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I was pretty happy to read this post from The New York Times’ Frugal Traveler, Seth Kugel, about getting value from points and miles. When Seth was researching this story, he reached out and asked me to meet with him to talk about my favorite subject: points and miles. Initially I was flattered that a) he was a reader of my blog and b) wanted to talk to me about miles, but then I got a little bit worried. I was worried because I’ve read so many articles by writers who don’t take the time to actually understand the whole miles and points world and then make hasty generalizations like “miles are worthless” or “frequent flyer programs should be banned because they are unfair.”
I’ll cut some slack to past writers who have bungled articles on the subject because I admit it’s pretty tricky to fully understand this game and then convey it clearly to a large audience. So after I thought about it, I saw this as an opportunity to educate a wider population of people that getting in on the miles and points game isn’t about gaming the system – it’s about saving money. When you think about it, taking advantage of loyalty points and miles is like collecting money. A thousand here and there in free promos and all of the sudden you have a nearly free ticket that would have cost you hundreds of dollars. Once people realize that points = money, they don’t roll their eyes at opportunities like calling US Airways for 1,000 free miles.
In any case, the whole purpose of this blog is to show that collecting miles and points is fun and it can save you money and I think that’s exactly what Seth conveyed in his concise, non-biased article. In fact, by the end of our frugal $25 dinner (at a Delta Dining establishment – of course – so he could get the new member bonus), I could tell he “got” it and I think it came through in his article. My favorite part was:
“There are all kinds of estimates out there for what a mile is worth to the average consumer or to the airlines. But all that really matters is what a mile is worth to you.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.