I Just Paid Cash For An Airline Ticket (No Miles Or Points!)

Instead of using miles and points to position ourselves on an upcoming cruise, I’ve bought revenue tickets from Delta.  I will pay cash for a ticket if I can’t get at least 1.5¢ in value per mile.  I am also trying to get out of the mindset that all travel has to be for free.

A. and I are getting ready to go on a Norwegian cruise today. The cruise will be a first for us in several ways.  This is a comped cruise by the Hard Rock Casino in Biloxi, thanks to A.’s hard playing there.  They’ve also comped us a drinks package, which I’ve never been willing to pay for.  We will be flying transcon into LAX tonight, and will be boarding the ship tomorrow.  This will also be our first cruise to the Mexican Riviera.  But the oddest and most out-of-character aspect of the trip is that we actually bought full revenue tickets on Delta to get us there and back.

The Old Order–Award Tickets and Nonrevving

I have flight benefits with Delta and United, and I do take advantage of these occasionally.  The problem is that when I am cruising, or I have to be home on a specific date, I can’t fly this way.  Therefore, most of my flying has been on award tickets.  Until very recently, if I had the miles, I used them.  And it was no problem at all getting the miles I needed for all my travel plans.  Heck, sometimes my miles balances were so high, I splurged and flew first class.

But two things have changed recently.  First and foremost is that it has become harder to amass ridiculously huge miles balances.  My two main avenues for getting these were 1) credit card churning (applying for lots of credit cards), and 2)  manufactured spending on these cards.  Method after method for doing these has been shut down, and I have to be more selective about my spending.

The second thing that has changed has been my attitude about amassing miles and points.  I was very obsessed about accruing them, and I spent a good bit of my time thinking about new ways to get them, and how much more I could get next month, etc.  I decided I wanted to spend more time thinking about other things.  Like actual trip planning.  About family.  About investments.  I’m still in the game, but now the pace is less frenetic.

The New Order–Revenue Tickets, Award Tickets, and Nonrevving

My new strategy is to buy tickets if I get poor value for my miles.  I really like to get at least 2¢ value per mile.  For example, if a revenue ticket would cost $400, I wouldn’t want to spend more than 20,000 miles for it.  I will settle for 1.5¢ per mile if I have a huge stash of them in a program (like 100’s of thousands).  And I will nonrev when I don’t have time constraints.

So the new order has begun, and I bought two roundtrip tickets on Delta.  The award tickets would have cost 60,000 SkyMiles each, because we are flying during spring break.  The revenue tickets were $350 each, roundtrip.  It seemed like such a poor value to spend the miles this way.  Instead I used 50,000 SkyMiles to get two family members here for a visit from Canada.  MUCH better value.

It really does feel weird and extravagant to be buying airline tickets, but I really want to get out of the mindset that travel must be free.  Just because it COULD be free doesn’t mean it SHOULD be free.  I’m hoping that this new paradigm will allow for more flexibility and fun in our travels.


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