Are Mileage Boosters Worth It?

Frequent Flyers are a curious bunch. There are many, maybe the majority, who are happy to just accumulate miles as they happen, saving up for that “someday trip.” Others are quite mad – really, they’ll tell you it’s a sickness – making mileage runs specifically to qualify for Elite status. Wherever you fall in this spectrum, you’d probably jump at an opportunity for extra miles. The question is, at what cost?

Frequent Flyer Miles sometimes require  complicated calculations to arrive at the Worth It Equation.

Frequent Flyer Miles sometimes require complicated calculations to arrive at the Worth It Equation.

Recently, airlines have discovered the financial boon that retailers have honed to a science: Add ons. Unfortunately, some of those add ons were once standard parts of airfare that have been de-bundled, and most of us fear where that logic will lead. On the other hand, some add ons are nice to have. We actually don’t mind paying a bit more to guarantee early boarding and a little extra legroom, as opposed to taking our chances with the luck of the draw. Everyone has their “worth it” equation.

Some airlines are now offering “mileage boosters”: for a cost, you can add a percentage of your trip miles. For example, on a recent flight, we had the opportunity to add almost 2200 miles at a cost of $94, about four cents per mile; 65% more miles for a little more than half our original fare. No more time on the plane, no additional flights, no creative routing; just a straight mileage purchase. Worth it? Most mileage runners aim for three to five cents, so we thought so. On the other hand, some airlines let you just purchase miles, sometimes for as little as two to three cents per mile. Given that our original ticket price worked out to about 11c/mile, either option seems like a bargain!

So, are mileage boosters worth it? The extra miles don’t usually raise your status so, if that’s what you’re after, most offers won’t help. But, if you’re closing the gap on a goal – say, enough miles to fly to your dream destination – then have a price in mind and buy when the price is right. We seriously consider (and often buy) almost any offer under 5-cents per mile. We do love it when the airlines sweeten the pot with added extras, like no bag fees or extra legroom, with those miles too. (Are you listening, Airlines?)

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Have you taken advantage of extra mileage offers, upgrades or other “bundles? Which ones, if any, make your “worth it” equation?

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