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# What are frequent flier miles really worth?

Apr 25th, 2001, 03:27 PM
#1
Sheldon
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What are frequent flier miles really worth?

Here's the situation. Imagine that you are on a fairly tight budget, as you are saving to buy a house. In spite of that, you are still taking a great trip to multiple cities in Europe. Forced to choose between airfare of \$1450 (for two) or 160,000 United FF miles (for two) which would you choose?

I know you can buy miles from United for 36 cents/mile, and the calculation above is about 9 cents/mile, but I want to know what others really value them at.
Apr 25th, 2001, 03:52 PM
#2
Alice
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what are you saving the miles for...? If not for 'free' airfare to Europe, what else?... Secondly, could you take the trip 'off season' and use only 50,000-55,000 miles per person? We just went to Paris in April for 40,000 miles each on US Air. The only reason I track the miles is to use for free air to Europe...
Apr 25th, 2001, 03:55 PM
#3
km
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160 thousand airline miles is too much. that should get 3 rt tickets to europe with leftovers.
Apr 25th, 2001, 04:03 PM
#4
wes fowler
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Sheldon,
Check the truly fine print in any of the brochures promoting frequent flier miles and you'll find that without exception the value of one mile is calculated to be \$0.02.
Apr 25th, 2001, 04:03 PM
#5
guy
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First..if United redemption is the same or close to Delta's....then 160,000 FF should equal 2 Business class tickets..which would have a value of much more than the \$1450.00 you mentioned....and it is all a matter of prespective..your math is not correct..for example..say I wanted..(but I wouldn't) .redeem 25,000 FF for a 500 mile flight to LAS...which cost me \$200 + or -....then the value of my FF do not seem to be much..conversely if you say that you can purchase the miles for .36/mile..and you travel to Europe and back..say 10,000 miles...then you have received of course \$3600.00 in value...You need to do the math to see what is more important to you I quess..whether you save the \$1450 for you house and cash in your miles or vice versa...or if you did not fly Business classand went coach...you could probably use less miles and still save some miles ..then the math works out different again....I would not try to over think this..I would just have a nice vaction and enjoy your new house..also..if you choose to redeem your miles...I would get on it right now as it gets increasingly difficult to redeem miles if you do not do it reasonably well in advance..
Apr 25th, 2001, 04:03 PM
#6
Mariarosa
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I have heard that miles actually cost about \$ .01 (1 cent = 1 mile), and that you want to try to get a better "exchange" than \$.01. My rule of thumb is to use miles when the cost of the fare is closer to .02 cents per mile. For example, at .02 cents per mile, and costing 160,000 miles, the cost of your plane tickets for 2 would have to be closer to \$3,200. If you indeed need 160,000 for your tickets, then you are "giving up" your miles for \$.009 , or less than 1 cent per mile. Not a good deal for you.

HOWEVER, using frequent flyer miles has become increasingly difficult, so if you have the opportunity, go ahead and use them even if the deal is less than great. \$1450 is a lot of money and imagine how many great meals you can get in Europe for that!
Apr 25th, 2001, 04:16 PM
#7
Bob
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Have you considered buying a ticket and using less miles for an upgrade? Sometimes that works better. I have read that if you can buy any ticket for less than \$250 never use your miles. I have also seen the .02 per mile cost in print.
Apr 25th, 2001, 04:19 PM
#8
Rex
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Forced to choose - - I would spend the \$1450. You asked for individual opinions, and that's mine.
Apr 26th, 2001, 07:55 AM
#9
lisa
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I would definitely spend the \$1450, no question.

I look at the relative value in terms of what else I could get for those 160,000 frequent flier miles. For example, two roundtrip tickets on United from North America to Australia (coach class) require only 120,000 frequent flier miles, but would cost far more than \$1450.

Moreover, one thing that people are not figuring into this equation is that if you purchase the tickets for \$1450, you are both also EARNING even more frequent flier miles.
Apr 26th, 2001, 11:53 AM
#10
Bob
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High season round trip to europe on American is 60,000 miles which would be only 120,000 miles for two.
Apr 26th, 2001, 12:53 PM
#11
Jen
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Here are my 2 thoughts:

1. Spend the \$ if you have it b/c 160,000 miles is too much for 2 round trip tix (even with internal airfare).

We used 180,000 miles to go round trip in business/first class to Australia from Boston, with internal air travel in Australia. The price of those tickets would have been \$18,000 (we asked the salesperson after the 3 hour phone call it took to get the tickets)!

2. You only live once - get there anyway you can! If \$ is an issue - use the miles!
Apr 27th, 2001, 05:40 AM
#12
Dave
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Philadelphia to London on USAIR-

coach - \$441, needs 40,000 miles = 1.1 cents per mile. (At \$1450, =3.6 cents per mile).

business - \$6038, needs 80,000 miles = 7.5 cents per mile.

This is why we save our miles for business.

PS - Sheldon - your calculations are incorrect.
Apr 27th, 2001, 08:43 AM
#13
Sheldon
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Thanks for all the enlightening opinions. My math _is_ wrong--in fact, if we use the 160,000 miles instead of buying tickets for \$1450, we'll be valuing those miles at \$.009, or just under one cent per mile, as Mariarosa pointed out.

The reason it would require so many miles is that we would have to use two awards each to get to our destination. We have very specific timeframes for travel because we are meeting up with family, and we've found that the standard US to Europe FF tickets are completely, totally gone during our timeframe, so we could do it on FF miles but it would require some fancy booking and a ton of those miles, 160,000 to be exact.

After considering the cost of taxes on the FF tickets, plus the hassle of multiple layovers, and the overall value proposition, we decided to buy the tickets. Unfortunately it's not on our regular airline or a partner so we can't use miles to upgrade. However, I'm glad because I want to go to Hawaii before the end of the year and this way, we'll be able to!

Thanks for all your ideas, opinions, and suggestions. If you have any additional thoughts, keep 'em coming.
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