Everyone loves bonuses, and those of us who are conscientious about racking up frequent flyer miles are especially eager to get our perks whenever possible, but we also have all had frustrating experiences with gaining and using them.
Long lines and inconveniences at the airport are enough to take a lot of the fun out of taking a vacation or other trip, but having a bad experience with redeeming hard-earned frequent flyer miles isn’t what anyone wants, either.
Milescards.com published its 2014 Mile Satisfaction Survey of frequent flyer members, which showed what consumers were unhappy about when it came to redeeming their points for flights.
1. Confusion of miles value
This isn’t anything new. Many consumers find it difficult to understand what their credit cards are offering and how much their miles are actually worth. According to the survey, 50 percent of members said they were unhappy with award flights costing more miles than expected.
Check your credit card site ahead of time and see how much flights to your desired destination will cost. It’s best to be prepared for an upcoming trip, so if you need more, you can create a plan of how you will gain those needed miles. Be sure to stay on top of special deals that are offering double or triple points for spending at certain retailers or categories. If you are still confused, you can always call and ask.
2. Fair warning
Anyone who has been in a mileage program for any length of time knows that the terms change, especially when other big changes are going on with the airlines like the merger going on with American and US Airways. Mileage members reported that they wanted proactive communication about any upcoming changes to make planning and transitioning easier.
According to the report, many members said they trusted the cable company and their bank more than their miles program, so better communication from the program and a chance to get up-to-speed with changes before they are put in place is important.
Don’t ignore emails and calls from your credit card company — they may be alerting you of a specific change in terms.
3. Fewer fees, please
Nobody likes fees, plain and simple. Frequent flyer mileage members who paid multiple fees were the most dissatisfied with their program. US Airways Dividend Miles ranked the lowest in the study, and also charges the most in fees. Members also expressed unhappiness with surprise fuel surcharges such as those incurred on British Airways as partnered with American Airlines which can cost hundreds, but program members aren’t informed of those charges up front.
If you are unsure about a fee, look it up on the credit card’s website, or call them. Staying informed means less surprises.
4. Reliable online tools
Everyone loves convenience. According to the report, 90 percent of mileage hounds book their flights online, but many users experienced problems finding partner flights, and in some cases, the option to do so wasn’t even available.
The report showed that US Airways and Delta SkyMiles miles program members experienced the most frustration while trying to book their flights. Delta’s website was reported to be the hardest to use, and reported errors in its calendar system.
Although it is a hassle, getting on the phone and calling is the best alternative for confusing and error-filled sites. Make sure you are not being charged a fee for the call, and write down other questions you may have beforehand, so you can address them when you speak to a representative.
5. Impossible to redeem for an actual flight
Members in the survey said it was virtually impossible to gain enough miles to redeem for an actual flight. Again, a way to avoid the surprise of how many miles you need to book a flight should be researched beforehand. Note which spending categories will help you gain the most amount of bonus points, and devise a plan to use certain cards for things like dining, entertainment, balance transfers and so forth. While many airlines make it tough to redeem your miles for a ticket, it is possible if you have a plan and a goal.
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