If one person pays 100,000 miles for a two hour economy flight within the US, and another pays 62,500 miles for a luxurious 7 hour business class flight from Europe to the US, who got the better deal? Assuming we’re on the same page, we’re now both scratching our heads about dynamic pricing, the new trend with airline tickets using miles. Here’s how to beat the system…

a bed with pillows and a window in an airplane

WTF Is Dynamic Pricing?

Dynamic pricing is essentially changing the price in miles for a flight based on certain factors. You can think of it like peak and off peak pricing, but airlines are adding more and more levels to make it even more confusing. The factors can be how popular the flight is, the cost of the flight or the day of the week, amongst many others. Dynamic pricing is new and different, because in the past, with most airlines, there is and was only one rate for a certain flight and if there were seats, there were seats, if there weren’t there weren’t. With dynamic pricing, airlines theoretically have more availability, but often at horrible rates.

a screenshot of a flight ticket

Who This Really Hurts…

Do you know how many miles each airline requires to fly from just about anywhere in the world to anywhere in the world? I do, but that’s why you read. Most people haven’t a clue what the rate should be, and therefore if you show them a price in miles, they will just assume that’s the price. Since only a small minority of people who hold miles read sites like this regularly, about 98% of travelers are getting a terrible deal for their miles without even knowing it.

a pool with a table and pillows

What You Can Do…

Knowledge is power here. Do your best to research each airline’s award chart, that is, the amount of miles required from one place to another. Some airlines (Delta) have specifically removed those charts to leave customers in the dark, but you can go on old charts to give you a rough estimate. You can also use Milez.biz, an excellent free resource to show you how many miles each airline charges between any two cities. Once you know the number it should be, you know when they’re trying to gouge you. If you have any flexibility, search for an entire calendar month using miles to see if there are any dates at the lowest price.

an airplane on a runway

What Airlines Are Doing This?

As some might expect, it’s primarily the US airlines bringing on this charge. Delta is the most guilty of all, removing all charts to give a basis of value, but American and United are closely nipping at their heels making things more complicated and more volatile. The idea that for the same flight from New York to Los Angeles with American in business class you could pay as little as 50,000 round trip or as much as 125,000 one way is laughable.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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