I was in DC this past weekend as a member of my cousin’s wedding party. My girlfriend’s sister’s connections got my extended family and I a tour of the Capitol building, courtesy of Senator Reid of Nevada. Having now toured both the White House and the US Capitol, the Capitol tour was FAR more interesting. I can see touring the WH more as a thing to say you’ve done it, but touring the Capitol was really fun. Now onto observations about traveling.
For the longest time, I refused to sign up for frequent flyer programs. It used to be I was flying a different airline every flight, so having 9 different FF numbers that never accrued enough points for anything seemed stupid. Ever since Delta’s acquisition of Northwest, however, I fly Delta 90% of the time as they seem to own the entire Minneapolis airport. I still book online through a discount site such as Orbitz.com, but since I only really *can* fly Delta out of MSP now, I thought it was time to finally sign up for miles. Here’s the thing, I’m not accruing miles because I plan to redeem them for a free flight some day.
I’ve talked to people who do finally try to redeem their miles for flights. First, they have to redeem them through Delta.com (or over the phone with Delta), where a flight is 2.5x as spendy as it is online. And it already taks A LOT of miles to get a ticket at the online price. Second, you can’t just redeem anytime you want, but rather can’t redeem during blackout dates. Finally, miles can, apparently, expire. If miles expire, I don’t travel enough to get much in the way of free flights, maybe one really cheap flight every couple years. And at that rate, I’ll never be in the status that gets upgraded to first-class at the gate when those seats are open. I’m sure it sounds like I’m a frequent flyer now and have no intention of every receiving any benefits. Au contraire mon fraire!
I am sick of flying the overbooked flights and always getting a boarding pass that really just said I was waiting for an open seat. After thinking about it a few years ago, I realized that they don’t do that to their “loyal” customers, which I’m sure they calculate using the frequent flyer miles accrued. So now, I’ve got frequent flyer miles, solely to try to combat being lowest priority on overbooked flights.
Another thing about air travel, is I often don’t check a bag anymore. I’m not going to pay an extra $50 round-trip if I don’t have to, so, like virtually every other traveller, I lug my suitcase around the airport and cram it in the overhead compartment. Delta, of course, has offered me the solution to my problem: get our credit card and you and anyone else on your reservation can check your first bag for free. So let’s assume I wanted a credit card that earned miles.
I could go with Delta’s card and get a free checked bag every flight, or I could go with Capital One’s card and earn more miles per purchase, fly any airline, miles never expire, and there are no blackout dates. Honestly, the free bag seems more tempting to me, considering every complaint I’ve had so far. But it would be even more tempting if the credit card miles counted toward your “status” with Delta. Because that could actaully put me into the class of flyers where I get upgraded to first class on occasion. And first class is amazing. I hate that I’ve flown it multiple times now, because coach is just that much more aggravating.
Considering that it took me 2 years between the realization that frequent flyers are the ones who don’t get bumped and myself finally signing up for frequent flyers, it’ll probably take me 5 years before I decide whether or not to sign up for an airline card. By then, the card will probably just be 10% off a checked bag, and you’ll earn 1/10th the miles per purchase as you do now.