The paradox of this blog and of increasing the knowledge base of savvy travellers that blogs like this encourage is that if too many people are getting in on a good deal, the deal will be closed.
Let’s take the example of Emirates First Class on Alaska Airlines. This was an incredible deal — 90K miles to the Middle East, 105K to Asia or 100K to Europe (via the Middle East) in first class with no fuel surcharge. Try using your AMEX points to book the same thing directly with Emirates and you’d be looking at an vociferous increase in points required and exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses in the form of fuel surcharges. Now the deal has closed — Alaska has elected to block Emirates first class space (and most business class space too), leaving you with only economy class redemption options. Why? Too many people took advantage of this great deal — it apparently cost Alaska too much money to pay for Emirates first class, so it chose to block the space and instructed agents not to use roundabout methods for securing it.
And that’s just one example.
But there is a time for everything, a season for for every activity under the heavens. The Emirates First Class season with Alaska miles has passed, unfortunately. But there will be new and other opportunities — there always are. For those in the know, resentment can grow when secrets — or at least self-supposed secrets — are laid out in the open for others to benefit from. I understand that anger: yet I find it misplaced, as keeping an objectively incredible deal from a few more people would have kept the deal alive for at most a few more days or weeks. Any deal worth its weight in gold will not last. I may be judicious in sharing some things, but there reaches a point when it is time to open the floodgates and I think that time came in the case of Alaska Airlines miles the moment Alaska began blocking Emirates space…which was several months ago now.
But there remain some incredible deals out there — not “secrets” so much as really solid published deals that illustrate plainly and authoritatively the value of collecting miles and points.
I am speaking in Dallas next month at Frequent Traveler University on this topic and I want to encourage anyone, especially in the Dallas area, to consider attending my talk entitled “Another Perspective on Miles and Points”. There will be many speakers finessing the pros and cons of each airline loyalty program because there is tremendous value in using your miles and points in the right way. Why book one ticket to Europe when you can get two for the same price? (compare Delta vs. Air France) Why book one ticket from Boston to Dublin when you can get three for the same price using points from the same credit card program?
There are incredible deals out there now just waiting to be scooped up — it always amazes me when new clients come to Award Expert having wasted so many hundreds of thousands (or millions) of miles in the past, but I suppose it should not. Miles are indeed a depreciating asset, but when used in the right way can offer tremendous aspirataional (and utilitarian) trips for just a fraction of what most people pay. If everyone were so clever, there would be redemptions for no one — but it is not too late to learn the tricks of the trade.
You can find all the information you need on this blog and others — but there is something different about having that information all consolidated into a 75-minute presentation then being able to ask questions and have them answered immediately.
I think FTU is worth the money — I wish FTUs were offered when I first started this mileage game more than 10 years ago — and I hope to meet many of you at FTU Dallas next month, from April 17-19 at the Hyatt DFW.