BBC Fast Track Program’s Take About Frequent Flier Miles

by John Ollila on July 14, 2013

This morning, I had the hotel TV set on BBC World New and saw that there was going to be a feature on Fast Track weekend travel program about frequent flier miles or airline miles as they called them. I had to delay going to breakfast for half an hour to catch the show. You can access BBC Fast Track program’s website here.

bbc-fast-track

The show featured two set of travelers; BA Gold member that was trying to redeem for Cyprus or Sydney and a couple that were trying to use their Singapore Airlines KrisFlier miles for their sons 30th birthday in Singapore. They both failed!

British Airways Executive Club Gold Member

bbc-fast-track-ba

There were nothing available to Paphos in July or to Sydney for some other time the Executive Club member was trying to redeem.

BA refused to comment on camera but rather just issued a statement that both are high demand destinations and that award seats were not available.

The segment also included a statement about very high taxes/fees and fuel surcharges on award tickets and especially ones issued on BA and this is really the case.

ba-matrix

There are occasions where fuel surcharges that I call a scam charge constitutes majority of the fare and this is also charged on award tickets. Just did a fare search for London to Sydney on British Airways and the fuel surcharge was more than the base fare.

KrisFlier Award On Singapore Airlines

bbc-fast-track-sq

The couple on the second segment seemed to be somewhat less traveled and they made a mistake to top of their KrisFlier account at the time of redeeming the award ticket and it ended up costing with everything included 30% more than a paid ticket on the same dates.

The paid ticket was around 1200 (not sure about the currency) and the price for the award ticket was around 1600.

You should always check the price of the paid ticket. The paid fares are often low and when the fuel surcharge constitutes most of the fare, it rarely makes sense to redeem for economy class flights.

Fast Track Trips

The gentleman suggested the following three tips for award ticket success:

1. Book early

- This is not always the case anymore. The award inventory is entire dynamic and there is no guarantee that award seats would be available for awards at the time the flights is loaded to be booked.

2. Buy cheap fare and upgrade

- Many airlines require you to book more expensive fare in order to upgrade using miles or use both miles and cash to secure the upgrade. Not often a very good deal

3. Keep looking

- This was the best of the three advise. The award space often opens up very close to the departure date especially in the premium cabins. You can often secure a business or first class seat within a week of departure when the airline is quite confident about the loads and number of seats they are able to sell.

Conclusion

I have almost always been able to redeem for award tickets, when they have made sense paid vs. award. It helps that I am divested miles wise and use all of the three alliances, which each have their strength and weaknesses network and award availability wise.

And above all you really need to be an informed consumer today or all these airlines will take you for a ride that likely will not benefit you at all.

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  • TravelingJewel

    BA is so hard to book on. I’m considering using my 120k miles with them for a few nights at a hotel rather than flights.

    • http://loyaltylobby.com/ John O.

      You have to be very flexible and book likely on partners, but connecting flights outside of Europe are priced segment by segment.

  • broguy

    The only place the BA miles (Avios) seem to be worth something is for Domestic US tickets on their oneworld partner, American. SFO-HNL or SFO-OGG seem to be the best bang-for-the-BA mile. Although, short non-stop connections on AA on the US mainland are also great (4500 miles + $2.50). Redemption of Avios on BA-operated city pairs appears to be a waste with the fuel surcharge effect.

    • http://loyaltylobby.com/ John O.

      There are of course instances where BA Avios can work like the short haul hops you mentioned in the United States. Remember that you can use miles on Alaska flights as well.

  • Sebastian P

    Singapore Air Kris Miles are really easy to use and they have a lot of availability since they reserve so much space for their own members. They also allow 15% online redemption discount, yet the fuel surcharges are rather high. It makes rarely any sense to top up miles by buying it from the airline for normal prices unless you are only a few thousand miles short in my opinion. Especially not for a ticket in Economy Class. BA Miles are hard to use, especially from the UK. I recommend trying for their oneWorld partners who also have much lower surcharges. Departing from the UK in general is bad in terms of taxes. The ‘Luxury Tax’ Surcharge in Premium Classes has gotten completely out of hand.

    • http://loyaltylobby.com/ John O.

      Totally agree. The KrisFlier miles are useful but not the way this couple was trying to use them. It might take a long time to get the number of miles that you can do something with, however.

  • jerrymandel

    It’s simple. Never use airlines which have high fuel surcharges-especially BA.

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