Richard Quest: Why business travellers should get miles ahead

The View From Here

Forgive me, but this article is really designed for a particular group of people: those of us whose professional lives mean we collect serious quantities of frequent-flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. We are the people who know our programme membership numbers better than our family's birthdays.

I always start the New Year with a commitment to right the travelling wrongs I made in the 12 months just past. The opportunities I missed out on to earn frequent-flyer points; the wrong airlines I flew which meant I failed to requalify for higher élite status on my preferred carriers; the poor choices of hotels I made; even those occasions when I stupidly opted for the dreaded pre-pay fuel option and ended up giving the car rental company back half a tank of petrol – a particular irritation.

Chief of my resolutions is to start racking up élite miles sooner rather than later. I am talking about those miles which count towards my gold status on the airline or hotel group. Starting early means I don't have that end-of-year rush to requalify just before 31 December, when most plans reset.

Even in the BA Executive Club, where tier points reset on the anniversary of joining the scheme, not the calendar year, this is a good time to bank extra tier points since February is an excellent month for travel – especially across the Atlantic. Fares are cheaper, upgrades are easier to get, hotels are quieter.

I am not suggesting, of course, that we become mendacious towards our employers and propose unnecessary trips. But if a journey has to be made, get those miles in the bank now, and be glad later in the year when fares are more expensive and you are busier.

The other resolution I urge is: study your corporate travel policy backwards and make it work for you – always remembering battling the bean counters is a waste of time. Those whose travel universe extends no further than the 7.40am to Waterloo are frankly both envious and suspicious of our travels, so don't bother trying to bend the rules. Rather, learn the nooks and crannies of the policies and work them to your advantage.

For example, if corporate policy is to fly on airlines belonging to the Oneworld alliance, next time you have a transatlantic trip build in a stopover in Madrid – hub for Iberia – on the way out. It probably won't cost any more (indeed it may actually save the company cash because Air Passenger Duty is only £24 in business, rather than £120), and you can take 24 hours to explore one of Europe's great capitals.

Loyalty programmes never stand still, and neither should you. For instance, BMI, the only home-grown Star Alliance airline, looks about to fall into Oneworld hands with the BA takeover. If Star is your alliance, travelling options may require more changes at Frankfurt, Zurich, or Vienna to stay on Star planes.

Finally, be ruthless. Never board a plane or a train, or rest your weary head on a pillow, or spend a dollar, euro or shekel on any credit card, without making sure a mile is being earned along the way.

Richard Quest is CNN's international business correspondent and presenter of Quest Means Business

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

    £14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

    Recruitment Genius: Network Executive - Adrenalin Sports - OTE £21,000

    £19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking for an exciting...

    Guru Careers: Product Manager / Product Marketing Manager / Product Owner

    COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Product Manager / Product Owner is required to jo...

    Guru Careers: Carpenter / Maintenance Operator

    £25k plus Benefits: Guru Careers: A Carpenter and Maintenance Operator is need...

    Day In a Page

    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
    The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

    The haunting of Shirley Jackson

    Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
    Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

    Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

    These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
    Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen