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Has anyone done the Math on how much you have to spend for free flights / upgrades ?

Has anyone done the Math on how much you have to spend for free flights / upgrades ?

Sep 21st, 2005, 09:42 AM
  #1  
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Has anyone done the Math on how much you have to spend for free flights / upgrades ?

Has anyone ever done the math to see what actual 'spend' is required for upgrades or free flights?

Just to give an idea I had an upgrade from Coach to Business from Singapore to Sydney with Singapore Airlines for 25,000 miles ( to get those miles I proabbly spent about USD 2,000 with them ), I was quite pleased but wondered if anyone had ever sat down with a calculaor and worked out what you roughly need to spend to get what and if there is a big difference between airlines ?

I am posting this on Asia Board too.
JamesA is offline  
Sep 21st, 2005, 09:52 AM
  #2  
 
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The main factors are how much you fly (i.e. elite levels) and what route you fly.

My parents fly IAH-EWR-HKG about 2.5 times a year. $2,000 for about 100K each, annually.
rkkwan is offline  
Sep 21st, 2005, 09:53 AM
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Oh yeah, of course, the airline matters. SQ, CX & BA don't give out any or many miles for those flying discount economy...
rkkwan is offline  
Sep 21st, 2005, 09:57 AM
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The near-universal rule of thumb used by frequent flyers is that a mile is worth between US$0.015 and $0.02. Many airlines will let you purchase FF miles for around $.025 - $.03 per mile (up to a limit). "Mileage runners," people who fly trips merely to accrue FF miles (important if you need some miles to get/retain elite status) will generally shoot for trips that yield miles for under $0.02 all in, meaning counting taxes, trips to the airport, parking, etc.

Obviously the value of a mile depends on how it's used. Most FFers agree that usually the best use of miles is for upgrades on long or international flights, rather than buying coach tickets. If a coach seat on, say, JFK-LHR is $600 RT, while a business seat is $5000, the 25K miles each way, or 50K miles, is worth $4900, or something like a dime each. The same 50K miles earning a free ($600) coachj ticket is only $0.012 each. Big difference.
Gardyloo is online now  
Sep 21st, 2005, 10:18 AM
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Yahbut.... 1. if you can't get the upgrade, you're down at $.0000 and 2. Remember American's NARSTY fee of $250 each way for an international upgrade to business class, and its requirement that the upgraded coach seat not be the lowest discounted level, and the final difference shrinks a bit. For example, if you have to pay $1000. coach to London, then $500 plus 50K miles to upgrade, the worth of those miles is more like $.07.

Still a better deal but, as I said, first you have to get the upgradable seat. Last time we tried to do that, the seating chart showed ONLY 2 seats sold out of all of business class on a 777 and the agent still told us no upgradable seats were available.
soccr is offline  
Sep 21st, 2005, 10:30 AM
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You're right, which is why I'm not spending my AA miles on upgrades on AA. They whacked the yield curve last year with the copay. Now the best use of AA miles (again IMO) is to save them for J awards or oneworld awards, or to upgrade on domestic flights where the cheap -> FC fare differential is great, e.g., LAX-HNL.

Even so, 7c/mile value is more than the 2c-3c/mile I spent earning them. It's more the insult of the thing, personally.

Apparently AA FFers are in agreement, although the airline isn't telling.
Gardyloo is online now  
Sep 21st, 2005, 10:43 AM
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Does SQ allow upgrades from any coach fare using Krisflyer miles or only higher coach fares?

Most US airlines (or is it all of them now?) require the purchase of a substantially higher fare class or additional co-payment in order to use mileage upgrades on international routes which diminishes the value of the miles.
Patty is online now  
Sep 21st, 2005, 11:07 AM
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In constrast to Gardyloo's example, here's how using miles for a business class upgrade might only yield a value of less than 2 cents per mile.

Delta requires the purchase of a Y/B/M coach fare in order to upgrade with miles. Checking a random set of dates, the M coach fare LAX-CDG is $1700 whereas the I business fare is $2600, a difference of only $900 divided by 50K miles = $0.018 per mile. While the I fare does come with various restrictions, securing a mileage upgrade requires just as much if not more planning and flexibility.
Patty is online now  
Sep 21st, 2005, 11:10 AM
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Hence the invention of the term, "YMMV."
Gardyloo is online now  
Sep 21st, 2005, 11:49 AM
  #10  
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Patty, I was on a discounted fare with Singapore Airlines Bangkok-Singapore-Sydney return, costs about USD 580 return, and that accrued miles.
JamesA is offline  
Sep 21st, 2005, 12:27 PM
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I generally use my miles for long-haul, business class flights, and last year I used 120,000 Delta SkyMiles for a business class ticket from JFK to Madagscar that priced at $10,700, so I received value of $0.089 per mile, which is in my "sweet spot." Many use 2 cents per mile as a rule of thumb, but I try to get more than 7 or 8 cents per mile, which you can do on international, premium class flights.

I am using miles again next year for business class from JFK to Durban, which I haven't priced, but I'm sure is more than 4 or 5 cents per mile, and maybe more.

I generally don't use miles for domestic flights or flights to Europe, since I use those less expensive trips to build my mileage bank.

thit_cho is offline  
Sep 21st, 2005, 01:12 PM
  #12  
Cassandra
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In a brief moment of luck that's very unusual for me, I was able to book AA for RDU-Italy and return for a discounted Business Class ticket of $2000, which was only $500 more than the $1000 coach ticket plus $500 upgrade fare plus cashing in 50K miles for the award. I got credit for the miles, too.

I haven't seen that fare since, and at the time (I found it on Orbitz and then pieced things together in AA to make the same fare come up) you could only buy one seat at that rate. Strange are the ways....

I'm so interested in being able to fly someone else other than AA internationally now that I'm considering using up the miles for domestic trips and/or upgrades, and getting miles usable on other airlines via a credit card.

Trouble is, those credit cards don't get you an upgrade, just a ticket.
 
Sep 21st, 2005, 01:13 PM
  #13  
Cassandra
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"...plus $500 upgrade fee..."
 
Sep 21st, 2005, 04:57 PM
  #14  
 
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As a number of people have pointed out once you start using FF miles for business class seats their worth esculates.

I've used AA miles for a business class partner award London- Mumbai(Swiss) and Delhi- London (BA-flat beds!). It was a GREAT deal at 60,000 miles which is what UA (Star Alliance) wanted for the same itinerary in coach.

However, I've also used the miles for economy tickets and got as much as 3+ cents per mile because I was flying an unusual routing or using a stopover or open jaw. EG SFO-MIA MIA-SLU(St Lucia) SLU-SFO

James' example shows how much value you can get on certain sectors and I think this has alot to do with how the airlines define FF geographic areas. For example we flew in business from SFO to Armenia (which is counted as Europe)for 80,000 miles, the same amount as it would cost to go to London. I'm thinking about visiting Uzbekistand which is also astonishingly considered Europe by UA and Star Alliance.
welltraveledbrit is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2005, 08:30 AM
  #15  
 
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United offers upgrades to business class to Europe on its full are economy seats (Y&B) for 30K FF miles round trip. On its discounted economy fares, it cost 60K FF miles per round trip. One thing to remember is that when you buy a coach ticket and upgrade, you still get the FF miles for the trip. Flying from SFO to LHR is 10K miles. If you get a free economy ticket, you don't get those miles. Flying from the west coast to Europe or Asia, I can't ever imagine when an upgrade is not a better deal $$ than a free economy ticket.
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