If you really thought that airline companies were trying to ‘do their bit’ for society by introducing frequent flyer programs, you were clearly born yesterday. These programs happen to be one among the many enterprising ideas that enable airlines to earn a quick buck on the side, while the unwitting customer goes on a diligent flying spree in order to nail that one free flight to Paris in the summer.
Several thousand frequent flyer miles and as many phone calls later, the customer resigns himself to the fact that a flight to Paris won’t come entirely for free, and that there’s got to be a way to make use of those wretched miles. Well, mentioned below are a few tips that will tell you how to use frequent flyer miles efficiently.
▶ Know your airline partner(s)
Airline partnerships are your best bet when it comes to redeeming frequent flyer miles for plane tickets. For instance, if you are in possession of United Airlines’ miles, book trips with Thai Airways, ANA, Swiss, South African, or Air New Zealand; in fact, you can earn and use your MileagePlus® miles on over 35 airlines worldwide, as a part of the Star Alliance. This obviously widens your choice when it comes to picking routes and destinations. This may not be an outstanding tip in a manner of speaking, but the fact remains that it is hardly ever advertized, and therefore, tends to skip our minds.
▶ Use it for class upgrades
Well, you may not always lay your hands on a low cost ticket, but you can always use your frequent flyer miles to nail a class upgrade. Affording a premium class ticket may not come easily to most of us reading this, so it is rather obvious to make use of an opportunity like this when it presents itself.
There are times when certain airlines offer flyer miles as a bonus with certain tickets, and it would be wise to snap these up, if you have already stacked a decent amount of miles yourself. You can add these miles to your existing account, and choose to go for an upgrade on your next overseas trip.
▶ Keep your miles from expiring
You may have painstakingly stacked up several thousand flyer miles through trips, airline malls, and the airline miles credit card, but you must ensure to read the fine print that comes along with it. Most flyer miles are valid for a period of 12 to 18 months, beyond which they do expire if your account has been inactive. This policy varies from airline to airline, so you need to keep a check, and avoid getting a rude shock when you wish to redeem them after a prolonged gap.
Shopping at the airline malls to keep your account from expiring is a reasonable idea. This way, you’re keeping your account active by spending a relatively small amount, and gaining miles from your purchases as well.
▶ Learn to spot a good deal
What amounts to a good deal, really? It is usually when you get a good return on every dollar you spend. Now, you may not be able to extract a profit with your frequent flyer miles, but you can at least avoid being taken for a complete ride. Now, it would seem idiotic to blow 25,000 miles on a domestic trip that costs you less than USD 400. So, how do you avoid settling for less?
It’s simple―always aim for gaining at least two cents per mile. If you manage to score three to four cents per mile, consider yourself quite lucky; but do keep this basic calculation in mind.
Making use of the frequent flyer program requires quite a bit of tenacity and endurance as well. But do your research well, and you stand to gain a lot from programs such as these.