On December 26, 1985, my Dad signed me up for my first frequent flyer account, it was with American Airlines. I don't remember this, but it must have been for a family vacation.The only reason I know this date now, it that it is listed on my frequent flyer profile with American Airlines . He passed away 5 years later. I remember pre-internet my Dad would plan upcoming trips on the dining room table, maps and brochures everywhere, letters to and from Hotels. He came by his navigation and planning skills honestly; he was a Navy Pilot so “wheels up” was in his DNA. It's also in mine.
From my Dad, I learned the importance of tracking your miles and getting credit for them because that is how you get free trips, right? Yep! I think we all know that part, but nowadays there are so many more perks to these loyalty programs that you really should keep track. The airlines want to reward you for flying with them and they want you to keep coming back. It costs a lot more for them to go out and find new customers than it does to keep existing ones like you and me coming back.
There are many ways that you can earn miles towards your favorite airlines. Stays at hotels, car rentals, restaurants and credit cards are some ways to get miles that you can use to fly for free. The other side of that is that when you actually fly with them you start to gain STATUS…which is what I love. I have had Gold Status on American Airlines for a very long time, with American Airlines, Gold status is achieved by flying 25,000 miles with them and to me, it’s a big deal.
I get 1.5 miles for every mile I fly, which means I get a free trip faster
I get to choose my seat in advance so there is not the fear of being stuck in a middle seat in the back.
I get my first checked bag for free instead of paying the $35
I get to early board with the priority groups which is a big deal when it comes to overhead space.
I get to go through the priority or first-class line when I check in at the airport and drop off my bags
I earn upgrades for 1st class for every mile I fly so that I can upgrade to first class if there is space.
I have even gone so far as to take a cheap flight somewhere (anywhere) in the last weeks of the year to get enough miles to keep my Gold status. That may sound crazy, but here’s the thing: as airlines work to keep their fares low, they have started eliminating anything free. We know that there are no more meals and no more pillows but airlines like Southwest and Allegiant (both great airlines that I use) charge for everything.
You want to bring something more that a purse? They charge you.
Want to use the overhead bin? They charge you.
Want to choose your seat? They charge you.
Want to board first, have a paper boarding pass or drink some water? You guessed it, they charge you.
I feel like paying a higher fare..even $50 or more is worth it because I will be getting miles on my preferred airline and it would cost more to pay for all of those little things separately with one of the discount airlines!
So sign up every chance you get with all of the airlines, they will make it worth your while and here’s a little nugget. Once you’ve flown One Million Miles on American Airlines, they make you GOLD for life.
I’m not quite there yet, but I will be by the end of this year so thanks to my pops for looking out for the younger me and signing me up back in 1985. I miss that guy every day!
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