Lonely Planet Writer

Air Miles – why upgrading is often better value than ‘free’ flights

Air carriers reward frequent fliers with points in return for their bookings but knowing how to maximise the air miles ‘spend’ is an art in itself.

The First Class lounge at Qantas, LAX.
The First Class lounge at Qantas, LAX. Image by Image courtesy of Qantas

These points can be used on a range of travel-related areas – from free flights to hotels, package holiday discounts to car rentals.

Once a traveller has signed up to a particular scheme, experts say going the luxury route might represent best value.

Singapore Airlines' first class cabins are getting an upgrade.
Singapore Airlines’ first class cabins are getting an upgrade. Image by Richard Moross / CC BY 2.0

According to Ms Sally Francis of MoneySavingExpert.com. getting an upgrade often is the route to maximum gains.

The MailOnline reports Ms Francis as saying that while people are often lured into the temptation of ‘free’ air flights, by the time charges and taxes are added on, the person can end up forking out similar amount as if they had bought the original ticket themselves.

She explained that if a person used their air miles to upgrade from economy to first class, the points could be worth far more especially in long-haul where the differences between the two classes can run into thousands of pounds.

It was also worth checking the real price of any booking when attempting to redeem points, she added.

Ms Francis said the important thing to remember was that airlines were trying to buy travellers’ loyalty and that was why people needed to study the smallprint with every offer to see if it was a genuine financial saver.