You Can’t Believe Everything You Read Online

I actually came across this article in the print version, but here’s a digital copy of an article in last month’s Travel & Leisure magazine.

Where to start?

“The generally accepted street value per mile is more like 1.4 cents”

I have no idea what street they’re on.  The value of different airline miles is so divergent that throwing out a number like this seems no use to me at all.  Using the average airfare ($361) doesn’t really help a lot here, IMO.  For example, Delta doesn’t do one-way awards, so you pay the same amount of miles (25,000) for a one-way as you do for a round-trip at their lower level.  Averaging a price for all airline miles would be like taking an average of all the world currencies.  Just doesn’t make much sense.

“The study found that 27 percent of Delta flights were available for reward bookings.”

Okay, I have a pretty low opinion of Delta.  But, this is just patently wrong.  Delta has 3 different redemption levels for both coach and premium awards (low, medium and high).  The high category is available for virtually every seat (it used to be every seat according to the head of Delta’s program, but is no longer).  Now, this doesn’t mean that the Delta engine isn’t hopelessly broken.  As View From the Wing pointed out some time ago, you can redeem 720,000 miles to go to Australia.  But, 27% is just completely unrealistic.

Next issue:

Your other option is to turn to your Starwood Preferred Guest program for the miles, moving 40,000 Starpoints into your SkyMiles account (Starwood will give you a 10,000-mile bonus for transferring these points, getting you up to the 50,000-mile mark). But 40,000 Starpoints would also net you a full five nights in a Starwood Category 4 property—even at a low $150-a-night room rate, that’s worth at least $750 in free accommodations.

The better option here, IMO, is to use SPG’s Nights & Flights option.  For 70,000 Starpoints, you get 50,000 airline miles (enough to purchase this elusive Delta ticket) AND the 5 free nights in a category 4 property.  That’s essentially getting 50,000 Delta Miles for 30,000 Starpoints when you consider their example of using the points for a category 4 room.

They also include a scenario about using SPG’s new Flights service.  They somehow found this ticket for 25,000 miles even though Delta is charging 50,000.  I can’t argue that they didn’t find it, because I don’t know what date they searched.  However, I do doubt that they searched the same dates and flights.  I’ve generally found the SPG Flights service to notbe the best deal around.

They do have some good suggestions, like paying for a service to manage your miles (I prefer Award Wallet).

The last point I have a seriousproblem with:

Transferring hotel loyalty points to frequent-flier accounts is generally a bad idea. You’ll wait weeks before they post, and you’ll get better value using points for free rooms or upgrades.

Again, generalities kill them here.  Starwood transfers to American Airlines (and others) generally happen in less than a week, and as little as 3 days, though there are some examples where this isn’t the case.  And, SPG gives you a 25% bonus on any points transferred to the airlines as long as you transfer in chunks of 20,000.  They also transfer at a 1:1 ratio, which is tops in the hotel loyalty world.

There’s some helpful information here, no doubt.  But, someone can learn a lot of bad things more easily than get quality intel on how to maximize those miles and points.

Heck, just go hang out on Milepoint and ask a few questions when you need help.  You’re bound to get better info.

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