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March 03, 2010

No, I Have NOT Forgotten Your Most Frustrating Frequent-Flier-Mile Quandaries! (I've Just Been Really, REALLY Busy.)


Mucho apologies to all you air warriors whom I've left hanging for an embarrassing--yikes!--six weeks. As you may recall, I was in the middle of publishing frequent-flier guru and FlyerTalk founder Randy Petersen's answers to the top ten winning questions in our FlyerTalk Challenge contest. These included:

Then I dropped the ball, waylaid by a hectic travel schedule and my Condé Nast Traveler print workload. All I can say is:  Thank you for your patience, and I'm making it up to you with a special five-page Perrin Report, in Condé Nast Traveler's upcoming April issue, that's a step-by-step guide to fully harnessing the power of loyalty programs so as to snag as many free flights and upgrades as possible.

While you're waiting for that, here are the final five questions in the FlyerTalk Challenge, along with links to Randy Petersen's inimitable answers:

6. My biggest dilemma when it comes to using points and miles is knowing how to best combine points that fall within the same airline alliance. For example, I know Delta and Northwest merged their rewards programs. How do I best stay on top of airline mergers and know when I can move miles to allied rewards programs? --Lauren

Click here to read Randy's answer.

7. When traveling for pleasure my timing is very flexible. Some airline Web sites are better than others in showing which days have award seats available (because availability is constantly shifting), and I know of no easy way to watch for seats, particularly at the lowest levels. Is there one?  Once someone--maybe it was Randy--had a service where for a fee they would keep checking for you and because of their expertise they would know alternative routings to check. Does such a service exist today, beyond the free help and advice on FlyerTalk? --Michael
Click here to read Randy's answer

8. As a Continental OnePass member who has earned elite status this year for the first time since 2001, what is the best way to efficiently accumulate miles toward maintaining elite status? Also, at what price point does it make sense to redeem miles for a domestic coach reward ticket? --Michi
Click here to read Randy's answer.

9. I fly between the U.S. and Europe in paid business class very often. I want to be able to redeem miles for business/first-class travel throughout the world. Which frequent-flyer program(s) should I concentrate my earnings on--European or American ones? They seem to have different fee structures and award availability. --Plover
Click here to read Randy's answer.

10. When buying a seat using miles, I miss out on so much that has value to me as a frequent flyer:
*Miles from the credit card purchase, plus bonus miles from being linked to that airline
*Miles from the flight, plus bonus based on elite status, plus bonus based on class of flight
*Miles from the flight toward elite-status qualification, plus bonus on class of flight purchased
And the airlines don't let seats go cheaply, in comparison to how much flying it takes to earn those miles. So how do you weigh all the factors that need to be considered when deciding whether to buy a seat using miles or money? --Sitting Tight
Click here to read Randy's answer.

You can read the entire series of Randy's answers here on FlyerTalk. Thanks, Randy, for sharing your wisdom...and for having the patience of a saint!


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