Don't Waste Your Money: Frequent flier programs less friendly - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Don't Waste Your Money: Frequent flier programs less friendly in 2014

(Toledo News Now) -

Hope to get away from the winter with a frequent flier ticket somewhere? Good luck! Airlines are making it even tougher to score a free seat this year.

It's the dream of everyone who flies and belongs to a frequent flier club: Earn enough miles for a free flight to Hawaii or some place exotic.

But with the new year, you may find that trip getting even more out of reach.

Changes Coming In February

Using your frequent flier miles has gotten tougher and tougher since the Great Recession. But starting Feb. 1, 2014, it's about to become even more difficult.

Delta and United Airlines have announced changes to their frequent flier programs that will require more miles for some destinations. On Delta, to get a "Saver Seat" to Hawaii, which is the lowest level, the requirement jumps from 40,000 to 45,000 SkyMiles. 

This is significant because Hawaii is one of the top destinations for users of frequent flier miles.

Delta's Saver Seats to Israel and the Middle East jump from 80,000 to 85,000 SkyMiles. The requirement for business seats to Europe rises from 100,000 to 125,000 SkyMiles. The good news is that base requirements for Europe - 60,000 SkyMiles - do not change.  

On United, Mileage Plus members will have to spend 30 percent to 40 percent more miles to get a free seat on any Star Alliance partner airline starting in February. Business Class and First Class tickets on United planes will cost another 15 - 25 percent in Mileage Plus points for that free seat or upgrade. The good news is that for base coach tickets on United, the requirements do not change.

Doesn't That Stink?

But from the doesn't that stink file comes how it's more difficult than ever to get a low-mileage seat. Airlines now sell more than 80 percent of all seats, so there are very few available at the low-mileage level, according to frequent flier forums.

Call it devaluation or inflation, your frequent flier miles are not worth what they were five years ago.

Bottom Line

The skies are getting a little less friendly for frequent fliers.

So now, more than ever, it's important to plan that trip almost a year in advance (300 days with most airlines), and avoid peak vacation times as much as possible.
That way you don't waste your money.

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