Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Unsolicited Advice

You know those frequent flyer miles you have that have been piling up?

A piece of unsolicited advice here. Quit hoarding and use 'em.

Why? Because they are becoming increasingly harder to use, less valuable, and it isn't going to get better for the consumer, only worse. US-airlines are in trouble, have been in trouble for some time, and as they run fewer flights and increase restrictions, it's becoming tougher to get free seats.

It's still possible to get the free seats at the moment, but you have to plan way ahead, or choose a destination that no one wants to go to or that has dozens of daily flights.

I still have over 130,000 Continental miles that I am sitting on, waiting for the day I can take another Round-the-World trip, so I am as guilty of hoarding as the next person. But I am also using miles at a rapid pace. Earlier this year, I was able to go to Bogota, Colombia on Continental miles over Spring Break (not a destination with a lot of demand) and in June, I went to Las Vegas (dozens of flights) with American, to access my Grand Canyon rafting trip. I've also booked a winter trip to Lima, Peru on my American miles. From there, I had to buy a LAN South America Airpass to get to La Paz, Bolivia and back via Lake Titicaca and Cuzco, but that was a great deal at $381. It cost more to fly directly from Lima to La Paz. A lot more.

So why do I think you should use your miles if I myself am hoarding? I predict higher minimums for each destination, fewer seats, and additional fees being added on, which will eventually make using miles no deal at all. It's not even a prediction, really, at this point. It's a given. I'm not saying anything that isn't already on paper. If you are planning on traveling on miles next year, go ahead and book now, so that you don't get hit by any of the new fees or rules that traditionally happen at the end of the year.

I'm still hoarding my RTW ticket, true. But I am also keeping an eye on continuing to accumulate in that account. Because my assumption is that by the time I'm ready to use that ticket, it's going to take a lot more miles to do it than it does now.

No comments: