This isn’t news: mileage programs are pathetic. They’re just another travel loss to toss in alongside free checked luggage and on-board nourishment. I’ve got a wallet full of cards: American, Delta, Frontier, Virgin, United, Continental. I used to be the gal who scolded people for not taking advantage of the wonderful perks that umpteen flights to funerals and weddings yielded. Now I just feel foolish.
Last year I wanted to fly my sister to New York on American miles. We were short by 2,000 or so. I thought, hey, buy them and we’ll still pay less than a full fare. But we couldn’t find any flights. Not in August, September, October or November. So, we paid $50 to have the miles extended another 6 months. And we couldn’t find a flight. Not in January or February. Not even in March. In April we bought a ticket. Money saved? Zero dollars. Loyalty rewarded? Absolutely not.
In January, Virgin downgraded me from silver to red in their frequent flier hierarchy. With the demotion went access to their Heathrow lounge and upgraded in-flight entertainment. I’ve got 28,000 miles on Frontier that I thought might buy me a flight to Seattle in July. Correction: it’ll buy me half of a flight. The other segment will cost me $400.
So, what to do with all these miles? Well, I’ve got 45,000 or more on Virgin with which I could participate in their new wine club, Virgin Wine (my dream band name). They’ve gotten me drunk in mid-air, why can’t they get me drunk down here among mortals? I could receive a year’s worth of top-shelf wines in return for kissing away two solid years of loyal business travel on their airline. And with Frontier’s miles I can purchase an edible arrangement on 1-800-flowers.com.
There should be some sort of mileage clearinghouse where one can combine and deposit all their useless miles from various airlines in exchange for…a plane ticket. Now, wouldn’t that be something?