Ever Wonder If – Those “Buy Extra Miles” at airport check-in are a good deal.

Sure we’ve all been there. You are rushing around getting ready for your trip and you jump online to check in for your flight, “pick and pray” on the seat selector without the advantage of SeatGuru available. You worry about how to print the boarding pass in a hotel lobby with 5 printers that all lack ink and IT support.

Or Maybe you’re doing it on the fly at the airport Kiosk, worried about dropping your bags or passport while the amateur travelers all around you wonder at your kiosk skills and how cool a jet-setter like you looks.

Then BANG you get the “Mileage Multiplier” !!!

Wait!!! HOLD THE PLANE. YOU mean for just a bit more money I can get 5,000 extra miles to add to my Euro Trip Vacation stash.

Oh it must be a good deal because after all I’m flying already and only people checking in will be able to gain these extra miles at such a good value. I can see myself drinking champagne in crystal fluted glasses in first class. Or is that sparkling wine in plastic cups?

But wait is it a good deal? It must be but I can’t do the math in my head, too much going on. UGGGG. Not sure what to do! Pull the trigger or pass up the “deal of the century”. Oh the pressure.

OK let’s not do math, let’s just compare. If you don’t even have a reservation but log into AA.com (in this case). Go to the Buy, Gift and Transfer miles page and you’ll find this price:

That’s right my friends you would have just paid $12.03 too much for those miles at check-in. Feel special yet? Oh and there is more. That’s without taking advantage of the frequent or current mile buy deals for buying more miles.

Sure $461.99 is a lot to spend on miles but this is just a hint that those miles at check-in aren’t usually a good deal. As a rule of thumb if you aren’t seeing “buy miles” deals at less than 2 cents per mile it isn’t usually a great deal. In fact buying miles rarely is a good deal to buy on speculation. It can pay off to buy miles to put you over the top for a premium cabin redemption but I’ve never seen it be a good deal at check-in. I assume there are folks that can sneak this through on an expense account but most of us live in the real world and have morals.

Oh and those travel bloggers that help us all out by telling us about the latest mile buying promotions or top travel gadgets to buy from Amazon can be helpful if you have the need. Remember though that most are doing this as a way to may affiliate revenue. They get money when you click through many of the deals they post. Doesn’t make it wrong but just do it eyes-wide open. In fact when I do take advantage of things like this or credit card sign-ups I try to do it through blogs I like to support them. Some of them also lack morals so use caution.

Side Note: I pick on American Airlines here but most airline check-in deals aren’t worth it. Just remember if the price for those 5,000 miles is higher than $100 you are paying too much. Less than that could be a good deal and a unicorn. Maybe like a unicorn using a kiosk at the airport 🙂

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