In my experience, the biggest mistake that people make in the miles and points game is to think that they will get free first class flights. This is, of course, totally wrong as nothing is free in this world and there is always an opportunity cost that you will have to factor in.
However, I have just made a redemption with miles in First Class which is an illustration of how valuable they can be.
We have been invited to a wedding of a fiend in Washington, D.C. – the same friend we went to visit when we took our first trip to Washington in First on miles. My immediate reaction was to look at the cost of flights in economy for cash and the availability of redemptions flights.
I was delighted to see that there were both Club and First tickets on the return leg which, for us, is immovable due to work commitments, and there were plenty of options for the inbound. With a 2for1 voucher in the bank, I needed 140k Avios for First out and Club back, or another 20k Avios to got First both ways. As I only had 150k Avios available, I took the former option because I wanted to be able to enjoy the Concorde Room on the way out and First on a daytime flight, and I am very happy with upper deck 747 seats on the way back. If availability remains in First when our Household Account is healthier I will probably upgrade as I prefer the First bed for sleeping and going straight to work on landing will require as much sleep as possible.
So whilst I booked the redemption seats, I did also look at the cash prices. On the same flights, return tickets in Economy would have been £1188 for the two of us, and would have earned just over 18500 Avios.
Add the cost of having the British Airways Premium Plus credit card to the taxes and fees paid, I have spend roughly the same amount of cash to fly in First / Business as I would have done to fly Economy. So, my flight is not free, but I view the upgrade as the benefit of the miles and points in this case.
For the sake of completeness, and for that smug feeling inside, I also looked up the cost of the flights if buying like for like:
However, the final advantage of using your miles like this is that the flights are fully flexible and refundable; there is a £35 change/ cancellation fee, which is a small price to pay if I need to alter my itinerary. In such a case, the cash, Avios and voucher are all returned minus the fee; buying the cash economy ticket in the example above does not offer such flexibility.
So, for long haul flights, don’t think of collecting airmiles as a way to free flights; think of it as a way to turn the non-flexible economy tickets you are buying anyway into luxury First Class flexible tickets!
Have you got any redemptions coming up? Let me know!