Not an opinion piece – more of a question pondered aloud. The truth is, that it just seems like things were easier in the miles and points world back in the day. Back when bonuses for new cards were 5,000 miles, and back when I rarely, if ever, heard of mileage sales with 100 percent bonus offers for buying or gifting miles. My thoughts were prompted not only by yet another “up to” 100 percent bonus from US Airways Dividend Miles®. This is a near monthly occurrence, afterall. But this time, United MileagePlus is even tiptoeing into the fray with its own up to 100 percent bonus offer. My advice is always the same, buying usually only makes sense if you’re topping off your account for a particular award, but that’s neither here nor there.
I’m not the oldest guy I know, but I redeemed my first award in 1989 (I was 19) – they still had paper certificates then, but that’s not my point. My point is that it was easy. Frankly, it’s always been easy, but things have become more challenging. I know I’ve answered my own question several times on this blog, but in an era of 85 percent load factors on the slow days, it means that flights to where people want to go are flying full. Discipline and capacity control are the name of the game, and good for the airlines for figuring that out. Yet they’re still selling miles like crack. We’re all minting them like money, myself included. It’s going to come to a head at some point. Just a thought for Wednesday morning as I fondly reflect upon simpler times in miles and points.
-MJ, September 3, 2014