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Redeem miles now to avoid merger hassles

SmarterTravel

Does the prospect of a merger between Delta and Northwest—or Continental and United, or American and a mystery partner yet to be named—give you the heebie-jeebies? If you have frequent flyer miles with any of the airlines headed to the altar, there’s legitimate reason to fret.

No, you won’t lose miles. But [% 2512917 | | as discussed here %], airline mergers are likely to result in more mileage collectors chasing fewer available award seats. That’s a recipe for disappointment and frustration.

So what options are available to frequent flyers spooked by the prospect of tie-ups to be?

There’s a strong case to be made for redeeming your miles for award flights as soon as it becomes clear that your airline is headed for a tie-up. That way, you have a better chance of booking award seats before the supply-demand equation deteriorates further.

As it turns out, the next few months—considered the optimum window of opportunity to complete the mergers—also comprise the off-peak season for air travel, making it the ideal time to redeem miles for free trips.

The other option is to keep your head firmly buried in the sand, in hopes that things will return to normal after a period of instability.

They may. But the history of frequent flyer programs suggests that, more often than not, changes are for the worse rather than for the better.

Have a great travel tip you’d like to share? Send your insider travel strategies to editor@smartertravel.com.

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