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2015 Flight and Hotel Redemptions

2015 Flight and Hotel Redemptions

Old Jan 7, 15, 8:22 pm
  #1  
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2015 Flight and Hotel Redemptions

Finally, my 2015 recreational travel schedule is pretty much set. These are all trips I want(ed) to take, I did not try to "maximize point value" as they say, but I did book business class internationally whenever possible.

The redemptions are for a mix of domestic and international flights, some in Y, some in C, none in F this year. Mileage programs involved are DL, AA, and BA, hotel programs are Hyatt, Hilton, IHG and Radisson.

When I posted a similar summary last year it spawned a big debate about the correct meaning of "value". Hoping to avoid a similar debate I am going to use the term "dollar cost equivalent" (DCE), defined as the price on the day the award was booked.

Total miles redeemed 750K; Total fares DCE $23,000; Blended DCE/mile $0.031. Total hotel points redeemed 163K; Total hotel DCE $ 1660; Blended DCE/point $0.011. Average DCE/mile(point) with AA $0.034 (int'l only); DL $0.022 (domestic + int'l); BA $0.033 (int'l only); Hyatt $0.044; Hilton $0.006; IHG $0.006, Radisson 0.008. The Hyatt value is not a typo, it reflects a reservation for graduation weekend when prices are jacked up sky high yet require the standard number of points.

A few observations from this year's exercise: One, without the DCE skew of international first class redemptions the blended DCE/mile is a more reasonable/credible $0.03 vs almost $0.07 last year. Two, miles (even skypesos) still command a much higher DCE than hotel points, so I will continue to concentrate my spending on mileage cards over hotel cards. And three, there is still a lot of (almost) free travel fun to be had in this game.
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Old Jan 8, 15, 11:33 am
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Location: Yellowknife, NWT, Canada and Sacramento, CA, US; UA Explorer Card Holder
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Another view of value

While there is plenty of opportunity for debate about the value of redemptions, with many arguing that redemptions should be valued at a relatively lower level, an argument can also be made in the other direction.

For example, via their credit card, including statement credit, Hyatt (or Chase) is paying me $50 to stay at the new Park Hyatt in New York for two nights in November 2015, where the quoted rate at the "pay now, no refund" level for a room is $878 per night, which escalates to over $1100 per night when relatively hefty NYC taxes are taken into account.

If I had to take an extra job at, say, a mini mart to earn the roughly $2200 to pay this amount myself, it wouldn't be enough to earn just $2200, because the amount I would earn is subject to income taxes. So, I would probably need to earn about a third more, or $2900, in order to clear the $2200 after income taxes. So, the value of what I am getting may well be $2900.

Instead, I don't need to spend time working at the mini mart, and receive $50 for my efforts...just about enough to pay for a MTA subway pass for two.
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Old Jan 8, 15, 6:32 pm
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Over what time period did you amass your 750K miles? Was that just since last year?
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Old Jan 8, 15, 7:39 pm
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And are these 750k miles for one person or more than one (in a family)? And were they all at the lowest "saver" levels, or did it involve "anytime" levels (or at DL, the higher tiers)?
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Old Jan 8, 15, 9:25 pm
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Originally Posted by sportdoc View Post
Over what time period did you amass your 750K miles? Was that just since last year?
Pretty much - The miles were collected over the last 12-18 months , about 600K via credit cards (remember the AA Executive 100K Bonus?), 150K BIS + bonus miles on DL (just myself). After this we have about 1M miles and 600K hotel points left.

Originally Posted by sdsearch View Post
And are these 750k miles for one person or more than one (in a family)? And were they all at the lowest "saver" levels, or did it involve "anytime" levels (or at DL, the higher tiers)?
The redemptions were for myself and Mrs drminn, using miles from both of our accounts. Two DL awards included mid-tier(I almost never see saver level seats for both legs of a round trip), AA and BA were all at the saver level.
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Old Jan 8, 15, 9:28 pm
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Since a point is not a point is not a point, I fail to see the significance of $x.xx/point you squeezed out. Really, it should be $x.xx/dollar spent, right? Some cards give you 2x, 3x, 5x points - isn't that what should be (attempted to be) maximized? The calculations to figure that out, however, would take massive amounts of time, I get it.
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Old Jan 10, 15, 5:23 pm
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I must say i've been very pleased with the value i've been getting for my 2015 redemptions! Going for a honeymoon in Bora Bora, then onto Maui...

Main 'value' comes from the incredibly high standard fares for 1-way biz class flights!

2x one-way from LAX to PPT = $8165.20 (at time of milage redemption) Cost 115,000AA miles, plus $11.20 in fees = $0.071cents/mile. (Redemption was 125,000 - 10,000 rebate for having the AA credit card).

Intercontinental Thalaso 4 nights = $4696 (lowest rate), cost 180,000IHG points (200,000 - 10% rebate) = $0.026 cents/point.

PPT - HNL one-way, 1st class = $1450, paid 56250AA miles + $51 fees = $0.025cent/mile

Some of the best 'value' i've ever had from redemptions!
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Old Jan 10, 15, 11:20 pm
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Kind of meaningless without the destinations, airlines and properties, as well as the dates and types of awards. Similarly you need specifics on prices - $2000 fare for F class SFO-NYC is a nice award, but none of us would pay that. More likely would do $300 with an upgrade cert.

Anyone can get great value by going to Russia and China in winter. Good luck getting Greece in summer or Mexico/Hawaii at Christmas, Orlando at spring break etc. Delta saver awards are next to impossible - so more interesting if you list the partners you booked. Similarly AA miles redeemed at saaver international (new seats) are impressive - paying absurd "fuel surcharges" on partners, not so much.

Really the most impressive thing here is that credit card companies will allow you to churn and earn this many points, and that you were able to redeem for everything you wanted this far in advance. I have trouble finding even simple low level saver awards these days, even months out.
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Old Jan 11, 15, 9:15 am
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Originally Posted by Boraxo View Post
Similarly you need specifics on prices - $2000 fare for F class SFO-NYC is a nice award, but none of us would pay that. More likely would do $300 with an upgrade cert.
Some airlines fly SFO-NYC with three-class planes, with "true" first class. But in that case, you cannot upgrade from economy all the way up to first. You can only upgrade in that case from paid economy to business, or from paid business (which will cost way way more than $300) to first.
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Old Jan 14, 15, 12:31 am
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As touched on, there are several factors that people really overlook when placing a value on points and miles:

First, as rdf mentioned, ALL points/miles need to be compared to PRE-TAX dollars. That 12k Hyatt award stay for a $200 room is really ~$285 you have to earn to have the $200 after tax to pay for the room. You didn't have to 'earn' ~17k points to have 12k- no taxes, obviously.

That said, there is the cost of acquiring the points. If it's mainly signup bonuses, the cost is quite low. If it entails MS, the cost is a very real figure that cannot be left out of the equation.

Also, I feel people shortchange the value of hotel award stays. One of the major costs in hotel stays is the bevy of taxes heaped on hotel rooms- ballpark 20%. So, again, if it's a $200 room, it's really more like 240 out the door (now it takes ~$345 pre tax!), whilst award stays get a pass on taxation (I worry about local lawmakers meddling in this one day). Furthermore, Hotel stays have a lot of other tangible monetary value, especially when you have hotel status (often derived thru CC or award stays). Free breakfast for 2 which, for me anyway, also gets daily snacks (fruit, yogurt, ec). Then there's Club room free sodas, happy hour drinks and hors d'oeuvres, free local transport/shuttle, welcome points/gifts/perks (like SPG 3 free items cleaned/pressed some places).... There are are places I stay where, net-net, I was PAID to stay the night on points. Seriously.

Granted, my POV is skewed, as is everyone's, by my situation. I live in hotels, so where most others have 2 (or more) people flying long haul to stay 12 nights in 1 hotel room on holiday, i'm 1 flight and nearly every night, wherever I am, is a hotel stay. So my ratio to flights/hotel nights in very hotel heavy. I also value everything based upon what I could/would be willing to pay for the flight or room. In my case, that # is nowhere near the ACV (or the OP's "DCE"). My 2015 maximum hotel stay (except for aspirational or expensive like HK or The Maldives) is $60/night. Very doable on points, impossible with cash for the standard I will accept (think Aloft/4 Points for my typical hotel stay).
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Old Jan 16, 15, 1:13 pm
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duplicate
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Old Jan 16, 15, 1:16 pm
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Originally Posted by Boraxo View Post
Really the most impressive thing here is that credit card companies will allow you to churn and earn this many points, and that you were able to redeem for everything you wanted this far in advance. I have trouble finding even simple low level saver awards these days, even months out.
Cause and effect, cause and effect.

Personally, while I also got a stash of AA miles, I dont find them as useful as chase UR points which I can redeem on all three alliances, including SQ suites, and hyatt. So let's say you want to goto Europe in the summer. You can search across 15+ airlines for space, including F cabins on UA, AA, BA, SQ, LH, EK. For Labor day, I used chase UR on BA F for outbound and SQ F for inbound.
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Old Jan 16, 15, 3:55 pm
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Originally Posted by rufflesinc View Post
Personally, while I also got a stash of AA miles, I dont find them as useful as chase UR points which I can redeem on all three alliances, including SQ suites, and hyatt. So let's say you want to goto Europe in the summer. You can search across 15+ airlines for space, including F cabins on UA, AA, BA, SQ, LH, EK. For Labor day, I used chase UR on BA F for outbound and SQ F for inbound.
Agree that it is good to have choices, but there are many ways to do that. Some of us fly BIS in multiple programs because our itineraries require it, so we have balances across alliances. People seem to have good success finding space to Europe on non-US carriers. Not so good, I suspect, for peak season within the US at saver levels.

Originally Posted by uncommonsensical View Post

That said, there is the cost of acquiring the points. If it's mainly signup bonuses, the cost is quite low. If it entails MS, the cost is a very real figure that cannot be left out of the equation.

Also, I feel people shortchange the value of hotel award stays. One of the major costs in hotel stays is the bevy of taxes heaped on hotel rooms- ballpark 20%. So, again, if it's a $200 room, it's really more like 240 out the door (now it takes ~$345 pre tax!), whilst award stays get a pass on taxation (I worry about local lawmakers meddling in this one day).
Interesting that you live in hotels and left out the most important source of points for many of us: Actually spend on hotel rooms! There is no cost - it's not like the hotel will give you a cash rebate. Those points can add up fast depending on your rates. And of course there is no income tax on miles and points, another bonus.

Personally I concur - I need hotel points more than airline miles to cover my leisure travel needs. I think the bloggers shortchange the value of hotel points because they are more interested in bragging about their trips in suites to remote islands. YMMV
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Old Jan 16, 15, 4:52 pm
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Originally Posted by rufflesinc View Post
Cause and effect, cause and effect.

Personally, while I also got a stash of AA miles, I dont find them as useful as chase UR points which I can redeem on all three alliances, including SQ suites, and hyatt. So let's say you want to goto Europe in the summer. You can search across 15+ airlines for space, including F cabins on UA, AA, BA, SQ, LH, EK. For Labor day, I used chase UR on BA F for outbound and SQ F for inbound.
I would agree with your assessment of AA miles vs UR points with the caveat that it depends on where you want to go. For Europe, I find UR points a lot more useful than AA miles, for US to Asia and South America it's a tie with maybe a slight advantage to AA. But then again, for me last year AA miles were a lot easier to come by than UR points.
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