Airline miles frequent flyer programs were initiated in America in 1981 by American Airlines as a loyalty process to encourage people to use one particular airline for all their travel. It has grown and changed since then and is used by most airline companies today. It has come to a point where some airlines say that if they removed these airline miles programs ticket prices could be reduced by 10-15% as they have become very expensive
These airline programs were initially set up to attract the business and first class users which were mainly individual company employees, not the corporations themselves. These users could accumilate points by using the airline and associated businesses ie. Accommodation and car rentals. At designated levels these points could then be used to upgrade seats or transferred to family members or friends for free tickets but could not be sold. These so-called “free” awards area attractive, addictive and, for all practical purposes tax free.
What is basically a bribe by the airlines these incentive airline miles frequent flyer programs are now costing the airlines approximately 6.3 billion dollars a year and now have become a major headache for airlines companies. When you think it through it’s actually costing the end user in higher fares.
These airline frequent flyer programs have become so addictive to some users that they will take longer trips or, even purchasing the ticket just to get the boarding pass and not taking the trip at all, just to build up points.
The problem has become so wide spread that airlines have to monitor companies that have been setup to convert these airline miles frequent flyer points into other commodities. Also they also monitor online auction sites where users have become quite clever in converting these points into cash.
It Will Never Too Early To Book That Free Flight
There is a fair chance if you try to use your airline frequent flyer points to fly to a popular destination for next week you may hear a fair amount of giggling over the line. These types of tickets are treated exactly the same way as heavily discounted airfares as they are not given a very high priority. On the other hand if you want to go to a place that is not heavily travelled you may have a good chance of using your airline miles points.
Also major airlines limit the number of seats that are allocated to airline miles points so it will pay to give plenty of lead time if you want to use your free airline miles points. But not all is not lost!
One of the best ways to get around this problem is to get a generic frequent flyer credit card. These cards, and there a number to choose from, allow you to earn airline miles points that can be redeemed on any of the major airlines. The reason that these cards work is that the airline does not realise that they are giving away a free seat. When you go to the travel agent to redeem your free seat the agency will actually buy a discounted fare with your airline miles points (so a real ticket is bought with real money).
Another up side for these type of generic cards is that you can also rack up the bonus airline miles points by for things like hotel stays, restaurants and car rentals etc. So shop around and get a card that works for you. This will depend where you live, how often you fly, where you want fly to. Even if you don’t fly all that frequent you can still build the airline miles points for lots of other purchases.
One thing to watch for is the fees, try and get a generic card that has no fees attached to it.
Make A Little Effort To make Sure That Your Airline Miles Points Don’t Go Down The Gurgler!!
In their effort to make airline miles point more affordable airlines are setting shorter and shorter expiration dates so the people who do not use their airline miles points or keep track of them will find they will disappear into the never-never. Airline have figured that the less airline miles points to redeem makes the financial statements look much better.
But you don’t have to do much to keep those airline miles points alive. One way is go to the airline web sites and check on the totals of your airline miles points and expiry dates or your could use a service like www.mileagemanager.com who will monitor all your points and consolidate them into one statement and even send out email alerts.
Another way, if you have to fly, is to book on the airline where the points are to expire and the expiry date will be upgraded. This can also be achieved by making other purchases with the associated companies to the credit card and this will reset the expiry date. You can also shop through online portals that are linked to the airline’s site.
Also since airline miles points redemption provides an instant reactivation of airline miles points the purchase of magazines that cost fewer than 1,000 miles or the donation of some airline miles points to a charity will do the trick as well.
So In Summary
If you want to use airline miles points for free flights play the game properly, watch the airlines for a change of rules, and keep tabs of your points and reap the benefits of free airline miles