Conventional wisdom in the miles and points arena is that you generally shouldn’t hang onto a huge loyalty program balance. “Earn and burn” is the more popular motto these days as redemption rates rise quickly and programs evolve to make using your hard-earned points more difficult.
But let me tell you… am I ever grateful to be sitting on 400,000-plus United Airlines miles this week.
This past weekend I attended a fantastic BoardingArea conference in Colorado Springs and got home late Sunday night. Very early Monday morning, I heard my phone vibrate with an incoming call, but I dismissed it and didn’t look to see who it was.
Not being able to fall back asleep wondering who the hell would be calling me at an ungodly hour, I eventually got up to see it was from my Mom, who happened to be in New Orleans on a Mother’s Day weekend vacation with her sister and niece.
And the voicemail that was left brought instant panic as my Mom was being ambulanced to a hospital for mostly unknown reasons.
While family was there to support her and relay details back to the rest of our family, it was urgent that I got there as well as my brother. I definitely would have purchased the very high last-minute revenue ticket, but having those accumulated United miles to ease the financial burden was a godsend.
Long story short, my Mom is “okay.” She’ll be discharged shortly and I’m arranging to get her and my brother to their respective homes on miles. And let me also just mention how grateful I am that United leaves a seat or two open in first class and doesn’t upgrade everyone in the queue. I’m able to book my Mom a seat up front, where she’ll need the extra space and comfort.
I normally wouldn’t advise anyone to hoard a balance of airline or hotel points, but am I ever grateful that I had a stash to fall back on this week.