Outrageously bad advice on redemptions from the WSJ

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by Wandering Aramean, Mar 1, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. Wandering Aramean
    • Original Member

    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

    Check out Scott McCartney's latest post on awards in his Middle Seat column. It is just awful. There are some pathetic nuggets like this one:
    Oh, and his "analysis" of award availability depends only on the carrier websites and doesn't bother with partner availability. So he ignores two of the best ways to get value from points in a post titled: Getting the Most Out of Your Frequent Flier Miles.

    techguru, upgrade, mht_flyer and 5 others like this.
  2. MDDCFlyer

    MDDCFlyer Silver Member

    I agree. Pretty bad article to begin with and loaded with misinformation and bad advice.
    mht_flyer and CharlesG like this.
  3. CharlesG

    CharlesG Gold Member

    Sometimes I feel sorry for people who don't know to come to places like Milepoint to actually figure this stuff out.
  4. HaveMilesWillTravel
    • Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Some people are probably better off not obsessing about the exact points value and how to squeeze an extra bit out of each credit card etc. Just like some people love to research stocks and bonds to death, while others prefer "set it and forget it" mutual funds and spend that time, uh, obsessing about miles and points. :D

    Doesn't mean that articles like the one here are justifiable.
  5. jetsetr
    • Original Member

    jetsetr Gold Member

    Agree, his was a very simplistic analysis, targeted perhaps to a "sophisticated reader who is not as aware of the intricacies" of FFPs as we are, which, as I see it is a bad thing and a good thing:

    Bad: The advice is short-sighted and limited for those who need to be better educated as to the value of miles. The analysis also ignored the usually-better award inventory buckets for elite members.

    Good: If his article scares off infrequent travelers from participating in FFPs and redeeming awards, then there's more inventory for us ;)

    But seriously, IMHO, that was an especially harsh take down of Scott in your second comment on the WSJ site. I think the same thing could have been said more diplomatically by pivoting readers to even better options that were not highlighted in his article. Folks who are not as fanatical as we are may be frightened off by going to your "expert-level" site. Just food for thought.
    Sagegal likes this.
  6. Wandering Aramean
    • Original Member

    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

    I'm not suggesting that anyone needs to use any "expert" sites to get way better information than what Scott provides. Ignoring the possibility of using United metal for a US Airways redemption - and using the co.com, soon to be united.com site as the search engine - is simply bad. Coming to the conclusion that the US points are worthless because of it is horrible. Anyone claiming to provide information about getting the best value who ignores partners as part of that process is doing it wrong.

    My views on this one are targeted at the same non-elite, occasional customers. Those are the ones who need help and those are the ones more likely to be reading the column. Alas, they're being misled and potentially getting screwed.
    Sagy, upgrade and Scottrick like this.
  7. chaz4449

    chaz4449 Silver Member

    He should compare notes w/ Christopher Elliott. The author behind the article in my "Point of No Return" thread.
  8. violist
    • Original Member

    violist Gold Member

    And if Mr. McCartney's article were to walk through the best methods for
    get saver awards, what would that do for the rest of us ...
  9. Gaucho
    • Original Member

    Gaucho Gold Member

    I dont understand why this comes as a surprise. Editorial standards, even at Icons of journalism are a thing of the past... and this is not now, its been like this for various years now. Junior inexperienced "reporters" are writing on things much more serious than frequent flying, and are not getting supervised and cross checked, so what is there left for a much less important general interest story......
  10. Wandering Aramean
    • Original Member

    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

    There's a difference between "walking through the methods" and not actually telling the truth. This one is much too far on the other side IMO.

    Plus I'm not nearly so selfish as to think that I'm the only one who should ever get to benefit from the programs.
    Scott McCartney is not a junior reporter. He's smarter than this post and it is a shame.
    desamo and DestinationDavid like this.
  11. mattsteg
    • Original Member

    mattsteg Gold Member

    It's really tough to fit fastidious accuracy into that format while still telling an interesting story, and there's at least a kernel of truth to some of the points made.

    I'm normally a gigantic pedant, but for whatever reason I don't see this as being that bad and misleading.

    Domestic advance purchase tickets seldom much better than a penny a mile? Yup.
    Last minute coach fare and international business (or first) far better? Yup.

    The blog post does get to most of the right conclusions, more or less. A lot of the dollar/mile analogies are there more to illustrate that loads and demand drive award availability down than anything else. Discussing the whole idea of fare classes and inventory management would take another article just in itself, and MSM in general seems to avoid this level of detail. The biggest gaffe is missing out on partners, which is rather major.
  12. Sean Colahan
    • Original Member

    Sean Colahan Gold Member

    Agree. (Sorry Scott, love your articles, but I'm siding with Wandering Aramean on this one.)
  13. daemon14

    daemon14 Gold Member

    Well ... the more uninformed people, the more mileage redemption opportunities available for us.

    But this is straight up misinforming people.
    desamo and Wandering Aramean like this.
  14. FlyingBear
    • Original Member

    FlyingBear Silver Member

    A year later, when programs changed yet again, we would still be on top, as we follow these things.
  15. violist
    • Original Member

    violist Gold Member

    I dunno, the quote pretty much describes my experiences with trying to
    reserve Dividend Miles awards, with my experience being around 1.2c
    a point less the additional fees, taxes, and whatnot, so pretty close
    to a penny a point. Accordingly, I have used US Air miles only for
    international premium itineraries as he recommends; the point that he
    misses here is that many people don't have the luxury of using their
    accumulated wealth in this manner.
    desamo likes this.
  16. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

    I used to use my US miles for domestic upgrades. ::hangs head in shame::
  17. Steven Schwartz
    • Original Member

    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

    All it really means is that the editors know even less about miles and points than the author of the article!
  18. NYBanker
    • Original Member

    NYBanker Gold Member

    I emailed the author calling him out on his claims that low miles award seats from New York to LA were only available on half the days of the year, suggesting that pax might actually need to consider connecting flights...but they could do it on almost every day of the year.

    The author responded and said his data included checking connecting flights.

    I again disputed his assertions, asking him to give me a number of days where he found no availability so I could disprove him. He didn't respond.

    Periodically there are things in the Wall Street Journal that are very close to home for me in business. Invariably, they miss the joke in what they report - or paint an inaccurate picture. I don't attribute the inaccuracy to bad intentions, it is attributable to lack of understanding. This article falls in that same category.
    upgrade likes this.
  19. Wandering Aramean
    • Original Member

    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

    If I hadn't met the author in this particular instance and spent a decent chunk of time "talking shop" with him I might believe that. In this case I really don't believe that he doesn't understand the playing field. I know he does. That's what makes it so strange.
    desamo and Sean Colahan like this.
  20. Sean Colahan
    • Original Member

    Sean Colahan Gold Member

  21. techguru
    • Original Member

    techguru Silver Member

    Yes quite bad, and I usually like Scott. I bought his book equally bad in much of its advice...
  22. Sagy

    Sagy Gold Member

    Yes in this case his advice is bad, almost like he started with an agenda and looked only at data points that will support his position.
    Wandering Aramean likes this.
  23. marathon man
    • Original Member

    marathon man Silver Member

    I second this view.

    ...And I further state what many here would already realize: That the mileage and points game is a constantly moving bubble that can only best be played if you constantly follow it and stay up with the times, trends and hidden schema. This article seems to tell people that this is all very easy stuff to do and we know it's not. I mean it may be for us, and it may be very fun for us too, but the layperson reading it is now thinking they can just jump right in!

    No, they cannot/ought not.

    The many miles and points games we play are much like the way things went in the 1920s with stocks and mobs. Or in the 1800s in places like California around the time of the Gold Rush, where there were many different versions of US currencies and no one really knew exactly what worked or how, or who to trust, pay off and follow the rules for, except those (like us) who were always in the game (I know, I was there :D )

    I dunno, Maybe Scott was trying to weed people out, or entertain us in some strange way. Who knows.

    Of course his other option is to simply not report on such mileage matters. Then again, that's not the nature of a reporter, and who am I to actually say something like that! :eek:


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