Upward Mobility

Going, Going, Gone

Have more frequent flier miles than you know what to do with? Consider putting your hard-earned mileage to good use at an auction.

Most major air carriers hold auctions where their frequent flier members can use their miles to bid on a variety of trips and prizes. For instance, in addition to pre-arranged trips to Hawaii or Europe, airlines auction off such noteworthy prizes as tickets to the Super Bowl, the Olympics, even the Academy Awards.

For business travelers, an auction can be an easy way to use miles that are about to expire or that they don't have the time-or inclination-to use on a free ticket. "Many auctions are designed to give an alternative to people whose miles really aren't going anywhere," explains Randy Petersen, publisher of Inside Flyer magazine.

How does it work? Some airlines have 800 numbers you can call to find out the highest bid and then offer yours via telephone. Others hold "blind" auctions in which members simply call or write in their bids without knowing what other members are offering. Call your frequent flier program for details.

The dates for prizes and trips are often non-negotiable, says Petersen. And since you may also have to use your award within a set amount of months, be sure your calendar is clear during the required time period.

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This article was originally published in the July 1996 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Upward Mobility.

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