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I like to think that I value my time more than collecting miles.
That means that I don’t mileage run (take flights just to earn elite qualifying miles for status or redeemable miles for award travel). I also factor in my time when evaluating miles and points deals, which explains my preference for earning miles and points with credit cards.
But a recent conversation with Emily had me thinking if that was really true.
Emily was booking business travel to Washington, DC and called me to run her hotel and flights by me. Here’s how the conversation went:
Emily: Hi hon! Just wanted to run my DC trip by you.
Daraius (thinking): Great! I wonder how many miles and points we can squeeze out of this trip!
Daraius: Sure! What have you got planned?
Emily: I want to fly on Frontier airlines to Washington Reagan airport. And…
Daraius (thinking): Frontier airlines? Why on earth would she do that? We probably have only 2,000 or 3,000 miles with Frontier, which I’m guessing we earned by signing up for frequent flyer accounts or for signing up for email from Frontier.
What are we going to do with an extra 2,000 Frontier miles? I’d much rather her fly United or US Air and earn miles which are more useful to us.
Daraius: (interrupting)..but honey, doesn’t United have a direct (emphasizing direct) flight to Washington, Dulles? Isn’t that what you took last time? And what about US Air?
Emily: Frontier flies directly to Washington Reagan and that’s closer to my hotel. US Air has a stop over and takes more time.
Daraius (thinking): So what if it is further from the hotel. The longer cab ride means more miles for us because she’s going to get double points by paying for it with her Chase Sapphire Preferred!
And the stopover will also get us more miles!
Daraius: Isn’t it more expensive to fly into Reagan?!
Emily: Actually, they are both about the same.
Daraius (thinking): She’s probably right. Saving time matters more than earning miles on United or US Air. And I can always top off the Frontier account with a credit card application.
Daraius: But…Ok, honey, that makes sense. Why don’t you book it if you’re sure you want to fly Frontier.
What would I do?
I was reflecting on this conversation later on, and was wondering what I would have done.
Would I have taken the direct flight on Frontier to Washington Reagan airport and saved time since the hotel was closer, but earned miles on an airline which I’m unlikely to fly often.
Or would I have taken the flight to Washington Dulles airport and earned miles in my preferred airline and had a longer ride to the hotel (also earning more miles)?
I’d like to think that my rational self would have prevailed since 2,000 miles is clearly not worth sacrificing a lot of time for, but the conversation above leaves me unsure. I don’t believe (looks sheepish) that I was hoping that my wife would waste 1 or 2 hours over a measly 2,000 miles!
All I can say is that I’m glad I’m able to talk things through with Emily and see how some of my instincts to earn miles and points can be a huge waste of time and counter productive. This is not the first time she’s stopped me from doing silly things!
What would you do, wise readers? Vote in the poll below!