In the series of Rookie Handbook to Miles and Points, we will be talking about the logistics behind Miles & Points, and a series of advice and clarification to the beginners - "free" travel is easy! The miles and points that we accumulate on a daily basis may bring us a perfect vacation every year...
(And yes... enjoy those puffy clouds 30,000 feet above...!!!)
Why does the world of Miles & Points exist?
So first - we need to clarify the question - WHY does the "game" exist in the first place? Well we as consumers offer our loyalty and consistent patronage to a business, and in exchange they [hopefully] reward us with better prices, discounts, special offers, and other things that make us feel like a valued customer. And when we feel valued, we’re incentivized to spend more with that company, continuing the cycle. This is exactly how Airlines attracts customers - through incentivizing consumers to spend more due to the addition of rewards. However, the truth is, 99% of the people in the mileage reward programs don't know how to effectively use them - yes, do NOT spend 200,000 miles on a economy ticket to Atlanta when in fact you can score maybe 5 rountrips to Europe! That's why we're here.
(United wants your money - but one of their ways of getting it is through their MileagePlus program...)
Accrual of Miles? - It's for everyone. Really.
Surely - as plain as it sounds like, you can get miles when you FLY - butt-in-seat. But most of us aren't like Superman - we don't fly very often. Well, the good news is, you can earn miles nowadays through specific, leveraged, spend on the right credit cards. By strategizing how you pay for your everyday purchases you can really maximize the rewards you’re earning, and the miles you’re accruing. It's in fact the best, most sustainable way of earning a consistent amount of miles.
So here we go - you don’t have to fly everyday or spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year traveling to get the miles. You’ll certainly accrue miles faster if you’re doing those things, but most families should be able to generate enough miles for one great trip per year just by maximizing the dollars they’re already spending.
(The distance between you and Qantas to Australia might only be a credit card...)
The "Game" in it
Here is where it gets really fun. First of all, at every moment, there are deals that we might be able to take advantage of to save money, be it a mistake fare, a discounted ticket, or award space. Second of all, due to the nature of the airline programs, there are "sweet spots" on each of them - and it's a heck ton of fun trying to discover and "exploit" them to maximize our experience. For instance, a free stopover, an unusual routing etc. Being an expert in this would save a huge ton of money and make very memorable experiences!
(A "Suite" Experience comes from the game - become a part of it!)
This is only an introduction - if you want to read more, for instance specifically how to maximize BRITISH AIRWAYS AVIOS or AMERICAN EXPRESS MEMBERSHIP REWARDS - refer to previous posts and feel free to email us with questions! But a good first step to take is to sign up for a reward program (depending on which airlines you fly with the most often!) and start to take a look at the credit cards - who knows, maybe you already have hundreds of thousands of miles that you don't know of!
Here are some good programs for beginners:
American Airlines AAdvantage - based in DC (Reagan National), Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Charlotte, Philly
United Mileage Plus - when flying out of DC (dulles), Newark, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco, Frankfurt
British Airways Executive Club - Hong Kong, London, Sydney, Tokyo, Los Angeles
Singapore Airlines Krisflyer - Singapore, Beijing