Should we buy a ticket or cash in FF miles?

Old Aug 26th, 2004, 07:08 AM
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yk
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Should we buy a ticket or cash in FF miles?

Two days ago, I posted a message on the thread about 15,000 miles on AA. Now I have a dilema.

My BF has on hold a r/t tix DFW-OMA for Sept, using 15,000 miles. That was 2 days ago, when the plane ticket price was $420. Yesterday we got an email alert that AA has flights on sale from DFW. I checked the price, for the sale dates (and even better flight times), the price is now only $195.

So, should he just buy the ticket conventionally for $195, or should he cash in 15,000 miles? (FYI, he doesn't have any elite status, and only has around 45K miles total).
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Old Aug 26th, 2004, 07:51 AM
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yk - Some people believe a FF mile is worth about 2cents. So, 15,000 is worth $300. I think that's probably overvalued, and you'll find it hard at times to get your $0.02 worth. [For example, our parents are very lucky to be able to claim 60K miles on CO's BusinessFirst IAH-HKG (one-way). That's $2K worth of ticket, and even after you deduct the miles they could have earned from flying that trip, that's still more than 2 cents/mile. But those are really hard to claim, unless you have "elite" status, and are extremely flexible with travel dates. Even that, I still have to check very often to get those.]

In my own opinion, I won't hesitate to spend 25K miles on a $250 ticket. Simiarly, I would be pretty happy to spend 15K on a $195 ticket.
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Old Aug 26th, 2004, 11:09 PM
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Well, he decided to go ahead to purchase the ticket with $ rather than cash in FF miles. That allows him to choose the flights that are more convenient to him.
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Old Aug 27th, 2004, 05:08 AM
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rkkwan, I have to argue that you are not getting ~$2000 worth of ticket for those miles.

With ~$2000 and no elite status, you can make one call (or book online) and likely have a choice of flight options on the day that you want to travel. In a half hour or less, the deal is done and you can make plans.

With the miles, you have to make several calls, change your dates and times, and not be sure you will ever get the ticket you want. This would be process done over several days, maybe two weeks, and your plans would be in flux. Quite likely, if you didn't have elite status, you would be unsuccessful in getting any ticket (not the one you want nor anywhere close to what you want).

Three days ago OP's BF's 15,000 miles were worth $420. Yesterday, those miles were worth $195.
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Old Aug 27th, 2004, 07:56 AM
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mrwunrfl - I do agree with you. That's why I list all the "conditions" in using 60K miles for the $2,000 worth of tickets. On paper, it may seem like they are worth >$0.03 per mile, but they are actually not, after you add all the trouble.

That's why I say a mile is worth <$0.02, despite what many frequent flyers or those on flyertalk.com says.
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Old Aug 27th, 2004, 05:24 PM
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I value miles at .015 each, but I also have to figure what it is worth to achieve elite status each year. With those two reasons in mind, I would probably not cash in 25K for a $250 ticket if it was a flight in which I could be adding flight miles to reach the next hurdle instead. (I'll make platinum this year with only around 20 miles to spare.)
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Old Aug 28th, 2004, 09:34 PM
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The 2 cents/mile rule of thumb is obsolete, I agree. Award tickets have lost value themselves. Years ago, an award ticket was like a full fare ticket. On one award (TWA), I was allowed and took two enroute stopovers and had an open jaw on the destination end.

Anyway, when I mentioned that the 15,000 miles were worth $420 one day and $200 a couple of days later, I was thinking of the reply that Flyboy made to a different thread where he discussed using awards for spur of the moment trips. The value of the miles varies with the variation in airfares.

It really boils down to how many miles and how many $ you have to spend and how easy it is to come by more of the same.
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