(Thanks to View from the Wing)
US Airways is really sticking it to the man — and, in this case, you’re the man: The airline has eliminated 500 mile frequent flyer minimums for short flights so you now only earn actual miles flown. If you’re flying a bunch of connections on US Airways, you’ll be wasting your time, getting only the 82 miles between New York and Philadelphia. Bleh.
Gary over at View from the Wing also adds that this does not mean that it’s all over for frequent flyer programs, and I couldn’t agree with him more. The best pieces of advice I can give about trying to use your frequent flyer miles are to:
1) Do your homework first, then call the airline, especially for international trips. Know which partners fly between your two cities, and know where they make connections. I helped a friend book tickets to Hawaii recently and, using Delta miles, there are dozens and dozens of possible ways of going (nonstop on CO, from LAX on Continental, through Detroit or Minneapolis or Seattle on Northwest, a bunch of cities on Delta, Seattle on Alaska. Plus, you need to check all of the various connections TO those departure cities.) Yes, it’s time consuming. But getting a free ticket to Hawaii is worth an hour of your time. International travel is even more complex, but generally offers availability if you are willing to check the myriad connections available to you. I won’t bore you with how I booked my free ticket to Kiev…)
2) Call back tomorrow. Availability changes all the time — daily. More than daily. You have to try again tomorrow. Keep calling. This nearly always results in a ticket for you. You’re not annoying them. For international travel, these calls could take an hour. I know, it’s annoying. But after roughly 25 hours trying to get 2 business class tickets to Sri Lanka a few years back, I felt felt good when I actually got them (beats spending $14,000 on them). Be patient. And persistent.