Saturday, June 12, 2010

The worthlessness of frequent flyer miles

A study published in May by IdeaWorks, a consulting firm, showed that, for travel dates from June through October 2010, award seats aboard Continental were available 71.4% of the time, followed by United (68.6%), American (57.9%) and Delta (12.9%). ...

TIME sought to make frequent flyer reservations for a round trip from New York City to Los Angeles, one of the nation's most heavily traveled routes with a half-dozen airlines offering nonstop flights, for any date in July or August. On American Airlines, not a single 25,000-mile-award round trip was available for the month of July. A few outbound seats were available in late August, but only a single return: Aug. 31.

Delta Airlines, too, had not a single frequent flyer round trip available in July; for August, just one outbound flight was available, but no return. Continental was only slightly better: no round trips available in July but a few in August, while United could get us out on one flight in July and had a few round trips left in August. Not on your schedule, of course - on the airlines' timetable. ...

Some compare the situation to an inflationary monetary system: with the profusion of frequent flyer deals, consumers can now earn mileage by signing up for credit cards, refinancing their homes, joining Netflix and more. Like paper money, the more miles that are "printed," the less value they seem to have.
--Richard Zoglin and Christine Lim, Time, on why my 50,000 Delta SkyMiles are no good

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