So, spending miles on business class is a waste, right? Wrong. The answer is: It depends. Generally, I prefer to stretch my miles because we earn them through sign-up bonuses only. The gravy train could come to a screeching halt any moment, and I am very cognizant of that fact.
Last week I saw an interesting post on Mommy Points titled Why Australia is too far in coach…for us As you have guessed from the title, the author said that 17 hours is a very long time to spend in economy, too long, in fact.
Since her family has plenty of miles due to business travel, it makes no sense to conserve them and suffer in coach. Actually, I completely 100% agree with that post. Nope, no snark or punch line coming later.
But wait, you may say, didn’t I just write that this industry overstates the importance of business class seats? I stand by my statement 100% as well. I think when the seat becomes the determining factor for your destination, you have a problem.
When you refuse to fly for 3 hours in coach when business class is sold out, well, you also have a problem. I liked this humorous (and insightful) post in Online Travel Review blog, called 50 answers to your frequent flyer questions
Here is an excerpt:
“Isn’t it miserable to fly in coach to Europe?
Answer: Not as miserable as not going to Europe.”
Perfectly put. That said, 17 hours is a freaking long time to sit in coach! If you have plenty of miles, this is the kind of route to use them on. Why would you conserve them and put your family through this misery if you don’t have to?
I’ve also recently seen some comments from readers who are worried that flying their kids in business class is somehow teaching them a wrong set of values. I honestly think it’s overcomplicating things. Of course, that’s what we as parents do: We worry and worry some more…
If you fly on Spirit airlines, you are already better off than 95% of the world population. If your kids are well fed every day, you should be grateful for that. Many parents aren’t so fortunate. Should we not travel or feed our children because others are having a hard time making ends meet?
Here is what sends kids the wrong message:
1) When you shove your status down everyone’s throat when tiny things go wrong. I don’t mean legitimate problems, but silly stuff such as absence of olives in your drink.
2) When you act like you are superior to the coach passengers just because you sit upfront.
3) When you treat a flight attendant as if they are your personal servant.
You don’t even have to say anything. Kids are very smart and can pick up on those things. Flying in business class is perfectly fine. What’s not fine is when you let it define who you are as a person. Then you are most certainly sending your kids the wrong message.
Honestly, there are times when splurging miles is almost a no-brainer. Above, you’ll see a picture of my father-in-law on Aer Lingus flight. He was in it courtesy of Avios program sweet spot, aka 25,000 miles for business class between Boston and Dublin. It’s a ridiculous bargain, and totally worth it for overnight flights leaving from US, especially since taxes aren’t that much more compared to economy.
If you have a ton of Avios; plan to fly this route and don’t splurge on business class, you should get your travel hacker’s license revoked. Forever. A side note: I said a few months ago that my father-in-law used to dig ditches for living. Well, he read the post and it didn’t sit well with him that I said that. He notified me that he used to dig foundations for houses. As you can see, it’s totally different. Sorry, Pops!
Another time it could make sense to redeem miles for business class is if you have a medical condition. For example, my dad suffers from the lack of blood flow in one of his legs. It’s a pretty serious situation, and he may need a surgery at some point. When on a long flight in economy, he has to get up every hour or so, to make sure it doesn’t become deadly.
This summer, I plan to redeem miles for my parents to come visit us in 2016. Business seat from Europe to USA runs 50,000 miles one-way, compared to 30,000 miles in economy through AAdvantage. Since I have a decent supply of miles, I won’t hesitate to splurge in a situation like that.
Unfortunately, a lot of award flights route through London and incur hefty surcharges, since they are on BA metal. My only option would be Air Berlin, and business award availability seems scarce at the moment. That’s why I have United miles as a back-up for redemption on Lufthansa.
I also plan to redeem miles in business class for a flight from Seattle to Florida in 2016. Have I lost my mind? Isn’t it a blog for a regular family? Well, hear me out. The flights are from Seattle to Tampa, and business class costs 25,000 miles one-way compared to 12,500 miles in economy. Oh, and currently, there are almost no coach seats available on that route, but plenty upfront. So why not use Southwest points instead?
Since we would have to leave at noon or later (after cruise ship docks), the flight would get to Tampa around midnight. So, it would be much more comfortable in business class. Another problem: Southwest doesn’t open their booking window till around 7 months out. If we wait, we would have to rely on its schedule and pricing. There may not be any noon flights available or the price on points may be astronomical.
To me, it seems wise to just grab the seats through AAdvantage, and be done with it. However, keep in mind: I have a decent supply of miles at the moment, and can afford to splurge. So once again, this is what works for me.
One thing is for certain: Miles are meant to be used, not hoarded for some apocalyptic event. They are just a tool to get your family where they need to go. If it ends up being in business class, enjoy and don’t think twice.
Just because you fly with your kids in business class seats, doesn’t mean they will end up being spoiled brats later on in life. By the same token, just because you choose coach (when you don’t have to), it doesn’t guarantee that your children will grow up to be humble, grounded adults. If only raising kids were that simple…
Growing up in Soviet Union, my travel mostly involved taking a 2-hour train ride to another city and spending summers with my cousin. I remember looking at photos of Hawaii and Caribbean and thinking I would never get to visit those places. Thankfully, I was wrong.
I still pinch myself when I realize that we can afford to take my kids to Jamaica and Amalfi coast all in one year, thanks to this hobby. I hope to never lose this sense of wonder and I hope my children don’t either.
Oh, and one of these days, I hope to take them to Australia. If it ends up being in business class, I will consider it a cherry on top!
Readers, do you think that flying in business class means spoiling your kids?
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Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.
I have only flown overseas once, in coach, without my kids, on a paid ticket (and I even got vomited on that 1st flight by the guy behind me). I was just so happy to be going that I didn’t care. It was that trip that led me to finding you and other miles/points bloggers. With 4 kids, I doubt I’ll ever fly 1st class, that’s ok. My mission is just to get “there”, with them, which requires mega miles/points. I say if you’ve got the miles and that its important to you, then by all means do it!!
Stacy, I agree completely! Flying upfront isn’t critical, but it is nice if the opportunity presents itself. Actually, you may be able to get business seats on Boston-Dublin route. Availability is usually excellent, and most routes have 4 economy and 2 business awards available. If you have Avios (BA program), this is a good place to splurge on upfront seat. It’s only 25,000 miles one-way, and can make a night flight much more tolerable. Avios transfer from Chase Ultimate Rewards, SPG and Membership Rewards. And of course, right now Chase BA Visa comes with 50,000 miles and no annual fee. You can read more in my “Best credit card deals for family” page.
Speaking of cheap flights to Europe, Frequent Miler has found tickets from New York to Milan for $400 roundtrip, all taxes included. Just thought I would mention http://frequentmiler.boardingarea.com/2015/01/19/emirates-from-new-york-to-milan/
All travel has to be completed by the end of May, though.
Thanks for your reply! There are so many creative options that I wouldn’t even think of! So, thanks for the great tips. Love your blog. We moved to TX (why??) from Seattle a couple of years ago. We enjoy the sun year round now, but miss Seattle dearly.
Stacy, no problem at all! Feel free to email me anytime. I don’t claim to be an expert on Europe travel, but will try to point you in the right direction.
I’ve only driven through Seattle, but hope to have a day to explore it before the cruise. It looked like a neat place, for sure. Haven’t been to Texas, but hope to visit it as well. I think there are pros and cons to every location. I’m a city gal, but live in a rural town. 🙂
Oh, and thank you for your kind words!
I am cheap with my miles and I generally don’t mind flying in coach. We have flown to Europe in Coach before and survived! If I had more miles to burn, I may not mind so much.
Holly, I am very cheap too! Too cheap, in fact. 🙂 That said, I don’t like hoarding miles, since they devalue as time goes by. I have only flown to Europe in coach, but would not hesitate to burn miles for the outbound night flight. It hasn’t worked out yet, but that’s OK.
Like you said, when you have a limited amount of miles, you have to be careful not to spend them needlessly. If I find a reasonable price on the flight from Seattle, I may just pay cash. If not, I’ll burn the darn miles! We have a limited amount in savings, so any time I can conserve cash, I’m happy. I can always sign up for more mileage cards, at least, for now.