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Flying from Los Angeles to Nashville with a layover in Seattle might not seem like a desirable itinerary to most folks. But there’s always a method to my madness when I’m booking a flight.
When you develop a loyalty to an airline, a couple hour detour can actually be very rewarding in the long run. Plus, add in some credit card benefits, like airport lounge access and free in-flight Wi-Fi, and a longer journey can actually be more enjoyable than a direct flight on an airline you don’t typically fly!
I know some folks despise the thought of having a stopover when a non-stop alternative is available. But here are a few reasons why I sometimes opt for the indirect routing!
1. Fly in Business Class Instead of Coach
After completing the Alaska Airlines elite status match a couple years ago, I’ve developed significant loyalty to the airline. And their merger with Virgin America was great news for me because I get to enjoy perks like seat upgrades on more flights.
With MVP Gold status, I find that I’m consistently upgraded to Business Class. For me, it’s more enjoyable to take 2 flights in Business Class than a direct flight on another airline where I’ll likely be stuck in the middle seat unless I pay some ridiculous seat selection fee.
2. Potentially Earn More Miles
This benefit might only be valid when flying Alaska Airlines, but flying a longer distance means you can earn additional frequent flyer miles to use toward future award flights. Because Alaska Airlines frequent flyer program is NOT revenue based, like most other domestic airlines.
So even if you book a cheap ticket with Alaska Airlines, you’ll still earn miles based on the distance you fly, which really incentivizes me to take the scenic route if I have time to spare.
Plus, Alaska Airlines miles are extremely valuable because you can use them to book award flights on partner airlines like Cathay Pacific!
3. Fast Track to Elite Status
Besides earning valuable frequent flyer miles, taking paid flights earns me miles that count toward elite status. In essence, it’s like a mileage run.
This strategy is working to my advantage this year as halfway through the year I’m halfway toward earning MVP Gold status again.
4. Free In-Flight Wi-Fi Passes Mean I Can Keep Up With Work!
I have The Business Platinum® Card from American Express, which means I get 10 free Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi passes each calendar year. Plus, I’m a T-Mobile customer, which means I can enjoy a free hour of Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi on Gogo-equipped domestic planes.
So spending more time in the air doesn’t make me feel any less productive. And if I don’t have any immediate plans once I land in my final destination, it’s likely I can actually get more done while I’m flying.
5. Enjoy Airport Lounge Access With Certain Credit Cards
My wallet has a few fantastic rewards credit cards that offer airport lounge benefits. Depending on the length of my layover, I usually have an opportunity to check out the nearest lounge and enjoy a quick snack and cocktail.
Specifically, flying through Seattle is a great option for a layover because they have an AMEX Centurion Lounge. I find their buffet style meals and craft beer selection to be better than other overpriced airport dining options.
6. More Wing Pictures!
I take so many pictures during most flights that my seatmates typically ask me if it’s the first time I’ve ever been on a plane. I think aviation is so fascinating and the views from the wing can be pretty incredible!
A quick search of ‘airplane wing’ on my Google Photos app reveals thousands of photos. It’s just another small reason why adding another leg to my itinerary doesn’t bother me. More flying = more photos!
7. Save Money on Airfare
This isn’t always the case, but flights with layovers have the potential to be significantly cheaper than non-stop flights.
Specifically, when I was researching flights to Nashville, it was ~$550 for a round-trip non-stop coach ticket on American Airlines or Delta (two airlines I don’t fly often). Instead, I paid ~$450 for the Alaska Airlines itinerary and got the Business Class upgrades on each leg.
If I’m not in a hurry to get to my final destination, I actually prefer to book flight itineraries with layovers if it means I can fly Alaska Airlines. I’ve done this recently on trips to Detroit and Nashville, and enjoyed pleasant layovers in Portland and Seattle.
For me, there are lots of advantages to remaining loyal to Alaska Airlines and flying out of the way. First, I have MVP Gold status, which means I generally get upgraded to Business Class. Personally, I prefer to take 2 Business Class flights with a quick layover instead of flying in the middle seat on a less rewarding airline.
Combine airline loyalty with credit card perks and the extra flying time isn’t bad at all. I have several credit cards that offer airport lounge access, which means I can enjoy snacks (or even a meal) and a cocktail during my layover. And as an AMEX Business Platinum cardholder, I get free in-flight Wi-Fi passes, which means I can be just as productive in the air as I am on the ground.
So am I crazy? Does anyone else book less desirable itineraries to take advantage of elite status perks? Let me know in the comments below!