Frequent flyer programs are the bread and butter of business travel. Face it, if it weren’t for all of the free miles we can earn to go on our personal trips, we wouldn’t be so excited to jet off every time our employer says “Jump.” Or however you want to put it. But I’ve done some research and quite a lot of traveling in the last few years and I’m happy to share all of my worldly knowledge with you.
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First of all, you can expect to shell out approximately 20,000 to 25,000 for a basic fare domestic ticket using miles. No one program is much better than the others in this respect, although some airlines run periodic promotions (in non-peak travel times) in which you can get around the block a little faster.
Choosing Your Airline Miles Program
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The number one most important thing to consider when choosing your main frequent flyer program is the service available in your area. If you, for example, live in Atlanta, it makes a lot of sense for you to go with Delta Air Lines or a partner airline such as Continental. Why? You’ll get more bang for your buck. The majority of frequent flyer programs these days do not have blackout dates, however, they do have a limited number of seats available for rewards tickets on each flight. The more flights you have available out of your home town, the more likely you’ll be able to book the ticket you want. And it will keep you from making connections with 6 hour layovers in Detroit or someplace equally inconvenient.
Of course you’ll join more than one program, but you’ll want to have one primary airline with whom you earn the bulk of your points.
You should also seriously consider the partner programs available with the various airline programs. If you frequently rest your head at Hilton Hotels, you’ll want a program that has a good deal with Hilton. Some programs, like Northwest Airlines, only let you redeem points for airline travel. Others will let you redeem points for hotel stays or merchandise. You should know which way you want to go with that before you choose.
Miles Credit Cards
I’ve earned a boatload of miles over the last few years, just by using my miles credit card. Particularly if you spend away and your employer reimburses you periodically – you can rack up the miles big time.
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photo by Hyougushi