The End of Airline Miles As We Know It

CIMG9424We just returned from a quick getaway to Istanbul. I know what you’re thinking…quick and Istanbul shouldn’t be in the same sentence when you live in the Washington DC area. So why take a 3 day getaway to a place that is over 5,000 miles away each way? Well, the “rational” response to that question, is that it was a very inexpensive trip and we couldn’t pass up a great deal to a historic location that is also a shopping mecca. That is true, the price was crazy cheap and through my agency link I was able to book the airfare and hotel for less than the cost of just the flight alone direct through United. But the real decision maker was the miles.

Beginning March 1st, United is joining the other airlines who have decided that earning miles will be based on dollars spent and not distance flown. As my husband Tim and I thought more about the impact of this change on our potential status on United, we decided to stay on the lookout for one last distance trip on the cheap before the end of February. Sure enough, Turkey was the winner.

Let me breakdown what that means in mileage earned:

Based on the current miles earned for distance flown system, we will each earn 10,875 miles for distance to Turkey, but with my bonus miles because of my status I earned a total of 14,812 miles.

Under the new miles for dollars spent system, the earning is based on the value United assigns to the discounted airfare as a part of the package. $416 was the airfare price, now referred to as PQD (points qualifying dollars). As a Premier Gold member, I have a multiplier of 8 for PQD spent.

If I took that trip after March 1st, I would have received 3,328 miles…11,484 miles less then I receive now. As I said, it’s the end of miles as we know it. Well, what’s done is done and at the end of the day, I’m still married to United. So, if you plan to take a short getaway before March 1st

Here are a few tips to enjoying short term distance travel:

1st Enjoy the journey as much as the destination! If you already have airline status, the airline lounges are your key to rest, entertainment, food and beverages. International lounges always have free alcohol, often in a serve yourself set up. So why not try a new drink or enjoy your standard preference. Either way many of my friends will tell you the vacation begins when the first beverage is served.

2nd – Bring entertainment with you. Our connecting flight was delayed (no surprise when you travel in the winter) but since we connected in Toronto, we were able to just extend our time in the Maple Leaf lounge. We always travel with an iPad loaded with movies and we also have books. We found a quiet area with comfy chairs and my hubby read to me. It’s amazing the little things that don’t take much effort and are really romantic, but in everyday life we never find the time. Since we like to begin vacation once we hit the airport, we took what others may consider a negative (a delay) and turned it into quality time together.

3rd – Sleep on the plane. Some people can naturally sleep on a plane. If you are not one of those people, sometimes a Benadryl is your friend. It serves a dual purpose, stops any allergic reaction you may have to something on the plane and puts you to sleep for at least 4 hours. Also, bring an eye mask! Shutting off all light from your eyes will aid in your sleep efforts.

4th – Be prepared to caffeinate when you land. You’ve landed, in a country that 7 hours different from your time zone…let me guess, you’re tired. Of course you are, but don’t let that hold you back. Drink some coffee or tea, or eat chocolate. Even drinking water will help wake you up, that and the cold air when you walk outside. If you arrive in any location before 3pm, there is a likelihood that you won’t be able to check in. No worries, plan for it and hit the streets. Grab a map from the concierge and start your touring immediately. If you sit still you will want to go to sleep anyway. Try the local food and drinks. Almost every country has a caffeine drink that they are famous for and we had Turkish coffee and Turkish tea upon arrival. Another trick is to pack Crystal Light Energy packets and pour it in a water bottle. Don’t give in to exhaustion, you have your whole life to sleep.

5th – Take a full city tour then visit the key spots. Most CIMG9516major destinations have a “hop on hop off” bus tour. They are normally 2-3 hours at the most to circle the whole city. If you are visiting a city for a short period of time, I recommend that tour to get a general overview along with the history of the town in a quick time frame. Then, take some time to go back and go inside the key tourist spots. You don’t want to be the person that went to Paris but forgot to see the Eiffel Tower. The hop on hop off tour will bring you past all of those major sites so that you can at least get a picture of the highlights.

To close this article, I had to reference a Huffington Post article and say thanks to my friend Adena for tagging me in her post on FB! It is such a generous compliment to say that this article makes her think of me.

“How To Avoid One of The Most Common Life Regrets via @HuffPostTravel”

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