The sad cost of January airfare…

I need to fly in January. Not because American is offering double elite qualifying miles, but because I’ve gotta get the heck out of here. Change of scenery, please! Well, the double EQM promo American is running certainly doesn’t hurt in justifying it either. Fortunately I am almost booked for Executive Platinum requalification for next year, including two trips to Spain (confirmed in business class) and one trip to Japan (confirmed in first class).

Unfortunately other than that, airfare is awful. I just pulled up the fares out of Tampa for January using FareCompare’s new map tool, and with the exception of flights to Las Vegas, there’s not a single flight to the west coast for under $300.

This is all pretty ironic, given that the one route that seemed to be cheap was also the one on which they were offering triple elite qualifying miles, out of both Chicago and Dallas. So on one hand you have those that locked in Executive Platinum status for under $2,000, and on the other end of the spectrum you have those of us overpaying to fly.

I have to book something, though I haven’t decided whether to just take the bad fares or sweat it out a bit and wait for them to drop. After all, January is a slow month for travel…

I do intend to visit the InterContinental San Francisco and Andaz West Hollywood sometime during the month, though.

Thanks for listening to me gripe. I’m happy to reciprocate. šŸ˜‰


  1. Join the club. I was going to be doing a ton of same day turns, was able to book one of them, however before I booked the others, fares shot up. Now I’m only going to do one other MR for the month, and end with a total of 25k EQM for the month, and be quite happy with it.

  2. I feel your pain…just had to book business travel DEN-TPA for mid-January….$501 on UA…about $150 more than I figured for the weeks right after the holidays – this used to be some of the best times for cheapo airfares!

  3. We are all in the same boat!! I seriously need to get the heck out of La La Land but the airlines just aren’t playing along…..I might acutally have to spend time with my family. Lord help me!!!!

  4. Lucky, How are you re-qualifying for exec platinum with two business and one first class trip? The points system gives you 1.5 points per miles if you buy a business, first class or full fare ticket and use a SWU? I’ve been trying to figure this out cause it doesn’t add up to 100000 points or miles. I want to do the same instead of flying 20-30 times domestically to re-qualify. Thanks

  5. Lucky, what world are you living in where you consider a flight to the West Coast for ~$300 “expensive”? That’s a freakin’ steal! I realize that Florida airfare is often cheaper than lots of other places, but you’ve still got to recognize that that’s not bad…we’re not living in 2002 anymore. I haven’t consistently seen anything to anywhere on the West Coast for under $400 from my home airports (except maybe the occasional Air Tran flight, which just doesn’t count!) for several years. Hell, I live on the East Coast, and I’m having trouble finding flights to most of the other East Coast cities I need to get to in Jan/Feb for much under $300.

    And my humble two cents of blog-comment thread opinion: You may think you need to fly, but you don’t actually need to fly. Put that $300 in your investment portfolio; if you do that even one out of every four times you think you “need” to fly, you’ll have enough money later in life to buy your international premium class tickets outright. Take advantage of the incredible potential saving power you have as a result of being young, and put some money away!

  6. I’m trying to decide whether to hit the purchase button on a DEQM 3 day trip: DCA-DFW-SAN-LAX-MIA-BOS-MIA-LAX-MIA-LAX-DFW-DCA 33,566 miles for $1,279 (if all the upgrades come through it will be double this šŸ™‚

  7. @ Moody — Will do! Trip isn’t till May, so will be in touch.

    @ Nolan — Sorry for not being clear, as that’s not the extent of my travels. Those are just three of the trips I booked, hence the word “including.” Those three trips alone (with how they’re routed) get me about 50,000 elite qualifying miles.

  8. @ Andrew — Not saying $300 is expensive, per se, but rather just saying that there are almost always options in that price range. That being said, most of the fares I’m seeing are nowhere close to $300 either, but rather $350+.

    As far as investments go, if you have any suggestions, let me know. I’m not a fan of the stock market since I think the downward trend of the US economy isn’t just cyclical, but a sign of the US not being a world leader anymore. So if you know of any low risk, high return investment opportunities, I’m all ears. In the meantime I’m parking my money with Bank Direct.

    @ Ivan — Using miles for a domestic ticket is usually a sin!

    @ Bill — Brutal!

    @ michael — Something tells me American would frown down on that, especially given how much I’ve blogged about it and encouraged lots of people to go for Executive Platinum for under $2,000.

  9. Wow – you’re very lucky, Lucky. Except for YYZ, I can’t *ever* fly *anywhere* for under $300. For me to get to the west coast, anything under $600 is a good deal, under $500 is amazing.

  10. @Andrew- I’m doing 4 trips from IAD to SFO for $258 all in during January and 3 more in February. The fares are there…you just had to book them in late November /early December.

  11. @Lucky–Regardless of where you put your money, my larger point was that you should not always be so eager to spend money you don’t need to spend, and look for opportunities to save money for the long term.

    Here isn’t the place to get into an investment discussion, but I strongly disagree with your reason for staying out of the stock market. Even if the US isn’t a “world leader” anymore, there is still tremendous potential to gain a far higher return on your money than a savings account. That’s like saying no one who invests in the German stock exchange makes any money, because Germany isn’t “the world leader.”

    Also, to your comment about wanting a “low risk, high return” investment opportunity…ha! That’s just not how it works! If you want low risk, keep putting money every month into Bank Direct (actually, looking at their website, their savings rates are terrible…0.15% as their highest rate?! At least go to Ally Bank or ING or someone like that who’s going to give you closer to 1% right now); if you want to make a significantly higher return, then that entails more risk…but if you work at it, that risk can be managed, mitigated, and used to your advantage. If you spent even 10% of the time that you currently take to figure out ways to spend all of these miles and money researching the market, you’ll be able to retire a few years early.

    @Paul–I’m not saying some deals aren’t there, but they haven’t been from where I live (CLT), at least on an airline I want/need to fly. You know the game–As a US elite, I’m not going to start flying AirTran to the west coast unless I had to go and it was literally hundreds of dollars cheaper than any other alternative.

  12. I live in Florida, too, and think you’re a little bit loco to want a change of scenery in the middle of winter *away* from Florida. The scenery is worse just about everywhere else in January.

    I second what Andrew is saying. I don’t think he’s trying to lecture. These EQM promos and other offers work for the airline because they get your cash, and you get a non-vital good. They can be good deals, as your blog has shown, but I can get a better deal by not spending that money.

  13. @Andrew,

    To simplify your comments: “a dollar saved is a dollar earned” and assuming a positive rate of return on investments (not guaranteed on a real basis with ANY investment), with compounding, someday that could be a significant amount of money.

    It is my opinion that Luckyā€™s knowledge of the travel industry is his most valuable asset. I am not sure if he will ever monetize, but his travels (and the expenses of traveling) maintain or increase the value of that asset and therefore can be seen as an investment.

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