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What’s your blindspot?

On Episode 25 of the Saverocity Observation Deck, I went on a little rant about how Delta gets so much crap even though they release a lot more award space than they are given credit for, especially from the East Coast to Europe. Meanwhile everyone keeps talking about American Airlines as if they are the best program for this game (I understand there is going to be a push due to the devalution but still).

I’ll admit, six months ago I was all about AA as well. In fact I had moved to AA miles being my principal source of investment. But I’ve realized with all the criticism (much of it deserved) that is directed at Delta, it had become a major blindspot in my strategy. I got to the point where I didn’t even check Delta award space anymore.

When I was talking about the award space on the podcast, Trevor or Joe said (paraphrased) “yeah but it probably costs a ton.” Except using United miles to Europe only costs less if you are flying on United metal in business class, and it costs more if you’re flying on partners. The coach price is the same. After AA’s devaluation in two weeks, AA will only be 5K cheaper in business, same in coach.

But Delta has a bad rep, so lots of people in this game ignore it. Which works out great for myself and others in the know, of course. (At this point I realize nobody’s going to listen so I’m not afraid of “killing” anything).

This got me thinking about blindspots in general. To me, a blindspot is something that you ignore due to bias or preconception, usually to your detriment. Delta award space was a major blindspot for me while I was listening to “conventional wisdom”, until I looked for myself and found otherwise.

Another blindspot I have is low cost carriers, or even an airline like Southwest. I have never flown on Southwest (crazy, right?) and when I’m booking travel I often am searching for prices using OTAs and forget to even check prices on Southwest’s website. I hadn’t flown a flight on Jetblue for five years until our recent trip from Aruba, mostly because I’d been busy chasing premium cabin space.

To give one last example, a blindspot that often rears its ugly head for me is cash back. I often forget the value that can be had in just earning cold hard cash back, especially as my family is shifting to more and more domestic economy travel.

The great thing about having kids is that they blow up your entire life – they create fundamental changes in your priorities not only in life but also in travel. This has really helped to reveal my blindspots and make me reconsider my overall strategy.

But you don’t have to have kids to identify your blindspots. You probably already know what some of them are, those programs or strategies that you ignore because you don’t have the energy to be bothered or that just seem too confusing for you. Or maybe you don’t, because you’re so fixated on one or two things that you haven’t been able to identify them.

Everyone has blindspots. The most successful people in this game (not me) and probably in life (also probably not me) are those who are constantly evolving to ameliorate and eliminate those blindspots.

So I encourage you to spend a few minutes this week: what’s your blindspot?




Leave a Comment

  • MickiSue March 14, 2016, 9:42 pm

    Joe, you must not be looking at the routes I look at. I just input a fictitious route, at the end of September, from MSP-ATH. One way.

    The cheapest coach one way route from MSP – ATH was 70K miles, and the cheapest business was 150K. As you know, Delta doesn’t have first.

    Checking the same date with AA, I found 30K for coach, 50K for business and 62.5K for first.

    For the same date, United has one flight with saver at 30K for coach, one with saver at 70K for business and none for first: they’re all 150K one way.

    I didn’t bother checking JetBlue, because there’d be a staging flight from MSP, which they don’t serve, and I didn’t want to add complexity.

    I’m baffled. I find similar cost for flights on Delta domestically, as well.

    Reply
    • Joe March 14, 2016, 9:58 pm

      I didn’t check Athens 😛 I think in the post I said I was checking Amsterdam, which is true. From there you can get to anywhere in Europe on KLM/AF and they usually have saver space. Oops, you’re talking about that forum post. But yes I was checking MSP-AMS 🙂

      Reply
      • MickiSue March 15, 2016, 11:51 am

        I know you were checking other routes. ;D But MSP-ATH is a route I’d be more likely to check. As is MSP-VCE, because SIL and her family live in Athens, and Daughter and her family live near VCE.

        There may be isolated cases where Delta has good value. But add in the cost of a staging flight, or an endpoint flight, because you can’t get there from here without paying an outrageous number of miles…and it becomes significantly less cost effective.

        Reply
        • Joe March 15, 2016, 1:15 pm

          The award space isn’t useful for everyone, sure. For me in Boston is great, sounds look it’s not useful for your purposes. But I still contend there is more of it than bloggers give credit for, which isn’t hard considering I hardly ever see anyone writing about it. We can agree to disagree on how valuable it is to the population at large. 🙂

          Reply
          • MickiSue March 15, 2016, 9:12 pm

            LOL, OK. I had to laugh at the advice you gave to DanR. He flies out of the same airport I do!

          • Joe March 15, 2016, 9:41 pm

            Well he only specified Europe I think and Amsterdam counts as Europe last I checked 🙂

      • Janet March 16, 2016, 10:32 am

        To be fair, checking SkyTeam fortress-hub-to-fortress-hub availability may be a slightly biased data point… If you’re using MSP-AMS to make your point, you haven’t really demonstrated anything. ESPECIALLY on Delta, it’s often the positioning flight (XXX-MSP or AMS-YYY) that drives the ‘saver’ level availability.

        Having to add a domestic 12.5k or a 10k intra-Europe award (or spending an extra $100-$200 for either) really impacts the pricing if you are taking about a 30k award.

        When I see a great sale rate from a city that is not my hometown, I always have to force myself to double check the price from my home airport. I’ve learned through experience that even if it’s $200+ more, it will often save money over positioning flights both ways.

        Reply
        • Joe March 16, 2016, 11:58 am

          Yup, totally agree. But I haven’t found AA/UA to be any better, yet I don’t see nearly as much criticism levied at their award space (or rather DL just gets flat out ignored and not spoken about), which I think impacts the way people view the programs in general. Hence, it created a blindspot for me for Delta when Delta might be the best airline for me to get to Europe (it is, unless I want to pay BA fuel surcharges) even after considering positioning. I’m sure it’s not the best for a lot of people, all I’m saying is don’t ignore it just because all the bloggers hate on the airline all the time, we should see for ourselves and then make our decisions from there.

          Just to clarify, the MSP-AMS is referencing a post in the forum, and MickiSue and I kinda took the conversation over here by mistake. Over there the OP just said he lived in MSP and wanted to get a family of four to Europe. So in his case as long as he considers AMS a worthy place to visit in Europe, the 30K would be all he needs to pay as there is saver space for four both ways in economy (and business).

          Reply
          • mbh March 19, 2016, 10:23 am

            Totally agree about positioning–bad award availability on ALL airline imo. I just start my search from a hub and assume I’ll spend $$ to get positioed. Of course, this can be an expensive disaster if something goes wrong with the positioning flight since it’s a separate PNR.

          • Joe March 19, 2016, 7:44 pm

            Yeah positioning and missing a flight is scary. You’ll never hear me complain about living close enough to Boston Logan – even if we’re not a real “hub” just being a big airport makes life so much easier

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