
Melnq8 is online now  
Aug 10th, 2008, 12:50 PM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 1,706
I have gone to Australia five times and South America three times and only paid for the taxes because I used FF miles for all trips. I've also had stopovers or longer visits to New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, Hawaii. In South America I usually go from JFK to Santiago and then to BA. It's been amazing.

This summer I went to Argentina and it was the first time I actually had to pay for a ticket. I was bummed but it wasn't the end of the world. I've gotten heaps of miles from opening credit cards (not a lot but 2-3 when I started a business and switched cards) and putting stuff on the card. I almost have enough for another trip to Australia.

I also used to travel in the US summer which is winter time in the Pacific, so that helped, and I've also been really flexible with dates and such. I can't complain! Oh yes I can=what's up with these new fees? I didn't mind paying taxes but now this??? Oy vey.
Skiergirl is offline  
Aug 10th, 2008, 03:07 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 267
I'm an American living in Taipei and have been flying UA back to the States two or three times a year. Since I fly reasonably often, I qualify for Premium Economy seating, which means I can usually get a bulkhead aisle seat, so the flight is bearable.

An economy ticket costs $1300+, but to qualify to use my miles for an upgrade to business, I have to pay $1900. Quite a steep requirement, don't you think?

UA's fares are more reasonable than AA or Cathay, although their schedule is the poorest. I feel stuck.
jgmc is offline  
Aug 10th, 2008, 03:27 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,912
I feel your pain jgmc. I'm an American who until three weeks ago lived in Indonesia (moving to Australia tomorrow).

United quoted $3,900 for an upgradable flight from SIN-NRT-SFO-DEN-return and close to $2,000 for coach. I ended up booking through an agent in Jakarta and got the flight for $1,600, which included a Garuda flight that usually runs about $250.

The outbound flights weren't eligible for upgrades so I flew in Economy Plus (I'm also a UA PE member). For some odd reason, the return flights are upgradable, so I was able to get on a waitlist for an upgrade, which finally went through.

Have you tried EVA? I've heard good things about them from fellow expats in Asia. I seriously considered flying them when booking my flights, but was unsure about going through Taipei. The extra UA miles, the good deal I got and the good connections finally convinced me to fly UA.

EVA has an Executive Economy section (not sure what they call it) and it was considerably less than than flying SIA Premimum Economy when I last checked (which will be discontinued in Sept anyway).
Melnq8 is online now  
Aug 10th, 2008, 03:44 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,072
Have a friend who lives in Thailand who uses Eva to fly to visit the states. He is very pleased with them.
I've used FF miles in April on USAir to Madrid. No problem.
maryanne1 is offline  
Aug 10th, 2008, 05:41 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 122
I've had great luck using my AA miles. Booked two tickets (75,000 each) for LAX to Nairobi in 2006. In 2007, booked a ticket (75,000) for SFO- Delhi, India and just this year in March booked a ticket (40,000 miles)Fresno to Cusco,Peru then La Paz, Bolivia back to Fresno. All were booked about four months in advance and always got the dates I wanted.
Good luck!
producerkoof is offline  
Aug 10th, 2008, 06:00 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 3,037
I've redeemed about 800,000 United miles and 150,000 American miles in the last 5-6 years--all for saver international awards, international upgrades and a few long-haul domestic upgrades (e.g., Chicago-Hawaii). A few times I've booked close to 330 days in advance (e.g., Australia), but usually not anywhere close to that. I agree it is becoming more difficult to find certain saver awards...but with proper research and some flexibility, it hasn't been that hard to redeem miles.
ms_go is online now  
Aug 10th, 2008, 06:06 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 267
I haven't tried EVA yet for two reasons: they are not part of Star Alliance or OneWorld, and they fly into Newark, not JFK, which is less convenient for me. However, I may change my mind and start accumlating miles with them. They have a good reputation, unlike China Air.

I'd hoped Cathay would be the answer, but their flight was $2700 -- and AA's was $3100,....When one has to pay United $600 to be eligible for an upgrade from coach to business, the miles are less useful than one would like.

When I have bought an upgrade, I usually get it if I allow enough lead time, at least 4 months. TPE - JFK is a long flight and business is better, but the price is getting too dear.
jgmc is offline  
Aug 11th, 2008, 06:49 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 332
For me the key to using FF miles is to be flexible, and to start looking well in advance. I also try to have several vacation spots in mind. Sometimes you just have to keep searching. I usually travel alone....that makes it easier.
jewela is offline  
Aug 11th, 2008, 11:05 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,153
Melnq8 were you upgraded on all three legs of the DEN-SIN trip?
mrwunrfl is online now  
Aug 13th, 2008, 04:55 AM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 23
I have used my miles on the last 5 trips I have taken on both US Air and AA. That includes 4 trips to Vegas and 1 trip to Hawaii. All it takes is a little of my time to research, flexibility and patience. I actually book the first thing I see and then constantly check for something better. I am going to Vegas again on miles in November. I also have used miles to go to Italy twice in 2001 and 2003. It's not that hard.
philly54 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2008, 08:44 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 22,587
I take at least one overseas trip per year using FF miles, often two trips per year. I don't always get what I want but I do always get something workable. The key is to either book ahead or be very flexible with your travel dates.
P_M is online now  
Aug 13th, 2008, 10:29 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 378
I used Delta miles to fly to Johannesburg in April. I booked the tickets approximately 6 months before departure. There weren't many open FF spots when I booked.

Gritty is offline  
Aug 20th, 2008, 06:38 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 14,534
I accept the hassle, and since I think flying these days is ALWAYS a hassle, I don't think it is worse when I use FF miles.

Last night I booked two award tickets to Paris in Feb., for 35K each. Good connections, but high fees. The fees came to 130 USD each. The way I see it is no way would I be going to Paris for 130 bucks.

In May, we went to Italy in biz class, using standard awards.

I actually mind the hassle of flying less when using FF awards, because less of my money is going to an airline for the pleasure of having them jerk me around.

Everytime I mention going anywhere on award tickets, someone always tells me how impossible it is. This is usually when I have confirmed award flights. It hasn't been that much of a hassle or expense for us. In fact, we wouldn't have gone to have the places we've been without using our miles.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Aug 20th, 2008, 07:28 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,067
we used our AA miles for a trip this past Nov and Dec. A OneWorld award combined AA, Cathay and Qantas legs. STL to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific (AA to LAX connect), stayed for several days, then to Melbourne Australia (couple of weeks) on Qantas. Then back on Qantas through LAX/AA to STL.

About 6 weeks between award booking and trip start.

Used to have UA miles, from an old travel job, but never was very successful at using them.
Clifton is offline  
Aug 21st, 2008, 06:04 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 3,933
USAir has changed the terminology of its premium awards (no restrictions, 2x the miles of saver awards) to "standard".

Just another step in the depreciation of FF miles.
Brian_in_Charlotte is offline  

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