I always strive to redeem my points and miles for maximum value. Whether that means flying premium class cabins, scheduling travel to coincide with saver or low level award availability, or paying cash when the cent per point value is low – I want maximum value!
BUT, while maximum value is the goal, I don’t let it rule my life…
Sometimes the best redemption for me is considered “bad” by my fellow points enthusiasts, but I don’t let that stop me from redeeming for the travel that I want to take – like my upcoming trip to France!
What makes my redemption “bad”?
More Skymiles – United States to Europe should cost 70k per one-way (140k round-trip) in Business Class. Instead, I redeemed 78.75k per one-way (157.5k round-trip) for two passengers, totaling 315k Skymiles. That little 8.75k premium per one-way creates a difference of 35k Skymiles when considering I redeemed for two round-trip Business Class tickets!
I mean, Skymiles are not the most valuable of frequent flyer miles, but 35k miles is a nice premium to pay for this trip, especially when you consider the…
Inferior Hard Product – The flights booked in this redemption include the two transatlantic flights flown on a Delta 767-400. Based on the reviews that I have read up on so far, the Delta service is great, though the actual seat (aka “hard product”) is beginning to show its age a bit. Other carriers like Air France, and Virgin Atlantic offer a better hard product, and one may argue that Skymiles redemptions on those carriers are the way to go.
While it would be great if Delta just decided to fly the ATL-CDG route with their brand spanking new A350s fitted with Delta One Suites, I don’t see that happening any time soon… if ever…
Here are just a few better redemptions you can make for that same ~160,000 Skymiles per person:
One – USA to Europe for 140K round-trip in business class
Same destination, less Skymiles!
Two – USA to Asia for 95K miles one-way in business class
Longer trip, better hard product offerings, and better overall availability on the China carriers (China Eastern, China Southern, China Airlines)!
Three – Japan to Australia or New Zealand for for 130k miles round-trip in business class
USA to the South Pacific is notoriously difficult to find award redemptions for – everybody wants them! A better option may be to position to Japan and fly to Australia/New Zealand with Skymiles!
Four – USA to USA for as low as 10k miles round-trip in economy
Skymiles will take you a loooong way when redeeming for short little hopper flights about the USA!
So, with all that noise and everyone around me telling me this is a “bad” redemption, I went ahead and booked it anyway!
And here is why…
What makes this redemption perfect? Timing!
One – A late departure out of ATL
For my wife and I, the accumulation of points and [Sky]miles is easy! The tough part is stretching our corporate provided 3 weeks of paid time off to cover all the vacations and points redemptions we want to make! A late departure time out of ATL (11:54pm) means we do not have to take a day off of work on our day of departure, thereby saving that day for a future trip to be taken.
Two – Just 1 connection through ATL
Being a Tampa based flyer, routing to an end destination in Europe is tough! There are 4 direct flights from Tampa to European cities, but these routes almost never go on sale and are strangely difficult to ever find award availability on. The direct routes didn’t fit, so the next best option would be to connect in a nearby US city – in this case ATL (just a 1hr flight from TPA)!
Three – Coincides with our local Tampa schools Spring Break
There are three times in the year where corporate work seems to stall out – during summer break, Christmas break, and spring break! These are so many people taking time off during these times of the year that everyone is just forced to accept lower productivity. Everyone expects you to take time off during this time, so why not go ahead and meet their expectations. Many of mine and my wife’s coworkers have kids and will be taking off this time (including our bosses), making it great time to also be out of the office.
Of course, these also happen to be some of the most expensive times to travel, but if you plan ahead and catch a destination on a shoulder season (i.e. off peak) these can be the best time to travel!
I paid a 35k Skymiles premium for this redemption, and I think it was well worth it! There are times in this points and miles hobby where the most important thing is in fact the journey (i.e. Singapore Suites, Lufthansa First, Qatar Q-Suites, Etihad Apartments, Emirates First, need I continue?), but in this case, I am just trying to get my wife to France!
Don’t always get so caught up with “good” and “bad” points/miles redemptions. It’s good to understand the value of the different currencies and how they can be leveraged, but keep in mind that the “good” miles redemptions may not always be the perfect one for you!
Have you ever made a “bad” (i.e. paid more points than the lowest level to fly on inferior product) points redemption to meet some other travel need of yours (i.e. better timing!)?