Frequent flyer miles have proven to be one of the greatest promotional gimmicks of all time. They're exciting to collect, knowing that you'll eventually be able to take a free trip anywhere you like, and it keeps people traveling, even during trying times where it's a lot more difficult to travel.
That said, there are a few things you'll need to know if you hope to actually use your frequent flyer miles any time in the future. Before you just assume that you'll eventually get that trip to Paris you've been saving up for, keep the following points in mind.
They Don't Always Deliver
There have been a lot of scams, schemes and loopholes in the airline industry that have allowed airlines to promise frequent flyer miles without ever delivering on them. Most airlines try to deal squarely with customers, but when an airline faces lower revenue, they may wind up dropping their frequent flyer program or otherwise devaluing the miles their customers have collected. To make sure you're being dealt with squarely, look for an airline that has a strong reputation with their FF program in order to make sure you get to spend the miles that you've earned over time.
Something that a lot of FF collectors don't actually know when they first get started in the program is that the miles themselves aren't the only reward for customer loyalty. Many airlines provide "passenger status" rewards, meaning that the more loyal a customer may be, the longer their history with the line, the more rewards they reap. These could include, say, preferential seating, such as being able to reserve whatever seat you like on the plane, or you could even earn access to business and first class lounges with the purchase of an economy ticket. Look at the various rewards offered in each program before deciding on a frequent flyer club to join.
Value Comes First
What you should really look at, beyond the bonuses and miles, is pricing and ultimate value. What you need to consider is this: are the bonuses and extra miles enough of a reward to make up for the difference in price from ticket to ticket? If you're typically paying twice as much, dealing with twice as many layovers for double length flights just for a seat with a little extra leg room and a couple free miles here and there, is that really much of a deal? If you stick with one airline, then you will occasionally be spending a little more on an individual ticket, you may now and then be flying a little farther, but the line is drawn when these inconveniences are no longer a fair price to pay for the bonuses offered. In either event, it's a compromise, so make the right compromise.
When it comes right down to it, if you fly a lot, if you're a business traveler or you just suffer from a serious case of wanderlust, then it doesn't make sense not to sign up for a Frequent Flyer program. Just make sure you're signing up with an airline that treats their customers with respect.
For more information on frequent flyer miles, visit http://airlinerewards.co.za.