Posted in Flying on Miles, Travel

How to Decide: Buying Air Tickets versus Redeeming Miles for Free Tickets

This is how I decide but you can make your own decision, there is nothing written in stone. Please note that my reasons are based on my own personal preference; you can certainly save toward a free ticket to Africa, Asia or Australia but if you want to fly domestic, go ahead and fly domestic.

It “costs” 25,000 miles for a domestic air ticket to fly within the continental USA. I live in the USA and have already been to most US states, seen every national park and waterfalls, famous vineyards, beaches, lakes and major cities. I visited Alaska, every island of Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. I doubt I left anything out so technically I can now cross out the great US of A with Canada and focus on other countries.  In addition to that I would hate to waste 25,000 miles on domestic tickets because if I were to travel locally, I could get good deals.  Additionally, I can physically drive to nearby states from Washington, D.C. to the Canadian border and Florida, stretching west to West Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky.

It “cost” 50,000 miles to get a free ticket to Europe and I gladly choose Europe over anything, there is a lot of history there, metropolitan cities, good food and the Mediterranean Sea.  The countries are very close to each other, you drive a few hours in any direction and people are already speaking a different language.  There are a lot of European airlines to choose from and many of them are participating in reward programs so I’m pretty much covered from British Airways to Lufthansa, from Air France to Alitalia, from Iberia to SAS, etc. and I love free layovers in major cities.  By the way, 50,000 miles will take you to Latin-America too!

If I were to pay for a European air ticket out of pocket: I have set my limit to $600 but you can set your own limit to whatever amount. I’m very savvy and not willing to pay more than that.  What it means in my case is that if a ticket costs over $600, I rather wait until I have enough miles to fly for free.  European air tickets below $600 are very reasonable so no need to waste 50,000 miles. If I have 50,000 miles I rather save it for more expensive tickets.

Wow Air is one of the lowest cost carriers on the east coast so don’t be surprised to find airfares to Western European and Scandinavian countries for a few hundred dollars one way.  From Boston to Iceland fares start from $99 one way, from Baltimore to Iceland they start from $199! No wonder it is called WOW air! 🙂 I would never waste my miles to these cities, I rather pay for these and save my miles for something else I cannot afford!

Any questions? 🙂

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