I’ve talked about this many times pre-COVID but it’s even truer now, since few business class passengers are traveling. If you’re using airline miles, especially American AAdvantage, then don’t make this rookie mistake.
You would think it’s always cheaper to fly economy rather than business or first class but it’s not. I’ve written about this in the past but it’s especially true now that a lot of business travelers (i.e. frequent fliers) are not snagging those coveted plush seats (either by clients paying for them or getting free upgrades). Instead, airlines are selling them for much cheaper than normal, via either cash or mileage.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how I cracked the code on using American Airlines AAdvantage miles while diligently researching fares to fly me and my dad to New York from Los Angeles. Here’s the crazy story of how I did find us business class tickets on American’s premium A321T aircraft (but I ended up walking off the plane since my dad talked me out of escorting him.)
BTW: Business class tickets were going for 62,500 miles but I snagged them at 28,500, which is great. Granted, it wasn’t as good as the 20,000-mile tickets I’d found back in September for this summer and booked multiple tickets. I wrote about it here.
Well, before you use your miles for a ticket, make sure you check the price for business and first class. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that they’re much cheaper. See the screenshot below where Economy is 55,000 miles, Business is 22,000 miles and First is 35,000 miles. Shocking right?
It’s not always cheaper to fly coach using cash either. Once I was flying from New York to Minnesota and Economy was $900 while First was $300. When I pointed this out to the client’s travel agency that was buying my ticket, they said, “Sorry, but corporate policy is to only book Economy.” My head almost exploded because not only would the company have saved a lot of money, but I would have been flying in a much more comfortable seat, gotten free food, checked baggage and been on and off the plane first. It made no sense but that’s corporate America for you.
Yes, good old corporate policies. In the day when I was also flying pretty much weekly out of YUL to everywhere, a corporate travel guru alerted me to the fact that I could save the company significant money by originating my flights out of Burlington Vt (BTV) some 99 miles one way from my home where my wife on the other hand would drive the 6 miles to YUL to drop me off. So let’s see a 198 mile return trip at x cents/mile, parking in BTV for duration of trip, Typically a hotel in BTV if arriving in the evening plus meals. An of course it was strongly encouraged that I travel on my own time IE weekends like Sat. or Sun so that could save the company time. Add up all those extra costs, lost time etc. and the corporate travel hero has cost the company 3X while saving $50.00 on a plane ticket. Walk a mile in my shoes!