So everyone knows the basics of earning miles and redeeming them for a free flight, right?  Well, here are some tips on using those miles in a smarter manner and for ways that are applicable to military flyers.

A key fact to remember is that dollar prices of miles almost alway rise the closer you get to the flight’s date.  With miles the price stays constant, although “saver awards” can be gone if you wait too long.  Many people complaing that “saver awards” are so hard to get for the flight that you want that you might as well plan on paying the “standard award”.  My own experience is hit or miss and just consider myself lucky if a saver award is available without trying to book a trip a year in advance.  Life is too hectic for me to plan that far in advance.

With that in mind, use the axiom that if you can lock in a flight far in advance, use dollars, if it is short notice use miles.  The mile to dollar exchange ratio here will be very much in your favor.  So your flgiht for your wedding anniversary = dollars.  The flight to Vegas for your buddy’s bachelor party = miles.

This rule come in handy for a great military benefit, Space-A Travel.  The problem with Space-A is that you are dependent of the Air Force following their schedule and this is often not a good bet.   So while the flight may get you to your destination, you may get stranded for several days there if the bird breaks down or fills up with a priority mission.  FF Miles to the rescue!  Take the flight and use miles for that ticket home if you get stranded.  If you really want to be smart about it, go ahead and book a one way ticket home using miles and cancel it if the flight looks like it is going to be a go.  That gives you a better chance to get a saver award, but make sure you don’t forget to cancel if you don’t need it.

Another great use of miles is for one way tickets.  Some airlines, such as Southwest, Alaska and American, price a one way ticket at half of the round trip price.  Makes sense, but that is not the traditional way airlines priced these.  They priced a one way ticket as half of the full fare price, meaning a discounted round trip ticket could be less than a one way ticket.  United and some of the legacy carriers are still this way, so it creates a real problem to use them for a one way flight.  Only a few years ago, FF programs did not have redemption levels for one way flight, but now most do.  This makes a great value when you have to take a one way flight and save you a lot of dollars.  The military seems to end up in situations where we need to fly one way quite a bit, mostly due to our many moves, but this strategy can come in handy in many situations such as when your kid flunks out of college and wants a one way ticket home.  Just kidding.

Lastly, don’t forget when spending your miles the traditional way to use them for your lovely spouse first and pay for your own seat so you can earn more miles and greater status.

Sorry it has been a while since my last post.  I assumed command last Sunday and things have been a blur ever since.

Posted by glenn | 6 Comments

6 responses to “Best Uses for Miles for Military Members”

  1. Mike says:

    Congrats on your command!

    Speaking of Space-A, a great resource is here:

    It’s the Flyertalk of Space-A.

    My buddy and I are talking about taking 10 days or so and doing hops with our golf clubs. Get on the first plane, land we play a round and then get on the very next flight to some other location.


  2. “Lastly, don’t forget when spending your miles the traditional way to use them for your lovely spouse first and pay for your own seat so you can earn more miles and greater status.”…well said!

  3. Aarash says:

    Congrats on the Command!
    I actually just went to a Space-A briefing and it turns out there is an AMC initiative to have the terminals more “connected.” They have started putting the 72hr schedules on facebook at various terminals around the world, making it easier to see flights and tentative availability. I’ll be writing a full post about it shortly!

    here is the link to the full facebook space-A feed:


  4. Sajer Guy says:

    I second the congrats on your new command! I appreciate your blog entries tying miles and points strategies into the military lifestyle.

  5. jrcole says:

    hi my friends son is stationed in korea and would like to come home to visit 4 christmas they had a benifit friday and raised him 800.00 to help but still not enough is their some other program to help them come home he has not got to come home at all because his family is on a very limited income.thanx so much also my niece and her husband and child leave monday for germany they are in the army she will be over there w/ him for 3 yrs i am sure she would love some info

  6. glenn says:

    @jrcole – $800 should normally be enough to get home from Korea, but it is the holiday period so many of the good fares are gone. E-mail me his desired itinerary and I will conduct my own search for possibilities.

    Glenn (

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