Burning bmi miles is fun (not)!

I’ve been collecting bmi miles here and there for quite a while now, and have amassed a total of about 90,000 miles. So far I haven’t had a need to use them, but with the recent bmi “scare” over their program potentially being merged into Miles & More, I started looking at options. Even when it turned out the “scare” was just a misunderstanding, there are still constant rumors of the award chart being devalued very soon.

There’s no doubt that they have a very generous award chart, especially if you take advantage of their “cash and points” option, which allows you to only pay about half the number of miles if you pay a cash supplement. But I’m looking to burn my miles without parting with too much cash. It just doesn’t feel like a “reward” ticket when you’re spending $1,000, in my opinion! Little did I realize how indecisive I am at planning awards when fuel surcharges are involved, which bmi makes passengers pay.

My first thought was that I’d go to Europe in business class. It’s a mere 67,500 miles per person, and I figured I’d visit some places I hadn’t seen and fly some airlines I hadn’t flown. Usually I shoot for first class, which is why I haven’t tried airlines like Austrian, Continental, LOT, SAS, etc. Besides, that would allow me to visit cities like Vienna, Warsaw, Copenhagen, Stockholm, etc., which I haven’t visited before. Then I realized that bmi doesn’t allow any stopovers within Europe, apparently, and that such an award would cost me quite a bit in fuel surcharges. Hmm, nevermind.

Then it was pointed out to me that US Airways doesn’t typically charge fuel surcharges. Now, while I usually wouldn’t fly US Airways, they do have their new “Envoy Suites” product which is installed on five of their seven A330-200 aircraft as of now, which means I’d have a pretty good shot at getting it. And it does look quite decent, so I might as well take a trip to Paris, a city that I always enjoy visiting (and with lots of free nights from Hyatt’s “Big Welcome Back,” an accompanying stay at the Park Hyatt Vendome wouldn’t be all that bad either).

But then bmi has that lovely rule whereby you essentially can’t fly domestic first class on United or US Airways on a business class award. Since those cabins are technically “tagged” as first class (as opposed to “business class,” like Continental and any every foreign airline does), you’d have to pay the three cabin first class price to fly them through bmi. Now, do I really want to fly all the way to Philadelphia in coach?

At that point I go full circle and start over again. Isn’t it worth paying a fuel surcharge to fly Continental first class to Newark and then continue to Europe from there in BusinessFirst?

While I help a handful of people plan their award trips each week, I can’t plan my own, for the life of me!

And that’s only the beginning…

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. Lucky. You were able to find CO BusinessFirst standard availabilty to Europe? Wow…. something I haven’t been able to do lately with any kind of notice. (Finding standard F availability on the TPA to EWR is doubly lucky!)

  2. @ Tom — It has actually been surprisingly good as of late.

    @ Gary — Thought of that, but it just makes it worse in my opinion. TPA-EWR and then EWR-PHL on a prop doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun to me.

  3. Lucky, not sure if it’s a typo or a misunderstanding but it isn’t 67500 miles round trip from the US to Europe (zone 2) in Business.

    In Business, it’s 75,000 miles + taxes. If you choose the miles + cash option, it’s 37,500 + £255 + tax.

    In First, it’s 125,000 miles + tax. Miles plus cash is 62,500 + £425 + tax. (The latter being unavailable for trips on LH as I’m sure you know).

  4. So, BMI does not charge fuel surcharges on partners who don’t charge it? Like UA or US. Sounds very good.

  5. al613: UA does have YQ. And I think that BMI does charge YQ on carriers that don’t have it. Also, it is based on whether the airline charges YQ on a ticket sold in the UK (set POS to LON on ITA).

  6. I believe you can redeem NZ on BMI without YQ (despite the fact that NZ does have YQ), but I am yet to try this.

    BTW, there’s also a US number that you can call: 800-788-0555. Only problem is the limited UK working hours. The ICC closes at 12 pm PST.

  7. Thanks abcx. For all such issues they sent me to ICC where it takes tonn of time to do anything. Still worth it, just looking for a shorter way to figure it out. May be i should post this question on FT.

  8. Have they recently changed the rules re: domestic US F? Last time I booked a bmi J reward all my segments in the US were in F, transatlantic in J.

    Seems like your getting screwed with the EU stopover rules. Perhaps its because its a UK based program but I have managed to get some great itineraries. For the 67,500 miles I have previously booked an award from LON – SAN with a stopover in DTW on the way and NYC on the return. Ended up being 8 sector J trip including SQ J. Perhaps a TATL J trip isn’t the right use of your bmi miles. I know people have managed to get some great itineraries going east from zone 2.

  9. You can suck it up from PHL-TPA in coach in order to ride PHL-Europe in US’ new envoy suites product…. it can’t be THAT bad.

  10. @lucky – There’s a lovely thread on the Diamond Club Forum about “Please report your redemptions 2010” – could be useful for research purposes. 😉

    @JTB – The rules were loose and weren’t enforced as much. BMI and the call centre have decided to tighten up on them dramaticily recently due to abuse of the shortest sector rules.

    Long Haul TATL is probably worth it – a EWR trip is hardly worth it across the pond.

    @DiscoPapa … umm. It’s US Airways. Apart from the Jewel in the crown lounge at PHL, it could be that bad depending which crew you get…

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