Now comes the most depressing time of the year – when all your EQM totals roll back to zero!  So toast a glass to all the miles and points you accumulated during 2012 and get ready to do the ritual all over again.  To help you out, I have compiled a list of my top ten tips for achieving the status that you desire (or have thrust upon you if you are forced to travel the miles like I do).   These go in to some detail so I will list five now and the remaining five next week.  Feel free to ask for more details as I really could write a page on each one of these subjects.

1.  Plan your year.  Don’t be one of the many who are scrambling next December because they just realized that they need 2,500 miles to make Unobtainium Level on their favorite airline.  Make a simple spreadsheet which lists all your known or probable trips
by month.  If you fly on multiple alliances, total them in separate columns. Now see where you come out on your total for 2013 and decide what level of elite flyer is attainable for you. Now you can judge if you need to reroute a specific trip to get a few
more miles or need to fly a 10,000 mile mileage run to reach your desired level.

2.  Use your redeemable miles wisely.  Award tickets are one of the key benefits to being a FF and spending all those hours on a plane.  There are some that advocate using (burning) your miles as quickly as you earn them so they are not devalued by a future
increase in award redemption requirements in the future.  I say use them, but keep in mind that you are giving up earning EQM when taking an award flight.  A better use may be to pay for your own ticket, but use award miles for your spouse, child, or battle buddy when flying a trip together.

3.  Don’t forget the credit card benefits.  A lot of people focus on the initial bonus miles that CC companies dangle out there to get you to initially sign on, but there are many CC benefits that can help you in other ways.  For example, my Chase Mileage Plus Signature Card gives me 5,000 EQM once I have spent $35k in the year.  As far as I am concerned, the best CC deal out there is the BoA Alaska Airlines VISA Signature.  For a $75 annual fee, you get a companion ticket for $99 anywhere AS flies.  You don’t need AS miles?  No problem – get the card, fly AS with your spouse/ buddy, and credit all the miles to DL or AA.  Friends of mine team up every year to get cheap mileage runs by splitting the cost of flying back and forth a couple of times across the country for half price.  Not hard to get 15-20k EQM out of this.  You can even stop for a mini-vacation at a couple of locations.  Here is a link to Lucky’s One Mile at a Time Blog where he discusses a long list of credit card offers out there.

4.  Keep an emergency supply of miles.  While ticket prices go up the closer to the flying date, the miles required for an anytime award ticket remains constant.  We have all experienced a time, such as a death in the family, which we need to travel at the last minute.  BTW, good luck with “bereavement fares”, those are almost never a good deal.  So keeping 50-100k in miles in your account may save you a lot of money when something last-minute comes up.  This strategy also works well if you are flying Space-A and can’t get a hop back home.

5.  Shoot for early status.  Racking up a bunch of miles early in the year can get you a great start on your earning year and get you some status early to increase your earning amounts later in the year.  For example, let’s say you are starting as no
status at the beginning of the year, by getting Silver in Feb. will get you the 25% bonus RDM in most programs for the rest of your earnings that year and next.  Early status will also increase your chances of a free upgrade on the rest of your flights that year.

So digest those tips for now and I’ll have the rest next week.

Posted by glenn | 3 Comments

3 responses to “Ten Tips for Frequent Flying in 2013, Part 1”

  1. Delta Points says:

    Love this. Great ideas and tips. But we “Delta” flyers call them MQM’s as we are medallions not elites (well sorta) 😉 – Rene

  2. jon says:

    This is very helpful and I appreciate your time in sharing it w/us. I have one strong disagreement. I don’t think the Alaska card is worth a plug nickel unless used exactly as you suggest in your post-which for me at least, is way too much trouble.

    When the companion certificate could be used for a First Class companion, I thought it was a very good card and I had 4 of them between my wife and me which was all we used for our consumer and business expenses. They then changed it to coach only effective 8/1 along w/numerous other downgrades to the card, causing us to change out after 20 years of loyalty. I agree that your link to Lucky’s list is useful and I endorse any of the cards he recommends over the degraded Alaska card. And I should mention BofA offers BAD customer service. Just saying.

  3. DaninSTL says:

    Great points. Thanks for the post.

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