The Options you have on what you can do with your miles
In today’s mileage landscape you have a couple of options. As a starter, you can book flights. But don’t get too overexcited as you will need to check the availability of flights. From previous experiences I can sing you a song how often I was able to successfully able to materialize my accumulated miles into a flight redemption ticket. But, I admit, sometimes you do get lucky and manage to grab that flight you were hoping to get. There is, however, always a but. That “BUT+” are the “CONDITIONS” you will have to accept when exchanging your loyalty program points into flight tickets.
To give you an example, I just recently thought about inviting my wife to a week-long trip to Japan, departing from Paris, France. Over the last couple of years I had accumulated 450,000 Air France miles and so I was hoping to get two business class return tickets from Paris CDG to Osaka KIX, expecting the amount of miles per person to cost me around 200,000.
As I browse the Air France Flying Blue site, I realize two things:
- The flight will cost me 400,000 per person for a return trip as of course, once again, I was planning on departing at a busy time
- Above and beyond spending the miles (which I didn’t have anyway) the flight would have cost me, Air France would have charged me a whopping €800 in Airport and other taxes.
I will let you judge if you would consider this to be worth spending your miles and paying the airport taxes (yup, that’s as they call it, but in reality Air France is just trying to make a buck off this trip as well) or if this could be rather regarded as a rip off of the company’s most loyal customers. I sometimes wonder if such companies really need or want my business…
Anyway, I thought better of it, moved on and did not further bother to look for any other flight redemption offers with Air France as I imagined these would all work the same way. Instead I started to ask myself what my other options were in using my miles. After a couple of hours of surfing the web, I came across companies that actually purchase your miles at a marginal amount to then use them in booking discounted mileage fares to re-sell to third party travel agencies or private buyers (yes, there are actually people researching the web where and when airlines offer discounted mileage itineraries). After some further credibility checks regarding these sites I got in touch with one of them, called Flip My Miles and a guy called Seth (who seems to work 24/7 by the way) in order to obtain a quote.
After a couple of exchanges we settled for the cost per mile, which ended up to be around 1 cent per mile. I then asked how the exchange would happen and Seth from Flip My Miles told me that he required access to my flying blue account and the pin code to verify the miles.Seth also clearly stated that the booked would happen through my account as airlines do not allow you to transfer miles.
Clearly evaluating my options and understanding that I didn’t really have a choice if I wanted to proceed, I just went for the good old “all or nothing”. After deleting some key information such as credit card details and other private info, I sent the mileage club number and the pin and agreed on the sale of 445,000 Flying Blue Miles.
Once that done I sent Seth a mail asking if he had checked the account and the miles, upon which he promptly replied confirming the transaction and submitted the payment of the amount due via PayPal. Boom, the cash was there no longer than 2 minutes later!
As of today (6 weeks later), the miles are still in my account waiting to be sold and I can say that all agreements were honored (no monkey business of changing the pin code avoiding you access to your account or other).
Is it legal?
Airlines do not really agree to this sale but legally there is nothing they can do about it. If they find out, as I am told, they can cancel your account. But if I had the choice of earning $ 4,450 and cancel my account or just having the miles sitting there not producing any value, I would not hesitate to go through another such transaction based on the positive experience I had.
And so, I was able to book two economy class tickets to Japan, paying in cash and for which I will received new miles and look forward to spending a paid holiday to view the cherry blossoms in Kyoto, making my wife extremely happy…
Words of Advice
Do your research!
There are a lot of sites out there offering you cash via PayPal in exchange for your miles. Lufthansa’s Miles and More are highly regarded and may pay more. Do your research and inform yourself who would be willing to pay you more for your miles, then negotiate with the company you have the best connection with. I would always recommend Seth at Flip My Miles based on now two positive experiences I have had. Other responsive sites include: