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I believe the following only 20%, but it’s a point of view to consider. I have grown addicted to flying business and first class, so I am definitely still in the the-United-chart-devaluation-is-a-horrible-thing camp.

Last week, United announced that starting February 1st, you’ll need a ton more United miles for international business and first class awards, especially on United’s partners.

Economy class award prices rose modestly on some routes and stayed the same on others.

This so-called “devaluation” of United miles is great news for most frequent flyer mile enthusiasts! We will be much happier with our supposedly less valuable United miles for three reasons:

  1. We will book far more trips than before with our United miles. The value is now in economy class awards, which cost fewer miles than premium cabin awards, meaning more trips for us.
  2. We’ll book more award flights for our friends to travel to or with us, which will make us happier.
  3. No longer will our trip decisions be in any way influenced by the airline and cabin that we can fly–and that’s the way it should be.
Travel is more fun when you use your miles to book a flight for a buddy (or brother)!

Why will we be happier with “less valuable miles”?

More Trips

A United award redemption used to cost me 100k or more miles for a roundtrip because I would redeem for at least business class on longhaul segments.

Going forward I plan to redeem United miles for economy travel, which will range from 35k to 85k miles roundtrip depending on whether I want to stay close–Central America–or stray far–the Middle East.

Fewer miles per trip means more trips, which is why I started collecting miles.

Fewer miles per trip also means less effort on accruing United miles and more effort on accruing other rewards to make my trips cheaper like Arrival miles, which can be used for any hostel, hotel, car rental, train, bus, or other form of travel that accepts credit cards.

Having those costs taken care of also means more trips.

More trips is a good thing, so the United devaluation is a good thing.

More Redemptions for Friends

This year, I redeemed over 130,000 frequent flyer miles as gifts to friends, so they could travel with me or visit me. These awards have brought me as much or more happiness than the awards I’ve booked for myself.

When I have the chance to efficiently use my miles for my own business and first class award trips, I am likely to greedily hoard them. But with the comfort level of my flights reduced, I am more likely to offer people miles to visit me at home or on the road.

I’m not a perfect altruist, so this devaluation is a nudge in the right direction.

Ideally I wouldn’t need to use my miles on my friends because they would learn from me and accrue their own miles. But in practice, we all have some family or friends who cannot open credit cards to accrue miles because:

  • they have bad credit
  • they don’t have the discipline to use credit cards and pay them off each month
  • they’re foreign
  • they’re too young

To give those people–who think they cannot afford to travel–the gift of travel is one of the most valuable gifts I can give them. In 2014, I plan to give more of those gifts, especially with my United miles.

Our Only Concern Will Be the Destination

I’ve long thought that people come to the frequent flyer mile hobby from a variety of places.

  • Travel–These are the wanderlusters, who want to travel more, more, more and discover that miles are a way that they can fit that into their budget. This is how I first got into the game.
  • Status–These are the business travelers whose first brush with the miles world is status. They are looking to maximize the perks of all the time they spend in the air.
  • Deals–These are the deal seekers. They coupon (as a verb!) and drive a hard bargain on craigslist. This is often the perspective of young families who need to stretch their budget for 4-5 of everything. They see miles as the extension of their deals mentality into the world of travel.
  • Luxury–These are folks who want one or a lifetime of luxurious trips. They might be planning for a honeymoon and want to surprise their fiancee with first class everything. They might be wealthy enough to afford all the travel they want in economy, but would prefer to fly first class instead even if it means buying some miles or paying fuel surcharges.

Different blogs approach the miles game from different angles, so your favorites are probably the ones where your approach and the authors’ are similar.

While I originally approached the miles game from a Travel and Deals perspective, I have crept towards a Luxury perspective as I’ve become addicted to flying some of the world’s nicest first class cabins.

I still have never booked a trip solely to fly or test out a product, but I’ve let the chance to fly certain products have an undue influence on my trip choices–which is a shame because the lasting memories are still on the ground for me.

Now with United miles, I will be booking almost exclusively economy class redemptions.

Some people see a difference between certain airlines’ economy products, but not me. Airline product will be out of the equation on United awards for me, so I can focus exclusively on the destination. That’s great news because some of the top places on my current to-travel list have no good products serving them and are close enough where an economy redemption will still be comfortable. (I’m thinking Guatemala, Panama, Venezuela, and Colombia soon.)

I started collecting frequent flyer miles to travel more often to more interesting places. Now that can be my focus again with United miles without the distraction of flat bed seats.

Your Take

Who have I convinced that the United devaluation is the best thing for us? I know that many of you are furious about the devaluation, and I am not happy myself, but I hope this post and Eight Silver Linings of Today’s Massive United Mile Devaluation have at least made you reconsider the position that the devaluation is all bad.

As I tweeted Friday:

Let me have it in the comments. 😉

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