Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How to get the most out of your Airline Miles

Over the weekend I purchased 4 airline tickets to Washington DC for $604.00 total for all 4 tickets!  I got this awesome rate by using a combination of award miles and by using an American Express Delta promotional companion ticket.

When you are planning a vacation to use your airline awards on, be sure to check when the "low" mileage fares are available.  For Delta, there is a calendar that you can pull up that lists which days are low, medium and high mileage days.
On the chart above I did a search for flights from LAX to Maui Hawaii May 1 through May 17th.  The dates have the little dark blue squares on them.  As you can see from the key below the calendar, yellow means it's a "medium mileage" day and the blue squares are "high mileage" days. 
  • Medium mileage for this flight is 65,000
  • High mileage for this flight is 90,000
  • (This destination does not have low mileage days)
So, as you can see, if you can select days on a medium or low mileage day to travel you can get more bang for your miles this way. (our DC trip low mileage was 40,000 each ticket)

Tips for using your airline miles:
  1. ALWAYS link your awards travel number to your reservations.  Even if you don't have an award number when you book the flight, sign up for the FREE program and take your number with you to the airport, they can put it in there for you.
  2. Keep a chart handy of all your mileage number and which airlines. I have all my families award miles on an index cards.  Their names are on the left margin and each airline is across the top.  My kids have had airline miles since they were two years old (when we needed to start paying for their tickets).
  3. Sometimes it's worth paying for your flight rather then using your miles.  If you can find a great airfare price it might be worth saving your miles and paying out of pocket for your ticket.
  4. Check with your airline to see if/when miles expire.  Delta Skymiles NEVER expire. 
  5. Click that your dates are flexible on the "book award travel" link and select low mileage days.
  6. The extra leg work to redeem your miles is worth not paying for your ticket.  When we booked our DC trip we had to do two separate transactions. One over the phone and one online....it was worth it.
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