The myth of ‘free’ air tickets

I keep telling anyone who cares to listen that nothing comes free. Yet, I found it difficult to prevent myself from believing that I could indeed get free air tickets when I redeemed my air-miles. It was expectation, perhaps, or may be sheer hope; nevertheless, as I reluctantly and dare- I-say unexpectedly shelled out my credit card twice in the last two weeks, my belief in the “nothing is free” truth has been vindicated once again.

Economy class tickets to Mumbai from Singapore typically cost me in the SG$450-SG$600 range, depending on how well in advance I book my flights. Now with Indigo serving Singapore, I have managed to fly to Mumbai and back paying about SG$350 or so, which I understand could be lower than a round-trip fare between Mumbai and Delhi or Mumbai and Kochi.

That certainly doesn’t beat ‘Free’ though; so for my trips to Mumbai in March and April, I decided to redeem some miles that have accumulated from god-knows-when (a lot of those are thanks to grocery shopping and other routine purchases and not just on account of being a real frequent flyer!). However, it was when I reached the second-last step of the redemption process that the myth of the free air ticket exploded. In addition to the 35000 & 40000 miles, both the airlines whose miles I was redeeming charged me about SG$350! Compared to rates on the “low-cost carrier” Indigo, the “free tickets” on the award-winning full-service carriers were a mere SG$50-odd cheaper!

All the excitement about flying free has died off; thankfully, heading off to Mumbai still keeps me excited!

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