Vena’s Last 3 Lessons

Vena’s Last 3 Lessons

Million Mile SecretsVena’s Last 3 LessonsMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Emily’s grandmother, Vena, passed away last week.  She was 89 years old and had a very long and happy life.  Because Vena was a retired teacher, it is appropriate to remember her with three mile-and-points lessons.

Vena's Last Lessons
Vena’s Last Lessons

1)   Use Your Miles How YOU Want

I can’t stress this enough.

Some people always say how you should use your miles and point only for First or Business Class travel.  Or how you’re not really using your miles and points well if you use them to travel within the US instead of visiting some far-away exotic land.  Nonsense!

Some people hoard miles and points and don’t redeem them.  The best use of miles and points are to make happy memories which will stay with you for a long time.  For some that is flying across the world to collect a rubber duck in a lounge in Germany.  For many others, happy memories are from visiting friends and families & visiting new destinations.

There’s nothing wrong with using your miles to visit family or friends within the US.

Emily visited Vena in February for her 89th birthday and Vena was talking about visiting the Tampa Theatre and the Empress Tea Room for weeks afterwards.

Tampa Trip Report
3 Generations Together For the Last Time

Emily will always remember this trip as the last time she was with Vena.  In contrast, our trip to Hawaii in March was just one of many vacation trips.

2)   REHEARSE Emergency Trips

Life is short and we could suddenly get a call asking us to travel across the country or the world at very short notice.  Last minute airfare is usually very expensive, so using miles and points can save you lots of money.

But you’re usually not functioning at 100% when you suddenly get the call in the middle of the night.  So start thinking of your emergency travel plans from now.  And mentally rehearse the steps you’ll take to suddenly get to where you need to be.

  • Which airlines serve the airports you will have to visit?
  •  Are last minute fares typically very expensive?
  • Do airlines typically have good award availability to your destination cities?
  • Which airlines and routes are more easily available as awards?
  • Can you avoid the last-minute fees for booking award travel (usually if you have elite status on the airline or if you have certain credit cards).

Are there any tricks to save you miles or money?  Such as using British Airways Avios points for short distance flights with the US on American Airlines.

Or do you have the Southwest Companion Pass and can reduce the pain of buying a ticket since your companion can travel virtually free?

3)  Have Miles in Different Programs

You get more choices if you have miles and points in different accounts.  Emily and I flew on Southwest to Tampa because we had the Southwest Companion Pass.

But we could have also used American Airlines and United miles to-and-from Tampa as well.  There were no round-trip awards on either American Airlines or United, but we could have flown 1-way on each airline.


Life is short and unpredictable.  So use your points and miles to create as many happy memories as you can!

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I'm sorry for your loss. There's no doubt she would have been proud of both her granddaughter and her husband.

Life is too short, no matter what age one lives until. I'm very grateful of the info that you've shared on your blog... I've travelled more often and more comfortably, and for less money... which in turn means more money to have fun other ways. Thank you!

nsx at FlyerTalk

Southwest's capacity controlled awards are very helpful when you have a family emergency and you need to travel domestically (or to San Juan now) on very short notice.

Call Southwest and ask them to check availability of standard award seats. You can then actually buy a standard award as follows: Purchase enough Southwest points to reach a total of 19200. That will cost you no more than $500. Set up an AirTran A+ Rewards account and transfer the points to AirTran. You'll get 16 AirTran credits. Transfer those 16 credits right back to Southwest. You now have a round trip standard award on Southwest. Use it to book your flight, or even to book two one-way seats.

When you decide whether to buy points for a standard award or pay cash for a ticket, remember that the cash ticket earns points. Under the current promotion it earns double points, worth an effective 20% rebate for non-elite travelers.


I am sorry for your family's loss.


"I have lots and lots of miles and can afford first or biz class for us but I CHOOSE TO get economy only because I can keep taking more trips. US planes are not as good as those in asia like the Thai airline"

Agreed. Occasionally, though, there are no 12.5k mile coach seats available on United or American one way, but one airline offers 25k for either First Class or Economy. Then, it's a no brainer IMO if using miles. You take the First Class ticket.

Sorry for your loss!

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