Thursday, November 01, 2007

(in)Frequent Flyer

I got an email today telling me that my "Delta skymiles" are about to expire. Apparently it's been two years since I last (first) flew with Delta. The message was full of links with ideas on how to keep my miles (pay $50, fly somewhere else, give my credit card number to any number of other people to monitor for spending at specific places). Should I even bother?

When I first graduated from college, I worked for a consulting company headquartered in Chicago. I spent my first month of gainful employment commuting from St. Louis to the windy city via Southwest Airlines, staying in a nice downtown hotel, and eating out for every meal all on the company dime. By the time my office was "virtualized" post-Internet bubble 3 years later, I had a walletfull of rewards program cards, and had even earned a free flight or two. Mostly, though, I wasn't a huge traveller, and my flights and hotels were all over the place, so I never racked up enough in one place to make a difference. I also got married around then, and some of those crazy programs gave me the run around when I needed to change my name (and they would not give me any new points if my name did not match their records).

In my two subsequent jobs, travel opportunities have further dwindled. I've travelled exactly once for my current employer, and don't forsee more anytime soon. I'm not particularly upset by this either. When I was still single (well, committed, but not yet legal) business travel was kind of exciting. Pre-kids (but post-house), it was fine, maybe a touch annoying with so many things to do at home. These days it would border on abusive for my family to be gone much (though perhaps provide a nice mini-vacation for me). I'm a homebody, really.

My husband and I have done a bit of leisure travel, though less since Charlotte's arrival, and none since Trystan's (I would really love a trip to the beach...maybe next spring?). These days our vacations do(would) include the kids. In fact, that last (first) trip with Delta was a week in Palm Beach, FL where we split our time between the introducing Charlotte to the beach and catching up with a cousin of mine and my grandmother, who live in the area.

I am tempted to simply chuck all those little plastic cards in my wallet/file cabinet and simply ignore their presence when we travel in the future. Am I really missing anything? Does anyone like me, who only travels a couple of times a year at most, actually earn anything from them?


Lance said...

What you might want to consider is a loyalty credit card with one of the airlines (likely American or Southwest considering our airport). Then, you can earn lots of miles every month without having actually to fly (and with American, earning the miles on the card is enough to keep them from expiring). After a year or two, you'd have enough miles to fly somewhere.

Actually, we're visiting Phil and Amanda in England in January using miles from our card.

Kristi said...

Hmm..I've looked at some of those before. Most of them have an annual fee--$75/year is a bit much considering we don't keep balances on credit cards. There's the Capital One card, but the fact that it's advertised like mad actually makes me kind of wary. Still a thought though.

I'm definitely jealous of your getting to visit England! I'm soooo looking forward to having actual vacation time that isn't saved for hospital's been way too long since we last went anywhere :)

Lance said...

You're right that it costs us $75/year. However, we put enough on a credit card that it saves money in the long run. We don't keep balances on our cards, either; we just earn the miles for purchases.

Vacation time and medical needs are a complication :)