When redeeming points and miles for an award flight, there seem to be two schools of thought. One is to use them to redeem more flights cheap flights to go to more destinations. The other is to use them toward tickets that you wouldn’t otherwise spend money on. Both are perfectly legitimate reasons. So which one do I choose?
For short domestic flights (under 3 hours), I really don’t care where I sit and most of the time, I don’t feel like the redemption value is worth it for me to spend points vs. buying the ticket outright. Now that’s me but YMMV. I feel like I can get better value for my points if I redeem them for international flights, but if you primarily travel domestically, then it makes more sense to redeem your points toward that.
For longer domestic flights and international flights, I prefer to redeem my points by going after premium cabins for a few reasons. First is that I’m more inclined to spend points on something where I wouldn’t be willing or have the money to spend on. It gives me a chance to live above my means without any added cost. Also, there are perks available to premium cabins on international flights that aren’t available on premium domestic flights. For example, a business class seat for international travel will typically get you into an airport lounge where you can take advantage of the amenities like food, drink, comfort, etc. However most domestic flights don’t allow access to lounges even with a first class ticket. There are a few exceptions but those are only available on select routes. Finally, when I’m on vacation, I think the journey is just as important as the destination. This isn’t something I do everyday and I want to celebrate it. I want an experience that I otherwise couldn’t afford but am lucky enough to live through miles.
One last note is if you’re either larger or taller than the airline seat, the upgrade is probably really worth it. I always feel bad for a really tall guy stuck in a middle seat who looks like giant spider cramped inside a clown car.
So, that’s how I see it. I also know that many save their miles so they can take more trips but don’t use them because they always seem to be chasing the next level. I’d rather spend the miles and take advantage than just stare at them. But that’s just me.