When Does It Make Sense To Buy Airlines Miles?


Airlines seem to have almost never ending mileage sales nowadays. Some airlines literally have an offer out monthly (e.g. US Airways), where airlines like American and United tend to have less frequent sales. I do write about these sales here on LoyaltyLobby when they pop up, with my opinions.


A LoyaltyLobby reader sent me an email last week and wanted to get my opinion… when do I think that it is good to buy miles and at what price?

Targeted United Airlines Buy Miles Offer At 40% Discount


United just sent out a targeted offer, likely for those that purchased miles last year, to purchase up to 100K miles at 40% off of the usual price.


This offer is valid only using the from the email that United sent and the Mileage Plus number is embedded. I cannot provide a link for this purchase. For those that received this offer, must make the decision to purchase or not the miles by midnight CST on February 18, 2013.

Financial Times Article About Problematic Airline Rebrands


There was an interesting piece about some recent airline rebrands in the Financial Times. You can access the article here.


People have very strong opinions about the recent AA’s rebranding and about United’s attempt to mix and match part Continental’s & United’s former branding. This is a very good and short read. You should check it out.

Double Miles at Fairmont Hotels Until April 30 (Book By Jan 31)

Fairmont is offering double airline miles (American Airlines, Air Canada, Cathay Pacific, United & Air China) for stays until April 30, 2013, that are booked using “Everyone’s an Original Winter” offer by January 31, 2013. You can access this offer here.


There are some blackout dates that are property specific. The base number of miles (500) is doubled. The doubling of miles doesn’t apply to the elite bonuses.

United Selling Premier Qualifying Miles Again – Targeted Offer


United has again made an offer for number of Mileage Plus members to purchase up to 15K elite qualifying miles that would apply towards 2012 totals and thus 2013 status. The price of these elite qualifying miles is dependent of the Mileage Plus status that you have.


You can try accessing this offer here. It didn’t work for me. There is a lively discussion about this on FlyerTalk and one of the member’s (WineCountryUA) compiled a list of these options based on the numbers that members at different premier levels had posted:

United’s January Buy Miles Offer and Why It Doesn’t Make Any Sense

I value my United Mileage Plus miles highly due to the flexibility of using them for convoluted award trips and because United allows both a stopover & double open jaw on its awards. Also, I love the ability to book these awards on United.com without having to call customer service.


Today, I received an offer from United Airlines to buy miles at 25% discount. (Note that I cannot provide a link because it is personalized with my UA account number)

United Airlines Status Match Campaign


It is usual for airlines to match each others statuses as long as the match is from a competing alliance. Airlines tend not to match from their alliance partners i.e. United won’t match status from Lufthansa as they are both in Star.

United has long had a status match program and they have just updated the terms and conditions of this program. You can read more about this challenge on United’s website.


The following requirements are valid for matches done between January 1 and January 31, 2013. It is unclear, at thus time what the requirements are going to be later in the year and if United is going to change the match requirements from time to time.

Have you matched with United recently? How long did it take and what status you used for the status match? Leave a comment below.

Changes to PQM Earnings on Partner Airlines and United’s Response

It was reported earlier in the week on FlyerTalk that United had been changing the elite qualifying (PQM’s) miles that you can earn on partner airlines. United didn’t make any official announcement about this change, but rather than just updated the tables on its website.

UA Insider PQM Reply
UA Insider PQM Reply

I just went through all the United’s PQM earning partner airlines and compared the current charts on United.com to what I was able to pull up from Google cache. This also confirms what United representative posted.

Airline Cabin Lounges from The Past: American, Qantas & Continental


There was an interesting post yesterday with some photos on Cruise Line History website regarding airline cabins back in the day of glorious air travel (that was unaffordable for most).

It makes you wonder, what went so wrong with the airlines, especially with the US ones, that made them buses of the sky of today?

American Airlines Coach Lounge on 747

American Airlines Coach Lounge
American Airlines Coach Lounge

This actually looks really nice and could be a lounge somewhere in 2013. Bet that the FA is still working for AA?

United Premier Accelerator on Sale?


United has been very eager for selling award and premier qualifying miles (PQM’s) for any itinerary that you access on United.com. It doesn’t matter, whether it is a paid or an award ticket. I just wrote about these last month and you can access the article here.


Now, that we are in 2013, United is selling PQM’s at much lower price than at the end of 2012. The award miles are still priced at 2.1 cents, but the PQM’s are sold for 8.5 cents instead of 15 cents in December.

Why I Love Using United Miles for Intra-Asia Trips?


Although there is greater number discount airlines in Asia, some of the mid-haul routes are still rather pricey. Especially, if you are buying the ticket in short notice. I really like using my United miles for these flights that allow me to essentially to have double open jaw with a stopover ticket for a price of a simple return.


My schedule was somewhat open after the new year, but I was trying to make my way down to Jakarta from Bangkok by Friday. My favorite way of getting to Jakarta is to buy a cheap one-way or return ticket on KLM that still operates one of the few fifth freedoms they have left in Asia on KUL-CGK route that is always very competitively priced.

Good Value United Award: Helsinki to Budapest on Lufthansa Y


I haven’t had too many pieces about good value awards this year and I always say that people should only redeem for international business or first class seats. Oh well. Sometimes it does make sense to redeem for economy flights as well.

United Award HEL-BUD LH Y 12500 Miles + $40.90
United Award HEL-BUD LH Y 12500 Miles + $40.90

Flights within Europe can be expensive at times if:

1. You are looking for one way

2. City pair not served by any low cost carrier

3. You are booking in short notice

All these happened to apply for me last week. I was looking for a one way flight from Helsinki (preferably from Kokkola) to Budapest to connect to an Egypt Air flight on 26th of December. The airline activity is heavily curtailed on 24th and 25th of December and there was no flight before early 26th out of Kokkola but too late to make my connection in Budapest.

There was, however, an option via Helsinki leaving on late on 25th and arriving to Budapest in the morning of 26th after an overnight in Frankfurt. One way United awards in economy cost 12500 within Europe in economy and the taxes/fees came to reasonable $40.90 for this itinerary.

I probably need to play around this with more, as it is somewhat waste just to redeem for one way when United has very flexible rules including double open jaw + stopover in return awards. Essentially, you can almost have three one ways within a return if you can do it correctly.


I highly value my United miles for the flexibility that they offer. For now, I don’t have to pay any expedite or reissuance fees due to Premier 1K status. This will change next year, however. We’ll see if I still like the program as much as I do today.

Using United Miles for Gift Cards & Other Merchandise

United just sent out an email to remind people that they can use United miles to pay for select merchandise and, for limited time only, for gift cards as well. These are usually the worst way of redeeming miles/points from various programs as the monetary value associated with a mile tends to be really low.


Amazon Kindle Fire 32 GB $264 or 47900 Miles (35200 for 1K)



Amazon Android tablet for $264 at Amazon or for 47900 United miles. The value of a mile is about half of a cent at $0.0055. For 1K’s, the price is 35200 valuing the mile at three quarters of a cent $0.0075.

Brother Compact laser Printer $119 or 30600 Miles (22800 for 1K)



Brother laser printer that Amazon sells for $119 can be had for 30600 miles ($0.0039 per mile) or for 1K’s at 22800 miles ($0.0052 per mile)


United is now offering gift cards for miles for a limited time, at least per the email that I received. The value associated with the gift cards are somewhat better than with the merchandise rewards above.


You can buy Amazon gift cards valuing the mile at $0.0071 and some others valuing miles at $0.008.

Does it make sense to use miles for buying gift cards and other merchandise?

For the most part, the answer is a definite no. If you fly hundreds of thousands of miles per year and have more United miles that you can ever dream of using in rest of your life, then you have my approval of using them for merchandise and gift cards.

If you, however, use United credit cards and then use your miles for the merchandise above, you are doing a disservice for yourself.


The fair value of a United mile is somewhere between 1.5 to 2 cents each, when you use them wisely. I would never redeem my miles at these values that are just plainly put horrible.

Complimentary Regus Businessworld Gold Lounge Membership for United Premiers


United Premier members, not sure if limited to Premier1K’sonly, now have an additional benefit of Business Lounge access at more than 1200 Regus locations worldwide. The fee of joining to Regus Businessworld Gold is waived for United Premier members. I received an email from United yesterday about this.



You can try singing up here and see if they accept your Mileage Plus number. I have previously been a member of Regus through an offer that they had extended to Delta’s SkyClub members.


You never know when an access to an office space where one can quickly do emails or have an access to a meeting place can come handy.



Regus has often been extending the base level Businessworld Gold access to tier members of number of airlines. You can utilize their business lounges and refreshments free of charge, but obviously charges apply if you need additional help like a conference room.

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