Saturday, June 28, 2008

Thoughts on Air Travel

With exploding gas prices, air fares have skyrocketed and the airlines are reeling. However, this is actually good news for certain frequent fliers like myself.

Miles Have More Valuable - Airlines over the years have consistently increased the number of miles required for a free ticket to the point where frequent flier miles were hardly worth anything. With higher gas prices and corresponding ticket prices, all the sudden the leverage is back on the side of the consumer.

So I just cashed in the equivalent of $3200 using nothing but points. I did have to move my plans around to correspond with blackout dates and the like, but at these prices it was well worth the shuffle.

Status Means More - Those of us who are frequent travelers are seeing other benefits since we are the business airlines crave the most. For example, the new nickel and diming policies are largely bypassing us:

Customers who purchase domestic economy class tickets on or after June 15, 2008 will be charged $15 each way for the first checked bag and $25 each way for the second checked bag...Exceptions to this policy include customers who purchase First or Business Class tickets, AAdvantage Executive Platinum®, AAdvantage Platinum® and AAdvantage Gold® members

Consolidation Helps Frequent Travelers - As airlines band together to survive, it means that we will be getting to the point that there are only a couple of airlines left - or at least only a couple frequent flier programs left standing. This means that all miles can start going into a single master bucket instead of being spread out around multiple airlines. For me, the United/Continental merger is a very good thing:

Continental and United today announced plans to cooperate globally, linking our networks and services worldwide to deliver new benefits to you. In addition, Continental plans to join United in the Star Alliance®, the most comprehensive airline alliance in the world...
First and foremost, this partnership will include new frequent flier reciprocity that will enable you to earn miles when flying on either airline and redeem awards on both carriers. Travel on either carrier will count toward earning elite status. Similarly, members of either airline's airport lounge program will have access to both Continental's Presidents Club network and United's Red Carpet Club® lounges.

These are all good for me - as long as traveling stays a part of my job description.

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