I usually fly on Delta, so I have built up some frequent flyer miles over the years. It takes a long time because I don’t fly that often (I think the last free flight I earned was in 1991), but I went to Ireland a few years ago, then got a bunch of miles for switching natural gas companies one time, plus a few trips out west over the years.
In November I will fly out to San Francisco, so I thought I should see if I have enough miles. The fares aren’t that bad, so the flight was maybe $320 round trip. I could get a free ($11.20, almost free) flight for 25,000 miles. I wondered if this was a good deal though. What are 25,000 miles really worth? So I looked it up and found that a mile is worth anywhere from about a half cent to about 5 cents. The article said that if you wanted to maximize the value of your miles, you should never get an economy class cross-country ticket, because that was the lowest value you could earn. Instead they recommended purchasing an upgradeable cross-country ticket (for about $600) and then using your miles to upgrade to business class ($2700). Then instead of spending 25,000 miles on a $320 flight, you were spending 25,000 miles adding $2100 in value to your flight. But on my flight, the first class ticket is more like $1300 (I don’t know how much an upgradeable ticket would cost). I’m sure business class is worth something, but for me it isn’t worth a whole lot since I’m only spending a few hours on the plane and it goes to the same place as economy class. I’d much rather get a free flight every 25 years.