Change of Strategy for Using Airline Miles?

I recently came across an interesting column by Charlie Leocha in Consumer Traveler, an online travel-related web site, in which he writes what we all have probably suspected: the major airlines are screwing those of us who ride in the back of the plane.

We’re paying more and getting less. Meanwhile, the airlines are showering the folks in first and business class with all the goodies that were once just expected – meals, snacks, no fees for checked bags, etcetera and so forth.

For more than 20 years, I’ve used miles earned on American and Hawaiian Airlines for travel in economy class. The new strategy seems to be: pay cash for your economy seat and use your miles for upgrades.

I’m not sure this will prove to be a better deal. For one thing, a lot depends on where you live. Obviously, flights in and out of Hawaii – and Maui, in particular – are very popular and cost a lot, whether in miles or in cash. Just another extra cost that comes with living in paradise.

These days, when I get phone calls from people who live in the east or Midwest and are thoroughly sick of winter, the conversation always gets around to the caller asking about our weather here on Maui. As it happens, we’ve had days and days of unpleasant gusting winds and a lot of rain. The thing is, no one wants to hear that. They’re disappojnted and some even get a bit short with me. So now, no matter what the weather is really like, I just say, “It’s 80 degrees, sunny, with gentle northeast trade winds.” (Of course, that’s usually the way it really is.)