Frequent Flier Mile Auctions Look Like A Sucker Bet

If you’re a member of any of the major airlines’ frequent flier programs, you’ve probably received e-mails trying to get you to use those miles to bid on auctions for anything from resort getaways to Kentucky Derby passes. But the people who win these auctions may just be tossing away good miles. points out that the winning bids on many of these auctions are several times the value of a round-trip domestic ticket. In many cases, those tickets are more valuable than what customers are bidding on.

The winning bid for a trip for two to the Country Music Awards was 592,000 miles. For those miles, the bidder could have purchased almost 12 round-trip domestic economy tickets, or six round-trip business class seats.

“Auctions benefit the airlines more than the consumer,” George Hobica of AirfareWatchdog tells SmartMoney. “They’re trying to find ways to reduce their mileage liability.”

The airlines defend the auctions by saying that they offer experiences that are often not generally available to the public.

And if you are a business traveler with a 6-figure stash of miles that you’ll probably never get around to using, maybe it might be a good idea to use them on passes to awards shows or seats in the American flight simulator.

But most people will want to double-check that they aren’t giving away miles that could be better used in the more traditional way.

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