Airline Miles - Its Not What You Think

7 minutes


If you’re a frequent flyer like me, you probably get asked how many miles you have by now every single time. As a matter of fact, if we were given a dollar every time someone tells us how much miles we’ve earned, we’d be able to afford a roundtrip ticket. So today, I’d like to debunk all the myths that people have not only about frequent travelers but also for airline miles!

Hello and welcome to the Traveling Introvert. Today is a question I get asked a lot, or assumed a lot, is well, you travel so much, you must have so many miles stacked up. And I think this is a case of people know that that's a thing, but people don't really know how it works and so that's what they say. And it generally works. Yes, of course you do get miles, but now, it's that much harder to get miles and it's not miles per miles you actually travel. So that's the first myth. A lot of people think that you get back in mythical miles currency, the amount of miles you actually travel per year. And that would be wonderful. Maybe.

But that is not the case. A lot of the times you will get, it's based on how much money you spend times maybe the miles or depending on the airline, how they do it. Things that don't get taken into consideration is the amount of money you pay for taxes, and when you buy a plane ticket, you don't realizes sometimes that there is a tax for leaving the country, a tax for entering a country, a TSA tax, an airport tax. There's all sorts of other little taxes that get put in, which might even make it more than half of your actual plane ticket price. So that's one thing. Then there's the fact that most of the time, how many miles you earn might be linked to the airline that you're with. Also might be linked to which credit card you might use.

In fact, it is better if you have a credit card, or you have to spend a certain amount of money with some airlines. Yes, you might have a case amount of air miles, but that doesn't get you status, and status is the important thing. Status is the thing that can get you access to lounges, can get you access to boarding first, can get you extra luggage allowance. These are things that are very helpful. But sometimes you can't get them if you don't have the credit card, 'cause you just can't spend the money, or -- here's the other thing -- if you work for a company and that company is buying your ticket, sometimes you don't have a choice of who you get to fly with and therefore you don't have a choice of where the miles go.

So just because someone is traveling a lot doesn't mean they're automatically racking up a bunch of miles. What if they're buying the cheapest tickets? And now, there are definitely tickets where you don't get miles. You're just lucky you get a seat. You might not even get luggage. You get hand luggage, not necessarily carry-on. It might just be a personal item and you have to pay extra for everything else. So, I always found it really interesting, oh, you must have racked up a bunch of miles. And I look at my miles and I'm like, I've got 12,000 miles. It's very interesting.

The other thing is okay, so I might have miles, but then how do I spend them? I have a friend right now, she says I have these miles, I've got them with Copper Airlines which, y'know, is fine. But she's looking and she's like, I wanna spend these miles but there's nowhere I can go that the miles will cover. And we've just had a conversation recently, and she's like, the most I can do is go from Mexico City to Panama City, one way. And it costs me far more money to take a one-way ticket back than it would just by return. So she can't use the miles. Some miles have expiration dates. It takes a lot of miles.

So, for example, some airlines definitely have sort of a 32,000 mile minimum for you to get a flight, one flight, somewhere, or 17,000 miles. And to get that 17,000 miles, you can't just fly 17,000 miles, you actually have to fly more than that to get there, and sometimes you can have an accelerator, sometimes you can buy the miles outright. But generally, mile per dollar or cent or whatever doesn't work out the same way.

So, yes, people might travel a lot. Doesn't necessarily they have miles racked up, and even if they do, it doesn't mean it's really easy to spend them. So don't necessarily be envious and assume that miles is the thing. Now, some people are super into the mileage game. And it's great. But it's not necessarily the miles that you get with staying with an airline, it's the loyalty and the parks you may or may not get. Now some airlines have the same perks if you just get their card, their credit card. Not everyone can get a credit card. And I'll be honest, the credit card game is mainly restricted to the United States. And so, there's the rest of the world out there that can't play the game in the same way. It's fairly interesting.

So when people say oh, you must have a lot of miles racked up. Yeah, no, not really. I looked and I don't really spend my miles that often. I tend to save my miles for emergencies. If I have a friend who's sick and I have to go in an emergency, I would use miles, for example. But yeah, no, I don't have a bunch of miles racked up. If someone wants to donate miles to me, I will take them. My airline of choice is United, but I will take any miles in Star Alliance or with Delta, 'cause Delta miles never expire. Alright, thank you for listening. This is Janice from the Career Introvert looking forward to helping you with your career and your business out in line with your introversion. If you have any questions or anything you want me to answer, please email me at

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