Am I crazy, would I be wasting my miles?

Jun 22nd, 2004, 03:56 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 255
Am I crazy, would I be wasting my miles?

I have a crazy question? I have enough free miles(2 tickets) to fly anywhere in the U.S. on Northwest Airlines. Would I be wasting my miles for Key West? I would be flying from Detroit. Is it worth burning up 25,000 miles per person? What are your thoughts????
Janny is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2004, 04:10 PM
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We found the drive down to Key West to be one of the highlights of our trip. NO, I don't think you would be wasting your miles if you go to Key West, but why not fly into Miami and drive down, and then fly back to DTW out of Key West.
orangetravelcat is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2004, 04:59 PM
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Miles are worth .02 to .03 cents. So your airfare should cost more than $500 to be worth it.
travelinwifey is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2004, 05:19 PM
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Why is Key West such a popular destination? It strikes me as a tourist trap with way too many people who drink excessively. Even sunset on the pier, which used to be lovely, has turned into a commerical venture for some very untalented people who stake out their territory and belittle those who infringe upon it.
jimshep is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2004, 06:38 PM
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We fly to Florida out of Detroit Metro on USA3000. They are offering one-way fares for $59 to Ft. Lauderdale. From there you can rent a car and drive leisurely down to the Keys, stopping to overnight on Islamorada or another Key. We love the trip down as much or more than the destination. Go in February when it's snowy and cold here, rent a convertible, put on some hot Latin music and enjoy driving those long bridges with nothing but sun, blue skies and water as far as the eye can see. Nothing like it! Save your miles for something more expensive. We are flying to Hawaii this July for the second time on Northwest FF miles (35,000 for coach). Equivalent to a $700 and up ticket.
Maggi is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2004, 07:36 PM
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Save your miles for a ticket that will cost you out of pocket more than $500-$600... air fare fr. Detroit to FLA is inexpensive to purchase... spend the $$ to FLA & save the miles for the more costly flights.
makai1 is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2004, 08:14 AM
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I just returned from Key West and I highly recommend that you visit. There is so, so much to do and see for people of all backgrounds and interests. My first visit to Key West just took place a couple of weeks ago and we stayed for 6 days. We are planning to go back ... we fell totally in love with Key West.
michellek66 is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2004, 08:47 AM
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Seems there are really two questions here; (1) Is spending 50,000 NW miles for two tickets from Detroit to Florida the best bargain and (2) is Key West a good place to visit.

Question #1's answer: No, its not the best use of your miles. We save our miles for Business Class upgrades on long haul trips.

Question #2's answer: Yes, by all means buy a couple of cheap tickets and visit Key West.
TC is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2004, 08:51 AM
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Agree with everyone else who has mentioned it. Unless your miles are about to expire, you might want to hold them for use on a flight that costs you at least $500. The value of miles is about 2 cents.

However, if you are like my wife and I, you have more miles than you know what to do with. We've got something like 250,000 and have used miles for fares less than $500 simply as a way of using them. Sure, we could hold them but using them, for us, makes it easier to once in awhile turn a business trip into a family vacation.
Ryan is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2004, 09:34 AM
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I'll play contrarian here. FF miles are so hard to use that I would use them in any situation that valued them over 1 cent a mile. Cash flow is important and using the miles takes away any risk that you can't or don't use them later (NW goes out of business, you move to a city that NW doesn't service, you can never find a FF flight you want, etc.). The question is, is it better to monetize them today at 1 cent/mile or take a chance at being able to monetize them at a later date at significantly higher rate than that (taking into account the time value of money).

Anyone monetizing above 2 cents/mile is doing very well and I doubt it happens very often at 3 cents/mile.

So if it were me, if the total cost of getting to Key West (including any combination of flights/car rental) was more than $500 for 2, I'd burn the miles and pocket the $500.

Now whether Key West is the best place to go is another story . . .
Brian_in_Charlotte is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2004, 11:04 AM
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I have to agree with Brian_in_Charlotte. Valuing miles at 2-3 cents each is "old thinking". Award availability has tightened up over the past few years and there are more restrictions than ever. While it's true you can receive as much as 8-10 cents/mile in "value" when using miles for international upgrades (based on the cost differential between coach and first class tickets), I don't know many people who would actually pay for a first class international ticket out of their own pocket. Thus, that is not really a useful yardstick. In addition, even booking far, far in advance does not guarantee that you can use your miles on the dates/flights you want...or anything close to it. The situation is much worse on some airlines (Continental in particular) than others.

FlyerTalk ( has had a number of discussions about the value of a mile, and most all agree it is no more than 2 cents and that that figure is on the high-side. For what its worth, my own personal hurdle rate is 1.35 cents. If I can receive 1.35 cents/mile or more when I redeem (based on comparable ticket price), I will use the miles, otherwise I pay for the ticket.

So, Janny, in my view if the tickets to Key West cost more than about $337 each, I would redeem the miles. My guess is that you can purchase tickets to Miami for less than that if you catch a sale, so that might be the best alternative. Good luck!
MileKing is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2004, 11:12 AM
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Just make sure you really do land in Key West.
cruisin_tigger is offline  
Jun 24th, 2004, 05:33 AM
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I just checked with NW site and Expedia - picking times of 9/1/04 to 9/8/04, and 12/1/04 to 12/8/04, the cheapest one stop itinerary is just over $400, making the value of a FF mile ~1.6 cents.

I would say that if you don't have any other farther place to which you want to go, then enjoy KW.
Jed is offline  
Jun 24th, 2004, 05:54 AM
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This is assuming that you can get tickets at the standard 25,000 mile level. It has become increasingly difficult to find standard awards to anywhere, let alone a desirable destination like Key West.

Taking a quick look at prices to Key West over the next few months (looked at Aug through Dec), tickets range from about $360 to around $500.
puddy is offline  
Jun 25th, 2004, 07:13 PM
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Thanks for all the insight. My mind was telling me to save the miles for somewhere further. Like San Francisco or maybe oneday Hawaii. Need a lot more for that. Anyways, I do see the other options. Renting a car and driving to the Keys. I'm so confused. I reallly didn't want to burn up my miles for Florida since I've flown to Orlando and Ft.Lauderdale so cheap before. Wish Key West airfare wasn't so darn high. I've been looking for November and it's over $450-$500.00 per person. Ughh decisions!
Janny is offline  
Jun 26th, 2004, 05:04 AM
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I think Key West would be a good value for your miles. If you can book it at 25K per ticket (which is no slam dunk), then you should go ahead. Value is not a function of distance, but of avoided cost. Hawaii may be a good value if you can get it because fares can be pricey, but San Francisco is a place where you can often find a good fare. (For example, I'm going to SFO over the 4th of July for less than $170 and even that low price can be netted against the 4,600 flight miles and 9,200+ total miles I will receive.) Ditto for something like Europe in the off-season: yes, it is a lot of distance, but if you burn 50K on a ticket that you could have purchased for $400 and give up another 8K in FF flight miles you could have earned on a paid ticket, it's a bad deal.

As a benchmark, I value miles at 1.5 cents each and I've redeemed more than a million in the past six years. Go to Key West on your miles with no regrets.
Flyboy is offline  
Jun 26th, 2004, 07:19 AM
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I think the answer to whether it's a waste depends on when you want to go (and how flexible your dates are) and how long you have for vacation. If you can buy a ticket for around $400-500, it does seem a waste to me, regardless of mathematical calculations. But in checking prices, there are some periods of time where a Northwest ticket (fewest changes of plane)would cost $1400+!! But ofcourse Northwest ain't the only guy in town. Just a heads up, I did a quick search on sidestep to familiarize myself with options and prices on your route and Spirit non-stop to FLL and then a "major airline" from FLL to Key West might be the cheapest way to pay.

If you have a longer vacation and don't mind driving,going from FLL or MIA is also an option.
mclaurie is offline  
Jun 28th, 2004, 04:29 AM
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Whatever you decide, I highly recommend the Miami to KW drive, especially if you love the water. KW is VERY laid back...small and charming and whether you are just sitting at SLOPPY JOE's doing some people-watching or watching the sunset at a place of your choosing, you are SURE to RELAX and enjoy! Good luck.
Miriam is offline  
Jun 28th, 2004, 04:55 AM
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I loved KW when we went last year. We only stayed one day (on a cruise ship) but would have loved to stay longer. I loved the whole atmosphere! If you go, make sure you eat some delicious STONE CRAB CLAWS!
Tango is offline  
Jun 28th, 2004, 10:08 AM
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The drive from Miami to Key West can be endless and horrible if it's busy and you're stuck in traffic.

Once you're in Key West, two nights is sufficient to see the sights there. There's a lot more interesting places in FL than Key West.

Key West didn't live up to the hype. I agree that the sunset at Mallory Square has turned into something commerical.

I wouldn't recommend a trip there and won't return there again myself.

Richelle is offline  

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