I’ve been noticing more and more people getting worried about the future of their miles. I’ve been emailed by several people asking about the fate of their miles, and I’ve also seen much buzz about it. It seems like most of this stems from the cutbacks which have been announced in the past couple of days, which confuses me.
If you ask me, the fact that these cutbacks are happening is a reason not to worry about your miles going bye-bye. If everything continued the way it was before, the industry would without a doubt be going straight into the gutter (no connection through O’Hare necessary), but the fact that they’re taking these precautions and downsizing should be every reason to be at ease, at least as far as the miles actually existing in the future goes.
The concern that’s actually legitimate, in my opinion, is whether or not it will become harder to redeem miles. I think it really depends on what you spend them on. I’d say awards on US airlines, especially for domestic awards, will become more difficult, but I doubt it’ll be that much of a change, since they’ve had dramatic cutback over the years as it stands right now. I also doubt we’ll feel it much on partner awards, since most foreign carriers aren’t doing quite as much downsizing as their US counterparts.
Another question I’ve been asked is what happens when you book an award on a flight that ends up being cancelled in advance due to the airlines trimming their schedules. Assuming you’re flying the airline that’s issuing the award, they’ll almost always book you on another flight, even if there’s no award inventory. It shouldn’t be a major consideration at this point, since no one really knows which flights will be cut or rescheduled.
All that being said, as I always say, burn baby, burn, and there has never been a better time! Having a seven digit mileage balance might be nice to look at, but your miles are decreasing in value everyday, regardless of where the industry goes. There’s no question in my mind we’ll see more and more of these BS fees and maybe even fuel surcharges, not to mention less inventory and an increase in the mileage cost for awards, as we’ve recently seen AA do. If you have the miles and have the time to use them, do it! I know I’m already looking for another award with my AA and UA miles right now, but figuring out when I’ll have time to travel is the issue.