My Precious Miles Don't Go That Far In The Face Of Airline Fees

You fly and fly and you spend on your credit card and do things to rack up miles, and finally, the day comes, as it did for Consumerist reader Jim, when you can cash those miles in for an actual flight! Hurray! But oh, wait, there’s this thing called “fees” which end up raining on any happy redeeming parade.

He writes in about his story of deciding to cash in his United miles for a flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles. But when faced with pretty hefty fees, he realized wait — this is cheaper if I just you know, pay for it. With money.

I was looking online for a flight from San Francisco SFO to Los Angeles LAX when I decided to log into United.com to see if I had enough miles for a free flight. Lo and behold, I had roughly 17k miles and United listed my preferred flight as only a 10k redemption. As I continued through the booking and got to the end confirmation, I noticed that United was not only going to charge 10k miles, but also $77.50 in fees. I logged out and then checked the price if I were to just purchase the same flight – the price was $69.70. What’s the point of joining a frequent flyer program and accumulating miles if you still have pay fees that exceed the actual price of a ticket?