When is it worth it to use miles?

 
Old Mar 20, 07, 3:48 pm
  #1  
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When is it worth it to use miles?

Sorry to ask a newbie question, but does anyone know what the best use of my miles are?

It's so hard to find "milesaver" awards now, so I feel like I should use miles whenever I can find an award seat.

Right now I'm deciding on a $376 fare r/t dfw-lax, to use the milesaver 25k award....

Any input?

Thanks!
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Old Mar 20, 07, 4:00 pm
  #2  
 
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Welcome to FT!

In general, valuations of what a mile is worth vary significantly depending on who you talk to. Personally, I spend my miles only on premium cabins since in most cases those are by far the best value (consider 125K miles for a $19K+ ticket in F on AA from LHR-LAX r/t). But, a lot depends on your own schedule, how many miles you have, and where you like (need) to fly.

As a general rule of thumb, I think if you're getting less than 1.0 cents/mile value on AA miles you're probably not making a wise decision (i.e. using 25K miles to book a $100 coach ticket), but as always, YMMV.

To your point on award availability, I rarely have problems finding regular awards on AA and find that compared to other carriers they are quite plentiful - especially if you are willing to be even slightly flexible. AA's new web interface for searching for award travel makes it even easier to see availability too.

Last edited by olimaspecto; Mar 20, 07 at 4:24 pm
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Old Mar 20, 07, 4:13 pm
  #3  
 
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handlea, welcome to FT. Your question is a good one and is perennially debated around here. The answer is, of course, it depends. You can search (perhaps "value" would be a good search term?) and turn up lots of discussion. The real question is, is it worth it to you? If you don't fly premium cabins, then 1.5 cents/mile isn't too bad. If it takes you a long time to accumulate the miles for a trip, or conversely you have so many miles you'll never run out, it's not a bad idea either.

Personally, I probably wouldn't do it since I use the majority of my miles for upgrades (SFO/LAX-JFK mostly), but literally, your mileage may vary.

Michael
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Old Mar 20, 07, 4:16 pm
  #4  
 
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I think 2 cents a mile is a good measure. So if you use them for a tix for say around $500 then you are doing well but as the previous person mentioned, the best usuage for most frequent flyers is thru upgrades.... Of course don't forget that buying a tix earns you miles so the real cost of the $376 tix maybe closer to $276 (about 5K miles if you are an elite and fly RT from DFW to LAX).

Just my 2 cents (a mile)...
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Old Mar 20, 07, 4:16 pm
  #5  
 
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Originally Posted by olimaspecto View Post
.... (consider 125K miles for a $9K+ ticket in F on AA from LHR-LAX r/t). .....
Reality check (at least LAX-LHR)

DRT7GB AA D Round-Trip 5999.00 (USD)
DGB AA D Round-Trip 7998.00 (USD)
JR AA J Round-Trip 8708.00 (USD)
J AA J Round-Trip 12346.00 (USD)
FR AA F Round-Trip 15059.00 (USD)
F AA F Round-Trip 17544.00 (USD)

D included since D as a J-cabin can be upgraded to F with eVIP ..

But F is about twice what you have mentioned....

I also just looked at LHR-LAX purchased in the states and F is about $1000 higher.

In any case, 125K is pretty valuable.

IHMO 25K vs under $400 as OP mentioned is kinda a waste. 25K for $1200 ticket last minute would make sense (and I have done that back in the days of Saturday Night Stays required ..)
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Old Mar 20, 07, 4:24 pm
  #6  
 
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Originally Posted by JGR01 View Post
Reality check (at least LAX-LHR)

DRT7GB AA D Round-Trip 5999.00 (USD)
DGB AA D Round-Trip 7998.00 (USD)
JR AA J Round-Trip 8708.00 (USD)
J AA J Round-Trip 12346.00 (USD)
FR AA F Round-Trip 15059.00 (USD)
F AA F Round-Trip 17544.00 (USD)

D included since D as a J-cabin can be upgraded to F with eVIP ..

But F is about twice what you have mentioned....

I also just looked at LHR-LAX purchased in the states and F is about $1000 higher.

In any case, 125K is pretty valuable.

IHMO 25K vs under $400 as OP mentioned is kinda a waste. 25K for $1200 ticket last minute would make sense (and I have done that back in the days of Saturday Night Stays required ..)
Sorry, I forgot my 1 in there Should have been $19K+
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Old Mar 20, 07, 4:32 pm
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Originally Posted by olimaspecto View Post
Sorry, I forgot my 1 in there Should have been $19K+
I'd love to do business with you. Make a contract without the '1' and have to stand by it.

Oh yea .. you might digress and ADD a '1' to your billing rate then too eh???
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Old Mar 20, 07, 4:40 pm
  #8  
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Using cash fares to value Intl F awards only applies if you would purchase those otherwise, or if you really think that the F experience is $18000 better than the Y. (Hint: if you're in F on an award and the GA ofered you $15000 cash to downgrade to Y both ways, would you take it?)

But it also depends on how often you travel on your own dime and how many miles you have stashed away. If using the miles now means that you won't have enough left for that trip next month that might price at $500, I'd save 'em. If you have a ton stored up, burn 'em. My own personal threshhold is between 1.25 and 1.5 cents per mile; at $376, I'd probably use the 25K instead.
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Old Mar 20, 07, 5:01 pm
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Originally Posted by swag View Post
Using cash fares to value Intl F awards only applies if you would purchase those otherwise, or if you really think that the F experience is $18000 better than the Y. (Hint: if you're in F on an award and the GA ofered you $15000 cash to downgrade to Y both ways, would you take it?)
I am not following your logic on this one but I think that's just because I must disagree with it. Personally, I'd never shell out that much of my own money (or even half of it!) for intercontinental F travel, so if it's not business travel, I'm using miles. Whether it's .15 a mile based on full fare or something less based on perceived value, for me the international premium seats for personal travel are my preferred use of miles.

Note to the OP: recall too the other perks that go along with the premium seats, like lounge access and premium service, which can make a huge impact on the whole travel experience. I'd pay for 5 RT's in coach LAX-DFW to save my miles for one LAX-LHR in first. But hey that's just me.
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Old Mar 20, 07, 5:23 pm
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Originally Posted by swag View Post
(Hint: if you're in F on an award and the GA ofered you $15000 cash to downgrade to Y both ways, would you take it?)
Sure I'd take it. . . And then skip my flight and head right to Vegas .
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Old Mar 20, 07, 5:58 pm
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Originally Posted by san2yul View Post
I think 2 cents a mile is a good measure. ... Of course don't forget that buying a tix earns you miles so the real cost of the $376 tix maybe closer to $276 (about 5K miles if you are an elite and fly RT from DFW to LAX).
I agree with the 2 cents per mile measure. Besides including the miles not earned, you have to deduct taxes and fees on your "free ticket".
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Old Mar 20, 07, 8:33 pm
  #12  
 
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Unlike international itineraries, taxes and fees tend to be fairly low for domestic awards (BOS-LAX RT is $5) so you don't have to worry about that so much in this case. The value of miles not earned, of course, should be taken into account, in addition to the q-miles/points not earned, if that's important to you.

Michael
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Old Mar 20, 07, 8:44 pm
  #13  
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I would personally value biz class awards at their discounted equivalent. Say $2500 for an I fare LAX-LHR.
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Old Mar 20, 07, 8:54 pm
  #14  
 
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Low season LHR-MCO $390 coach///$5500 Business

Do the Math

Coach even with Miles plus Co-Pay means use your miles for Upgrades
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Old Mar 20, 07, 9:05 pm
  #15  
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In general, I will use miles whenever the ticket price (without taxes) exceeds 2 cents per mile. I will do a mileage run whenever the cost is less than one cent per mile.

One of the best uses for miles is the family emergency, when you have to go somewhere immediately. Last-minute walk-up fares can be murder. Much better to use miles and pay the expedite fee. I always try to keep enough in the account for this, just in case.
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