Never used mileage rewards, how hard is it?

Old Aug 2nd, 2006, 07:50 PM
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Never used mileage rewards, how hard is it?

It seems like the only way to use airline mileage rewards is to book as soon as those flight dates become available for rewards? We would like to use some rewards for next June .. is it too late?

All my points are in Marriott Rewards so I will have to transfer to an airline?

I have trouble finding a good explanation on the airline websites as to how many miles are needed for a specific reward.

Obviously they don't go back actual length of the trip, because a roundtrip for me to London is 10,000 miles. But it seems to take alot more than 10,000 flight points for a roundtrip ticket on say NW.

Is there a good website that explains the ins and outs of learning the air mileage ropes?
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Old Aug 2nd, 2006, 08:02 PM
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marriott.com/rewards/usepoints/moreairmi.mi

Most US airlines charge 50K miles on their own program for roundtrip to Europe in coach. You need 125,000 Marriott Reward points to convert that to 50K miles.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2006, 08:20 PM
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Availability depends on destination, time of year, etc. Some flights may never have any FF tickets on them - so even if you call the second they are available, you may not be able to fly on that date at that time.

Many USAairlines list 25,000 miles as minimum for Domestic RT ticket, and these seem to be more difficult to get. If you have more miles, most offer the same route at a higher rate 35,000-50,000 miles and these are much easier to get.

Another option some like is use the miles for an upgrade to business or first class - and the amount of FF miles required for this varies as does availability.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2006, 05:45 AM
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Thanks.... if you buy your tickets through another outlet... can you use frequent flyer points to upgrade the ticket?
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Old Aug 3rd, 2006, 06:12 AM
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Yes, details vary from one airline to another. Many people (myself included) feel that this is generally the best use of FF miles/points.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2006, 06:45 AM
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Check what fare classes are upgradeable and upgrade availability before buying the ticket. Most airlines don't allow you to upgrade the lowest economy fares with miles. You'll need to check with each individual airline for details.

If you have enough Marriott points, consider redeeming a travel package rather than just converting points to airline miles.

http://marriott.com/rewards/usepoint...ck.mi#packages

This works well if you think you'll want a 7 night Marriott award stay in the future.

Instead of anywhere from a 5 to 2.5 Marriott point = 1 airline mile ratio, you'll be getting a 1 Marriott point = 1 airline mile ratio if converting to ff programs of US carriers.

The Marriott hotel cert doesn't need to be used on the same trip or right away. It can be extended for at least two years, some say indefinitely. You can also get the Cat 1-5 cert initially and upgrade later to a Cat 6 or 7 by paying the point difference.

So instead of spending 125K for 50K airline miles, you can spend 165K for 50K airline miles plus a 7 night Cat 1-5 hotel cert. Even if you don't stay the full 7 nights, it's a better deal than getting separate airline and hotel awards if you plan to stay at a Marriott some time in the future.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2006, 01:43 PM
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You might look at the forums on
http://www.flyertalk.com/

They cover about every program there is and the people are quite knowledgeable, but there is so much information there it can overload you.

There are drastic differences between the programs of various airlines, and they make frequent changes. Also, the airlines treat people differently. When I go into my favorite airline's site anonymously, there is little availability of reward tickets, but when I log in with status as a member of their frequent flyer program, availability improves dramatically. Some offer upgrades for miles, while others demand miles and cash (the amount depending on the fare bucket of the ticket you are trying to upgrade).

So the trick is to find which airlines will accept the points you have, and which among them has the best upgrade program relative to your own preferences, then try to find some tickets.

I think it is common that seats are first made available about 11 months out, but in very limited numbers; on my airline it is hard to snag these, but just before the flight date more appear, often. And my airline offers almost unlimited capacity if one is willing to pay twice as many miles. Because of the limited numbers of low-mileage seats offered, it is often difficult to get reward seats for more than one person.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2006, 02:41 PM
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Nice, comprehensive replies here. The point is that even if you CAN do something, it's important to know if it is an efficient use of your travel resources (points/miles/money). I saw a recent offer which had 10,000 miles being traded for a $100 gift certificate. While some people may be satisfied with that, a penny a mile is well below the value that I look for with my own redemptions.
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