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How To Book A Flight And Know You Are Getting The Best Value

Booking A Flight Is All About The Math

  • Cost Per Mile (CPM) – 25 cents
  • Cost Per Ticket – $595
  • Airline Miles Gained – 2,400
  • Miles Cost Per Ticket – 35k economy or 45k First Class

So what does all of this mean? Who really cares how much a flight cost per mile? If you are like me then getting the best value and maximizing my miles is what its all about.

Maximizing airline miles and rewards points all starts with math.

By breaking down the cost of each ticket, you will see if paying for a ticket is better than using airline miles.. its as simple as that.

My wife and I are looking to fly from Anchorage to Seattle in June. We have enough airline miles to fly anywhere for free or we can purchase the tickets and save the miles for another trip.

This is the process I go through before choosing how I will pay for the airline tickets. Mind you, this process takes me about 2 minutes per flight. Also every flight is different. Flying from Anchorage to Seattle will give me a much different value than if I were to fly from Anchorage to Tampa Florida.

The first step is to figure out how much tickets currently cost. To fly from Anchorage to Seattle, we can get tickets for $595.

  • By purchasing a ticket we will each gain about 2,400 miles round trip. This allows us to figure the CPM.
  • Cost per mile equals $0.25/each! Means I am basically paying 25 cents per mile I fly.
  • We gain miles rather than spend miles. (but at a cost of 25 cents/each)

Second step is to figure out how much the tickets will cost in miles.

  • By using miles we save $595 for each ticket.
  • By using miles, we lose miles rather than gain miles for the flight.
  • We have the option to fly First Class without paying for a First Class ticket.

Since the trip from Anchorage to Seattle is short, the number of miles you will earn makes the cost per mile too high! I could spend $600 for a flight to Tampa Fl and earn just over 9,000 miles rather than 2,400 miles.

The third step is to figure out how much a First Class ticket will cost. I never pay for First Class, but will spend the miles to get the seat. Currently the First Class price is $1,243 or 45,000 miles. I do a quick breakdown of price per mile if I am going to spend miles.

  • $595 / 35,000 miles = 1.7 cents per mile (Economy Class)
  • $1,243 / 45,000 miles = 2.7 cents per mile (First Class)

When you redeem miles, the higher the value per mile, the better the deal. When you have to pay for a flight, the lower the price in miles, the better the value. If you are paying for miles, you want to get them as cheap as possible. Living in Alaska and flying on Delta or Alaska, its much harder to find deals that value your miles higher than 2.7 cents.

About Derek

I currently live in beautiful Alaska with my wife! Living in Alaska i have learned that it cost so much more just to travel anywhere! In order to fly anywhere it cost us an extra $250+ a ticket. We use miles and points to fly nearly everywhere for free, usually in First Class. You can also follow me on Twitter or Facebook or why not signup to receive new blog post via email or in RSS reader