thank goodness for stupid travel “expertise.”

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  • May 28, 2011

(cross posted to my upgrd​.com blog)

A part of me wants to write a long post ana­lyz­ing the prob­lems with CNNMoney’s “Best Frequent Flyer Programs.” I’m really tempted to go point-by-point in order to illus­trate just how stu­pid their rank­ings are. Their cri­te­ria are incon­sis­tent, their expla­na­tions for why cer­tain pro­grams are best ignore the fact that other air­lines offer sim­i­lar (or even bet­ter) perks, and they totally ignore the fact that the pro­grams avail­able from domes­tic-only* dis­count car­ri­ers don’t allow for inter­na­tional and pre­mium-class redemp­tion.

But truth be told, I’m actu­ally thank­ful for arti­cles like CNNMoney’s. For those of us who actu­ally want to get the most out of our miles — namely inter­na­tional pre­mium-class awards — it’s prob­a­bly bet­ter if peo­ple blow their miles on crappy domes­tic coach tick­ets. Sure… it breaks my heart that poor saps who don’t know bet­ter are blow­ing valu­able miles on tick­ets they prob­a­bly could buy out-of-pocket when they could be using the same amount (or just a bit more) to fly in lux­ury to exotic locales. But with a lim­ited quan­tity of high-value redemp­tion oppor­tu­ni­ties, I’m just as happy to have less com­pe­ti­tion for the seats. Every busi­ness trav­eler who insists on fly­ing Southwest (even though he could get bet­ter élite ben­e­fits and could use the miles to take bet­ter vaca­tions if he flew United or American or what­ever) is one less per­son I have to com­pete with for an upgrade, one less per­son to snap up that first class seat to Europe before me, one less per­son in the élite line at the air­port.

(And I’ll ven­ture a guess that if every­one used fre­quent flyer pro­grams to their full poten­tial,  those pro­grams would stop being so lucra­tive for the air­lines and great redemp­tion oppor­tu­ni­ties would get rarer.)

So sure… Southwest, Virgin America, and Jetblue have excel­lent FF pro­grams. Sign up now. Fly those air­lines exclu­sively. Enjoy your “A‑list” sta­tus and your free coach flights from Oakland to Boise.

* Yes, I know that some of the “domes­tic-only” dis­count car­ri­ers fly to a hand­ful of loca­tions in Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean. Whatever.