Travel Tips

Travel Tips: Why It’s So Hard to Use Those Flyer Miles

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mileage award points

It’s that time of year when you want to start planning that dream cruise to Europe, and you really want to use those frequent flyer points to book your flight.  Only, let’s face it.  It’s hard.

I get it.  I’ve been there.  I’ve watched my frequent flyer miles like a hawk, and when I finally go to redeem them for a dream vacation… it’s next to impossible to use them on my flight of choice.  Most people are finding it increasingly challenging to find those awards seats. Delta, especially, makes it difficult to book award seats.

That’s because the airline, ever-dedicated to making money, is doing everything in its power to sell those seats first. (I suppose that’s understandable – business is business.)  As a result, they hold out on releasing the seats until the very last minute, or they require an astronomical number of points to book the ticket. It’s annoying, I know.

It’s even worse when you want to use your points to upgrade to business class.  In that scenario, you have to purchase a higher class of service – a so-called “upgrade-able ticket” – which could be almost as much as buying a business class ticket outright.  It’s just not easy to book peak season award tickets, especially on direct flights. (Though you will have better luck booking seats with airline partners like Air France or KLM.)

This understanding of the unfortunate strategies used by major airlines is all well and good, but what can you do?

There are a lot of things about awards programs that can slip through the cracks unless you do your research. You need to milk the most out of your points.   Gain leverage.  Find loopholes. Honestly, the general population isn’t necessarily equipped to do this because those airlines are pretty sneaky, and awards programs can be complicated with all of their fine print exceptions and rings of fire that they make you jump through.  Lucky for you,  there are experts who do this for a living who have had proven experience with “battling” the airlines.  They’re knowledgeable about this stuff.  Save yourself a bucket of tears and let them do the work for you.

I recommend contacting  mileage-award expert Gary Leff, who writes the blog View From the Wing and helps people get the maximum value for their miles and points via his BookYourAward service.  If you are still unable to get that award seat, just bite the bullet and buy that ticket.  Regardless…

JUST GO! Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer!