Miles Better; Is it Time to Cash in Your Airline Reward Points?

Picture of James Beagrie
James Beagrie
Last Updated: 7 September 2022

It’s common to examine currency exchange rates when you’re planning a trip, but how many think the same about frequent flyer points?

You don’t? Well, now’s the time to do so. You see, flights are so expensive at the moment that the redemption value of points has soared in relative terms. You can almost think of spending them as like cashing in that nest egg of shares you’ve had for decades.

Currently, points are worth at least double what they were in the past few years. We have people paying £9,000 for a business class seat to Chicago, because airlines are handing back slots and cutting capacity due to their staffing issues, but at the same time trying to bolster their bottom line after two years of being almost totally grounded.

We’re seeing a lot of activity with corporate clients wanting to use points to pay part of the fare or upgrade one or both sectors and we have schemes in place to do this.

What’s more, it may have escaped you during the pandemic, but there are now more opportunities to earn and burn those miles than before due to alliances forged in the past two years.

For example, the expanded joint venture between Virgin Atlantic, KLM, Air France, and Delta brings more rewards and redemption opportunities to Virgin’s frequent fliers including a new partnership giving members the opportunity to earn 2,000 Virgin Points when they book a stay with Virgin Hotels that has six hotels already open across the US and UK with more to follow.

Similarly, Emirates’ Skywards members can use and earn points with JetBlue – now a transatlantic airline – and Qatar Airways joined the Avios scheme in March this year while those with the British Airways American Express® Premium Plus Card can collect 50% more Avios on all their purchases compared to the BA American Express® Credit Card.

Grab it while you can because this is the best redemption opportunity for a long time. As an added bonus, if you’re paying the higher fare tariffs, you’re earning points as you spend them; so, our advice is to take a look at the carriers you use and then talk to us to ensure you’re not missing out.

As I write, we’re currently seeing new business enquiries at three times the pre-pandemic level and we are being asked if we can automate the redemption of their rewards points. Unfortunately, it’s still a manual process, but there remain distinct advantages in allowing a Travel Management Company to make a booking even if you are redeeming points.

We’re finding finance directors are wisely mandating the use of TMCs to comply with spend, governance, and particularly duty of care. We track your staff, so you know where they are, a benefit that’s once again of great importance because Covid is on the resurgence. We’re seeing the reintroduction of masks in some locations and are keeping tabs on the destinations to which our clients travel.

A TMC’s relationship with airlines brings another advantage, too, in that we will save you hours of frustration trying to contact short-staffed carriers if you need to amend a booking or obtain a refund – and boy, are we hearing a lot of this from our clients. A largely overlooked consequence of schedule changes is people missing connections where one sector is cancelled, with increasing incidences of travellers finding themselves stuck halfway through a journey.

That’s the kind of thing we’re currently sorting out every day. We’re here 24/7 for you – even if you do book with reward points.

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To find out more about how Meon can help you make the most of your reward points please contact us by email at [email protected] or by telephone 0116 264 5270.

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