Frequent Flyer Programmes

Are Airline Miles Based On How Far You Fly?

As many times in life the answer to the question: “Are Airline Miles Based On How Far You Fly?” is yes and no. It’s a little more complicated than just considering how many miles you have physically travelled from point A to point B to get your loyalty miles. So let’s go into the nitty gritty of this topic.

One Upon a Time…

Airline miles have evolved significantly over the years. The tool and the system is the same just the way miles are earned changed dramatically. Some initial versions of airline loyalty programs allowed to claim a reward flight every certain number of flights travelled. Later on though the idea of connecting the reward flight to the distance a passenger travelled became widespread.

Many airlines for a long time used the distance passengers travelled to assign the loyalty currency. So yes in the past the distance was the main way airlines assigned loyalty points. However in recent years that all changed.

Korean Air Boeing 777-300ER on final approach. The Korean airline uses SkyPass as its loyalty system but Are Airline Miles Based On How Far You Fly?
Korean Air Boeing 777-300ER on final approach

Are Airline Miles Based On How Far You Fly Today?

As years went on airlines figured out that frequent flyer programs are the most valuable asset they own. A money making machine that rakes in money day in and day out.

In order to maximise the revenue generated by this tool a couple of things were done:

  • Status miles and reward miles were uncoupled. If you notice, in your loyalty account you’ll find one points balance for your status and the other that you can use to redeem rewards. By doing so airlines can sell miles directly or through partners without having to widen the crowd of elite status holders. Miles you purchase usually don’t help build up status miles, you’ll have to fly to do so.
  • Miles have multipliers depending on travel class and fare. Don’t just automatically think that means that the multiplier will increase your miles per flight. In fact if you book the cheapest ticket on the cheapest fare and travel class you will only earn between 50 and 70% of the route miles. On the contrary if you book the most expensive fare, in a premium cabin all the more, you get way more miles than the route miles. Some of the extra cheap fares might not include milage all together.

So summing up about the question “Are Airline Miles Based On How Far You Fly?”, no not really. It also heavily depends on your travel class and your fare. So pay attention when booking your next flight not to miss out on getting those frequent flyer miles and get a little closer to claiming your first reward flight. For more info, tips and insights join me in my FMP (FlightsMilesandPoints.com) aviation and travel lover news group.

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