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Do you remember when a mile flown was a mile earned in your frequent flyer account? I do… it feels like a golden age of decades past, although in fact it was only a few years ago when British Airways and Virgin Atlantic devalued their earning ratio for paid flights in Economy. You might also have become accustomed to an airline offering a minimum of 500 miles for a paid flight, regardless of how short the flight actually is.
But recently I took a flight in South America, and it became blindingly obvious to me why many people simply cannot be bothered to collect miles and points. I earned a WHOPPING 34 miles for a flight from Montevideo to Buenos Aires!
Even if I commuted from Montevideo to Buenos Aires daily for the next two years, I suspect that I might not even earn enough miles for a reward flight between the two cities. Of course there were extenuating circumstances. Aerolineas Argentinas was my only airline choice, and I don’t really bother to collect miles or status within the SkyTeam alliance. So I provided my Delta Skypesos account number, out of principle more than anything…
What Can You Do to Improve on This?
- Check out www.wheretocredit.com. If you’ve decided to fly a specific airline, you should definitely look at Where to Credit to determine which partner programme offers a higher earning ratio. (or at least whether you can earn miles with a partner programme you might not have thought of…)
- Be miles conscious. If two airlines offer a similar price for the same route, choose the airline where you earn more miles.
- Be aware of your booking code. Airline websites and online travel agencies don’t necessarily make it easy to research, but for a few pounds extra you might be able to buy a higher fare than earns you 50 or 100% of miles flown, instead of a miserly 25%. The value of the additional miles can often offset the extra up-front cost.
Of course, the real point of this exercise is to demonstrate why we no longer talk about “frequent flyer programmes” and instead talk about “loyalty programmes”. Unless you are travelling on expensive business fares, you are much more likely to be accumulating the majority of your miles on the ground – from credit cards, local partners, etc.
What is your record? What is the lowest number of miles you’ve ever received for a paid flight?