You can use your frequent flyer miles to book airline tickets to almost any airport in the world, in Coach, Business, or even International First Class, where there are huge flat-bed suites and in-flight caviar service (and sometimes even showers! !) the rule. But while you will save tens of thousands of dollars on these super luxury tickets (and hundreds on Coach), chances are you won’t earn miles for your flights, and if you are flying very long distances (one round – world travel could make you traveling 20,000 miles or more), you are really missing it.
Due to the potential missed opportunity to earn a ton of frequent flyer miles, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of a redemption before pulling the trigger. For business and first class tickets, it is almost always a better deal to use miles than cash, as you will spend between $ 3,000 and $ 15,000 or more on a round trip ticket, depending on the route, airline and class of service. Booking higher fare classes with cash will allow you to earn even more miles than a discounted Coach ticket, but even after accounting for the potentially higher earning rate, it is often a better deal to use your miles for seats. premium.
However, with coach tickets, you really need to do the math. If you are approaching the next level of elite status or have a chance to earn bonus miles for a paid flight, you may want to pay cash, even if the ticket price is high. Otherwise, depending on how much you value each mile, if the ticket price is higher than the redemption value, including the miles you would earn on a paid flight, then you might be better off using your miles.
Of course, there are some cases where an award flight will earn frequent flyer miles as well, but these are very few and far between. Typically, when an airline has irregular operations, either due to weather or an aircraft-related delay, they will be rebooked from the airport at the last minute, with the agent selecting a full fare class for the class of service you originally received reserved Therefore, if you fly on an award ticket with a seat in First Class, you will be rebooked in the highest fare class for that cabin, allowing you to earn award miles for that segment and give you maximum flexibility if you need to make changes.
You can also upgrade your fare class if a flight is oversold and voluntary. Typically, airlines use F for First Class, J for Business Class, and Y for Full Fare Coach to represent passengers who have booked the most expensive tickets. Naturally, these also rack up the most miles and provide the most flexibility if you need to change your flight later. At United, if you switch from fare class O (used for first class award tickets) to F, you should be able to earn the full mileage that you would earn if you had paid cash for your flight.
Be sure to ask the airport agent to rebook you in a full fare class when you volunteer; most of the time, they will be willing to do so.
Your fare class could also change automatically if it is downgraded (due to a possibility in the aircraft type) or with a significant change in the schedule that also implies a new flight number, but these cases (and those described above) are relatively unusual. So it’s best to assume that you / won’t / will earn frequent flyer miles for your free flight. You may be lucky, but you could fly millions of miles on award tickets without earning a single point. If earning miles is important to you, pay cash.