22 Jan 2011

Do Miles Matter?

Posted by AC

I like Virgin Airlines. I particularly liked my transcontinental business class trip on Virgin America. I like the Virgin lounge in Heathrow. And I LOVE business class when east-bound transatlantic. I’ve had worse nights of sleep in hotels than on that “red eye” (I’m looking at you Barcelona Pensione!) Obviously, I’m a Virgin flying club member.

That was then. This is now.

Now, each transatlantic flight comes directly out of my own pocket and I’m in uncertain financial waters as I try to start a transatlantic business. We’re in floundering early stages. We’re on the prowl for the cheapest office space that will keep us working together and out of the home. We’re taking jobs because they’ll bring income, not because they’ll play to our strengths. And, I’m looking to get across the pond at rock-bottom prices. For my next flight (planned for mid-March) I’ve been comparison shopping. BA is $50 cheaper than Virgin flights, and while my BA flights have been quite nice, and they offer more flight choices, there are other reasons to avoid BA: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/8274750/British-Airways-cabin-crew-vote-for-fresh-strikes.html

I’ve looked at Virgin’s “Miles + Money” – If I spend 3000 miles instead of earning it, I can save $30, or less than 5% of the ticket cost.

So, I looked at what if I just do “Miles”. Well, I can’t return the first week of April. Nor the second week of April. Indeed, of the 30 days in April, there are just 8 I could possibly return on. Further, I spend a good percentage of miles, and still pay $416.00 in “Tax, Fees and surcharges”, and of course, I’m still in the back of the plane. That’s over 60% of the cost of the ticket if I’d just bought it! My “loyalty” to Virgin doesn’t seem to be so valuable after all.

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