Are You Addicted To Point Accumulation?

Am I the only one utterly befuddled and confused to the point of total non-comprehension when reading all the pointers and facts which end up merging into one big blur of fine print, that is incomprehensible to the average level of intelligence?  It is an intricate maze of legal jargon with a constantly changing landscape of value.

I am talking about deciphering the palaver that is out there in relation to frequent flyer points or loyalty programs.  And, just when you believe that you understand, the rules are changed. You are left thinking, there goes the planned trip flying around the world because the number of points has increased and the value of your points has decreased.

Are You A Points Addict?

The Internet is bombarded with sites such as for disgruntled people to bash out their frustrations and anger on their keyboard, for not getting an award flight when they wanted it. Or, when the policy makers of this pseudo cashless currency, change the rules on what seems to be a whim or a fancy or at the very least, the most inappropriate time for you to redeem points.

It is a question of which credit card and which airline program will give you the most benefit, or saying to hell with it all and going with the cheapest flight possible. Any airline will do so long as the flight is cheap, with a big grin on your face.  It appears to be a guessing game as to how to maximize points to eventually obtain that freebie flight, seat upgrade or the use of a sterile cattle waiting lounge offering little better than aeroplane food and alcohol.  Forget about exchanging your points for goods on offer, as you are actually paying more than what you could buy the item for independently.

Once upon a time points were awarded on miles flown; now it is de rigour for points to be based on the price of a ticket.  From 2015 Delta is joining the other airlines such as Virgin, America, British Airways and Southwest Air in this sham.  United Airlines have done away with upgrade perks for its frequent flyers in what is being touted as one of the dastardliest guttings of a frequent flyer program, ever.

Qantas with its 10 million members in its frequent flyers program, can now lay claim to being Australia's "second" currency and with its latest changes, the value of their frequent flyer points has decreased markedly.

I believe it is a case of too many people flying since el cheapo airfares came into being, hence more people with points. And, those people are chasing the elusive golden free seats, which have become scarcer than hen's teeth.  It is "point" inflation!

Why are we such creatures that we all want something for nothing?  When in fact each time you pay for an airline ticket, a proportion of that amount, is actually paying for the points.  Why are freebies or the apparition of the seemingly "free" item, such an allure to the general masses?  Don't forget the old saying, "You get what you pay for".  So yes, you are actually paying for that freebie flight, just in an underhanded way, as nothing in this world is really for free.

If you have to play the points game; get a credit card that allows you to accumulate cash-back rewards.  Each time you swipe your card on anything from little Johnny's new undies to buying the toilet paper in bulk, you are earning points that in the long run can be exchanged for travel.

Sign up for a program such as Starwood, which allows you to use points on any one of two dozen airlines around the world, or for a bed to sleep in whilst on your sojourn.  Or join the airline's program that you most frequently fly, and ensure you attempt to read the fine print of black out dates, expiry dates and any redemption conditions.  Don't spread them out over several airlines, as you will never reach that summit where a flight is even on the agenda of possibilities.

Frequent flyer programs vary enormously from airline to airline, so do a bit of research and cross your fingers and pray that you have picked a good one.  If you own your own business, every time you pay a bill, make it count via a card aligned with a loyalty program.

Apparently a 16 year old whizz kid has unlocked the key to this mystifying maze of dos and don’ts regarding the collection and redeeming of frequent flyer points.  He has turned his amazing know how into a consultation business via the Internet.  Several other people have jumped onto this newly created career, similar to that of an investment broker consulting business, where they will advise you on the best way to accumulate points and how to get the best value for them.  So now it is necessary to have one more consultant on your personal advisory committee.

The list of loyalty and frequent flyer programs is as long as the list of flight carriers.  The lucky ones are the business travellers that do not pay for their own flights, but accrue the points in their own names.  A slight misappropriation of company funds albeit in point form, which could be argued from the taxation department's point of view.  Or for those altruistic frequent flyers, it is easy now to donate the value of your points to various charities.

Maybe it is time for a revolution to wipe out this frequent flyer institution that began in the 1970s for the sake of the environment. It would also increase a healthy competitive approach amongst the burgeoning birds of the sky and decrease the stress inducing exercise point junkies have to contend with.

Additional Reading On Travel Points

5 Things You Need To Know About Frequent Flyer Points
8 Things You Didn't Know About Using Frequent Flyer Points
A Beginners Guide To Airline Miles
10 Ways Not To Use Your Frequent Flyer Points

Gail Palethorpe, a self proclaimed Australian gypsy, is a freelance writer, photographer and eternal traveller. Check out her website Gail Palethorpe Photography and her Shutterstock profile.