Frequent flier miles or pay for tickets?

Several months ago I purchased air fare for our trip to Europe – planned for the summer of 2013, and now I feel like I can start to plan our vacation. My original plan was to use frequent flyer miles to purchase one or two of the tickets. However, if you are planning on using frequent flyer mile awards on any trip, you need to book as far in advance as possible.

Between my husband and me we had enough miles to purchase two round trip tickets with saver awards. A one-way saver award is 30,000 miles. So for two tickets to Europe we would have needed 120,000 miles. That’s if we could get the saver awards. A one-way standard award is 55,000 miles. For one roundtrip ticket on standard award travel that would be 110,000 miles. I was hoping to avoid that, and as a result I wanted to book our tickets as far in advance as I could.

When the tickets finally opened up for the dates I wanted to travel, I discovered I could get airfare from an alternate airport (Newark) for $564 per ticket LESS than what I had budgeted to pay flying out of an airport close to us. I had originally expected to purchase two tickets and use frequent flyer miles for the other two tickets. However, since I found airfare $564 less per ticket than I had originally budgeted, then it no longer made sense to use award miles for two tickets. The farthest we could travel on award miles for 25,000 miles round trip is to Alaska. A round-trip ticket to Alaska currently costs $797. Our airline ticket to Europe is less than that. I’d rather save the 120,000 miles and potentially use them towards a trip to Alaska or some other continental US destination.

Additionally, with all of us flying on the same reservation we are less likely to run into complications. If a flight is delayed or cancelled we are all on the same reservation. Had we purchased frequent flyer awards we could have potentially had four different reservations among us. Also, the cheapest flight needed to correlate to the frequent flyer miles ticket. If I can only get a frequent flyer ticket on a flight that normally costs $1500, that doesn’t save me any money if I could have gotten four tickets on a flight costing $500.

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Categories: Airplanes | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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