It's time to start thinking about travel plans for 2013.
With airline prices being what they are the key to surviving next year is going to be planning, and deals. If you don't take advantage of air-fare sales you're going to be paying almost $.12/mile. On some routes (like IAH-LAS for example) the spend rate is upwards of $.20/mile. This is bad for us because (as you know from reading this blog) Vegas is one of our favorite destinations that historically could be bought up at a fairly low spend rate.
Now, granted, all of this is going to change as Winter/Spring 2013 sales fares start to appear (and all potential destinations will probably change based on sales availability) but, with UA reducing service to IAH, pre-planning of travel is going to be key for the next several years.
One wildcard, for Star Alliance fliers out of IAH, is the new Turkish Airlines direct flights to Istanbul. Rumor has it some of these flights can be had for as low as $1,000 R/T. This calculates out to around $.08-.07/mile which is not a bad gateway to Europe. Plus, I'm expecting United to have some nice partner deals to Asia in the coming months, so the key might be to fly West (from IAH) in 2013.
I'd still like to visit Prague in 2013, but I'm not sure if route price/availability is going to let me get there.
Even if you're just a casual traveller who doesn't run down miles/points a little solid pre-planning will help you get where you need to be, cheaper. When flying in today's market, cheaper really is better (in most cases).
For 2012, I've got 5 flights left to take and my miles should be right around 55,000. That will make 2013 a little easier both domestically and internationally, the former because upgrades should be more likely and the latter due to club access.
One big change I am planning to make in 2013 is to move my airline spending from a UA credit card to the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. At 2-points per dollars spent and no international transaction fees it has become my go-to card for most travel-related expenditures. What this probably means is that it is time to cancel the old Continental card and look at applying for something new. I'm unsure what this will be right now.
Another question, one that I've been pondering for a while, will be whether or not to jump to another airline program or stay w/UA. As time goes on UA is getting better service-wise, but they're making too many "changes you'll like" that aren't changes most of us like. As IAH diminishes in importance moving toward 2015 these types of questions aren't going to go away. For now, I'm still a sucker for UA's route network and Star Alliance, if things increasingly route through DEN that could change. One thing that's on the agenda eventually is a flight on the Dreamliner. UA's got the holeshot there and, to my anyway, that's a pretty big perk.
It's been one month since I last spent time at over 30,000 feet. That's the longest I've gone this year without flying anywhere and I have nothing on my schedule until July.
Yes, that feels odd.