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Unfair Miles – The Sequel

Due to popular demand and a lot of commiseration I have decided to fill y’all in on the secrets of using your airmiles. It’s quite simple really. Plan ahead. Waaaaaaay ahead. And be prepared for disappointment.

You want a summer vacation, gratis? Sorry, suckers, but you’ve probably missed the, ahem, boat for this year. But next year’s flights will probably be wide open. Why? Because you aren’t allowed to book that far in advance. See how they get you?

Some airlines have an extra special trick. They have two tiers of rewards so you can use even more points to go the same distance. Sound familiar, Aeroplanners? Here’s what I mean: a short haul flight within North America costs 15000 points (economy). There are a limited number of seats on each flight reserved for points-redeemers. Maybe a handful. A very small, itty, bitty handful. But if those seats are gone, the kind folks at the airline conveniently offer you the exact same seat – for 25000 points. Geddit? You “pay” more for the same flight. So you can either swallow it, and pay, pay, pay. Or you can book as far ahead as they will let you.

Has the point come across yet? BOOK AHEAD. The minute you start talking about your trip, put your money where your mouth is and book ‘er down. Especially if you want to go business class. Both ways. Or, my personal fave, the one where you score the business-class seat but it’s on a flight you didnt even know had stopovers and it’s only for the first (short) leg of the journey Then you’re demoted to steerage. Ditto and double if you don’t want to go alone. Otherwise what do you do? Fing for the good seat?

There are probably more ways to book your “free” travel than there are seats available. You can go online and try your luck. I did, and managed to nab one of the elusive 15000 pointers. Plus the usual taxes and surcharges and all that. Here’s the thing: I booked the trip in February. I’m going away in June. And there are about 12 flights a day on this route. Sounds like shoo-in, right? I thought so too, and kind of dragged my heels a bit. Until one morning I checked on the best return flights and found the cheap versions had disappeared. There was no way I was using 25000 points for a one hour flight. I booked then and there.

Another way is to get your travel agent to reserve for you. Ka-ching ka-ching. The agent will charge you, but at least you don’t have to do any work. You get what you pay for – and as we all know, you’ll pay for the free flight. This is the preferred method for long haul, deliberate stop-overs, or for those who are such frequent flyers that none of this really matters. In which case, how do you have time to read blogs??

Finally, there’s the old-fashioned way: calling the airline. If this is your thang, you’ve got nothing but time. In fact, you’re probably still on hold! Hang up now, loser – you’ll never get through. And if you do, chances are your seat has gone to the smartypants who went on-line.

2 comments:

pritza said…

I think the first possible date you can book ahead of time is 290 days before your flight or something like that. My opinion is to ditch Aeroplan and go for the points toward a ticket credit cards – my brother always seems to get flights this way. Aeroplan points may be more valuable, but if you can’t use them what’s the point? I have already ditched my Aerogold Visa.

5:45 PM

Anonymous said…

great job lady

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