Posted by: pizzainmotion | February 9, 2012

Why Collecting The Right Points Is So Important

There’s no question my daughter is a bit spoiled, especially when it comes to travel.  But, she’s part of the reason I’m obsessed about points and miles.

I wrote recently about the different values of points from various programs.  You can re-read that post here.

Traveling with children is a stressful experience, for both kids and parents.  Cramming into coach is significantly less aspirational than first class.  My wife had a funny experience with my daughter last year.

I was scheduled to be in Denver for 3 weeks, so we scheduled a week in the middle where they could fly out and spend some time with me exploring.  I gave my wife the choice between a connection in Dallas on American Airlines, or a direct flight on Southwest.  I encouraged her to take the Dallas connection since she was traveling without me, as I knew American would take care of them if anything happened with weather or mechanical delays.

She chose Southwest.  My daughter had never flown Southwest before.  I was able to get them Early Bird Boarding, but there were still about 15 people who were in line in front of them.  First words out of my daughter’s mouth, “Mommy, how come we’re not getting on the plane first?  We always get on the plane first when Daddy is with us.”

This yielded a smirk from my wife, but she had no idea what was coming next.  They walked down the jetbridge with my daughter in front.  For those that don’t know, Southwest is all coach seats, and there is no assigned seating (first come, first served).  As they boarded the plane and turned right to find a seat, my daughter said quite loudly, “Oh, Mommy!  These seats are so much smaller than the ones we normally sit in!”

Needless to say, my wife was mortified, and the flight attendant gave her quite the look.  My wife tried to encourage my daughter to sit next to a nice looking older lady (Southwest sits 3 across in all rows), but Catherine didn’t want to sit next to someone she didn’t know.  She couldn’t grasp that we didn’t have our own seats, and someone we didn’t know was going to sit next to us.  So, they sat in two empty seats, and lo and behold, a rather large and somewhat unpleasant smelling man took the seat next to them.  Catherine was mortified.

Rewind the year before that, when 5 of us were flying to Rome.  We all had sleeper seats in business class on American Airlines.  My daughter had a field day, with tons of food and a purser that spent most of the flight entertaining her.  I can’t tell which one of them had more fun.

So, which experience would you prefer?

You can generally earn 1 point per dollar charged on a credit card associated with most airlines and hotels.  That American Airlines point can get you to Rome in a sleeper if you collect enough of them, versus collecting Southwest points to get crammed into coach.

And, if you spend enough money on AA’s credit card ($40,000 a year), you can earn enough Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) to get almost halfway to Gold status.  Gold status gets you free checked baggage, priority boarding and 25% more miles every time you fly.  Additionally, those credit card miles count towards lifetime status with the airline if you have the right card.  So, you can earn those privileges forever.

Middle seat in coach or sleeper seat to Rome?  It’s all about the points.


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