2 Miles & Points Lessons From The Best Airline Advertising of 2013

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After miles and points, I love marketing and branding (yes, I’m the weird guy who watches the Super Bowl for the ads!)  Much advertising is a waste of money, so I was thrilled to see a You Tube video from British Airways which is a just a terrific & powerful piece of advertising.

Most airlines compete on price for coach tickets, and if the price is comparable, folks will go with a brand they connect with.

This spot from British Airways is extremely well targeted (it isn’t trying to be all things to all people), is emotional, and will appeal to immigrants in many countries (though it is specifically targeting the Indian diaspora in the US).  Keep a tissue box handy before watching!

1.   Miles & Points Lesson #1

The best use of miles and points is to USE them for trips.  And to use them how YOU want to use them.  The one who ends the game with the most unused miles has lost.  

It doesn’t have to be a spectacular redemption with all segments in first class.

The best redemptions to me, are the ones which folks typically scorn – i.e. domestic coach redemptions which wouldn’t otherwise happen because you’d rather save the money.

I’ve used miles for job interviews, used miles to visit family, and used miles for family to visit other family members whom they otherwise wouldn’t have met.  Emily visited her grandmother (before she passed) thanks to miles and points.

Tampa Trip Report
The Last Time Emily Saw Her Grandmother

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 take pictures in a lounge.  For others, happy memories are from visiting friends and families & visiting new destinations.  And, yes, you can have happy memories from both domestic and international redemptions!

2.   Miles & Points Lesson #2

Redeeming miles and points for long-distance coach travel on British Airways isn’t worth it.

British Airways also launched a 1-day discounted fare from New York to Mumbai for $1,099 to capitalize on the popularity of the video.  Unfortunately, you don’t get an extra 10% off if you pay with the British Airways credit card.

The offer is valid only up to 11:59 pm Eastern Time today (August 7, 2013).  And you have to travel between November 5 to November 30, 3013.  Diwali (a big Indian festival) is on November 3, 2013, so the fare isn’t valid until after Diwali.  Tickets are usually around this price in November, so this isn’t a great deal.

The bigger lesson is that out of a fare of ~$1,090, you’re paying ~$677 in taxes and fees for this British Airways flight.

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A $1,090 Coach Ticket on British Airways has $677 in Taxes & Fees!

You could also redeem 90,000 American Airlines miles or British Airways points for the same round-trip flight.  But, not only will you pay 90,000 American Airlines miles or British Airways Avios points, but you will ALSO pay ~$677 in fuel surcharges.  90,000 miles + $677 for a ticket which costs $1090 is a bad deal!

So you’re much better of not redeeming your miles, and paying ~$400 extra to save the 90,000 miles.  Or using more miles and slightly more cash in taxes and fees for a business or first class award.

The good news is that you could redeem American Airlines miles (but not British Airways miles) for a flight on Etihad which would cost you virtually nothing in taxes and fees.  Or use your United miles for flights to India because their partner  airlines like Lufthansa, Swiss, and Turkish Air don’t charge fuel surcharges.

So be careful when you redeem American Airlines or British Airways points for long-distance coach flights on British Airways.  Often times, the taxes and fees aren’t worth redeeming in coach.

British Airways points are best used for short-distance flights.

Bottom Line

Redeeming your miles and points and making happy memories is why I collect miles and points.

The big pay-off is in using your miles for taking trips which you’ll fondly remember afterwards!

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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