Travel Tip of the Week: Don’t Get Airline Vouchers, Get Miles/Points Instead

If you just a couple of times and you are collecting miles, consider getting miles vouchers instead of travel coupons. There are numerous advantages of getting miles, which I just experienced myself.

So I still have now a $100 dollar travel voucher for Alaska Airlines in my account. I tried to use it on a trip from Seattle to San Francisco on Alaska Airlines.

First I looked up the flights available and chose one I would like to take. Now I entered my discount code and the result was shocking. The first class ticket was now $46 more expensive as without a $100 off coupon. How can that be? I tweeted to Alaska Airlines and their response was, that the ticket could be indeed more expensive because the discount only applies to the Base Fare and not to taxes and fees.

Applying it to the base fare is ok and makes sense. but not jacking up the base fare $254 to take a $100 off. I saw on the website that I was still in first class but had a different booking code. I thought, maybe they didn’t have any more seats in the other fare class and that’s why it got more expensive. For example, it might have been a refundable ticket instead of a non-refundable. However, when I looked it up again, the cheaper price for the first class fare was still available. I even tried an hour later and also still available. The same was true for all flights I checked.

On the bright side, it seemed that you get more than $100 off if you are buying a main cabin ticket instead of a first class ticket.

Even though, it is still better to opt-in for miles than the vouchers. Here are some of my main reasons.

Miles don’t expire

Compared to vouchers which are only valid for one year of issuing, miles in most frequent flier programs don’t expire if you have at least one activity every 12 months. Delta’s miles, for example, don’t expire at all (as of right now, we can wait to see that change)

Miles allow you to book more Destinations and Airlines

The vouchers are in most cases only valid on the issuing airlines. For example, you got a voucher from Alaska Airlines, you can redeem it on Alaska Airlines flights but not on flights on Emirates, Icelandair, and other airlines. Alaska Airlines Mileageplan Miles can be redeemed not only for flights on Alaska, but you can also redeem them as well for flights on Emirates going to Dubai for example. Check out the partner airlines of your airline. The three biggest airline alliances are Skyteam, Oneworld, and Star Alliance. Alaska Airlines is a bit unique. It is not part of any of the alliances but holds separate agreements with airlines all over the world. That’s what makes Alaska miles so valuable.

Book of different classes on planes

You can use your miles for booking different classes. For example, it’s worth it to use your miles to fly first class on an A380 with Emirates. You also can get some cheap main cabin fares internationally or domestically. You won’t experience what I did, that the increase the fare by 2,5-times of what the voucher is worth.

 

Miles can be used for a bunch of other things

Besides the voucher, which is only valid for airfare, you can use your miles for all kind of other things. Check the frequent flyer program of your airline. For example, miles can be redeemed for magazines, electronics like an iPad and a bunch of other things.

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