The Most Important Use of Airline Miles

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Miles and points can give us vacations and travel experiences that we otherwise could have never dreamed of or afforded, but that will always be a secondary use of miles for our family. The number one goal of airline miles will always be to keep family as connected as possible.  Everything else is (delicious) icing on the cake.

20140811-113716-41836694.jpgHopefully our family trips are usually in the context of building fun memories with each other, but sometimes the context is a bit more somber.  I have written about keeping a stash of miles in the “bank” in the case of family emergencies, and while those aren’t the “fun” type of uses to think or write about, they are some of the most important.


I recently received an email from an awesome Mommy Points reader that I wanted to share a portion of here, as I found it to be an amazing reminder of what miles can do for families.

Just wanted to say thanks and share…My 75 year old father-in-law’s mother passed away Friday at 96. He is based in Arkansas, and his mom and the rest of his family are in Pennsylvania.

He doesn’t get to go back home very often, but just a few weeks ago I was able to use miles to send him and my husband to see his family, and for what we knew would probably be one last visit with his mom (my husband’s grandmother). During that trip, my husband overheard his dad tell a relative he probably wouldn’t be able to make it back for the funeral, because of the cost of last minute airfare.

A few minutes ago I booked flights for him and my husband to go back for the funeral with miles. I thought of you when I did. I want you to know you’ve made a difference for our family. We’ve had some great family travel experiences thanks to miles and points, but none of those compare to being able to use miles for these two trips. Thanks!

Airline miles enabled a son to say goodbye to his mom while she was still on this earth, and will allow him to return again to say goodbye now that she has unfortunately passed.  Last minute airfare could have easily been over a $1,000 in many markets and “bereavement” fares are  now either non-existent, or they offer some insanely small percent off.  Miles are your best insurance against last minute airfare costs, and I’m so thankful this family was able to use miles for the trips that really, really count.

Let this be an inspiration to earmark some miles for family emergencies of all shapes and sizes, and a reminder to get together with family while you still have the opportunity.  Thanks again to this family for sharing their story.


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  1. I totally agree — for all the work of accruing miles and points (and even devaluation), I still save them (and use all of them) for rainy days. What a lovely story for a reader to share — glad to read the reader’s husband and dad made it to the trip.

  2. This is so true as my husband and I had to fly half way round the world for the passing of his Mom 7 years ago and then for his Dad’s passing two years ago all on short notice. The points we earned made it possible not to pay an arm and a leg for last minute tickets.

  3. I have rarely needed to use them myself for bereavement travel, though I have gifted award tickets to two different friends in these situations, which I know meant the world to them and their families.

  4. Another bereavement option which may work for some is Southwest senior fares. (They’re often $250-$300 one way when a regular “no advance purchase” fare is over $500.)

  5. I used Southwest point to book an open-ended trip when my grandmother was in the hospital last year and we knew it was pretty likely she wouldn’t make it. I was able to cancel and rebook my return with no change fee so that I could stay for the funeral. Not only are miles valuable at a time like that, but knowing I didn’t have to pay a hefty change fee on top of it was also nice.

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