Upgrades can be a good way to spend miles, but some flights make more sense than others. Typically, I would not consider upgrading any flight less than 3 hours with miles. Even with that, there are some caveats such as I’d likely not spend the miles if there is no meal service. Let’s look at the mileage upgrade costs for a domestic flight on American Airlines using miles.

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But like most all things, there can be exceptions to my upgrade rules. It costs 15,000 miles and $75 for an upgrade from a discount fare domestically on American. (I do get a 10% rebate on the redemption thanks to my Barclaycard.) This is one spot where Dividend Miles made a lot of sense for domestic flyers. If you remember, they had a mileage upgrade chart that was distance based, and was a little less painful for shorter flights if you wanted to upgrade with miles. But we are where we are. That’s just 10K less than a domestic roundtrip ticket, and really isn’t a good value to me for most flights, especially DFW-ATL, which is the flight I’m considering upgrading.

Wait, what? Yes, that’s right, I’m upgrading my return home flight from the upcoming USA Today FTU. Why would I do such a thing on a shortish flight for so many miles? Well, MrsMJ is joining me for one night in DFW, and she is confirmed in first class for the flight home. I hop off our flight home to Atlanta and then hop right on another jet for a 6-day biz trip. The value of a 15K upgrade = $75 co-pay for just over a 2 hour flight, meh. The value of that plus spending some time with MrsMJ before I leave on a long trip, priceless. And that is the beauty of miles.

What’s your threshold for spending miles for an upgrade? Worth it?

-MJ, April 8, 2015