Probably the most frequent misconception I run across (although perhaps tied with the idea that you can productively use Capital One points for premium cabin international travel) in my award consulting practice is that upgrading with miles either opens up a world of options beyond what booking award tickets gets you, or that mileage upgrades are a better value.
So I wrote a column fpr Conde’ Nast Daily Traveler on why award tickets are a better use of miles than upgrades.
Here’s the lead-in:
Conventional wisdom has always said that the most lucrative way to use miles was to confirm upgrades from coach to business class on paid international tickets.
That’s because you would accrue miles for the paid travel, plus earn status. And because upgrades require fewer points than a free ticket, you stretch your miles further. Unfortunately, that age-old advice no longer holds because of changes that most frequent flyer programs have made. Upgrade awards have become more difficult to get your hands on, while free tickets have become more valuable. These changes have reversed the advice—free award seats are almost always a better deal than paid travel with upgrades. Here’s why:
As they say, read the whole thing.