The one benefit of mileage running/accruing points endlessly that really makes it all worth it isn’t so much the ability for me to travel in international first class frequently, but more importantly being able to get my family first class tickets to anywhere in the world for pennies on the dollar.
Take my mom as an example. I remember we did our first “premium” award four years ago on our way to Germany to visit relatives. Upon arrival I asked her how she enjoyed the flight, and she responded “it was nice, but I really don’t care whether I fly first or coach.” While I would never pay for first class out of pocket, at the price I get it (basically coach prices) I think it’s a bargain, so my goal ever since has been to “convert” her and make her truly love travel.
Suffice it to say that her opinion has changed a bit since then. While she’s not a frequent by many of our standards, she does about two trips a year to Europe (often to visit relatives) along with a few domestic trips, so travels maybe 25,000 miles/year. I’m happy to say that all of the international travel for the past few years has been in international first, all thanks to mileage awards. While we could never afford to pay for premium tickets, mileage runs really make it an incredible deal.
Anyway, she was flying back from JFK today on Delta in coach and called me from the Crown Room Club (she has an American Express Platinum card, which gets her access to the lounge), saying how much more stressful travel is when not flying in premium cabins. She said she waited for over an hour in line just to check in her bag, and security also took forever. While she didn’t mind this, it really made her appreciate premium travel.
It’s also important to understand that my mom loves to travel but doesn’t really like flying, understandably so since it’s a miserable experience for most nowadays. Earlier this summer she also did a Lufthansa first class award to Europe, and upon arrival back home she said the flight could have been ten hours longer based on how much she enjoyed it.
Lastly, and this made me laugh, we were talking about her award ticket to Egypt the other day. I said I’d need another week or so to get the miles for a first class award, and she said “business would be fine too.” I responded “OK, so can I save a few extra miles and fly you in coach as well?” She didn’t respond and we both laughed, since she realized just how spoiled she has been travel-wise, and especially realized how much her perspective has changed.
While I enjoy doing mileage runs, they’re by no means glamorous. Getting up at 4AM only to catch a redeye the same night at 11PM on the other coast (2AM where I started), and then sleeping for a couple of hours in an uncomfortable domestic seat on a near weekly basis can be tiring. Still, being able to get premium awards for family members makes it all worth it.
Just a warning….. if you give someone a premium award, they’ll never want to go back!