Old Jun 27, 11, 12:00 pm
  #11
sdsearch
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: home = LAX
Posts: 20,807
Originally Posted by Igor718 View Post
Unfortunately AMEX does not transfer into AA, so my other option is BA with the current 50% bonus.

Question ... when redeeming miles. Is BA very similar to AA? So, whatever AA has available, BA would have the same at same number of miles??? Or will BA ask for more miles on the same flights AA might have?
IMHO that's one of the reason there a endless 50% bonuses for transfering to BA, while never that high (that I remember seeing anywhere) for transfering to AA. If you were able to earn/transfer them equally, in many (but not all) situations BA might average a bit higher. Though usually not 50% higher in miles alone, but the other quesiton is whether they charge YQ (fuel surcharges) still in situations where AA wouldn't, or more YQ still in situations where AA would charge less.

It used to be that BA charged much more YQ, but in recent months (since BA and AA became closer partners) my understaniding is that this has leveled out (by AA charging what BA charged in most cases, not by BA lowering its YQ charges).

And that can make comparisions between BA, AA, and other domestic airlines all the more complex: Because of each specific destination, you have to look at not only miles (which you can from an official chart) but also YQ charges (which you can't, and which change much more often than the miles requirement does).

It's particularly bad if you try to redeem for BA longhaul in economy. The fees you get charged can make it not worth it to use miles (because you're being charged almost as much in fees as you would be for buying the flight outright, and yet you still have to spend lots of miles). In the case of premium seats, it's never quite that bad AFAIK, but it can really hurt still.

And that's the problem with "parking" AMEX MR miles somewhere (because you want to cancel the cards) but not knowing who's going to charge what exact fees on which flight in the future. It's one thing if you're very flexible (you can always use BA miles for only those cases where they don't charge big fees, if you have plenty of miles at other carriers to use when BA's fees are too high on a specific flight where you have options to use several carrier's miles).

But that's why I don't redeem as soon as I earn. Because that doesn't offer me enough flexibility. I like to wait until I've got enough miles for any given flight at all 3 alliances, then see who can get me the best miles+fees+availability deal on the day of booking. I then may give a bit more weight to the airline I have the most miles with (so that I'll still have the miles in all 3 the next time I have to do such an evaluation) but if the difference is too big I'll use another alliance.

Just how much vacation time a year do you have? In the "near future" you want to fly to two places at opposite ends of the earth (both of which need an unusually high number of miles)? Most people would choose one, put the other off a year or two, and then not be too "rushed" at each location. Plus would interperse that travel with "closer" travel which earns them miles rather than using miles up.

Keep in mind that you won't likely be able to keep earning miles at this rate for long. So while you got a fast leap into many miles right now, the rate of adding to those miles will slow down over time. So why rush to do all your travel in the "near future", what will you do after that? Die, stop traveling, or suddenly be able to afford buying those tickets outright? (Because you won't be able to keep earning miles endlessly at this rate. Amex won't let you churn much, Chase won't let you churn 100k offers, if AA lets you churn
it's very slowly like 75k+75k maybe ever couple years?, etc.)

Also, have you calculated on-the-ground expenses for each location. Some travel destinations can involve on-the-ground expenses which cost many $$$$ for just a week or 10 days, to the point where you have to figure out way to manage those costs or you can't afford to "fly free". In some places you could use hotel points, but some of the places you mention there might not be any chain hotels at all, plus the main expense may not be just hotels even. (For example, have you researched which destinations you can get around with cheap public transport and which absolutely need a car to see what you want to see? In some locaitons, you have to rent a car to see what you want to see, but car rentals + insurance + fuel prices overseas can make that cost just as much as the hotels in many places!)
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