For lo these many months have we wandered into the office daily to ponder why King Solomon didn’t make use of his frequent flyer airline miles when he was darting about from one corner of his kingdom to the other? At least we’re fairly certain the good King wasn’t carrying around an American Airlines Suckercard…er…we meant to say Mastercard, during his travels. The Bible doesn’t mention airline reward points in one single, solitary instance, which leads us to the obvious conclusion that it wasn’t a good deal then either!
We Americans are such suckers for anything that promises a nebulous reward at some undefinable point in the future if we will only crank our outlandish consumerism up another notch. Buy 10 mega-large sandwiches and get the 11th free. Fill your tank at our gas station and we’ll knock a few pennies off the price per gallon. This is not to say that a few these come-on’s don’t actually amount to some sort of savings over the long term, but we’re a bit suspicious, to say the least, about the alleged value of running every monthly expense through your credit card just to gain a few more airline miles.
In theory, it’s a great idea, assuming that you pay the credit card bill without fail for the rest of your life, before any interest accrues, which is a predictable impossibility for the average American, who can reach into his wallet, grab a piece of plastic, swipe it, and have it tucked away faster than Yosemite Sam can shoot himself twice in the foot.
As we were saying, the problem with airline miles is that when it comes time to cash in some of those 700 trillion points for actual flights â€“ umm â€“ it’s not quite so easy. First of all, the flights you want on the days you want are guaranteed not to be available. They are, in industry parlance, blacked out. So while you may have enough points in your account to fly around the world six times, there’s a good chance they’ll be sitting in your account ten years later, still waiting for a chance to provide some modicum of usefulness. Sure you will probably be granted the â€œopportunityâ€ to pay some sort of outrageous fee and, magically, a seat will appear on an airplane that wasn’t there before.
Once we rip away the blinders, it’s obvious that the only beneficiary of frequent flyer miles is the airline itself, which cut a sweetheart deal with the credit card company in order to issue you that snazzy little card with the fancy logo. It might not be accurate to call this process an outright scam because every little impossibility with booking is spelled out in the fine print, but we don’t feel we’re wandering too far off the reservation here to say it is stupid.
We suggest you don’t participate in the madness. King Solomon didn’t.
The Solomon Success Team
Flickr / Jun Acullador