As Airlines Crack Down, You Can Rack Up Your Frequent Flier Miles, George Clooney-Style
As George Clooney’s frequent flier miles-hoarding character says in “Up in the Air,” “The miles are the goal.” But for real-life travelers accustomed to racking up as many miles as possible to earn heavily discounted (or completely free) fares, that goal is getting far more elusive. Last week United Airlines announced that starting next year, it will calculate loyalty rewards points, or miles, based on how much fliers pay per ticket, instead of how many actual miles they fly. Delta recently announced a similar change to its program.
United’s changes to its frequent flier program are expected to hurt budget-conscious travelers (Photo: Getty Images)
“It’s a net loss for consumers,” says Brian Kelly, founder of the travel blog, The Points Guy. He notes that the airlines’ new rewards policies will primarily benefit the big-spending business and first-class customers who pay top dollar to fly short distances. “But in general,” Kelly says ominously, “the flying public will earn less miles.”
But fear not, weary traveler. In the airlines’ new world order, loyalty rewards travel is still possible for the budget-conscious traveler who wants to boost their points totals but can’t afford to do so by buying $1,000 first-class tickets to Omaha. So as airlines continue to get stingy with their points, here are five tips on how to pad your frequent-flier balance, Clooney-style.